The International Institute for Sustainable Development (iisd)
23 July – 3 August 2002
Published by the
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
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POSTCARDS TELL TALE OF ICY RETREAT (The Scotsman August 3,
SEA LEVEL POSES PROBLEMS (Gulf News August 2, 2002)
IN CLIMATE 'MAY CUT HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS' (Independent August 2, 2002)
GETTING FATTER AROUND THE MIDDLE (New Scientist August 2, 2002)
WORLD HEADING FOR WARMEST YEAR YET - UK MET OFFICE (Planet Ark
August 2, 2002)
CANADA'S PREMIERS AGREE TO DISAGREE ON KYOTO (Reuters August 2,
PRESS BUSH ON CLEAN AIR LETTER URGES DELAY IN CHANGING RULES (Washington
Post August 2, 2002)
DISAPPOINTED BY AUSTRALIA'S STANCE ON GLOBAL WARMING (Japan Today August 2,
RESEARCHERS MEASURE ANTARCTIC ICE SHELF TIDES FROM SPACE FOR
THE FIRST TIME (Science Daily August 2, 2002)
SCIENTISTS LINK POLLUTION TO DECADES OF DROUGHT (Associated Press via
Canberra Sunday Times August 2, 2002)
CLEAN AIR PROJECTS SEEN AS GROWTH MARKET IN BRAZIL (Planet Ark
August 1, 2002)
COUNTRYWATCH CEO ROBERT KELLY ENTERS GLOBAL WARMING DEBATE CALLS FOR AN
INTERNATIONAL CARBON FUND AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO EMISSIONS LIMITS PROPOSED IN
THE KYOTO PROTOCOL (CountryWatch.com August 1, 2002)
87% OF POLLEES WORRIED ABOUT ENVIRONMENT (Yomiuri Shimbun
August 1, 2002)
WIN POLLUTION BET WITH BUSH, BARELY (Reuters Health via Yahoo 3July 31,
REPORT: COSMIC RAYS INFLUENCE CLIMATE CHANGE (CNN July 31,
SQUID 'TAKING OVER WORLD' (News.Com.Au July 31, 2002)
MINISTERS' MEETING ON KYOTO WINNING SUPPORT FROM PREMIERS (Yahoo Headlines
July 31, 2002)
HUNDREDS DIE IN ASIA FLOODS, MILLIONS HOMELESS (Environment
News Service (ENS) July 31, 2002)
USA: REPORT CITES SURGE IN CO2 EMISSIONS AUTOMAKERS BLAMED FOR
CATERING TO DEMAND FOR FUEL-INEFFICIENT VEHICLES (Washington Post July 31,
JOHANNESBURG SUMMIT: GM GOES GREEN: WORLD'S LARGEST CAR MANUFACTURER
SHOWCASES ECOFRIENDLY CARS, LOOKS TO PUSH NEW IDEAS AT WORLD GATHERING (The
Earth Times July 31, 2002)
MAMMALS UNITE IN BEACHING AGAINST BUSH (Greenpeace International July 31,
PRESSES PLAN TO CUT POLLUTION (Associated Press July 30, 2002)
STIMULATES WEST COAST BIRD REPRODUCTION (Associated Press July 30, 2002)
EXPERTS WARN OF DISASTERS FROM CLIMATE CHANGES (Associated
Press July 30, 2002)
TO TAKE OVER RUSSIAN CO2 TO MEET KYOTO PROTOCOL TARGET (Japan Today July 30,
POLITICAL CLIMATE COOLS FOR FIGHT ON GLOBAL WARMING (Reuters July 29, 2002)
DROUGHT, FLOODS RAVAGE INDIA (Agence France-Presse July 29, 2002)
PLANNING BILL AIMED AT CUTTING CO2 EMISSION FROM TRANSPORTATION - KYODO
(Kyodo News July 28, 2002)
JAPAN CONSIDERING LEGISLATION TO CUT CO2 FROM TRANSPORTATION
(Agence France Presse July 28, 2002)
EXOTIC FISH CHART WARMING OCEAN (The Mercury July 28, 2002)
MONSOON WARNING: DATA HINT AT WET AND BLUSTERY FUTURE (Science
News July 27, 2002)
GREENPEACE TO FIGHT PM ON CLEAN ENERGY CREDITS (The Star July
GIVING TAX BREAKS TO BOOST RENEWABLE ENERGY (Reuters July 26, 2002)
ASIAN MONSOON 'GAINING IN STRENGTH' (BBC 25 July, 2002)
CALIFORNIAN LAW MAY INDIRECTLY BENEFIT ALUMINUM MAKERS (Planet
Ark July 25, 2002)
RECORD SEA TEMPERATURES THREATEN GREAT BARRIER REEF (Reuters
July 25, 2002)
ANTARCTIC GLACIER MAY YIELD CLUES TO GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE (Science Daily
July 25, 2002)
WARMING IS BEHIND RAIN FAILURE: UN CLIMATE PANEL HEAD (The Indian Express
July 25, 2002)
GREEN ISSUES COULD HURT ENERGY FIRM STOCKS - REPORT (Planet
Ark July 25, 2002)
RATIFIES KYOTO PROTOCOL (Agencia EFE S.A July 23, 2002)
CO-GENERATION DIRECTIVE' TO SAVE ENERGY AND COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE
(Eubusiness July 23, 2002)
UK FACES BATTLE TO MEET 2010 CO2 EMISSIONS CUT (Planet Ark
July 23, 2002)
POLITICKING OUT OF GLOBAL WARMING DEBATE by Masaharu Asaba (Daily Yomiuri
August 4, 2002)
COMMUNICATING CLIMATE CHANGE by Crispin Tickell (Science via Scidev.net
Volume 297, Number 5582, Issue of 2 Aug 2002, p. 737.)
FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE by C.E. Karunakaran (Frontline Volume 19 -
Issue 15, July 20 - August 2, 2002)
GLOBAL WAR ON GLOBAL WARMING HEATS UP (World Watch Institute 1
HAS POLITICAL WILL RUN DRY? By Lloyd Axworthy (Globe and Mail
July 31, 2002)
SEIZE THE DAY ON CLIMATE CHANGE by David Crane (The Star July
APOCALYPSE? By Michael Hill (The Baltimore Sun July 28, 2002)
CLIMATE, STATES LEAD By John C. Ryan (The Christian Science Monitor July 24,
JUSTICE AND REALISM MEET: A CLIMATE CHANGE SOLUTION? Interview with Benito
Müller (Open Democracy July 24, 2002)
BUSH, CLIMATE CHANGE AND FALSE ACCOUNTING by David Dickson
(SciDev.Net July 22, 2002)
SHIFT LOOKING FOR LEADERSHIP ON CLIMATE CHANGE (Grist Magazine Special
Edition July 31, 2002)
RELEASE: WRI REPORT WARNS ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS COULD REDUCE SHAREHOLDER VALUE
OF LEADING OIL AND GAS COMPANIES (WRI July 24, 2002)
POSSIBLE WITHOUT HURTING ECONOMY: CEOS FINANCIAL POST POLL (Financial Post
July 30, 2002)
1) POSTCARDS TELL TALE OF ICY RETREAT
August 3, 2002
GERMAN geologists have the most up-to-date equipment to measure global
warming. But their most dramatic tool is old picture postcards, which bear
stark witness to the retreat of Alpine glaciers over the past 100 years.
Three years ago a Munich-based team of geological climatologists embarked
upon a rummage through antiques shops, markets, state archives and
university libraries for old photos and postcards of the type our
great-grandfathers sent home from the Grand Tour. They collected 2,500
examples, each depicting the same thing: Alpine glaciers in all their
shimmering, icy glory.
The researchers then went back to the exact spot from which
the postcard pictures were taken and took a fresh picture of the glacier.
They collated a photo essay of extreme climate change. In all cases, the
glaciers have diminished considerably, dramatically altering the landscape
they once dominated. The scientists, working in conjunction with Greenpeace,
are using the pictures as proof of climate warming in Europe. By comparing
the old photos with modern ones, the Munich Society for Environmental
Research believes laymen will be able to see with their own eyes how rapidly
the glaciers have melted.
According to the World Glacier Monitoring organisation,
glaciers are a "global thermometer" and reflect the world's rising
temperature. "They are the most visible sign of climate change," said a
spokesman for the Munich team. The great glaciers of Switzerland, Austria,
Italy and parts of Germany are all in retreat. From the middle of the 19th
century to about 1975, the giant ice fields shrank about a third in area and
lost about half of their volume. In the last 25 years, they have melted even
more quickly, losing an additional 20 to 30 per cent of their water content.
The shrinkage of the Alpine glaciers affects more than just the mountain
Europe's biggest rivers, including Germany's Rhine, the Rhone
in France and Italy's Po, spring from the glaciers. If the glaciers dry up,
reservoirs will be endangered, the Munich researchers warn. In addition the
retreating ice fields loosen boulders, leading to erosion and avalanches.
For the experts meeting in Johannesburg at the end of August for the UN
Climate Summit, the shrinking glaciers are a key indicator of global warming
and a cause for worldwide concern, the Society for Environmental Research
Documenting the glacial melt is not an easy task. The
scientists have to find the exact location depicted in the historical photos
and the position from which the picture was taken. To do so, the geologists
spent months hiking through the Alps, liaising with local climbers. They
studied elevation maps, examined satellite images and measured paths and
meadows. Equipped with the most modern surveying technology such as
UV-gauges on the one hand and historic hiking maps on the other, the
scientists were able to photograph the 60 largest Alpine glaciers pictured
on the postcards. "We had to do a lot of climbing and clambering," said the
team's project leader, Wolfgang Zaengl. "The postcards were our most
Many of the old landscape markers, such as rock formations, are covered in
grass and trees, said a team member, Sylvia Hamberger. "The old hiking paths
and glacier terraces have disappeared, making orientation difficult." The
team was able to photograph each of the glaciers and compare their size and
shape to those in the historical photos. The results of their research and
the glacial photo documentation have been published on the internet at
Looking at the pictures, the differences between then and now are obvious.
The pictures tell the tragic story: the glaciers are rapidly vanishing. "We
are witnesses to the fastest glacial melting in a thousand years," Mr Zaengl
said. "But today we are lucky that we can still see the glaciers. Future
generations probably will not."
2) RISING SEA LEVEL POSES PROBLEMS
August 2, 2002
Many low-lying countries in the Middle East, including the
UAE, face a threat from rising sea levels and desertification caused by
global warming. Writing in a special issue of the United Nations Environment
Programme's (UNEP) bulletin Our Planet on energy and the environment, Sheikh
Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Deputy
Chairman of Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA),
warned: "In the Middle East, we have a special need to pay attention to
these warnings. "As many of the countries in the region are low-lying and
short of water, we are under threat from rising sea levels and
desertification." The minister also referred to the Inter-governmental Panel
on Climate Change, which, earlier this year, concluded that by the end of
this century sea levels could rise by as much as 88 centimetres. He said:
"This can flood not only coastal areas of the United Arab Emirates, but also
much of the heavily populated Nile Delta in Egypt and the lower reaches of
the Tigris and Euphrates river system in Iraq."
Sheikh Hamdan further advised that oil producing countries in
the Middle East have an obligation to future generations to tackle the
causes of global warming. The compromise agreement on climate change reached
in Marrakesh, Morocco, last November was a welcome news, but it needs to be
translated into tangible and speedy action to address the causes of global
warming. The minister, in his article carried by the UNEP bulletin,
regretted: "We have seen too many deadlocked conferences where reluctance to
give anything up has caused the threat to human livelihoods from rising
temperatures to go on steadily increasing."
Referring to national efforts in containing global warming
and controlling desertification, Sheikh Hamdan said: "In the UAE we are
still a developing country even though we are blessed with the wealth
bestowed upon us by our oil and gas reserves. "We are conscious that, in the
process of funding ambitious development programmes, we have a
responsibility not only towards our own environment, but also towards the
planet." He said environmental threats have traditionally accompanied the
production of oil. "We have made considerable strides in recent years to
mitigate these dangers, and one major achievement has been a dramatic
reduction in the flaring of gases from onshore and offshore oil fields." In
1995, some seven million cubic meters of gas was flared in Abu Dhabi
everyday. "Today, we are down to 1.5 million, which is a 78 per cent
reduction in just five years. Our objective is zero."
The UAE is also anxious to capitalise on the potential for
renewable sources of energy like solar power. The results of the research
into capturing clean energy from the sun through a new generation of solar
panels are encouraging, he said, adding: "Before long it will be possible
for us to construct buildings with photovoltaic panels that will generate
most of their own energy requirements." The minister said there is a legal
requirement for environmental baseline studies, impact assessments and to
establish effective continuous monitoring programmes in the UAE's major
onshore and offshore oil fields. All projects proposed by the Abu Dhabi oil
sector, as well as those put up by the government departments, must be
approved by the ERWDA. He said: "In fulfilling this requirement, we examine
the results of the baseline studies and environmental impact assessments,
and also take into account, where appropriate, both archaeological and
As a result, the minister added, a number of major oil sector projects have
had their original engineering designs changed in order to limit
environmental impacts, for example through the drilling of clustered wells
from a single hole and the increased use of directional and horizontal
drilling. This leads to a winning situation as it puts the UAE oil sector at
the cutting edge of new drilling technology. Sheikh Hamdan said: "Our
heritage is one of a people who can survive in our fragile desert
environment by learning to co-exist with nature and by developing a
sustainable use of the resources. Otherwise our ancestors would have
starved. "We recognise that today we have a global obligation to future
generations and we are determined to play our part in securing the
sustainable development they require."
3) CHANGES IN CLIMATE 'MAY CUT HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS'
August 2, 2002
Global climate change could cut hospital admissions by up to two million
days by 2050 and cut winter deaths by 20,000, according to a Department of
Health study published today. The report into the impact of warmer
temperatures, drawn up to assess the NHS's ability to cope with the changes,
also found that they could lead to thinner blood that would bring health
However, the global warming would bring with it a rise in skin cancers, heat
stroke and food-poisoning. Heat-related deaths could rise by 2,000 a year
and skin cancer could hit up to 30,000 more people a year.
Other downsides to hotter climes in the UK would be
malaria-carrying mosquitoes and 2,000 more cases of cataracts. Several
thousand extra deaths would occur in the summer as a result of air
pollutants. The study, which is the final version of a draft published last
year, will state that the unprecedented rate of climate change "may bring
significant risks for human health".
The report comes as the Met Office announced yesterday that 2002 could be
the hottest year on record.
4) EARTH GETTING FATTER AROUND THE MIDDLE
August 2, 2002
Our planet has been getting a little fatter around the tropics since 1998,
satellite data show - but geophysicists are baffled as to why. The prime
suspect is changes in ocean circulation, which geophysicists plan to
investigate. "If this really is ocean circulation, as we suspect, a better
understanding of it could feed back into improved forecasts of weather and
climate," says Christopher Cox, a geophysicist contracted by NASA's Goddard
Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Earth is wider at the
equator than from pole to pole, mainly because the centrifugal forces of its
rotation make it bulge outwards. Satellites can measure its average shape
using gravity and altitude data. Over most of the past 20 years, these
observations showed that overall the Earth is becoming more round. This is
because the polar regions flattened under great ice sheets during the last
ice age have been gradually been springing back up. But in 1998, that trend
suddenly and unexpectedly reversed. Cox and his colleague Benjamin Chao
studied observations from nine satellites and found that gravity at the
equator has become stronger. This implies the circumference had expanded -
by something like a millimeter.
It was a complete surprise that the bulge at the Earth's equator is now
getting bigger. "It has taken a few years for us to convince ourselves that
what we're seeing is real," says Cox. The new trend implies that there has
been a transfer of mass from high to low latitudes. But melting of polar ice
and a resulting sea level rise all over the world does not explain it. A
block of ice 10 kilometres wide and 5 km high would have to melt every year
to explain the change - and this is not seen. A shift in matter at the
boundary between the Earth's core and mantle might be one factor. But most
likely, says Cox, some kind of unexpected ocean circulation has moved more
water to low latitudes. He hopes to find out more by using satellite
observations of sea surface height round the globe. "That measures which
areas have gone up and which areas have gone down," he says.
5) WORLD HEADING FOR WARMEST YEAR YET - UK MET OFFICE
August 2, 2002
LONDON - The first six months of the year have been the
second warmest ever and average global temperatures in 2002 could be the
highest ever recorded, British weather experts said yesterday. "Globally
2002 is likely to be warmer than 2001, and may even break the record set in
1998," said Briony Horton, the Meteorological Office's climate research
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the body that advises
governments on long-term climatic variations, blames global warming, caused
by rising emissions of greenhouse gases which trap heat in the atmosphere,
for the rise in temperatures, a Met Office spokesman said. "We agree with
them," he told Reuters. "Since 1970 there has been a marked trend in the
rise of global temperatures. "The actual rise prior to 1970 was partly
man-made and partly due to natural effects. But since 1970 scientists are in
fairly general agreement that warming can be attributed to man's polluting
activities." The Met Office said global temperatures were 0.57 degrees
Celsius (1.03 Fahrenheit) higher than the long term average of about 15
degrees (59F) in the period from January to June.
In the nearly 150 years since recording began, only in 1998 has the
difference been higher, 0.6 degrees (1.08F), and that was caused by the
influence of the El Nino weather phenomenon. The figures also showed that
the northern hemisphere had enjoyed its warmest ever half year, with
temperatures 0.73 degrees (1.31F) above the long term average. The Met
Office spokesman said scientists predicted that, depending on the level of
pollution, global temperatures would rise between 1.4 (2.52F) and as much as
5.9 degrees (10.62F) in the next 100 years. "That's the worst case scenario
and it would cause major problems of melting icecaps and tremendous
flooding," he said. The Met Office compiles its figures from data collected
from observatories round the world, as well as from ships at sea.
See Also -
WORLD HEADS FOR WARMEST YEAR YET- 2002 GLOBAL TEMPS MAY BE
RECORD HIGH ( CNN August 1, 2002)
6) CANADA'S PREMIERS AGREE TO DISAGREE ON KYOTO
August 2, 2002
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia - Canada's premiers agreed to disagree
on Friday on whether the federal government should ratify the Kyoto accord
on climate change. One thing the 10 premiers and three territorial leaders
did agree on as they wrapped up their three-day meeting was the need for a
meeting with Prime Minister Jean Chretien before Ottawa decides whether it
will ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for Canada to cut greenhouse gas
emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. "At that time, premiers
will share their differing views with the prime minister," host Premier John
Hamm of Nova Scotia told reporters.
Manitoba Premier Gary Doer noted that while leaders did not
agree on Kyoto, they did believe that climate change was a serious problem
and that action must be taken. Manitoba, Quebec, Nunavut and the Northwest
Territories support Canada's ratification of the Kyoto accord. Eight other
provinces and the Yukon territory have strong reservations.
Oil-rich Alberta -- which has been the strongest voice
opposing ratification of Kyoto -- warned that signing the agreement to curb
greenhouse emissions, which are blamed for global warming, could cost jobs
and billion of dollars. Alberta Premier Ralph Klein noted there was
tremendous disagreement on the economic impact of the accord, with studies
varying from a negative effect of up to C$27 billion ($17 billion) annually
to a C$4 billion benefit. "We have to get a handle on that," said Klein. The
premiers also agreed that they needed more information before Ottawa makes
its ratification decision. Hamm said he took comfort from letters in
national newspapers on Friday from the federal ministers of natural
resources and environment saying that public hearings will be held in the
fall. Doer said one significant point that all premiers agreed on is that
Canada needs an implementation strategy, and that it should not purchase gas
emissions credits from other countries such as the neighboring United
Perhaps the most dramatic statement on climate change came
from Paul Okalik, the premier of the northern territory of Nunavut, who said
his people were already living with the day-to-day effects of global
warming. Arctic fishermen who rely on ice to get out and make their catch
now find their seasons shortened considerably, Okalik said. He noted that he
and his children could not cross a river where he used to because there had
been no rain for a month. He added in a soft voice: "Our custom is to pass
on our traditional knowledge. We can't put a price tag on that. So you can
keep your money if you want, thank you."
TRADE A KEY ISSUE
The premiers also called on Ottawa to work with the U.S.
government to settle a variety of trade conflicts, particularly softwood
lumber, which is used in housing construction. The premiers urged Ottawa to
ensure Canada and the United States have secure, fair, and open access to
each other's markets. They also urged the federal government to appeal trade
issues to the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade
Agreement accord, and to compensate Canadians for the damages caused by U.S.
British Columbia issued a joint statement calling on Ottawa to provide
immediate financial assistance to the forest industry, which has been hit by
U.S. countervailing duties of nearly 29 percent in a long-standing dispute
over softwood lumber shipments. "The federal government should pay for the
damages now," Quebec Premier Bernard Landry said. He added that Ottawa
should also ask Washington to resume negotiations to settle the conflict
over the C$9.5 billion in softwood exports. ($1-$1.59 Canadian dollar).
CANADIAN PROVINCIAL LEADERS SPLIT ON KYOTO ACCORD (Xinhua
News Agency August 3, 2002)
PREMIERS GET CONFERENCE TO AIR KYOTO ALTERNATIVES HALIFAX
(Halifax Daily News August 3, 2002)
PREMIERS WANT PM TO CALL MEETING ON KYOTO (CBC August 2,
7) SENATORS PRESS BUSH ON CLEAN AIR LETTER URGES DELAY IN
August 2, 2002
Nearly half the Senate, including two Democratic presidential
aspirants and three Republicans, urged the administration yesterday to
postpone plans to ease enforcement of industrial air pollution regulations
-- a sign that environmental issues may be gaining prominence in the
November elections. Sens. Joseph I. Lieberman (Conn.) and John Edwards
(N.C.), potential rivals for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination,
released a letter signed by 44 senators seeking a delay in the proposed
Clean Air Act rules changes. They want the administration first to complete
a detailed analysis of the potential impact on air quality and public
"Because the specific changes proposed have not been subject
to careful study and full public comment, we have serious concerns that the
changes could allow more air pollution -- causing more asthma, more heart
and lung problems, and more premature deaths," the senators said in a letter
to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.
Underscoring the letter's political significance, at least six of those who
signed it -- Sens. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.), Jean
Carnahan (D-Mo.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.) and Max
Cleland (D-Ga.) -- are locked in tough reelection campaigns. Moderate
Republican Sens. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), Susan Collins (Maine) and Olympia J.
Snowe (Maine), who frequently side with the Democrats on environmental
issues, also signed the letter.
Polls generally show that voters trust Democrats more than Republicans to
protect the environment, and that environmental concerns cross party and
ideological lines. A survey released this week by National Public Radio
found that voters believe Democrats would do a better job with the
environment than Republicans, 55 percent to 26 percent. Democratic and
environmental group strategists contend that President Bush and other
Republicans are vulnerable on issues ranging from clean air and clean water
to global warming and Superfund toxic waste cleanup. They are raising such
issues in the larger context of "government and corporate accountability."
"Over and over again, in the last year and a half of this administration,
given a choice, the administration -- the regulators -- have sided with
those they are supposed to regulate instead of protecting the the public's
health and safety," Lieberman said during a news conference at the Capitol.
Bush continues to enjoy strong overall approval ratings. But some analysts
say his handling of energy and environmental issues -- particularly his
repudiation of an international global warming treaty last year and his
efforts to relieve heavily polluting utilities and refineries of regulatory
restrictions -- has caused political problems for him and his GOP allies.
The administration in June announced a major relaxation of
clean-air enforcement rules governing older, coal-fired power plants and
refineries that would effectively preclude government legal action in all
but the most flagrant cases of pollution. The proposed change in the "New
Source Review" enforcement policy would give industry more leeway in
modernizing plants without being required to improve pollution-control
equipment. Environmental groups and many lawmakers denounced the decision,
which triggered congressional hearings and reviews. Sen. Larry E. Craig
(Idaho), a Republican leader, said the controversy over the administration's
air-quality policies may prove to be a factor in some congressional races,
but he disagreed that it will become a "defining issue."
Republicans and administration officials say the president is carefully
balancing concerns about the environment with the imperative to speed the
economic recovery and increase energy production. They say voters will
embrace many of his actions -- such as cracking down on diesel engine
pollution and promoting "Clear Skies" legislation to reduce most power plant
emissions by 70 percent. Officials and industry advocates dismissed
yesterday's letter as little more than political posturing, noting that all
but one of the proposed rules were thoroughly vetted during the Clinton
administration. They said the most controversial rule change -- giving aging
coal-fired power plants more latitude to modernize their facilities without
installing new anti-pollution equipment -- will undergo 18 months of review
and public hearings before it can take effect.
8) JAPAN DISAPPOINTED BY AUSTRALIA'S STANCE ON GLOBAL
August 2, 2002
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN - Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko
Kawaguchi on Thursday expressed disappointment at Australia's refusal to
ratify the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing global warming, Japanese officials
said. She signaled the stance during her 30-minute talks with Australian
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer on the sidelines of meetings here this
week hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the officials
said. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol requires industrialized countries to reduce
their greenhouse-gas emissions from 1990 levels by an average of 5.2%
between 2008 and 2012. Australia has been reluctant to ratify the protocol,
saying a comprehensive global agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions
must include the United States, which ditched the treaty last year. (Kyodo
9) RESEARCHERS MEASURE ANTARCTIC ICE SHELF TIDES FROM
SPACE FOR THE FIRST TIME
August 2, 2002
In efforts to determine how Antarctica is changing--whether
due to natural or human-produced climate change--scientists use satellite
and radar technologies to monitor the height and thickness of the
continent's ice shelves. How are global warming and sea temperature changes
affecting the thickness of these massive floating ice blocks?
The height changes due to climate can be very small, perhaps
only an inch or so per year. In contrast, the ocean tides that flow
underneath ice shelves can push them up and down by several feet over the
course of a day, and this large effect can make it difficult to measure the
small climate-related changes with satellites. Now, researchers at Scripps
Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, and
Earth and Space Research of Seattle have measured Antarctic ice shelf tides
from space for the first time. Through their research, the effect of tides
can be removed more accurately and thus climate-related changes can be
tracked more closely.
Helen Amanda Fricker of Scripps tapped information from the
European Space Agency's European Remote Sensing (ERS) Satellite, which
beamed radar signals to the Antarctic surface. Every 35 days, as the
satellite orbited over Antarctica, the radar signals would hit the ice
shelves and bounce back to the satellite, allowing scientists to calculate
how the height of the ice shelves was changing. On floating ice, surface
height can be used to estimate the ice thickness. Fricker's information was
combined with calculations for Antarctic tides developed by Laurie Padman of
Earth and Space Research, together setting the groundwork for a clear
measurement of how the ice shelves change.
"Ice shelves are floating ice blocks, so if the ocean underneath them is
warming, it will increase the melting under the ice shelves and the ice is
going to get thinner," said Fricker, of the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green
Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps. "Antarctic ice
shelves can be sensitive areas in terms of climate change. We want to
monitor their thickness and see if they're in steady-state or whether they
are changing with time because of changes in climate." Fricker said the ice
shelves can play a critical role in buttressing, or holding back, ice from
detaching from the Antarctic continent. Removing them, she said, may
increase the flow of ice off the continent. "As that ice melts, it will
increase sea level around the world. It's important to monitor not only the
grounded ice on the continent and how that's changing, but the floating ice
as well," said Fricker. "To do this, we need accurate repeat measurements of
ice shelf height and we have to remove the tidal signal because that will
mask the true ice shelf elevation."
Fricker and Padman's analysis served as a successful "proof
of concept" for upcoming studies investigating Antarctic ice shelves and
climate change. The collaborative study, published in a recent issue of
Geophysical Research Letters (GRL), details their analysis of eight years'
worth of ERS information using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) signals
concentrated on the 500-mile-wide Filchner-Ronne Ice Shelf in Antarctica's
Weddell Sea. "This was a first attempt," said Padman. "Now that we have
these results we are encouraged to improve our model of tides by using more
sophisticated analysis techniques and combining the new data with numerical
models based on the physics of ocean tides."
The next step will take the form of a new satellite called ICESat being
prepared by NASA for launch later this year. A new instrument on ICESat, the
Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS), will be the first to measure ice
shelves using a sophisticated space-based laser instrument. GLAS will beam
laser pulses 40 times per second, from approximately 400 miles above the
Earth's surface, and time each pulse to determine the surface height with an
accuracy of better than six inches. Over time this will result in a
determination of the surface height change with an accuracy of better than
half an inch per year.
"GLAS will be the first spaceborne laser altimeter to cover
Antarctica. It will have a much smaller footprint on the ground than the
radar altimeter and be able to give us much more accurate measurements than
ERS," said Fricker.
Fricker and Padman's research for the GRL study was supported
by NASA and the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs.
The original news release can be found at
10) SCIENTISTS LINK POLLUTION TO DECADES OF DROUGHT
Associated Press via Canberra Sunday Times
August 2, 2002
NEARLY two decades after one of the world's most devastating
famines in Africa, scientists are pointing a finger at pollution from
industrial nations as one of the possible causes. The starvation brought on
by the 1970-85 drought that stretched from Senegal to Ethiopia captured the
world's attention with searing images: skeletal mothers staring vacantly,
children with bloated bellies lying in the sand, vultures lurking nearby.
Before rains finally returned, 1.2 million people had died.
Now, a group of scientists in Australia and Canada say
drought may have been triggered by tiny particles of sulphur dioxide spewed
by factories and power plants thousands of kilometres away in North America,
Europe and Asia. The shortlived pollution particles, known as aerosols,
didn't have to travel to Africa to do their dirty work. Instead, they were
able to alter the physics of cloud formation kilometres away and reduce
rainfall in Africa as much as 50 per cent, say the researchers, who used a
computer to simulate the atmospheric conditions.
The process, known as teleconnection, continues in the
atmosphere today. Some scientists suspect it might help explain the drought
gripping parts of the United States, although that question has not been
specifically examined. And while pollution may affect the behaviour of rain
clouds, scientists stopped short of solely blaming industry's effluent for
the famine and starvation that wracked the region of Africa called the Sahel.
Atmospheric scientist Leon Rotstayn, lead author of the study
on the subject, said, "It's more subtle than that. "The Sahelian drought may
be due to a combination of natural variability and atmospheric aerosols,"
Rotstayn, of CSIRO, said. The study will be published in the August Journal
of Climate. Over the years, the disastrous lack of rainfall over the Sahel
has been blamed on everything from overgrazing to El Nino. Many scientists
still argue those are chief culprits.
One interesting clue: In the 1990s, rain returned to the
Sahel. During the same period, emissions laws in the industrialised West
reduced aerosol pollution. A coincidence? Scientists don't think so.
"Cleaner air in the future will mean greater rainfall in the region,"
Rotstayn said. Some researchers say the CSIRO study is intriguing, but that
the computer simulation is too simple to solve the mystery by itself.
Atmospheric scientist V. Ramanathan of Scripps Institute of
Oceanography in La Jolla, California, said, "It is quite a plausible
argument." Last year, Ramanathan co-authored a global pollution study
examining an industrial haze that covered nearly 10 million square km and
upset the water cycle over the Asian subcontinent. He said similar processes
appeared to be at work over the Sahel, but the CSIRO model must be sharpened
to prove it.Until then, "I would be cautious about overextending these
conclusions," he said.
Other scientists were even more guarded. Teleconnection is a
reasonable, but complicated, explanation, they said. A senior scientist at
the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, Philip
Rasch, said, "Rotstayn focuses on an indirect effect of aerosols that is
really hard to quantify."
Some scientists complained that the global rainfall pattern simulated by the
computer model does not match up with actual rainfall observed at weather
stations around the world during the drought.This lack of a neat correlation
made the study's Sahel conclusions "highly speculative," they said.
A senior research meteorologist at NASA's Goddard Space
Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, Yogesh Sud, said, for example, the
real weather observations and those generated by the computer model
corresponded for the Sahel, Senegal and parts of Brazil. "But in India and
Australia, there is absolutely no match" between recorded rainfall and the
Nations share the same atmosphere and, increasingly, the same pollution.
Pollution is known to alter temperature and precipitation patterns near its
source. Recent studies suggest that one country's pollution can become a
problem for other countries, too. Over the desolate North African Sahel, the
influence of global pollution is less direct. Normally, this harsh land
receives patchy summer rainfall.
Soil studies show that milder droughts came in the 1680s, the
1750s, the mid-1800s and the early 20th century. Rotstayn believes
industrial smokestacks are the smoking guns for the more recent, more
intense drought. The sulphur dioxide pollution particles, which can remain
in the air five to 20 days, probably drifted over the North Atlantic where
they created more condensation nuclei for cloud formation, the scientists
The additional nuclei remained suspended in clouds rather
than growing into fewer, larger droplets and falling as rain. In addition,
these clouds were brighter than normal, in part because of the added nuclei,
and they reflected more of the sun's energy into space. This cooled the
surface of the North Atlantic, which reduced the normal evaporation rate
from the ocean and further hampered the moisture cycle. Rotstayn said south
of the Sahel, the sea surface remained warm and evaporation increased so
more rain fell to the south.
11) CLEAN AIR PROJECTS SEEN AS GROWTH MARKET IN BRAZIL
August 1, 2002
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Brazil, Latin America's largest
country, may generate clean air energy projects worth hundreds of millions
of dollars in the fight to reduce global warming, Brazilian and
international energy experts say. The Kyoto pact, inspired by the 1992 Earth
Summit in Rio de Janeiro and signed in Kyoto, Japan in 1997, aims to cut
emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, that
raise temperatures. Industrialized country members must cut their emissions
by an average 5 percent between 2008-2112. Those unable to do so can buy
carbon credits - giving the right to pollute - from countries, such as
Brazil, that have pollution space.
The 15-nation European Union and Japan have ratified the
Kyoto pact but the U.S., the world's biggest polluter hasn't. "Carbon
credit trading is 4 to 5 times greater this year than expected," Nuno Cunha
e Silva, Director of Ecosecurities told Brazil's 2nd Clean Energy Forum in
Rio de janeiro, adding that he expected global turnover to reach $10 billion
by 2005. Silva said there were small scale biomass, wind and solar energy
projects, as well as reforestation and urban waste energy schemes being
prepared in Brazil. Biomass is plant and animal matter used to produce
PIG IRON POWER PROJECT
The first Brazilian project financed by the World Bank's Prototype Carbon
Fund was signed this month, said Werner Kornexl, the Bank's Brasilia-based
private sector development expert. The Plantar pig iron project in Minas
Gerais state involves the substitution of local charcoal for imported coke
as an energy source in the steel production process. "It's small but
profitable and brings in foreign capital, social and environmental
benefits," Kornexl told Reuters after the two-day conference closing this
By using charcoal produced from nearby eucalyptus
plantations, the project avoids air pollution caused by burning coke and
also generates 4,000 jobs. Kornexl added that a couple more renewable
energy projects in Brazil's two largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de
Janeiro, were likely to be finalized later this year. Power is generated by
burning methane gas seeping from urban waste landfills. "Things are
happening very quickly here in renewable energy," Kornexl said, noting that
new projects brought in new technology.
Brazil's Koblitz company started up a 10 MW wood-waste fired
electricity power station at Piratini in Rio Grande do Sul late last year.
"We're selling carbon credits in a very small way to a Canadian company,"
Koblitz's commercial manager Marcilio Reinaux Jr. told Reuters. The 10
million reais ($2.9 million) power plant is supplied with wood-waste by
local saw mills logging industrial pine plantations. "About 40 percent of
the trees are waste," Reinaux said.
12) COUNTRYWATCH CEO ROBERT KELLY ENTERS GLOBAL WARMING
DEBATE CALLS FOR AN INTERNATIONAL CARBON FUND AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO EMISSIONS
LIMITS PROPOSED IN THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
August 1, 2002
HOUSTON, Aug. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- In his new book, The Carbon
Conundrum: Global Warming and Energy Policy in the Third Millennium,
CountryWatch CEO and former Enron executive Robert C. Kelly presents an
extensive analysis and, in carbon speak, a gigaton of information on the
climate change issue. He takes readers through a primer on global warming,
ranging from an examination of paleoclimatological data (including the level
of CO2 that existed when dinosaurs roamed the earth over 100 million years
ago) to an optimal solution to the problem itself.
Kelly, the former president of Enron Cogeneration Company and
the executive responsible for forming and building Enron Renewable Energy
Company, has extensive experience in dealing with the issue of climate
change in the commercial arena. "I've been in both the fossil fuel and
renewable energy markets for 20 years, and this issue has been a vigorously
contested aspect of energy policy throughout that time," Kelly said. "Given
the current stalemate between the United States and the rest of the world on
the greenhouse gas issue, I decided it was time to conduct a rigorous
review, offer a solution and enter the debate."
Analyzing Three Scenarios to Confront Global Warming
Moving from prehistoric times to current and future periods,
Kelly, who holds a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, analyzes
three scenarios to deal with global warming: the Kyoto Protocol scenario (KPS),
the business as usual scenario (BAU), and the Optimal Carbon Path scenario
(OPT). The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change in 1997 calls for significant reductions in the emissions of
carbon from the burning of fossil fuels in developing countries over the
next several decades. The United States has refused to ratify the Protocol.
Kelly notes that the Bush Administration has good reason for its exceptions
to the Kyoto Protocol.
"The Kyoto Protocol strives to provide a solution to the global warming
problem by limiting the emissions of fossil fuels in developed countries at
or below the levels that existed in 1990," Kelly said. "But, there are no
limits set on developing countries, and these countries will be the world's
largest emitters of CO2 in less than 20 years. If the 1990 emissions limit
is imposed globally, however, as in the KPS scenario, the reduction in the
use of fossil fuels will impose costs on the world economic system,
especially on the United States, that far outweigh the benefits," Kelly
said. "It would attempt to fix the emissions problem at a significant cost
relative to the BAU case."
The BAU scenario outlines a baseline climate trajectory, which is projected
to occur in the absence of implementing the Kyoto Protocol or any other
incremental policy designed to mitigate the growth in greenhouse gases. "In
the BAU scenario, market forces will ultimately drive the economic system to
a new, less threatening energy regime at a cost significantly less than that
which would be imposed under the KPS scenario," Kelly said. "The BAU
scenario, however, is not economically efficient and is fraught with future
political risk. Because the polluter emitting carbon does not bear the
associated climate change costs, too much carbon tends to be emitted. This
will result in more damage to the global economic and environmental systems
from increasing temperatures and rising sea levels, than would occur with
the proper pricing of CO2."
The OPT scenario uses an integrated assessment model to
select a carbon emissions trajectory that balances the costs of imposing a
price on CO2 through a carbon tax, with the benefits of reducing climate
change damage. In the OPT scenario, a carbon tax of $26 per ton (in $U.S.
2000) is instituted beginning in 2015 and increases to $89 per ton by 2055.
The carbon tax would ultimately be phased out as carbon-based fuels are
displaced. Under the OPT scenario, consumers would see a net economic
benefit of $13 trillion from reduced climate change costs, including reduced
insurance and medical costs.
Attaining Global Participation and Resolution Through an International
Kelly contends that one of the key requirements of dealing with global
warming is to have a mechanism, which is both cost effective and provides
all nations an incentive to join. To be effective, the mechanism should
achieve, through either a carbon tax or a permit trading mechanism, an
effective price for carbon emissions. To provide all members an incentive to
join requires designing a policy that results in an equitable sharing of the
burden both for developed and developing countries.
Kelly proposes that these results can be achieved by instituting a
comprehensive International Carbon Fund (ICF). The ICF would be an
organization similar to the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade
Organization. It would initially include all developed countries, and all
developing countries would be given an invitation to join. Each country that
becomes a member would agree to adhere to six principles: 1) To price
carbon, via the institution of a carbon tax surcharge, at a level determined
by the fund based on the principles outlined in the OPT scenario; 2) To
impose the optimal carbon tax using the taxation systems of their central
governments; 3) 50 percent of the revenues would be kept by the member
governments and used for income tax relief or other equivalent purposes as
determined by each central government; 4) 50 percent of the revenues would
be contributed to the fund, which would use the proceeds to finance clean
development projects in the developing countries; 5) The carbon tax
surcharge would be re-evaluated by the fund based on new information with a
new carbon tax being set every 10 years; 6) The fund would institute methods
to insure compliance by member countries.
Under the ICF proposal, the initial value of the carbon tax surcharge in
2015 would be approximately $2.58 per barrel of oil or 6.1 cents per gallon
at the pump. The end result of imposing this type of taxation would be to
reduce the consumption of carbon based energy to a point where the long-run
net benefits to consumers would be maximized.
Acknowledging the Unappealing Aspects of a Tax Increase
"It could be tempting to skirt around the issue by simply appealing to a
permit trading system," Kelly said. "However, in either case, carbon-based
energy prices will increase. Implementation of a tax would be easier than
that of a trading system, where the initial allocation of permits would need
to be determined and a trading framework would need to be instituted, not
just for industrial energy users but also for retail consumers."
Kelly admits that there are a number of thorny issues to resolve when
imposing a carbon tax. These include what type of tax to utilize, such as
specific or ad-valorem, and at what level in the value chain to place the
tax -- at the production or the consumption end. Kelly suggests that the
most direct way to levy the tax would be as a specific per ton surcharge on
the cost of purchasing the quantities of carbon by end users. This could
generally be implemented through existing sales tax structures on the
purchase of energy in most countries with little or no change in the
administrative procedures that are in place to collect such taxes. This type
of tax would also directly change the cost of carbon-based energy to final
users and most effectively allow the price effect to operate on demand. If
the tax is imposed as a distinct surcharge attributable to the ICF, then the
political impact can be somewhat deflected from the national to the
The present value of the revenue, which could be collected
under the ICF proposal, would be $27.5 trillion in year 2000 U.S. dollars.
Under the proposal, 50 percent of this amount would be redistributed to
countries from which it was collected to reduce income taxes. The other
one-half would be redistributed to developing countries to fund clean
development projects. "An offsetting income tax reduction should soften the
blow and lessen the political opposition to the carbon tax," Kelly said.
"The fact that this measure was also taken by an international group of
nations as part of a worldwide effort to combat the effects of global
warming would help with the political fallout from the tax."
Moving the Global Warming Issue From Impasse to Resolution
The most controversial aspect of the International Carbon Fund is the
provision that allocates 50 percent of the revenues collected from each
member to developing countries to finance clean development activities.
Kelly admits there are several associated issues, including whether the
proposal is politically sellable, how much money goes to which developing
countries and thirdly, what projects are funded.
"From a sellable standpoint, the carbon tax under the Kyoto Protocol
scenario is more than three times the present value of the carbon tax
envisioned under the OPT scenario," Kelly said. "The net economic benefit of
the OPT Scenario is more than $39 trillion greater than that of the Kyoto
Protocol Scenario." Kelly proposes that the revenue be distributed to
developing countries in the proportion to which they pay the carbon tax
compared to their peers. To further mitigate the burden faced by developed
countries, Kelly suggests that some of the funds they had contributed could
be recycled to their private sector entities for construction of projects in
"Current efforts to resolve global warming are at an impasse," Kelly said.
"If no action is taken to reduce carbon emissions, mankind will most likely
survive, but the economic, political and environmental effects will be
significant. I believe it is time to bring the debate back to the forefront,
and I think The Carbon Conundrum offers that opportunity."
13) 87% OF POLLEES WORRIED ABOUT ENVIRONMENT
August 1, 2002
Eighty-seven percent of pollees expressed concern over the future of the
global environment, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun nationwide survey
conducted on July 20 and 21. The figure combined those who said they were
"very worried" about the threat of environmental destruction and those who
were "fairly worried." Asked what they believed was the most pressing
environmental problem, the majority, or 57 percent, of the respondents said
global warming, followed by those who cited problems caused by chemical
contamination, such as destruction of the ozone layer and environmental
damage caused by the spread of dioxins, at 53 percent each.
Seventy percent of the respondents knew about the 1997 Kyoto
Protocol on curbing greenhouse gases, which requires industrialized
countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions, while 46 percent expressed
interest in the World Summit on Sustainable Development scheduled to start
late August in Johannesburg. Asked what they did to reduce carbon dioxide
emissions on a daily basis, 47 percent said they refrained from overusing
air conditioners, while 33 percent said they turned off the main power
switch of electrical appliances when not using the appliances. Twenty-eight
percent said they purchased energy-efficient electrical appliances. Eighty
percent of the respondents said they had reviewed their lifestyle in an
effort to protect the environment.
14) YOUTH WIN POLLUTION BET WITH BUSH, BARELY
Reuters Health via Yahoo
July 31, 2002
WASHINGTON (Reuters Health) - A group of college and
high-school aged youth announced Wednesday that they narrowly won a
self-imposed bet with President Bush on cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
Members of SustainUS, a group promoting sustainable development and
environmental issues, said that they had collected pledges from American
youth to reduce CO2 emissions by 21,800 lbs. through increased energy
conservation. CO2 is a leading greenhouse gas thought to contribute to
global warming About 2,300 youth will meet their pledges by cutting back on
driving, taking shorter showers, and cutting consumption of energy-intensive
meat products, said Dan Jones, member of the group who is also a senior at
Hunter College in Manhattan.
The group made a public bet with Bush on April 1 that it
could secure enough pledges to cut emissions by 20,000 lbs. Reports early
Wednesday indicated that the group had fallen several hundred pounds short
of their goal, but late-arriving pledges put them over their goal at the
last moment, officials said. The bet was an effort by SustainUS to promote
the World Summit on Sustainable Development scheduled to take place in
Johannesburg, South Africa later this month. Activists said that their win
required Bush to attend the summit along with five US youth activists.
President Bush, well known for his fondness of competition and friendly
wagers, has been widely criticized for rollbacks in environmental standards,
including a recent decision to relax some rules on industrial pollutant
emissions from US factories.
One problem with the bet, though, is that the president never
agreed to it. Activists said they do not expect Bush to attend the summit,
and the White House announced no plans for the president to travel to South
Africa. Instead, Bush plans to leave Washington this week to spend most of
August on a working vacation. "He plans to be at his ranch in Crawford,
Texas," said Scott Paul, a junior at Columbia University and a member of
SustainUS's steering committee.
15) REPORT: COSMIC RAYS INFLUENCE CLIMATE CHANGE
July 31, 2002
CNN -- The Earth has experienced higher surface but not
atmospheric temperatures in recent decades. Now a climate scientist thinks
he knows why: highly charged particles originating beyond the solar system.
The inconsistencies in ground and air temperature patterns have led some
scientists to dismiss the idea that global warming is taking place. But one
New York researcher suggests the discrepancy takes place because of the
effect of interstellar cosmic rays on cloud coverage. Other climate
scientists have proposed a link between cosmic rays and clouds.
Research professor Fangqun Yu of the State University of New York-Albany
goes further, proposing that low and high altitude clouds react differently
to the rays, contributing to greater thermostat gaps near the surface and
higher in the atmosphere.
The number of cosmic rays that strike Earth depends to some degree on the
sun. Solar winds, which can protect the Earth from the interstellar rays,
vary in intensity as the sun waxes and wanes in intensity, according to Yu.
"A systematic change in global cloud cover will change the atmospheric
heating profile," he said in a statement this week. "In other words, the
cosmic ray-induced global cloud changes could be the long-sought mechanism
connecting solar and climate variability." Yu said that observations of
global warming this century have corresponded with lowered cosmic ray
The hypothesis does not disregard man-made contributions to climate change.
Greenhouse gases introduced by humans could affect the cosmic ray-cloud
interactions, he said. In any case, Yu proposes that cosmic rays help stoke
the formation of dense clouds in the lower atmosphere while having a little
or negative affect on cloud cover in the upper atmosphere.
The low clouds retain more surface energy, keeping the surrounding air hot,
while thin high clouds reflect more sunlight into space, keeping the upper
atmosphere cooler. Satellite data offer evidence consistent with the
hypothesis, which Yu presents in the July issue of the Journal of
Geophysical Research-Space Physics.
COSMIC RAYS HELP RESOLVE GLOBAL WARMING PUZZLE ENS July 31,
16) GIANT SQUID 'TAKING OVER WORLD'
July 31, 2002
GIANT squid are taking over the world, well at least the oceans, and they
are getting bigger. According to scientists, squid have overtaken humans in
terms of total bio-mass. That means they take up more space on the planet
than us. The reason has been put down to overfishing of other species and
climate change. A report in the Australian science journal, Australasian
Science, said marine researchers are now in universal agreement that
cephalopods have been given an advantage not available to any other sea
creature. And as a result they have been allowed to flourish. Their growth
rates also seem to be increasing as is their body size.
The findings may offer an answer to the mysterious appearance
of a giant squid on the coast of Tasmania last week and hundreds of squid
washed ashore on the coast of California this week, although El Nino is also
being partly blamed.
Squid are now regarded as the "major player'' in the world oceans by sheer
volume alone. Overfishing of some fish species has taken away competition
for the squid in finding food resources. The warming of waters due to
climate change have also allowed squid to expand their populations. Dr
George Jackson from the Institute of Antarctic and Southern Ocean studies in
Tasmania said squid thrived during environmental disasters such as global
warming. The animal ate anything in that came their way, bred whenever
possible and kept growing. "This trend has been suggested to be due both to
the removal of cephalopod predators such as toothed whales and tuna and an
increase of cephalopods due to removal of finfish competitors,'' said Dr
"The fascinating thing about squid is that they're short-lived. "I haven't
found any tropical squid in Australia older than 200 days. "Many of the
species have exponential growth, particularly during the juvenile stage so
if you increase the water temperature by even a degree it has a tremendous
snowballing effect of rapidly increasing their growth rate and their
ultimate body size. "They get much bigger and they can mature earlier and it
just accelerates everything.'' The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the
UN supports the theory claiming squid landings have been increasing over the
past 25 years at greater rates than fish.
See Also –
GLOBAL WARMING CRETES MONSTER SQUID (Discovery Channel July 29, 2002)
GLOBAL WARMING CREATING MONSTER SQUID SAY AUSTRALIAN SCIENTISTS (Space Daily
August 1, 2002)
17) FIRST MINISTERS' MEETING ON KYOTO WINNING SUPPORT FROM
July 31, 2002
HALIFAX (CP) - Alberta Premier Ralph Klein appeared to win support Wednesday
for his goal of holding a first ministers' meeting on the Kyoto Accord, but
couldn't resolve the growing division between his and Quebec's position on
the climate-change pact. Several premiers from across the country said they
would favour a consultation with the prime minister on the federal
government's disputed blueprint on climate change. But many, including
Quebec Premier Bernard Landry, said they applaud the principles of the pact,
despite Alberta's strong opposition to it. "I'm not here to fight with Mr.
Landry," Klein said in Halifax at the opening of the premiers' two-day
annual meeting. "I'm in here to seek a common-sense approach to a
made-in-Canada solution to address the issue of climate change."
Klein will likely have trouble convincing Quebec that Kyoto should not be
approved as is and took a swipe at the province, alleging it's doing more
damage to the environment through its massive hydroelectric projects than
harm done by the Alberta oil industry. Klein challenged Quebec, which along
with Manitoba supports ratifying the accord, to undergo its own
environmental reviews if it sanctions the accord. "If he's convinced Kyoto
should be ratified, then there should be a full and absolute assessment of
the impact of creating 21,000 megawatts of power using water," he said.
Landry defended Quebec's position on Kyoto, but conceded that there should
be a first ministers' conference before it is ratified.
However, he said the protection of the environment must not be compromised
by the interests of one province. "It's an international problem related to
the future of mankind, so we must not link that to self-serving interests,"
Landry told reporters.
The two leaders have sparred in the media recently, accusing one another of
political manoeuvring in their approach to the accord. Other premiers said
they would welcome the chance to discuss it, especially since many believe
there are too many unanswered questions surrounding a plan that could have
the country's biggest polluters paying millions to meet Kyoto's
New Brunswick Premier Bernard Lord said he would agree to a first ministers'
conference on both Kyoto and health care, the top issue at the 43rd
premiers' meeting. Ernie Eves of Ontario also said he would approve such a
meeting, but warned he isn't willing to rush into signing the accord without
further consultation from Ottawa. "The ultimate goal is to have those
emission reductions, but we have to do so in a thoughtful manner that is not
going to unduly penalize different sectors of the Canadian economy and cost
hundreds of thousands of jobs," he said. Nova Scotia's John Hamm, the host
of the conference, and Newfoundland Premier Roger Grimes both held out on
agreeing to a meeting on the accord, saying they would rather discuss the
issue over the next two days.
Officials at the Prime Minister's Office said Jean Chretien hasn't yet
decided on a possible meeting on both topics.
"It's a bit too early to say, but certainly I don't think the PM would be
averse to it," spokesman Frederique Tsai said in Ottawa.
The accord calls for Canada to commit to reducing greenhouse gas emissions
six per cent below 1990 levels by 2010. The federal government is looking at
four options to meet that target. Alberta is proposing a more drawn-out
alternative to give the energy industry time to develop improved
pollution-control technology and increase conservation. But under the
proposal, as long as more energy is produced, there would be no guarantee of
overall net emissions reductions.
All the premiers urged the federal government to step forward with more
money for health care, repeatedly claiming that Ottawa pays far less than
it should in supporting the ailing system.Eves said Ontario has increased
health-care funding by $1.7 billion this year, raising the amount of
provincial spending on health to 47 per cent. "(Ottawa) is nowhere near
close to being where they should be," Eves said, adding that Chretien told
him days ago he would consider a meeting on health care after the Romanow
Commission releases its report on the state of health care in the country
this fall. "The federal government is not paying its share." The premiers
dismissed as mere "trial balloons" reports that Ottawa is considering
extending maternity leave to two years from the current allowance of one
year. Media reports Wednesday speculated on the extension, which has been
denied by Ottawa.
18) HUNDREDS DIE IN ASIA FLOODS, MILLIONS HOMELESS
Environment News Service (ENS)
July 31, 2002
BEIJING, China, July 31, 2002 (ENS) - Unusually early floods across 25
Chinese provinces claimed 793 lives and left more than 20,000 of the
nation's poorest people homeless. The Red Cross Society of China has
activated emergency crews to move water, blankets and food to the affected
areas. Floods from northern China, the Himalayan region and south to India
and Bangladesh have been caused by an unseasonably early, continuous, and
heavy monsoon season.
Floods occur every year during the monsoon and typhoon season, but flash
floods accompanied by landslides and hailstorms such as those sweeping the
region in June and July, are unusual. The China Ministry of Civil Affairs
reports that the numbers of people affected and crops destroyed during the
flash floods in June are higher than losses during the same period during
the 1990s. The floods have hit provinces throughout China, from the far
northern mountainous areas, which are traditionally arid, to communities
along the Yellow and Yangtze rivers, both of which are now cresting at
record levels. Last week, in anticipation of heavy rains, the Chinese Prime
Minister Zhu Rongji, an engineeer by profession, inspected the flood
prevention and early warning systems along the two rivers.
The early floods took their victims by surprise, causing enormous
destruction in many remote villages inhabited by subsistence farmers. Rice
paddies farmed for generations, as well as other crops, have been completely
or partly destroyed. Many destitute farmers are expected to seek temporary
jobs in cities to support their families. This is expected to increase the
number of urban poor, which now stands officially at 19.3 million people.
People across China have been warned by officials from the State Flood and
Drought Relief control headquarters that more rainfall is forecast for the
end of July and early August. Chinese officials expressed fears that
another wave of deluges may engulf wider parts of the country as the rainy
season develops. According to official sources, fighting floods and
preventing further soil erosion has been set as a priority task for the
Chinese health authorities put provincial health branches on alert following
a World Health Organization report earlier this month on the outbreak of
cholera in neighboring Afghanistan. Extensive special protection and
epidemic prevention measures are being implemented in flooded areas at high
risk of epidemics such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery.
Incessant monsoon rains across Nepal during the past four days have
triggered flash floods and landslides in 20 out of a total of 75 districts.
Since the landslides in eastern Nepal, which killed 44 people, on July 14, a
total of 198 people have been killed, 115 others have been injured, and 30
people went missing, according to the latest information provided by the
Ministry of Home Affairs. The official national news agency has reported
that about 100,000 people in 50 villages have been directly affected by
water-logging in the eastern and southern parts of the country. The road
links to the south and north of the capital, Kathmandu, remain obstructed
due to landslides, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs. The floods and landslides have also created
disruptions in power and drinking water supplies.
Some parts of India are experiencing drought conditions, but floods in the
northern and eastern states have affected 10 million people. An estimated
300 people have been killed due to floods, torrential rains and landslides,
UN officials report.
The northern and eastern states - Assam, Bihar, Meghalaya, Tripura, and
Arunachal Pradesh - have been the hardest hit by flood waters. These states
face spreading epidemics of encephalitis, jaundice, dysentery and
gastroenteritis after the monsoon rains and swollen rivers wreaked havoc on
the area today. Forecasters predict more heavy rains throughout India in the
next few days. State government authorities are deploying almost 4,000
motorboats for rescue activities and distribution of food in the affected
areas. Evacuation of people from the worst affected areas is ongoing. The
Assam and Bihar state governments have set up more than 400 relief camps for
Official sources in the Assam capital of Guwahati say 56 people have died
due to encephalitis in flood relief camps, while another 25 were killed in
floods that have affected some 2.5 million people in Assam province. More
than half of Assam state has been flooded as heavy rains burst dams and
caused rivers to overflow, inundating more than 5,000 villages and
destroying hundreds of thousands of houses. About 2.5 million people have
fled to shelter on higher ground. "Thousands of homeless people in flood
affected areas are still vulnerable to diseases like jaundice, dysentery,
viral fever, encephalitis and gastroenteritis. We are very worried about
them," said Assam Health Minister Bhumidhar Burman.
Floodwaters continue to rise rapidly in Bihar, where more than 10 million
people have fled their homes and 91 have died, mostly by drowning, during
the past week. Bihar Relief and Rehabilitation Commissioner Girish Shankar
said, "The condition is quite alarming in six districts. Soldiers have used
helicopters and boats to distribute food and relief materials to stranded
people but the water is stagnated and shows no signs of receding."
Bangladesh now has more than 3.5 million victims of flooding, with half of
the country underwater. India's Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre says
the situation in central Bangladesh has deteriorated as the rivers Ganges,
Jamuna, Brahmaputra, Turag and their tributaries have risen higher and
crossed their danger levels. Continuous heavy rainfall and water from the
hills of India have caused flash floods in lowland Bangladesh. The rivers
are flowing above the danger level in all of the main rivers in the
country. Thousands of people have taken shelter on high embankments, which
surround low lying areas. Those points of high ground have shown evidence of
cracking at several locations threatening to plunge many more people into
Relief agencies are working at capacity to complete arrangements to
distribute food and relief materials and are conducting a general survey by
boats. Deaths in Bangladesh and the eastern Indian state of Bihar have
raised the toll to almost 550 this month from floods that have affected 17
million people and triggered fears of an epidemic outbreak.
19) USA: REPORT CITES SURGE IN CO2 EMISSIONS AUTOMAKERS
BLAMED FOR CATERING TO DEMAND FOR FUEL-INEFFICIENT VEHICLES
July 31, 2002
U.S. cars and light trucks produce a fifth of all carbon dioxide in this
country associated with problems of global warming, and those emissions have
begun to surge after decades of steady decline, a new study says. The report
by Environmental Defense, a New York-based advocacy group, blames the
problem on an auto industry that has catered to mounting consumer demand for
light trucks, sport-utility vehicles and minivans that provide more room and
power but less fuel efficiency.
New vehicles built in 2000 by General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and
DaimlerChrysler AG, for example, emitted a disproportionately large amount
of carbon dioxide for their share of the overall market, according to the
General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker, claimed 28.3 percent of the
sales but almost 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions, the study said.
Ford, the No. 2 company, accounted for 25 percent of the emissions and just
under 24 percent of the market. And DaimlerChrysler got 16.6 percent of U.S.
sales while accounting for 18 percent of the emissions.
Emissions of carbon dioxide from American cars and light trucks nearly match
those of all sources in Japan, and exceed those of India and Germany, which
rank fifth and sixth among the world's countries in terms of global warming
emissions, the study found.
"Each year automakers roll out fleets of cars and trucks that add increasing
amounts of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere," said John DeCicco, senior
fellow at Environmental Defense and the study's chief author. "Over the past
decade, they have put their design and marketing talents into anything but
addressing their products' harm to the planet and liability for oil
The report comes just weeks after California enacted legislation mandating a
reduction in greenhouse gases coming from the tailpipes of all passenger
vehicles sold in the state, a move that could change the kinds of cars
Americans drive in coming years.
The California law addresses not the gases that cause smog but the
invisible, odorless emissions that some scientists say appear to be
contributing to slow but risky heating of the planet. Although the new
regulations will grant engineers wide latitude for design solutions, the new
greenhouse gas emission standards for California will affect drivers
nationwide, because California, with its 35 million residents, represents 10
percent of the national car market. Until recently, concerns over global
warming have been largely focused on emissions from U.S. power plants, which
are responsible for more than a third of greenhouse gases emitted in this
Automakers complain that California is taking a unilateral step to increase
the fuel efficiency of vehicles, something the U.S. Senate refused to do
this year. Because carbon dioxide is given off whenever gasoline is burned,
the only way to reduce it in vehicles is to sell models that consume less
gasoline or are fueled by electricity or other means. Industry officials say
that automakers are working on advanced technology to move from carbon-based
fuels to hydrogen fuel cells within the next decade or two that would
eventually eliminate new cars as sources of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
For now, they say, carmakers are merely responding to consumer demand for
bigger vehicles that are safer in crashes, operate off-road on rough
terrain, and have room for tools and materials. Many of those vehicles, such
as DaimlerChrysler's popular Jeep Grand Cherokee, have an average fuel
economy of 22 miles per gallon, while the smaller and less popular Chevrolet
Cavalier, Ford Escort and Chrysler Neon can get 30 miles a gallon or more.
"We have produced 50 different models that get 30 miles to a gallon or
better, but very few people buy them and they just sit on the lot," said
Eron Shosteck, a spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
The Environmental Defense report, "Automakers' Corporate Carbon Burdens,"
examines the decline of fuel efficiency and what it says is a corresponding
rise in carbon dioxide emissions from 1990 to 2000. The study assigns a
"carbon burden" to each of the six major U.S. automakers based on market
share and average fuel efficiency. U.S. drivers burn 126 billion gallons of
gasoline a year, a 56 percent increase from 1970, the report notes.
AUTOMAKERS BLAMED FOR GLOBAL WARMING EMISSIONS (AmeriScan August 1, 2002)
TOYOTA VEHICLES POST HIGHEST EMISSIONS INCREASE (The Mercury News July 31,
20) JOHANNESBURG SUMMIT: GM GOES GREEN: WORLD'S LARGEST
CAR MANUFACTURER SHOWCASES ECOFRIENDLY CARS, LOOKS TO PUSH NEW IDEAS AT
The Earth Times
July 31, 2002
Imagine this: you're driving down from New York to Florida and never once do
you have to stop for gas. In fact, you don't need any gas at all. All such
hassles are taken care of because you are in a hydrogen fuel cell-powered
car. General Motors (GM) had just such a scenario in mind when designing
the AUTOnomy, a fuel cell vehicle with a striking resemblance to the
futuristic Batmobile of comic strip fame. The AUTOnomy was only one of
several new designs for advanced automotive technology showcased at their GM
Technology Tour today in Central Park. "The AUTOnomy is a concept vehicle
designed around fuel cells and biwired technology, or electrical
wiring,"said Neil Schilke, GM's General Director of Engineering . "Fuel cell
vehicles run purely on hydrogen, which means that further on down the road,
it can help reduce our reliance on foreign oil and decrease the level of
On Monday, GM unveiled a new research facility in Honeoye Falls, New York,
to expand its ability to develop fuel cell technology. The new Fuel Cell
Development Center--an 80,000 square-foot facility--will develop fuel cells
for commercial use, creating up to 100 new research and engineering jobs.
GM hopes to use this launch to promote a revolutionary change in automotive
technology and usage. Through hybrid cars, fuel cells, and reliance on
diesel fuels, GM looks to create a wave of environmental awareness among its
consumers. "This is going to revolutionize the way we look at cars and
trucks," said Dave Barthmuss, GM manager of Energy/Environment and
Sustainability Communications. "Imagine the leap we took from riding horse
and buggy to using cars. That's the type of radical shift in lifestyle and
mindset we envision with hybrids and fuel cells. Our concept cars make the
Jetsons look prehistoric."
GM is also sending representatives to the upcoming UN World Summit on
Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, set to take place at the end of
August. While at the summit, GM hopes to present plans for alternative
transportation within the framework of sustainable development. "We want to
go to Johannesburg to educate leaders about fuel efficiency leading to
global sustainable mobility," said Beth Lowery, GM Vice President of
Environment and Energy. "Working with groups like the World Business Council
for Sustainable Development [WBCSD], we want to generate consumer incentives
for using such vehicles, to quell any fears regarding safety, cost or
The Geneva-based WBCSD is a coalition of more than 160 international
companies committed to furthering the goal of sustainable development.
Lowery--who will attend the Johannesburg Summit--also realizes the
challenges she and others at GM are up against when pushing for such new
automotive technology, one of them being the price of the vehicles. "We
aren't even touching the cost issue right now. For the time being, people
need to be convinced that they are going to have a safe ride in our cars and
that they are bettering the environment each time they ride in them before
they worry about money." Since the showcase primarily exhibited prototype
vehicles, one of the fuel-celled cars was quoted as having a price tag of $1
million. Once on the market, the price would naturally fall to meet consumer
A spokesperson from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) present at
Tuesday's showcase expressed concern about the relative absence of
infrastructural change in some of the fuel-efficient cars. "Sure some of
these cars may be able to run on cleaner oil. But until car companies are
willing to re-design their models so that consumers are no longer influenced
by the 'bigger is better' mantra that has been splashed all over their ads
for years, then America's roads will continue to have accidents resulting
from these large-vehicle collisions." Responding to the challenges facing
GM's new drive for ecofriendly cars, Schilke said, "We all agree that the
road ahead is long and difficult. Obviously, GM can't solve everything. But
one way we can help is to remove cars from the environmental debate
By introducing new measures to reduce harmful emissions and improve fuel
efficiency, we will help create a healthier environment for automotive
mobility, a necessary function that we can't and don't want to do without."
GM is the world's largest manufacturer of cars and trucks with more than
355,000 employees worldwide. GM intends to be the first automaker to sell 1
million fuel cell vehicles and expects to begin seeing them on the road by
21) MARINE MAMMALS UNITE IN BEACHING AGAINST BUSH
July 31, 2002
Marine mammals are fed up with Bush's inaction on climate change, and his
latest announcement that he will not attend the Earth Summit in Johannesburg
has prompted protest on both coasts. Whale and manatee populations on the US
east coast have beached themselves in protest as ocean temperatures rise and
Bush opts out of global treaties to stop climate change.
Off the coast of Cape Cod, 55 pilot whales have stranded themselves on a mud
flat and are suffering from sunburn and sunstroke. Some of them were in
shock, probably because when they are out of the water, their own weight can
crush internal organs.
Twenty of the whales have already died and rescue workers expected they
would have euthanized another 28 Tuesday evening because they were too
exhausted to swim back to open sea. One rescue worker overcome with emotion
at the sight of the dying whales said it was desperation that drove the
whales to beach themselves. "When will Bush see that he is responsible for
destroying not just life ON Earth, but under the seas as well?" said the
heartbroken rescue worker. Six endangered manatees beached themselves in
Florida on Tuesday in an attempt to appeal to Florida Governor Jeb Bush to
talk some sense into his brother President Bush and tell him to attend the
Earth Summit meeting which will take place in less than a month in South
Jim Huffstodt, an officer with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission says the manatees are exhausted from mating. "These poor girls,
the only way they can escape the attention of the males, who are very
persistent, is to ground themselves or go up on the beach." But several
spectators swear they heard the manatees moaning "Baaaad Bush" in unison.
These protests on the east coast follow a massive squid protest on the coast
of California last week. Hundreds of jumbo flying squid washed up along the
San Diego coast which are normally found in the eastern Pacific ocean. Some
believe the arrival of the squid is related to the El Nino climate
phenomenon which sends warm tropical waters farther north than usual.
Although it was climate that brought them to the shore of California, their
mission was sending a powerful message to the US government to adopt clean
renewable energy and stop the assault on the planet.
A local fisherman who ensnared one of the squid close to shore said "With
its dying breath the squid said: 'People think I'm just a dumb squid, but
I'm smarter than George Bush when it comes to climate change'." Yet Bush is
not alone in the dirty energy camp. Australia also announced that they would
not ratify the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and aquatic life in the
Pacific have not taken the news well. Southern Right whales have maintained
a high-spirited protest in Sydney harbour for the past two days. The three
adult whales are maintaining a vigil in sight of the Sydney opera house and
are attempting to restrict boat traffic in the harbour. They want the
Australia government to take a new route at the Earth Summit and support
plans to bring clean, green energy to developing nations - a solution to
climate change that all mammals can appreciate.
Just last week there was another massive protest on a beach near Albany,
Australia where 58 false killer whales beached themselves in protest to
Prime Minister John Howard's statement in Parliament that it would not be in
Australia's interest to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. Although the marine
mammals have caught on to the protest tactics quickly, the squid are leading
the way. A giant squid, 18 metres long and weighing as much as 250
kilograms, washed up on a Tasmanian beach last week protesting Australia
hiding behind the US policy on energy and climate change. Reports are also
coming in from Canada, another Bush backing country at international
negotiations on climate and environment. Although a small group of
politicians in the Canadian parliament are pushing their leader to adopt the
Kyoto Protocol, the Prime Minister is stalling and slow to take up any
action to prevent climate change.
The news is out and we have received some reports of a pod of humpbacks
heading straight for the Canadian coastline. These bold and brave moves by
the oceans great creatures is a last warning to take up action at the Earth
Summit that will stop climate change and provide the world with clean,
renewable energy. They seem to care more about the fate of the planet than
our own governments. Support their heroic action and keep an eye out for
beaching protests in your country.
22) BUSH PRESSES PLAN TO CUT POLLUTION
July 30, 2002
WASHINGTON -- President Bush says his legislative proposal to cut power
plant pollution, submitted five months after he first outlined it, is a
market-based system that guarantees cleaner air while keeping electricity
affordable. Democrats in Congress and environmentalists have been
portraying the plan, unveiled in February, as a major threat to clean air.
"In the next decade alone, 'Clear Skies' will eliminate 35 million more tons
of pollution than the current Clean Air Act, bringing cleaner air to
millions of Americans," Bush said in a statement Monday. "And 'Clear Skies'
will do this through the use of a market-based system that guarantees
results while keeping electricity prices affordable for the American
people." His proposal uses a cap-and-trade system. It would establish a
ceiling, or cap, on the amount of emissions from power plants that are major
sources of two kinds of dirty air: nitrogen oxide, which causes smog, and
sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain. It also would create the first
controls on their releases of mercury.
Utilities that exceeded the limits could purchase credits from other energy
producers whose emissions are lower and who choose to sell their ability to
pollute - the unused pollution allowances - within the cap. The Clean Air
Act requires EPA to set national standards and states to implement clean-up
plans. Critics say the plan ignores the ability of some of the dirtiest
power plants to avoid emission reductions by buying credits. "This would be
an attempt to undermine enforcement and substitute an industry-friendly
emission trading scheme, which we think would actually encourage corporate
irresponsibility and be a giant step backward in air pollution control,"
said Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the Clean Air Trust, an
Christie Whitman, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,
submitted Bush's plan for sponsorship in the Senate by Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H.,
and in the House by Reps. Billy Tauzin, R-La., and Joe Barton, R-Texas. EPA
claims the plan can prevent 12,000 premature deaths and tens of thousands of
respiratory illnesses a year by 2020, while cutting pollution from power
plants by 70 percent. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, on
which Smith is the senior Republican member, approved a more expensive rival
approach to dealing with air pollution that would regulate heat-trapping
carbon dioxide. Smith opposed that. Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., who chairs
the committee, said Monday the administration is "ignoring its own warnings
on the devastating effects of global warming" by not addressing carbon
dioxide in its plan. Neither approach is likely to win sufficient support
to clear Congress this year, however.
"CLEAR SKIES" INITIATIVE:
CLEAN AIR TRUST:
BUSH PRESSES PLAN TO CUT POLLUTION (The Guardian July 30, 2002)
U.S. PROPOSES POLLUTION CUTS FOR MOTORCYCLES, BOATS (ENN July 30, 2002)
23) EL NINO STIMULATES WEST COAST BIRD REPRODUCTION
SEATTLE - El Nino produces more than a climate change. It also brings a baby
boom among migratory songbirds in the Pacific Northwest, scientists have
found. Wrens, western tanagers and warblers that fly north from Mexico each
spring produce two to three times as many young during an El Nino weather
pattern, according to a study by the Institute for Bird Populations in Point
Reyes Station, California. If the pattern holds and the warming of
equatorial Pacific Ocean currents that marks El Nino occurs as expected this
winter, there will be a lot more tweeting and chirping next spring. The
reason is unclear, but scientists noted two potential factors - bugs and
In western Mexico, El Nino means cooler weather and more rain, resulting in
much bigger hatches of insects for birds to eat before their 2,000-mile
(3,218-kilometer) migration up the West Coast. "You can imagine that in a
good year, when there's plenty of insects available early in the year,
you're going to get in good condition," said Philip Nott, lead author of the
study. "Then, when you start breeding, you've got lots of energy and lots of
fat and you can run around." El Nino also produces more favorable tailwinds
that may reduce the energy the birds need to migrate and leave them with
more energy to reproduce when they arrive, Nott said.
The researchers also found other links between migratory bird birthrates and
large-scale, cyclical weather phenomena generally.
The nine-year study began in 1992 when scientists strung hard-to-see "mist
nets" to capture and tag birds sites in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie and
Wenatchee national forests in Washington state and four national forests in
Oregon. In the El Nino years of 1992, 1997 and 1998, six or seven of every
10 birds caught were youngsters born that season. In drier years of La Nina,
the opposite of El Nino, as in 1994 through 1996, about three of every 10
were young birds.
24) EXPERTS WARN OF DISASTERS FROM CLIMATE CHANGES
July 30, 2002
BANGKOK, Thailand - Climate changes caused by global warming will inundate
small island states and seriously threaten agriculture, forests, marine
ecosystems and public health, a U.N. expert warned Tuesday. "The earth's
atmosphere is now warming at the fastest rate in recorded history, a trend
that is projected to cause extensive damage to forests, marine ecosystems
and agriculture," said Ravi Sawhney of the Bangkok-based United Nations
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, or ESCAP. Speaking
at the opening of a four-day conference here on climate change, Sawhney
warned that small island states, deltas and low lying coastlines will be
submerged while agriculture and public health could be adversely affected in
many countries. Sawhney said global warming can be controlled by more usage
of renewable energy, cleaner production and consumption of power and
The 12th Asia-Pacific Seminar on Climate Change, which brought together
scientists and experts from the Asia-Pacific region, was organized by
Japan's Ministry of the Environment, ESCAP and the Tokyo-based Institute for
Global Environment Strategies.
The delegates will be brought up to date on the status of the Kyoto Protocol
on global warming, the landmark 1997 international agreement that seeks to
set mandatory reductions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by industrial
nations. The conference will also help contribute to the global conference
on the environment to be held from Aug. 26-Sept. 4 in Johannesburg, South
In a welcoming speech, a senior Thai government official said "climate
change is the most serious environmental threat facing the world today" and
would have a profound impact on the Asian-Pacific region. But because of the
lack the research and knowledge on how to plan for climate change, countries
in the region need to increase education and transfers of technology, said
Apichai Chvajarernpun, the deputy secretary general of the Office of
Environmental Policy and Planning.
25) JAPAN TO TAKE OVER RUSSIAN CO2 TO MEET KYOTO
July 30, 2002
MOSCOW - The Russian government proposed in late June that Japan should take
over 1 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually from Russia so that
Tokyo can achieve its CO2 emission reduction target under the Kyoto
Protocol, government sources said Tuesday. The two countries have already
started preliminary talks over the emissions trading, focusing mainly on the
conditions of the deal, such as tax breaks. Under the proposal, Japan will
fund repair work to modernize two Russian power plants in the Far East
region to lower their CO2 emissions. (Kyodo News)
26) POLITICAL CLIMATE COOLS FOR FIGHT ON GLOBAL WARMING
29 July 2002
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The world woke up to global warming at the 1992 Rio
Earth summit, but 10 years on, what some consider the planet's biggest
environmental danger has fallen off the agenda of a major follow-up
Next month's summit of world leaders in Johannesburg will focus on poverty,
not pollution -- a worry for some environmentalists who say the poor will
suffer first if climate change is not stopped. In Rio de Janeiro a decade
ago, leaders took the landmark decision to try to stop rising emissions of
the greenhouse gases which trap heat in the atmosphere, and created the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
U.N. scientists said the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since
the Industrial Revolution was trapping heat in the atmosphere. They
predicted major climate disruption if emissions were not cut. Five years
later, with emissions still rising, countries beefed up the convention with
the Kyoto Protocol which contained binding targets on emissions reduction
for industrialised countries. But the pact has yet to come into force and
the United States put its future in doubt when it pulled out last year. "If
you look at the record since Rio, climate change is the most glaring
failure," said Rob Bradley of the campaign group Climate Action Network.
"Countries took a commitment to stabilise emissions and then promptly didn't
do it. That gave the lie to the idea that countries were there because they
realised how serious it all was."
U.S. CLOUD OVER SUMMIT
Kyoto can still survive without the world's biggest producer of greenhouse
gases, but not until Russia ratifies, supplying the required number of
developed countries for it to take effect. That is not expected for another
several months. While Kyoto's supporters are disappointed it will not be in
force before the summit, they blame U.S. influence for the fact that climate
change is barely mentioned on the agenda. "EPA (U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency) officials told me the American administration preferred
to have climate change not at all on the agenda at Johannesburg, to instead
focus on water," said European Parliament member Alex de Roo. "What do you
see? The first item on the agenda is water. The second is energy, which has
some climate implications, but the word climate isn't mentioned. That's the
cloud of the Bush administration hanging over the Johannesburg summit." But
other Kyoto supporters are happy that the treaty will not be the centre of
attention at Johannesburg. "We more or less have solved the negotiations.
To have major discussions again in Johannesburg would perhaps give the
impression that something more has to be done," said Jan Pronk, the former
Dutch environment minister who chaired the key climate negotiations before
and after the U.S. withdrawal. Pronk, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's
special envoy to help prepare the summit, wants to see Washington return to
the treaty, but said any such discussions at Johannesburg "would not be very
useful" because they would be unlikely to succeed.
ENVIRONMENT VS DEVELOPMENT?
The summit's focus on fighting poverty reflects the overriding concern of
developing countries where scourges such as water-borne diseases, malaria
and AIDS, which kill millions every year, appear far more menacing than
global warming. Many scientists say climate change will exacerbate those
problems. Research over the past 10 years has given scientists a better idea
of what effects global warming could have on water supplies, agriculture and
population migrations. While some scientists are sceptical about climate
change and its effects, a broad-based U.N. scientific panel has predicted
that unchecked emissions could raise global temperatures by between 1.4 and
5.8 degrees Celsius this century. Reports of coral bleaching and melting
ice sheets have indicated that global warming may be well under way.
Mick Kelly, an atmospheric scientist at Britain's University of East Anglia,
said policymakers would have to take on board detailed forecasts of the
impact of climate change on populations to enable countries to cope.
"Whatever politicians may do, some degree of climate change is inevitable
and therefore we have to plan to adapt," he said. While Rio and Kyoto were
about reducing the emissions blamed for causing climate change, more
emphasis was now needed on ensuring countries can manage the consequences,
for example, by protecting themselves from sea level rises, Kelly said. "It
has to be a twin track strategy." Some analysts believe Johannesburg could
deliver results for the fight against climate change, both by helping poorer
states develop so they can tackle the impact of global warming, and by
getting them to develop more cleanly than rich countries did.
A push for renewable energy, for example, could reduce the
greenhouse gas emissions that would inevitably come from a greater use of
fossil fuels in the developing world. "(Climate change) is on the agenda to
the extent that they are addressing the future energy requirements of
developing countries," said Jacqueline Karas, climate change research fellow
at London's Royal Institute for International Affairs. "It may seem that
climate change is a less immediate problem than tackling poverty, but on
issues like water supply, which is susceptible to climate change, the most
vulnerable countries are those in the tropics and the south." So although
water, sanitation and energy for the poor will top the agenda at
Johannesburg, climate change will not far from people's minds, Karas said.
"It will be climate change by another name."
27) DROUGHT, FLOODS RAVAGE INDIA
July 29, 2002
A SAVAGE drought is crippling large swathes of northern India
while monsoon rains that have left about six million people homeless torment
the east of the country. The state of Bihar is enduring both simultaneously,
with monsoon floods in the impoverished north and brittle-dry conditions in
the mineral-rich south. While the flood-drought phenomenon is an annual one
in the sub-continent, the floods this year are the worst in four years and
the drought, according to Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh, the worst yet.
The government has announced that around one-eighth of the country is
gripped by either severe drought or massive flooding, as famine and disease
stalk the flooded north-east and crops wither under a blazing sun in the
The heavy rains since July 1 have claimed at least 60 lives
and left about 6.2 million people homeless in the two most affected states,
Bihar and neighbouring Assam.
At the same time, 13 of India's 29 states have been declared
drought-stricken, allowing the introduction of emergency measures including
monetary compensation to farmers. With the two crises on the government's
hands, Junior Home Minister I D Swami told parliament last week that a
"high-powered" committee had been set up under the chairmanship of Deputy
Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani to oversee relief measures. "This
committee will monitor all the relief measures for both drought and
flood-affected areas," Swami said. In flood-hit states, the army has been
sent in to assist rescue operations, while aid organisations rush to ensure
adequate food for those left homeless and cramped into relief camps.
Water-borne disease such as dysentery and gastroenteritis are
spreading in the camps, which offer little clean drinking water and
medicine. Food scarcity has been reported in eastern Assam where several
stretches of highway have been flooded and road links severed for three
weeks. Government officials maintain the drought will not cause a famine,
with enough grain to feed everyone. Nonetheless, farmers in the northwest
are asking for compensation for destroyed crops and dead stock animals.
The desert state of Rajasthan, for example, has called for
emergency funds totalling a staggering 60 billion rupees ($2.35 billion) to
feed its drought-hit millions. The drought has left India's 70 water
reservoirs at just 47 per cent of normal capacity.
Observers differ over what has caused the northern monsoon to
fail. India's meteorological experts say it is due to the fact the monsoon
trough has remained trapped in the Himalayan foothills.
However, R K Pachauri, chief of the UN-sponsored
Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, believes larger variations are
responsible. "What we are witnessing is a particular and sudden variation
in climate as predicted by experts studying global warming," he was quoted
in the Indian media as saying. Other reports said the unrelenting heat is
starting to melt Himalayan glaciers, leading to the inundation of parts of
the drought-stricken northern state of Punjab.
28) JAPAN PLANNING BILL AIMED AT CUTTING CO2 EMISSION
FROM TRANSPORTATION - KYODO
July 28, 2002
TOKYO (AFX-ASIA) - The transport ministry has started
formulating a new bill aimed at cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by
supporting businesses that use trucks instead of trains and ships for
product distribution, Kyodo News agency reported. It said the measure is
part of Japan's efforts to achieve its legally binding requirement to reduce
greenhouse-gas emissions by 6 pct from 1990 levels under the 1997 Kyoto
Protocol on curbing greenhouse gases.
The planned bill would require shippers of goods and transport firms to
compile joint plans for use of railway, marine and road transportation,
including use of low-emission vehicles, Kyodo said. If the government sees
that the plans are effective in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, it would
give subsidies and offer other support measures, it said. The ministry is
also considering introducing penalties by advising businesses to make
improvements if they have environmental problems related to greenhouse gas
emissions, Kyodo said.
29) JAPAN CONSIDERING LEGISLATION TO CUT CO2 FROM
Agence France Presse
July 28, 2002
The Japanese transport ministry has started to form a new
bill aimed at cutting carbon dioxide (CO2) emission by supporting businesses
that use trains and ships instead of trucks for product distribution. The
measure is part of Japan's efforts to achieve its legally binding
requirement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by six percent from 1990
levels under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on curbing greenhouse gases, Kyodo News
The planned bill would require shippers of goods and transport firms to
compile joint plans for use of railway, marine and road transportation,
including use of low-emission vehicles, Kyodo said. If the government sees
the plans are effective in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, it would give
subsidies and offer other support measures, Kyodo said. The ministry is also
considering introducing penalties by advising businesses to make
improvements if they have environmental problems related to greenhouse gas
emissions, Kyodo said.
Japan's CO2 emissions in the year to March 2001 edged up 0.3
percent from the preceding year to an all-time high of about 1.24 billion
tonnes. CO2 accounts for more than 90 percent of Japan's emissions of
greenhouse gases, which also include methane. However, many hi-tech
companies already have plans to shift from use of trucks and aircraft to
trains and ships for environmental reasons, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said
Sunday. "These companies are focusing on devising environmentally friendly
transportation methods now that they have made progress on emissions
reduction at their plants," the financial daily said.
"Use of more trains and boats not only lowers emissions, it also helps slash
costs," it said.
The moves represent a major change from earlier policies
prioritizing speed, the newspaper added. For example, hi-tech NEC Corp. will
from this year stop using aircraft and instead use ships to bring China-made
desktop computers to Japan, the Nihon Keizai said, citing company sources.
The company also plans to use fewer trucks and use trains for domestic
product distribution, it said. Camera and office equipment maker Canon Inc.
intends to replace about 20 percent of truck-based transport with trains and
ships during the current business year, the Nihon Keizai said. Computer
maker Fujitsu Ltd. and consumer electronics giant Matsushita Electric
Industrial Co. also plans to increase rail use to reduce emissions.
30) EXOTIC FISH CHART WARMING OCEAN
July 28 2002
London - Exotic fish are being found off Britain's shores in
increasing numbers, according to the first systematic study of how marine
fish have been affected by global warming. A team of marine biologists,
studying records dating back to 1960, has for the first time linked the
arrival of tropical and semi-tropical fish off the coast of Cornwall to
rises in the temperature of the North Atlantic Ocean. The link was a
"significant correlation" and could explain why Cornwall, the southern-most
tip of Britain, had seen so many exotic species of marine wildlife in recent
years, said Tony Stebbing, a biologist from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
"As the world warms, the only way for wildlife species to live in the
temperature they prefer is to move their ranges slowly poleward."
warmed by 0,06°C over the past 40 years but the surface water, where many
fish live, has risen faster, by up to 0,31°C. The North Atlantic is warming
faster than any other ocean with an accelerating temperature increase of
0,5°C over the past 20 years. One implication was that as warm-water fish
moved into British waters, its native residents were moving north. Cod was
one of the most vulnerable of these natives species because it was at the
southern-most extremity of its range, said Stebbing. - The Independent.
31) MONSOON WARNING: DATA HINT AT WET AND BLUSTERY
July 27, 2002
Asian monsoons have been intensifying over the last 400
years, and they're slated to get worse, a team of earth scientists says.
Stronger monsoon rains could cause severe flooding and erosion that would
affect up to half the world's population. The South Asian monsoon carries
much-needed rain to billions of people in India, China, Bangladesh, and
other countries. The monsoon season begins in summer when northeast trade
winds reverse direction and carry water-saturated air inland. "The South
Asian monsoon . . . is key to agriculture and water resources," comments
Gerald A. Meehl at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder,
Colo. "The past and future behavior of the monsoon is therefore of critical
interest." Researchers have chronicled changes in monsoon intensity over
tens of thousands of years, but few have examined variations on the smaller
time scales relevant to human civilization. Now, researchers in the United
States and India have used the fossil record to piece together variations in
monsoon strength over the past millennium.
For evidence on monsoons, David M. Anderson of the University
of Colorado in Boulder and his colleagues looked to a seeming unrelated
subject: the microscopic, hard-shelled foraminifer Globigerina bulloides in
sediments of the Arabian Sea. As "a happy side effect" of the Asian monsoon,
winds blow along the coasts of Saudi Arabia and Oman, says Anderson. These
winds churn up deep waters and transport minerals to the otherwise
nutrient-poor surface waters. In years when monsoon winds are strong,
shallow-living G. bulloides undergoes a population boom and abundant shells
end up in sediments below. The researchers took 100-millimeter-deep sediment
cores and separated each into 2-mm layers that they carbon dated and
examined for G. bulloides. The team accumulated a 1,000-year record on the
fossils' abundance-and, therefore, monsoon intensity. The results show that
following a low in monsoon wind intensity around the year 1600, there has
been a steady increase. The abundances of G. bulloides remains suggest a
more marked increase in monsoon winds during the past 100 years, which the
researchers attribute to global warming. The findings are detailed in the
July 26 Science.
In Asia, global warming may create a greater summertime
disparity between land and ocean temperatures, says Anderson. This, in turn,
would increase monsoon intensity, he says. Most climate-change studies
measure surface temperature. "This study provides additional evidence of
anthropogenic climate change," comments Meehl, who is not a member of the
research team. Increased monsoon intensity might mean fewer crop failures,
says Meehl, but it could create more flooding and erosion that would damage
the livelihood of millions, as recent flooding in Bangladesh did.
32) GREENPEACE TO FIGHT PM ON CLEAN ENERGY CREDITS
July 26, 2002
OTTAWA (CP) - Greenpeace is launching an international
offensive against Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's push for last-minute
changes to the Kyoto climate-change protocol. Peter Tabuns, executive
director of Greenpeace, said Chrétien's insistence that Canada get credit
for clean energy exports before ratifying Kyoto is an attempt to "weasel
out" of the deal.
The environmental group will oppose Chrétien's lobbying
efforts at next month's Earth Summit in South Africa, he said. "I'm going
to Johannesburg to tell the international community to just say no to Jean
Chrétien because Kyoto is one promise he shouldn't be allowed to weasel out
on." Greenpeace officials slammed the prime minister on Friday, questioning
why he is going to the Aug. 26 summit in South Africa in light of his
record. "Canada has broken the three main promises it made at the Rio summit
10 years ago," Tabuns said, referring to initiatives on climate change,
foreign aid and biodiversity at the first Earth Summit in Brazil. "There's
no point in going (to Johannesburg) unless the promises he makes are kept.
Tabuns accused Chrétien of turning Canada into an
environmental ``pariah," with the biggest factor being the country's record
on climate change. "The Kyoto Protocol stems from the 1992 Earth Summit and
75 countries, including 23 industrialized ones, have ratified. But not
Canada," he said. The Kyoto agreement requires industrialized countries to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels over the next decade.
The prime minister had reportedly hoped to ratify the deal by June, when he
was the host at the G-8 summit in Kananaskis, Alta., but he backed off in
the face of industry complaints that the accord would severely damage the
economy and cost jobs.
Chrétien has reportedly said he is prepared to ratify the
treaty this year provided Canada gets an "asterisk" that gives the country
credits for clean energy exports, such as natural gas. Tabuns said Chrétien
will use the Johannesburg summit to push for clean energy credits but is not
willing to accept debits for exports of so-called dirty fuels, such as oil
"It is apparent that he will use this opportunity in
Johannesburg to try and further undermine the Kyoto protocol. He is
preparing to lobby to expand the loopholes available to Canada before he's
willing to sign the Kyoto protocol."
A spokesman in the Prime Minister's Office said Chrétien is
committed to ratifying Kyoto and defended the clean energy proposal. "We
think that it makes eminent sense given the tremendous amount of clean
energy which we export . . . that directly contributes to reducing
greenhouse gases," Duncan Fulton said. "(Greenpeace) will have to explain
their opposition to an idea that makes eminent sense." Fulton also defended
Chrétien's environmental record: "It's ridiculous to suggest that we haven't
taken bold steps on our commitments at Rio and in the past several years."
He noted that Canada has:
new species-at-risk legislation.
the National Parks Act.
steps to reduce over-fishing.
Promised to increase foreign aid by eight per cent a
year and announced major new aid for Africa.
33) CANADA GIVING TAX BREAKS TO BOOST RENEWABLE ENERGY
July 26, 2002
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada, under fire for dragging its feet
on whether to ratify the Kyoto climate-change accord, said Friday it would
use tax breaks to encourage investment in renewable energy and energy
conservation projects. Deputy Prime Minister John Manley announced two
proposed changes to income tax rules that he said would make it financially
attractive to build wind turbines and ensure that renewable energy projects
could raise financing in the same way as non-renewable energy projects.
"I am confident that Canadians will support our efforts to
encourage the production of more renewable energy in Canada," Manley said in
a statement. In the last federal budget, which was presented in December
2001, the government said it would give C$260 million ($164 million) to the
wind power industry to increase current production of 200 megawatts to 1,000
megawatts by 2016.
Signing up to Kyoto -- the 1997 treaty designed to cut
emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming -- would oblige
Canada to cut its emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels, by 2010. As of
1999, Canada's emissions were already 15 percent higher than 1990 levels.
Ottawa originally said it intended to ratify Kyoto this June but then called
for more consultations in the face of strong resistance from businesses,
energy producers and several provincial governments.
34) ASIAN MONSOON 'GAINING IN STRENGTH'
25 July, 2002
More than 200 people have died in floods in Nepal. Climate
researchers are warning that the monsoons which afflict South Asia are
growing in strength and are likely to continue to do so. Writing in the
journal Science, academics in India and the United States predict that
increasingly powerful monsoons will affect nearly half the world's
population, sparking severe floods and devastating erosion. Their research
is published after recent torrential rains in South Asia left hundreds dead.
The team studied fossils from the floor of the Arabian Sea,
where populations of a microscopic sea creature increase when monsoons -
which are caused by changing winds - are strong. They have blamed the trend
on increasing levels of greenhouse gases, and rising temperatures in
Dead and homeless
In the past three weeks, monsoon rains have killed more than
300 people and made millions homeless in parts of Southern Asia.
In eastern India, the authorities say more than five million
people have now been affected by the current floods, caused by monsoon rain,
while floods in Nepal have killed more than 200 people in the past week.
But elsewhere in the region, like north-western India, the population is
suffering from the worst drought for a decade, and fears of food shortages
This too is
due to the monsoon. Low-lying countries like Bangladesh, already threatened
by sea-level rise due to climate change and by flooding and erosion, are
likely to suffer even more as the monsoons become stronger, the scientists
35) CALIFORNIAN LAW MAY INDIRECTLY BENEFIT ALUMINUM
July 25, 2002
NEW YORK - Aluminum producers may benefit from a new
California auto emissions law, but industry experts said rewards would not
come for several years and not directly from California's move but from
indirect pressure on automakers to lighten vehicle weight by using
light-weight metals. "The whole purpose of this (law), I believe, is to put
presure on both the car companies and the federal government to pass a
higher fuel economy standard. That will mean a lot more aluminum in
vehicles, I think," said Richard Klimisch, vice president of the Aluminum
Association's auto/light truck group in Detroit, Michigan.
California Governor Gray Davis signed a law on Monday regulating vehicle gas
emissions to help curb global warming. It is the first state law requiring
auto makers to limit carbon dioxide emissions and other pollutants that
scientists have said blanket the atmosphere and lead to warmer temperatures
and other harmful effects on humans and other living creatures.
The legislation would not take effect until 2006, but gives
auto companies until 2009 to make technological changes that conform to the
new California standards. U.S. automakers intend to legally challenge
California's new emissions law, arguing that it is superceded by federal
legislation already in place. "We've already said we intend to pursue legal
action, because this is pre-empted federally by the energy policy and
conservation act, which sets fuel economy standards," said Greg Dana, vice
president of environmental affairs for the Alliance of Automobile
Manufacturers in Washington. "We don't think they can do it. We intend to
challenge it because it is a federally pre-empted issue," Dana added.
Experts said federal law grants authority to the federal
government to set fuel standards above individual states. "This has come up
many times over the past 10 years, and the federal pre-emption has always
stopped the states," said Klimisch. The National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, which is part of the Department of Transportation, is
currently preparing new carbon-dioxide emission standards for the 2005 model
year for light trucks, which are the same emissions outlined in Calfornia's
law, industry experts said. The deadline for NHTSA regulations is April
2003, and will come well before the California law is due to take effect.
"In spite of what you're hearing in the press about this (California law)
being about emissions, it's not really emissions in the traditional sense.
It's really to control CO2 emissions, which is nothing more than fuel
economy. For that reason, aluminum is something people consider," said Dana.
By trimming an automobile's weight, the amount of fuel needed to run the
car, and in turn emissions, are lessened. Light-weight aluminum has been
used by car companies, along with light-weight steel, plastics and other
materials to reduce the overall weight of a vehicle to comply with tighter
fuel standards already in place. And, car manufacturers are continuing to
explore new ways to safely design vehicles that are lower in weight. While
the big auto companies do not yet know exactly how stringent the NHTSA
standards will be next year, they are already anticipating lighter truck
designs, more efficient engines, and other technology to reduce emissions.
"We're doing everything we can to try to help the automakers reach higher
fuel economy standards. That's one of the things aluminum can do, without
compromising safety," said Klimisch. Dana said there is no gadget you can
put on a car to lower carbon-dioxide emissions, which instead must be
achieved by improved engine technology, lower weight or other technological
advances to a car's systems.
"There is no filter or catalyst you can put on a car to reduce CO2
emissions. Catalysts are very good at reducing hydro-carbons and
carbon-monoxide emissions, but not carbon-dioxide," said Dana. "Our concern
is that NHTSA will set standards that would go far beyond what the
technology alone can do," said Dana. According to Klimisch, NHTSA's record
in both safety and fuel economy has rendered them one of the most highly
respected agencies in the government. Just the same, Dana said, NHTSA is
designing regulations that will tighten fuel economy standards for light
trucks. "So, there will be an effort to improve efficiency. That will be
done by a number of ways. One of them is less weight, which would certainly
impact metal choices be it aluminum, high-tech light-weight steel, or other
things," Dana said.
36) RECORD SEA TEMPERATURES THREATEN GREAT
July 25, 2002
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Sea temperatures at Australia's Great
Barrier Reef last summer were the warmest on record and this year's El Nino
event means the risk of mass coral bleaching has increased considerably,
scientists reported on Thursday.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has just
completed an atlas of sea temperatures over the past decade and amalgamated
it with historical data to show 2002 was the warmest year for water
temperatures off northeast Australia since 1870. The rise in temperatures
around the world's largest living organism coincided with mass bleaching
earlier this year that affected around 60 percent of the Great Barrier
Reef's 345,400 square km (133,300 square miles) of coral.
"Unless the corals can adapt and become acclimatized then obviously the
long-term future for the coral is at risk," said AIMS oceanographer Craig
Steinberg. "The outlook isn't good. If coral can't adapt then they're going
to bleach and you get mass mortality." The sea temperature over the last
century has risen by just half a degree Celsius. But corals tend to live
within one to two degrees of their maximum temperature threshold and a tiny
increase is therefore enough to ensure a major impact.
Bleaching occurs when coral becomes stressed. It involves a breakdown in the
symbiotic relationship between the coral and algae and in severe cases the
coral will die. The last time the reef's coral bleached because of higher
than normal temperatures was in 1998, when the El Nino weather phenomenon
warmed the waters of the Pacific, bringing drought to eastern Australia and
floods to parts of Latin America.
Last year was not an El Nino year, making the high
temperatures even more unusual and meaning they were almost certainly a
by-product of pollution-induced global warming, said AIMS climate expert
Janice Lough. The onset of another El Nino this year, albeit one that U.S.
experts say is likely to be mild, has increased the chances of another
southern hemisphere summer of high sea water temperatures at the start of
2003. "We've changed the baseline. It is a worry," Lough told Reuters from
Townsville in the far north of Queensland state.
Coral can recover after mild bleaching. But researchers fear
that its ability to overcome heat stress may be weakened as high
temperatures become more common. AIMS researchers are trying to establish
whether coral has the ability to adapt quickly to changing temperatures.
There is evidence that they can over long periods of time, but so far no
indication of any short-term ability to acclimatize. In the meantime, there
is not a lot that can be done to protect the Great Barrier Reef -- one of
Australia's main tourist attractions and a World Heritage site. "Reef
managers can do all they can to reduce all the other threats to coral reefs
but they can't solve individually the global problem (of climate change),"
said Lough. "It's not so much that the reef will die, it's that the reef
will change," she said. "If you sort of knock out certain of the corals then
other organisms might take their place."
GLOBAL WARMING THREAT TO BARRIER REEF (CNN July 25, 2002)
37) ANTARCTIC GLACIER MAY YIELD CLUES TO GLOBAL CLIMATE
July 25, 2002
COLLEGE STATION, July 25, 2002 - Antarctica's Lambert glacier, which is so
cold and remote that it will not even support a scientific outpost, will
provide researchers with data -- garnered by remote sensing satellites -- to
search for clues to predict global climate change. Hongxing Liu, a
geography professor in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University,
along with Kenneth Jezek of Ohio State University, has been awarded nearly a
quarter of a million dollars from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to
analyze remotely sensed data from the glacier. The two researchers will be
spending the next three years trying to figure out, via computer programs,
the thickness of the Lambert ice sheet and its mass balance as it edges
toward the sea. Then they will look for answers as to how such glaciers
might respond to world climate.
"The Lambert glacier is the largest such ice mass in the world," Liu said.
"We believe that studying its movement and mass balance will yield clues
that can help us understand the role of glaciers in global climate change."
Their work won't require Liu or Jezek to leave their offices, since they'll
be analyzing computer data generated by sensors aboard satellites. They will
use data provided by two missions of the Canadian Radarsat satellite, which
provided complete coverage of the entire Antarctic continent over a 30 day
period in 1997 and over three months in 2000, both at 25m resolution. The
researchers will also be dealing with optical stereo data collected by the
Aster sensor onboard the recently-launched NASA Terra satellite, which
yields good topographic resolution at the 15m level. Resolution refers to
the area represented by each pixel on the satellite image. High-resolution
satellite data, showing less area and more detail, is manipulated with
sophisticated software to form maps composing a geographical information
"Satellites provide the comprehensive observations needed for
modern scientific investigations of ice flow dynamics and mass balance in
the Lambert glacier basin," Liu observed. "Optical sensors are affected by
clouds and often saturated due to the high albedo of snow for visible
wavelengths. This limits their use in Polar regions. "With the ability to
fly unimpeded by the harsh climate, to peer through clouds and to observe
day and night, satellite-borne microwave instruments can provide large-scale
coverage of the Antarctic ice sheet at very high resolution." Mass balance
measurements tell researchers just how much ice is being formed from
compression of snow. Ice thickness is in turn constrained by the surface
topography of an area, which, for the Lambert glacier, is still largely
unmapped. Liu and Jezek will be using paired radar imaging (interferometric
SAR and SAR stereo techniques) to extract a digital elevation model (DEM)
and ice velocity maps for the area.
Ice flow velocity is also controlled by an area's surface topography. The
researchers will be using radar interferometry data providing full coverage
of the glacier on the centimeter level of motion to determine the speed and
direction of the Lambert glacier's movement. Data on ice motion and land
surface topography, combined with readings from radar echo soundings of the
bedrock underlying the glacier, will be used to help estimate the thickness
of the ice at any point on the Lambert glacier.
Finally, Liu and Jezek will integrate their research to address the role of
glaciers in the dynamics of climate change.
"The theory is that the stability of glaciers is related to sea level
change," Liu said. "Any significant change in a glacier's ice thickness or
rate of movement could lead to changes in sea level. A catastrophic
interpretation of the theory speculates that collapse of the Antarctic ice
sheet could raise sea level as much as 60 meters worldwide."
Liu observed that only long-term monitoring of the glacier
will help scientists judge whether it is stable or not. He noted that global
warming could affect the glacier's stability. "It is expected that any
changes in regional and global climate will result in mass changes in ice
streams and glaciers," Liu said. "However, this mechanism is far from being
understood. "In principle, warming leads to reduction of ice. Another
possible scenario is that, in a slightly warmer climate, precipitation
increases, and high precipitation of snow over Antarctica adds mass to the
ice. So, until we've done more analysis, we can't predict what will most
38) GLOBAL WARMING IS BEHIND RAIN FAILURE: UN CLIMATE
The Indian Express
July 25, 2002
New Delhi, July 25: The current Indian drought may be
directly linked to the larger climate change that is affecting the globe,
feels R K Pachauri, chief of the UN-sponsored Inter-governmental Panel on
Climate Change (IPCC), Geneva. It's a position directly at odds with that
taken by the Indian Meteorological Department, which says there's no
question of climate change. Pachauri, who's also director-general of the
Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI), New Delhi, says ''it's been a very
peculiar summer this year and some perceptible climate change is taking
place in India''.
''There is a very strong reason to connect the current
drought to larger climate change since what we are witnessing is a peculiar
and sudden variation in climate as predicted by experts studying global
warming'', he says. The third assessment report put out by the IPCC in 2001
talked in great detail about the impacts of climate change on South Asia. In
fact, it predicted the emergence of drought and floods on this region,
stating ''there are possibilities of unforeseen surprises in the future''.
The way this year's monsoon has behaved - starting off
normally, then suddenly petering out - has no doubt surprised many
climatologists. The IPCC is a scientific expert body having 192 countries as
its members and is mandated by the UN to assess the scientific, social, and
economic issues related to human-induced climate change. Pachauri feels
once the delicate balance in the global circulation patterns is disturbed
due to man-made circumstances, ''non-linear and sudden changes are bound to
be the outcome'' and emphasises that this current erratic behaviour of the
monsoon is probably the first strong signal of climate change having had a
direct impact on India.
The IPCC report had also predicted a rapid glacial melt not
just of the polar ice caps but also of the Himalayan regions. Evidence to
that affect is found in the Bhakra reservoir, which is essentially fed by
glacial melt and is more than full while other rain-fed reservoirs are less
than half full today. This, too, hints at changing climate, Pachauri says.
Interestingly, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has never
acknowledged that global warming and climate change are taking place and
could seriously affect the pattern of precipitation for India. In fact, the
IMD goes to great lengths to condemn any notions of climate change despite
the growing body of evidence from across the globe.
S R Kalsi, IMD deputy director-general, feels it is ''incorrect to say that
there is a change in climate'', adding that this is merely a part of the
''natural behavior of the monsoon'' borne out by the over 125 years of data
with the IMD. Pachauri reacts to this by saying the IMD is ''entitled to
have their opinions but the indications of climate change are very strong
since the curves from the world over suggest a gradually warming Earth''.
The TERI chief, who took over as chairman of the IPCC this April, says India
needs to step up its primary research on climate change to fully understand
the implications of changing climate and to build suitable mitigation
measures. He calls for at least a 20-fold increase in the spending on
climate related research since the impact of global warming will be felt by
all sectors of the Indian economy.
39) GREEN ISSUES COULD HURT ENERGY FIRM STOCKS - REPORT
July 25, 2002
WASHINGTON - If the stock slump wasn't bad enough,
shareholder value at some top oil and natural gas companies could fall by
another 6 percent because of environmental costs and risks in the coming
decade, according to yesterday's report by an environmental think tank. The
World Resources Institute (WRI) warned that future actions to curb global
warming and limit drilling for oil and gas in environmentally sensitive
areas could cause investments in energy companies to drop.
"Investors ignore environmental issues at their own peril,"
said Duncan Austin, WRI economist and co-author of the report.
"Environmental issues can have a significant impact on a company's bottom
line and stock price." The report looked at 16 leading oil and gas
companies. Unocal, Occidental Petroleum and Repsol YPF all stand to lose
more than 6 percent of shareholder value as global warming and drilling
access issues unfold over the next decade, the report said. For example, the
international Kyoto treaty that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
could eventually dampen sales of oil, which is a major cause of the
KYOTO SAID A FACTOR
The Bush administration has rejected the treaty but Japan,
Europe and Russia have embraced it. Meanwhile, nearly a dozen U.S. state
attorneys general have called for a national program to set specific targets
to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
"Even without U.S. participation in the (Kyoto) protocol,
U.S.-based companies could be affected by it," the study said. "Changes in
the global oil market, transmitted by price, will be felt throughout the
industry." In contrast, Burlington Resources, Sunoco and Valero Energy are
relatively insulated against these environmental issues and should see
little or no change to their shareholder value, the report said.
Another risk to balance sheets is growing opposition to
drilling in environmentally sensitive areas such as the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge, the think tank said. ChevronTexaco, Conoco, Phillips
Petroleum, TotalFinaElf, Apache Corp, Repsol, Occidental and Unocal have a
larger share of their oil and natural gas reserve in environmentally
important areas, and are more at risk, according the report. "Past troubles
encountered by Texaco in Ecuador, Shell in Nigeria and other companies may
be a precursor to future, more systematic difficulties," it said. Exxon
Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell Group, Burlington and Eni Spa have few of their
energy reserves on environmentally sensitive lands and offshore waters.
The report found that energy companies have made limited disclosure on the
relevance of environmental issues on their future financial performance. "At
a time when investors have significant doubts about the quality of
information put out by companies, this type of objective information and
analysis is exactly what investors need to make accurate judgments about the
value of their investments," said WRI President Jonathan Lash. BP, Conoco
and Phillips were the only companies reviewed that indicated in their annual
reports to shareholders that climate change policies may have an impact on
future business operations, according to the study. "However, no company
attempts to quantify in financial terms the potential environmental risks
that it faces," the report said.
Energy companies are not the only ones to face financial
risks linked to the environment. On Monday California's governor signed a
landmark law requiring automakers to limit carbon dioxide emissions and
other pollutants. Gasoline fumes from cars and trucks are a major cause of
greenhouse gas emissions. The auto industry has vowed to dismantle the
California measure in federal court by invoking federal laws that reserve
for Congress the power to set fuel economy standards.
WRI REPORT WARNS ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS COULD REDUCE SHAREHOLDER
VALUE OF LEADING OIL AND GAS COMPANIES (Business Wire July 24, 2002)
SHAREHOLDERS WARNED ON OIL COMPANY ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS (One
World US July 24, 2002)
40) BRAZIL RATIFIES KYOTO PROTOCOL
Agencia EFE S.A
July 23, 2002
Brasilia, Jul 23, 2002 (EFE via COMTEX) -- President Fernando Henrique
Cardoso on Tuesday signed into law the Kyoto Protocol on climate change,
which seeks to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases by developed nations.
"We have just approved an important initiative that will benefit the
(entire) world," Cardoso said at the signing ceremony.
The Kyoto Protocol on climate change remains one of the
primary sources of tension in the international debate on global warming.
The terms of the treaty, which was the product of the 1997 U.N. Framework
Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan, have been rejected by the
United States, the world's largest industrial economy. The nations that
have ratified the protocol agreed to reduce total emissions of greenhouse
gases by at least 5 percent below the 1990 level to avoid destroying the
ozone layer and prevent global warming.
41) CO-GENERATION DIRECTIVE' TO SAVE ENERGY AND COMBAT
July 23, 2002
The European Commission is bidding to promote the
co-generation of heat and power, an energy-saving technique where heat and
electricity are produced in one single process. New co-generation plants
save over 10 per cent of fuel which would otherwise be used for separate
production of heat and electricity. The production of electricity through
co-generation represented 11 per cent of the EU's total electricity
production in 1998, leading to energy savings comparable to the annual gross
energy consumption of Austria or Greece.
"This new proposal would help limit the growing external dependence for
energy and harmful greenhouse gases emissions," said Loyola de Palacio,
Commissioner for Energy and Transport. The co-generation Directive would
encourage Member States to promote co-generation and they would have to
report on progress achieved towards meeting the potential of co-generation
and on measures taken to do so. Member States would also be required to
guarantee that electricity from co-generation would be transmitted and
distributed by objective, transparent and non-discriminatory criteria;
facilitate access to the grid for electricity produced from co-generation
units; ensure that guarantees of origin of electricity from co-generation
could be issued on request by one or more competent body.
The draft proposal establishes a common definition of co-generation and a
flexible methodology to identify high efficient co-generation. It will now
be forwarded to the member states and the European Parliament for adoption
under the 'co-decision procedure'.
42) UK FACES BATTLE TO MEET 2010 CO2 EMISSIONS CUT
July 23, 2002
LONDON - Britain will struggle to meet its target of a big
cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010 as generators burn more coal to fill
the gap left by the closure of nuclear power plants, a report published
The report from Cambridge Econometrics predicts a rise in
carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from 2005 as a result of energy demand growth
and an increase in coal-fired generation as many of Britain's ageing nuclear
power stations shut. "Our forecasts of energy demand and carbon emissions
are an important reality check," said Paul Ekins, co-editor of the study "UK
Energy and the Environment" in a statement. "They show the magnitude of the
task facing the government as it seeks to make significant headway towards
its domestic policy goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent
All but one of Britain's nuclear power stations are due to
shut by 2025. The newest plant, Sizewell B, built in 1995, will operate
until 2035. Britain's CO2 reduction target is voluntary but much deeper
than its legally binding commitment under the Kyoto climate change protocol
to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, widely blamed for causing global
warming. Cambridge Econometrics said the UK is on course to meet its Kyoto
goal of a 12.5 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions on 1990 levels by
Britain's CO2 emissions fell sharply in the 1990s as power
producers switched to cleaner natural gas from coal but they have risen over
the last two years as high gas prices prompted a switch back to coal
generation. Coal is expected to be much cheaper than gas after 2010 when gas
prices are forecast to rise as Britain becomes more dependent on imported
gas. While emissions rose again in 2001, Cambridge Econometrics revised
down the level of pollution in 2000 by 2.7 million tonnes of carbon (mtc) to
146 mtc. As a result, it forecast emissions in 2010 at 147.7 mtc, 7.2
percent below the 1990 level, compared to 149.5 mtc Cambridge Econometrics
estimated in January 2002.
The challenge for the government in its white paper on
energy, due to be published in the autumn, will be to combine measures to
encourage a low-carbon economy with tax measures which boost energy
conservation, said the report. "The government is clearly finding
environmental taxes in general...politically challenging," said Ekins. The
government has faced opposition from companies to its recently introduced
climate change levy on energy used by businesses. It also faces a struggle
to reach its target of providing 10 percent of Britain's electricity from
green sources by 2010, up from around three percent at present.
COMMENT AND ANALYSIS
43) KEEP POLITICKING OUT OF GLOBAL WARMING
DEBATE by Masaharu Asaba
August 4, 2002
Asaba is a senior editor of The Yomiuri Shimbun.
Rising sea levels caused by global warming threatens to
engulf small islands in the Pacific. But the world remains divided over how
to deal with the situation. While some island nations warn their
territories are submerging and their populations must be relocated, some
advanced countries insist the rise of sea levels is not yet serious. As an
island nation, Japan is not immune from the effect of rising sea levels. Now
is the time for the country to launch an initiative to conduct surveys on
rising sea levels and take precautionary measures.
The South Pacific island republic of Tuvalu, with a
population of only about 10,000 spread out over nine coral atolls, used to
be a peaceful self-supporting tropical paradise. It now faces the prospect
of sinking into the ocean, and is drawing global attention as a test case of
an island threatened by rising sea levels. According to meteorologists,
global sea levels are rising as polar ice caps melt. Meteorologists on the
International Panel of Climate Changes (IPCC), a body affiliated with the
United Nations, last year published a report warning that sea levels could
rise by up to 88 centimeters by 2100. The Tuvalu government is increasingly
concerned about the prospect of the island nation disappearing if sea levels
continue to rise.
Issues related to rising sea levels will be high on the
agenda of the World Summit for Sustainable Development to be held in South
Africa from mid-August to early September. The current situation, though, is
that few countries are really serious about tackling the problem. A survey
mission recently sent to Tuvalu by Friends of the Earth (FoE) Japan, a
nongovernmental organization that studies environmental problems, reported
that rising sea levels have already begun to affect the lives of Tuvaluans.
The NGO found that:
trees on the seashore have begun falling down and beaches are being
high tide, seawater spills over embankments, inundating houses.
that supply drinking water are tainted with seawater, posing not only a
health hazard but also affecting cultivation of the islanders' staple
one recent incident, seawater suddenly gushed out of the center of the
have occurred more frequently.
Despite this, the National Tidal Facility, an Australian
government-affiliated research body, turns a blind eye to what is happening
in Tuvalu and contends that its own surveys show sea levels around the
island rising less than 0.9 millimeters a year. However, scientists say
such data are not reliable unless they are measured over a period of 30
years. The Australian survey, conducted over only nine years, thus cannot be
considered scientific. It does, however, reflect the stance of the
Australian government, which has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on
climate change, mirroring the United States' position, and is keen to
emphasize that there is no sign of global warming.
Tuvalu government has initiated a program, Pacific Access Category, aimed at
resettling its people in New Zealand. The initiative is drawing global
attention as the first case in the world in which environmental refugees are
being relocated. Furthermore, the island republic reportedly is moving to
appeal to the International Court of Justice in The Hague against U.S.
companies that emit massive amounts of carbon dioxide. However, one should
not jump to conclusions and take these moves at face value. Governments on
either side of the Kyoto Protocol debate interpret the pact according to
what is important to them. If they go too far in their propaganda campaigns,
they may find themselves hard-pressed to reach an international accord on
addressing global environmental problems.
With speculation growing over the motivation behind the
Tuvalu government's moves, Seluka Seluka, a climate change coordinator for
the Tuvalu government, was invited to Japan recently by FoE Japan to give
his personal account of the issue. He explained that the planned emigration
to New Zealand is aimed at expanding job opportunities for the
islanders--only those aged below 45 with English proficiency are eligible.
He denied that the emigration was a relief measure for environmental
refugees. He also doubted the wisdom of appealing to the International
Court of Justice. It may simply cost his government too much in legal fees
and losing the court battle would incur penalties it could not afford to
pay, Seluka said. "The policy was adopted by the previous administration and
could change if the government changes after the next election," he said. He
argued it was inadvisable to make too much fuss about what the Tuvalu
government was doing.
The main body of existing scientific data points to actual
rises in sea levels around the world. But even if measures to prevent global
warming were taken fully and immediately, sea levels would continue to rise
because heat energy--in other words, temperature--stored in the oceans will
keep altering the climate and current patterns. Advanced and developing
countries must work together to steadily and systematically prevent global
catastrophes. Disguising politics as science or playing to the gallery as
environmental victims only adds to the confusion. Japan, with its advanced
meteorological capability, engineering skills and scientific know-how, is
perfectly placed to lead world opinion and take the initiative in addressing
44) COMMUNICATING CLIMATE CHANGE by Crispin Tickell
Science via Scidev.net
Volume 297, Number 5582, Issue of 2 Aug 2002, p. 737.
Crispin Tickell is a senior visiting fellow at the Harvard
for the Environment and chairman of the Climate Institute of
The science of climate change is one thing, but communicating
the results of that science to the public is very much another. Climate
change is one of the issues that will come up at the World Conference on
Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2002. But
apart from when there is suffering from unexpected heat or cold, flood or
drought, it is always hard to give climate change the appropriate urgency.
The science itself is not in doubt. Of course there are
continuing uncertainties about the proportion of natural to human-driven
change, but the existence of human-driven change is clear. The conclusions
of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the main national
academies of science (including that of the United States) represent a broad
international consensus with little serious dissent.
There the problems of communication begin. I remember the editor of a
leading British broadsheet dismissing climate change as yesterday's story.
News has to have a beginning and an end, and often has to be artificially
polarized. A process that occurs over years or centuries is hard to report
on very often. Moreover, the story carries uncomfortable implications.
Making unwelcome changes now to avoid possible consequences in an uncertain
future is a difficult proposition to sell to anyone. With a few honorable
exceptions, politicians and economists do not calculate more than a few
years ahead. There are also none so deaf as those who don't want to hear.
Yet the message of climate change is being increasingly, if incrementally,
registered. At the beginning of the 19th century, everyone knew that slavery
was wrong. But there was a tacit conspiracy to do little or nothing about
it; too many interests were at stake. Leadership, public agitation, and a
few visible disasters were needed to bring slavery to an end. It also needed
a new morality and sense of public and private responsibility.
The Framework Convention on Climate Change of 1992 and
subsequent agreements fixed large obligations on governments. None was under
the illusion that the modest reduction of carbon emissions by industrial
countries envisaged under the Kyoto Protocol would solve the problem, and
all agreed that the arrangements for doing so were imperfect and incomplete.
But at least it was a start. Public opinion in Europe, Japan, and elsewhere
broadly if reluctantly accepted the idea that a change of direction was
necessary, at least in the way in which energy was generated and used. The
industrial countries could scarcely preach change to the rest of the world
if they did not give the example.
Hence the dismay when the Bush administration pulled out of
the Kyoto Protocol, pleading national self-interest, and later produced a
climate strategy that included substantial increases in carbon emissions.
How could the most powerful country in the world, with the strongest
scientific base (and yet the world's largest polluter), behave with such
apparent irresponsibility? Lack of public awareness in the United States may
be part of the answer. The American way of life is built on the car economy,
cheap energy, and faith in market forces. Vested interests are strong in
Congress and the media, and the rest of the world seems far away.
Yet change is on the way. Already business is reading the
signs. The notorious Global Climate Coalition, dedicated to discrediting the
science that demonstrates global warming, has fallen apart. Such major
companies as DuPont in the United States, BP Amoco and Shell in Europe, and
Toyota in Japan aim to do better than anything in the Kyoto Protocol to curb
emissions. Even the U.S. administration shows signs of unease. There is talk
of greater energy efficiency and application of new technologies. The
impacts of the greenhouse effect have become common parlance. And already
the Chinese claim to have reduced their carbon emissions in absolute terms.
They see where their real national interest lies.
What, if anything, will be the message from Johannesburg? We
shall see. Communicating the fact of climate change is a complex process
involving political leadership, science, public pressure, and even perhaps a
useful catastrophe or two to illuminate the issues. We should not forget the
moral dimension: a sense of responsibility to future human generations and a
respect for the totality of ecosystems.
45) FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE by C.E. Karunakaran
Frontline Volume 19 - Issue 15
July 20 - August 2, 2002
C.E. Karunakaran is an engineer who has studied and worked on issues
relating to carbon credit trading.
If the world is to be saved from an environmental
catastrophe, it is essential for the civil society in Third World countries
to take an active role in pressuring their governments and in moulding
opinion to move in the direction of a solution based on the principle of
equal atmospheric rights for all.
atmosphere, like the air we breathe, belongs to everyone. It has now
become obvious that the extent to which it can be polluted by carbon dioxide
(CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG) in the course of our normal living
has a ceiling; that is, the pollution space that we collectively possess is
finite and limited. The only enduring basis by which this space can be
shared is to divide it equally among all human beings. Any method that is
established on the strength of the present power relations, and is thus
iniquitous, cannot be sustained for long.
It is this realisation that has made far-sighted persons such as French
Environment Minister Dominique Voynet support the strategy of contraction
and convergence. According to this strategy, all countries will be allotted
entitlements to pollute on the basis of a single per capita allowance. While
the rich countries will have to contract their emission levels to reach this
target, the poor countries will be allowed to develop their economies by
increasing their emission to that level. This convergence target will have
to be reached in a given time-period and, thereafter, will decline uniformly
for all countries.
The per capita emission and the time for convergence will have to be
negotiated internationally, taking into account the safe levels of CO2
concentration that can be allowed in the atmosphere. If these entitlements
are permitted to be traded, developing countries can get substantial
resources as a matter of right and not as handouts. These resources would
help them leapfrog into clean technologies for power and transport and for
overall development as well, without having to worry about losing their
A sub-text to this argument is that within countries,
depressed sections of people have an ecological debt that the affluent
sections owe them and they have a right to claim it. A study by the Indira
Gandhi Institute for Development Research found that in 1989-90 the per
capita carbon emission of the top 10 per cent of the urban population in
India was 13 times that of the bottom half of the rural population. It is
the poverty-stricken Dalit woman who fetches headloads of shrub from long
distances for the day's kitchen fire and her children who pore over their
books in the glow of the kerosene lamp who have saved this planet from a
worse disaster than it faces now. If the excluded and oppressed sections in
the Third World countries demand their rightful share of equitably
distributed CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) funds for their own
development, it could lead to social dynamics that are different from what
these societies are used to at present.
But, for now, the dominant discourse in the dominant country
is focussed on the 'non-responsible' emissions by the populous developing
nations. Green movements in that country are quick to point out to their
government that it is the countries that are non-accountable to Kyoto that
are behaving more responsibly than those that are accountable to it. For
instance, according to researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory in California, China has reduced its emission by 17 per cent
since the mid-1990s, a period when its gross domestic product increased by
36 per cent. Said Zhou Dadi, Director of the Energy Research Institute,
China: "Strategically, we have adopted climate change as an important
concern in our energy planning. Before 1980, China's energy use increased
1.6 times as fast as the economy. But in the last 20 years, energy use has
grown at less than half the rate of the economy... Our per capita energy use
is just one-tenth of that in the United States and one-seventh of that in
Europe. Americans drive cars while we ride bicycles; you live in houses
while we live in dormitories."
India has also done much to conserve, though its record is
not as spectacular as that of China. India is now the world's fifth largest
fossil-fuel CO2-emitting country; the emissions having grown at 6 per cent a
year since 1950. It is the world's third largest coal-producing country and
coal accounts for 70 per cent of fossil emissions. However, at less than 0.3
metric tonnes of carbon emission per head, it is the lowest for any large
country, far lower than the global average of 1.13 tonnes and one-twentieth
of the U.S. per capita emission.
There have been several studies of the impact of global
warming on India, especially on food production and on coastal areas. The
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) lists India among the 27
countries that are most vulnerable to a rise in sea level. A study by the
Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1993 found that a one-metre rise in sea level
would inundate approximately 5,800 square kilometres of coastal area and
directly affect 70 lakh people; the economic loss would range from
Rs.2,30,300 crores for Mumbai to Rs.400 crores for Balasore, at current
prices. India is already reeling under weather disasters of unprecedentedly
large scales. Most environmentalists link this to global warming. A heat
wave in Orissa in 1998, the hottest year of the millennium, claimed 650
lives; the next year, 10,000 people perished in Orissa's worst-ever floods.
This year's heat wave was worse than that of 1998 and claimed more than 600
lives in Andhra Pradesh alone, despite prior warning to the people and some
preparations. A UNEP team that went to the Himalayas recently found that a
glacier near the first camp that Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay set up
during their conquest of the Everest in 1953 had receded by 5 km and that a
series of small ponds had now formed a big lake.
The lack of sufficient data and research on the impacts of
climate change has prevented India, and other developing countries, from
playing an assertive role in global negotiations. India cannot hope to make
the kind of investment that the U.S. has made. (Two national laboratories in
the U.S. have launched a $20 million project, with 1.5 teraflops of
computing power, to evaluate scientifically the policy options on climate
change.) Also, the 'expert' advice India gets on policy matters is less than
neutral. In a briefing paper sent by the Centre for Science and Environment
to the Members of Parliament in India before The Hague conference, the late
Anil Agarwal pointed out that Bill Clinton's principal environmental adviser
Kathleen McGinty stationed herself at the Tata Energy Research Institute in
Delhi for a year and went round the country to paint an alluring picture of
the CDM, without pointing out its inequity in the absence of established
entitlements. According to him, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)
was among those who fell for her argument. It is only to be expected that
private industry everywhere will be short-term-oriented.
The government and the politicians too have little incentive
to take a long-term view. In fact, the subject gets very low priority and
the public awareness of the issues involved is also abysmally low as
compared to the awareness levels in the industrialised countries. Besides,
when push comes to shove, the only superpower of the world will not hesitate
to apply open pressure on national governments, using its leverage. In fact,
some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the North, such as the World
Resources Institute in Washington D.C., want international financial
institutions to use aid, loan and trade to pressure developing countries to
adopt climate-friendly, and obviously costly, technologies. Thus one cannot
assume that the Indian government will automatically act in such a way as to
protect the long-term interests of the people.
So, if the world is to be saved from a looming catastrophe and international
and inter-generational justice is to be maintained, it is essential for
civil society in Third World countries to take an active role in pressuring
their own governments and in moulding world opinion to move in the direction
of a swift 'equal rights for all' solution. In this effort, they need to
contend with, and engage in dialogue, even well-meaning NGOs in the North,
which, in their anxiety to get some action off the ground, are prone to seek
accommodation from the nations in the South. Attending a conference of
northern NGOs on climate change, an activist from the South found to her
dismay that the question equity ranked lowest in the delegates' priorities.
The forces ranged against a credible and just solution are
many and mighty. One silver lining is that the extremism of the Bush variety
is creating a backlash of public opinion and pulling together
environmentalists for vigorous joint actions. An example is the largest ever
paid media campaign by any environmental group during August and September
2001 in the United States. Americans in 23 States were educated by a clutch
of environment groups on how their Congressmen listened when (oil) money
talked, how they voted for $30 billion in taxpayer handouts to oil, coal and
nuclear power companies, how they "voted time and time again for more
pollution, and more global warming" instead of for lower energy bills and a
healthier environment, how they should not now allow their Senator to do the
same when the bills come up for approval.
There is a need for similar concerted action by the NGOs of the South. This
need not be, and probably ought not to be, limited to advocacy of the
equal-rights-to-the-air-above principle; it can extend to the issue of
reparations for the damage caused to the environment in the past. Even as
voices are raised now for reparations for slavery and colonialism, just
recompense for environmental imperialism is bound to become a major issue
several years hence. But raising it now has the advantage of driving home
the equal rights message with greater force. In fact, the current
environmental intransigence of the U.S. President can be countered by taking
him to court for the economic costs of the disasters faced by the poorer
countries because of climate change - up to $9.5 trillion over the next two
decades, according to one estimate by development groups. The Red Cross
suggests in a report that poor countries could seek legal compensation to
pay for reconstruction through an "international tort climate court". It
says: "Increasingly sophisticated analysis of climate change means that
ignorance of the consequences of industrial consumption and pollution can be
no defence for inaction."
In a recent article in The Guardian, Stephen Timms of the
Global Economy Programme at the New Economics Foundation points to the
establishment of a principle in a U.S. court that no State had the right to
cause injury to another by emitting "fumes". This was in a case relating to
a Canadian smelter plant damaging crops and livestock in Washington State in
the U.S. Timms says: "The next message G-7 heads of state receive from their
poorer cousins may not be an invitation to a reception, or a plea for more
aid. It may be much more abrupt: 'We'll see you in court for global
warming.' A concrete step towards this was taken recently when two dozen
lawyers representing environmental groups met in Washington to explore the
possibility of class-action lawsuits against the U.S. government and
corporations on behalf of Tuvalu - whose 10,000 residents are emigrating to
New Zealand as the island nation faces total submergence by 2050 - or the
Maldives or Jamaica, like those filed by the Holocaust victims or those
filed against the tobacco companies. Tuvalu's new Prime Minister has
signalled his intention to sue.
The principle of contraction and convergence is gaining
ground, albeit very slowly. The Environment Ministers of Denmark, the
Netherlands and the United Kingdom have voiced their personal support to it;
Britain's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, in a report on
climate change published recently, has endorsed it. However, it is nowhere
near claiming serious attention at Kyoto discussions. A large part of the
responsibility to see that this happens rests on the NGOs in India and in
the other countries of the South.
46) GLOBAL WAR ON GLOBAL WARMING HEATS UP
World Watch Institute
August 1, 2002
Washington, DC - Thursday, August 1, 2002 — The world is on
the brink of bringing into force one of the most far-reaching environmental
treaties of all time, the Kyoto Protocol. And even without the world’s
largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the United States, on board,
signatories of the Protocol are setting the stage for a new generation of
policymaking worldwide, reports a new study—the first ten-year review of
global climate policy since the Rio Earth Summit—by the Worldwatch
Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization.
“The next critical step in controlling global warming is to bring the
Protocol, and its legally-binding emissions limits, into force as soon as
possible and leave the era of voluntary commitments behind,” says Seth Dunn,
author of Reading the Weathervane: Climate Policy from Rio to Johannesburg.
“The first President Bush argued for soft, voluntary commitments in 1992. It
was a questionable claim back then, and one that—with a decade of
hindsight—we can discard. For the current President Bush to continue
recycling his father’s failed policy betrays either ‘policy amnesia’ or
willful neglect of the record of the past decade.”
Momentum for bringing the Kyoto Protocol into force has been
building, following the ratifications by the European Union and Japan
earlier this summer. With ratification by either Russia and Poland, or
Russia and Canada, the conditions for bringing the treaty into force would
be satisfied. Climate change will loom in the background at the upcoming
World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in August/September
and will be front and center at the next round of negotiations, which will
take place in New Delhi from October 23 to November 1. In this review of
global climate change policy since the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro,
Dunn reviews global and national carbon emission trends between 1990 and
2001, and details the climate policies developed over the past decade in 11
industrial and developing nations and the European Union. Among the
The European Union, the climate policy pioneer, saw emissions drop by 0.2
percent between 1990 and 2001. But E.U. emissions rose in 2000 and 2001,
auguring future rises if new and stronger policies are not adopted.
Emissions in Germany and the United Kingdom fell by 17.1
percent and 4.1 percent, respectively, due to the shutdown of inefficient
industries and a switch from coal to natural gas for electricity.
Japan saw emissions balloon by 10.8 percent between 1990 and
2001, though it still boasts the world’s best ratio of carbon emissions per
unit of economic output.
The United States, Australia, and Canada saw emissions
explode by 15.7, 32.3, and 11.5 percent, respectively, between 1990 and
Russia, the most carbon-intensive country, experienced a 30.5
percent drop in emissions between 1990 and 2001, largely due to its economic
collapse during the 1990s.
Climate change rose to the top of the global agenda at the
1992 Rio Earth Summit, where the original U.N. Framework Convention on
Climate Change was adopted. Under this agreement, industrial and former
Eastern bloc nations agreed to aim to voluntarily return their emissions to
1990 levels by the year 2000. However, nearly all the countries fell short
of their initial Rio goals. Globally, carbon emissions grew by 10.2 percent
between 1990 and 2001. Meanwhile, the scientific case for action continued
to strengthen, due to further observed evidence of climate change and a
string of new highs in global carbon dioxide concentrations and global
average surface temperatures.
“The records in global CO2 concentrations and global temperatures, and the
upward trends in global and most national emissions, indicate that the gap
between climate science and policy has widened, rather than narrowed, since
Rio,” says Dunn, who identified several key shortcomings in the policy
responses to date:
Most of the climate policies that were adopted have been too weak, only
partially implemented, or discontinued.
Governments have failed to develop “diversified portfolios” of policies,
with many relying on one type of measure—such as weak voluntary agreements.
While “good practices” were identified in areas such as tax policy and
energy efficiency standards, the existence of “perverse practices”—including
subsidies for fossil fuel production and consumption (estimated globally at
$200 billion per year)—has been a major impediment to climate policymaking,
particularly in the United States, Canada, and Australia.
The transport sector emerges as a major blind spot in climate
policy since Rio, receiving very little attention while becoming the
fastest-growing source of emissions. Transportation, especially road
transport, is projected to remain the fastest-growing source of emissions
through 2020, with the most explosive growth occurring in the developing
world. But governments have been loathe to touch the massive direct and
indirect subsidies for road building, suburban development, and car travel
that have fueled the surge in transport emissions. Dunn defuses several
common myths in the climate policy debate, such as the claim that Brazil,
India, and China are “rogue emitters.” “We found these nations taking
numerous steps to slow emissions growth, primarily for economic reasons,”
says Dunn. “For example, the U.S. government projects that China will
surpass the United States as the world’s biggest carbon emitter by 2020. But
recent trends suggest that the gap between the two countries’ emissions may
instead widen, as Chinese emissions rise less rapidly than projected, due to
significant reductions in coal use and widespread energy efficiency
improvements.” Dunn also challenges the claim, often made by opponents of
the Kyoto Protocol, that the costs of implementing the treaty will outweigh
The Protocol would require industrial and Former Eastern bloc
nations to collectively reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent
between 1990 and 2008-12. But there is significant uncertainty about the
economic consequences of meeting this commitment, as conventional economic
models have historically overstated the costs and understated the benefits
of environmental policies. “Keep in mind that the economists who predict
that the Protocol will be too expensive are the same nay-sayers who
predicted that no agreement would be reached in Kyoto,” Dunn points out.
“The real-world evidence to date, and new studies showing significant
potential for low- or no-cost emissions cuts, suggest that they will be
proven wrong once again.”
WORLDWATCH PAPER 160 - READING THE WEATHERVANE: CLIMATE
POLICY FROM RIO TO JOHANNESBURG PLEASE VISIT
47) HAS POLITICAL WILL RUN DRY? By Lloyd Axworthy
Globe and Mail
July 31, 2002
Lloyd Axworthy, foreign affairs minister from 1996 to 2000,
is director and CEO of the University of British Columbia's Liu Centre for
the Study of Global Issues.
The time has
come for Canada to be counted among nations willing to take on one of the
biggest challenges the world has faced, says Lloyd Axworthy.
The dog days of summer are not a good time for weighty
political decisions in Canada. The traditional rule of thumb is that
parliamentarians and cabinet ministers should occupy themselves with nothing
more intrusive than a stroll through the local street festival or country
fair. Leave us to our barbecues, canoe trips and lawn chairs, is the
prevailing national sentiment about politics during August. This summer is
different. Very soon, the last week of August to be exact, a decision must
be made that, to put it bluntly, will be a defining moment for this country
for many years to come. That moment of truth is when we will decide whether
or not to finally and fully announce our commitment to ratify the Kyoto
Protocol on climate change at the United Nations summit meeting on
sustainable development in Johannesburg.
It may be a hard sell to convince a slumbering, sun-seeking
populace that signifying our intent to join in an environmental treaty at a
UN meeting in far off South Africa constitutes the stuff of historic
decision-making. Yet, that is exactly what is at stake. The decision to
fulfill our commitment and become a signature member of one of the most
significant international undertakings of this new century can only be
described as momentous. It means that we must be prepared to override
provincial objections led by the government of Alberta, resist the economic
alarms raised by many in the energy industry and their legion of
consultants, discount the hidebound reservations of the majority of
mandarins in Ottawa, ignore the tepid tip-toeing of most of the federal
cabinet, plot a course distinct from our southern neighbour and fire up the
political system for a major mobilization -- all in aid of tackling one of
the most serious risks faced by humankind, the convulsion of our climate
because of too much human-produced carbon going into the air.
This is not one of those abstract issues that disciples of
globalization like to lecture on. This is a real, visceral happening that
one can see in every corner of the globe, carrying with it real threats to
people's security and well-being. A few weeks ago when visiting Mongolia, I
was shown the stark evidence of how the Gobi desert is chewing up a large
acreage of grassland both there and in China because of global warming. The
consequence is massive dust storms that sweep across East Asia and are now
reaching the shores of North America, leaving severe respiratory illnesses
in their wake. Last year at this time, I chaired a task force on climate
change for the government of Manitoba and saw directly the impact global
warming is having in our own country -- diminished water supplies in the
Prairies, the slow disappearance of our Boreal forest, increased outbreaks
of fire, disease and insects and a melting of Arctic ice drastically
affecting the lives of our northern inhabitants.
There is no region of the Earth that is immune from the shifts in weather
patterns, bringing with them conditions of rising sea levels, extremes in
temperatures, volatility in normal climate trends. We are living in a
carbon-induced climate maelstrom.
People understand this. In polling done in 11 countries
around the world, the risks of disasters arising from climate change
outweighed the concerns over terrorism. In Canada, it was by a three-to-one
margin. But, while the politics of antiterrorism are in high gear and
billions are spent in protection against that particular threat, there is a
disconnect when it comes to climate change. The political system is simply
not engaged to the extent necessary to produce effective action.
Ratifying Kyoto is important because it sets a framework of
agreement on which widespread, collective, global effort can be organized.
It is why Canada must be a full participant in that effort, lending our
resources, our know-how, our science, and most of all, our leadership, to
this timely chance to begin showing that we can master our affairs. At the
centre of this summer political storm is the Prime Minister. He is going to
Johannesburg to represent Canada. He will be on stage when the rest of the
world asks where we stand. He is the one who must exercise the political
will to make it happen. Signs are that he is ready to make a move. He is one
of the few in Ottawa who seem to understand the primacy of the issue and the
role Canada must play.
He has some allies. Environment Minister David Anderson has
been waging the good fight. There are several stalwarts in the government
caucus. Manitoba Premier Gary Doer has become the Kyoto advocate among
provincial leaders and has committed his province to meeting Kyoto targets.
There is a healthy, vibrant voice from many NGOs.
But, there are still too many leaders in politics, business,
media and in the community hiding in the weeds, afraid to declare, showing
little engagement at this crucial time. There hasn't been anywhere near the
level of public attention or unifying of national purpose that we have seen
when other issues of magnitude have been encountered. The premiers' meeting
just getting under way in Halifax could substantially change that if Mr.
Doer is successful in extracting a firm commitment from the premiers in
advance of the UN summit. Alberta's position is that the matter needs more
study, but Johannesburg must be seen as a hard deadline. Environment policy
should also be in the forefront of the debate generated this summer by the
federal leadership review. It hasn't been.
There is still too much ambivalence and avoidance being
displayed by too many people in strategic positions on this crucial issue.
This weakens the case and undermines the capacity of the country to get its
act together so that we can work in a highly motivated way to meet the
threat that global warming presents. Time is short before the world summit.
It must be put to good use in developing a strong consensus among our
political leadership that ratifying Kyoto is a determining step for Canada.
If we don't, the warmth we enjoy each summer might just some day be more
than we can bear.
48) SEIZE THE DAY ON CLIMATE CHANGE by David Crane
July 28, 2002
David Crane is The Star's economics editor. His column appears Tuesday to
Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. He can be reached at email@example.com by
PRIME MINISTER Jean Chrétien plans to attend the U.N.
Conference on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg at the end of next
month. But he shouldn't go unless Canada has first ratified the Kyoto
Agreement on Climate Change. There are nearly enough countries that have
ratified the Kyoto agreement so that it can come into effect. Canada's
ratification would almost certainly allow the Johannesburg summit to declare
the agreement in effect.
This is perhaps the most important environmental agreement in
history, despite the shameful fact that the world's biggest source of
greenhouse gases, the United States, has refused to participate. The United
States has about 5 per cent of the world's population but accounts for about
25 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. However, this should not
stop Canada. It's important that we ratify the agreement, which would have
Canada reduce greenhouse-gas emissions to 6 per cent below their 1990 level
by 2008-12, without cheating. This amounts to an actual cut of 26 per cent
below 1990 levels because emissions have grown since 1990 despite earlier
promises to reduce them.
Canada wants to cheat by including credits for natural gas
and hydroelectricity exports to the United States in meeting its Kyoto
commitments. This is the Enron version of environmental accounting. To be
sure, there will be opposition to Kyoto in Canada -- even within the
Chrétien government. For example, Industry Minister Allan Rock and Natural
Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal have emerged as foes, while Chrétien
appears indifferent. And Big Business, represented by the Canadian Council
of Chief Executives (formerly the Business Council on National Issues)
recently published an anti-Kyoto polemic, which it presented, without
blushing, as a "responsible" alternative. It contains no targets or
deadlines for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions.
However, it contains a long list of scary assertions --
arguing that if Canada ratifies the accord without the United States also
doing so there will be a further outflow of head offices from Canada, a fall
in investment and loss of jobs, a downgrade in credit ratings and a fall in
the Canadian dollar, while Canada would also be forced to slash immigration
and do all kinds of other unpalatable things. The council even challenges
the science of climate change. And it also makes the argument that climate
change policy must be co-ordinated (harmonized?) with the United States.
"Economic integration imposes some real constraints on Canadian policy
choices," it admits now (but not during the Canada-U.S. free trade debate).
It's disappointing that the leaders of our biggest
corporations are such hard-line opponents of action to deal with the world's
most serious environmental challenge. They should think of their
grandchildren because this is perhaps the world's biggest intergenerational
issue. While there's no doubt that the Chrétien government has mishandled
the climate change file from the beginning, and that this hasn't been helped
by the unwillingness of provinces like Ontario and Alberta to seriously face
the challenge of climate change, it is possible to come up with a strategy
that aggressively promotes energy efficiency and technological innovation,
while also making use of emissions trading. Achieving the Kyoto target
might reduce Canada's gross domestic product by 0.5 per cent from what it
might otherwise have been. But there would also be a cost from not doing
Meanwhile, there are some positive U.S. signs. For example,
California has passed legislation that will allow it to set much higher fuel
efficiency standards for cars, sports utility vehicles and light trucks,
starting in the 2009 model year. This is important because auto industry
lobbyists "persuaded" the U.S. Senate earlier this year not to raise fuel
efficiency standards. This is also important for Canada because both the
federal and Ontario governments are afraid of doing anything that might
upset the Big Three auto producers; we have to depend on U.S. initiatives to
improve automotive fuel efficiency in Canada.
At the same time, attorneys-general from 11 U.S. states,
including Massachusetts, New York, California and Alaska, have written to
President George W. Bush calling for much stronger measures to reduce
emissions of greenhouse gases. "Far from proposing solutions to the climate
change problem, the administration has been adopting energy policies that
would actually increase greenhouse-gas emissions," the letter says.
Rather than accepting that we cannot act because the U.S.
won't, we should act. This is likely to bring the Kyoto agreement into
effect and encourage conscientious Americans to work for change in their
country. And properly done, it could give us a competitive advantage as well
as a higher quality of life.
49) WHAT APOCALYPSE? by Michael Hill
The Baltimore Sun
July 28, 2002
Fears: End-of-the-world warnings have long been with us, but the dire
predictions of demise also have resulted in 'good research' to help address
IT IS SUMMERTIME and the skies are angry, filled with smoke from forest
fires, the greenhouse gases building up almost before your eyes, the fragile
ozone layer barely protecting humanity from the sun's destructive rays.
Soon, perhaps, a melting ice cap will put your favorite beach resort under
water. Then, you will turn on your tap and no water will come out. The
reservoirs will be dry.
Since the environmental movement first gained strength 30 years ago,
predictions of the demise of the world as we know it have been a staple.
Mankind loves an imminent apocalypse. End-of-the-world movements have
probably had adherents since the beginning of the world. The top fiction
hardcover book on The New York Times best-seller list is The Remnant:
Armageddon is Near, the latest installment of the immensely popular Left
Behind series, a dramatization of Christian end-of-the-world prophecies.
The problem with such prophets is that the world, darn it, doesn't end on
their schedule. Adherents lose patience and faith. And that means such
apocalyptic tendencies can hurt the environmental movement. Since various
predicted cataclysms have not happened, then it all must be a bunch of
One of the most famous examples of this was a wager between
Paul Ehrlich and eco-skeptic Julian Simon in 1980. Ehrlich -- whose 1968
book The Population Bomb used that Cold War terminology to warn of the
coming crisis of world population -- accepted a challenge from Simon.
Ehrlich bet that the price of five natural resources -- copper, chrome,
nickel, tin, and tungsten -- would go up in the next decade because of
growing scarcity. Instead their prices went down. Ehrlich paid up, and Simon
became a hero to those who would debunk the environmental movement. Many of
Ehrlich's dire predictions have not come true, including the size of
catastrophic famines that would ravage the world. No one took up another bet
Ehrlich offered in 1969 -- even money that England would cease to exist by
2000. And there were myriad prophecies during the gas-line days of the 1970s
that the world would run out of oil in a few years that also failed to come
These issues were used against the environmental movement in
a recent book, The Skeptical Environmentalist by the Danish scientist Bjorn
Lomborg. He attempts to show that despite the warnings, the environment is
improving. Yet the dire predictions continue, he says, to help in
fund-raising efforts. Steve Fetter, associate director of the Joint Global
Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland, College Park, says
that most environmental scientists are overly cautious, but that is not
always how it comes out in the popular media. "Folks trying to catalyze
political action need to have some visible symptom to get peoples'
attention," says Fetter, who has studied global warming. "So if you have a
really hot summer, forest fires, hurricanes, the temptation is to use these
things to get the political support you need. It's not really scientific,
but it's understandable."
Katherine McComas, who teaches at the university's journalism school,
studied media coverage of the first wave of global warming warnings a decade
ago. She found that early stories responded to apocalyptic visions of rising
seas and other disasters, but that then the pendulum shifted to coverage of
economic arguments and disputes among scientists. "Some scientists seemed
to be really scaring people, so what they set up is the possibility that in
the future, people would then tend to be less willing to pay attention to
those issues," she says. "It's the 'boy-who-cries-wolf' scenario."
Andrew Miller, an associate professor in the department of
geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore
County, says that environmentalists are often driven to issue dire warnings
because more studied statements are dismissed by those making money off the
status quo. "Personally, I don't walk around telling students to expect the
apocalypse, but as a skeptic, I am also skeptical of those who say that
nothing bad will happen because it hasn't happened yet," Miller says. "There
is almost a total consensus among scientists that we are now experiencing a
total climatic shift. How large that will be, what the consequences will be,
it is hard to say. The fact is we are running a huge uncontrolled experiment
in a very complex system. Arguing that we should continue to run that
experiment because it has not resulted in catastrophe so far is self-serving
for those who make that argument."
The apocalyptic language is understandable in the global-
warming debate because, as Robert Park, head of the Washington office of the
American Physical Society, says, the two sides of the global warming
argument "came at this thing from two religious points of view." But he
says the result was good science. "Both sides were out there working [hard]
... doing really good research. They played by the rules and gave an honest
accounting of what they saw. It worked great. We learned more about the
climate in a few years than we had in decades." And he says the bottom line
is a consensus that man's use of fossil fuels is warming up Earth. Now the
argument is if this will mean a catastrophe or just a wardrobe change?
Park says the results could be cataclysmic: "If you look far
enough down the line, the apocalypse will happen, but it will happen pretty
slow." Says Miller: "I think a lot of things are seriously at risk. That
does not mean that human ingenuity cannot come up with a way to deal with
this." Climate-shift scientists do have a couple of doomsday scenarios. In
one, global warming affects the ocean in a way that messes up the
long-standing flow of currents. The Gulf Stream ceases delivering warm water
to Europe. Ironically, Earth's warming brings an ice age to that continent.
"This has happened in the past in a matter of years, definitely less than 10
years," says Fetter. "It would be a catastrophe for European agriculture."
The other scenario is a collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet, a huge
chunk of ice that is attached to land. "If that shelf were to break off and
fall into the ocean, it would be like plopping a big ice cube in a glass of
ice tea," Fetter says. "That could raise sea levels by as much as 17 feet,
putting a lot of the world's ports under water." Fetter says the odds are
that these things won't happen, but that it would be irresponsible for
scientists who see these possibilities not to point them out. The problem
with these and other predictions of catastrophe is that they assume a linear
progression in the future -- that we keep doing what we've been doing. But
we don't. We change our behavior, in part because of what those predictions
So Ehrlich's famines did not come about because the world was
able to produce more food more efficiently. But one reason people figured
out how to do that was because predictions of famine gave them the
incentive. Fetter points to the atmosphere's ozone depletion problem as the
system working properly. A scientist in the 1970s said that certain
chemicals were damaging the ozone layer which could lead to a marked
increase in skin cancers. This caused some action -- the replacement of
propellants in aerosols -- and made people start paying attention. Several
years later, they found a hole in ozone layer over Antarctica. It was caused
by a different chemical mechanism than the one originally outlined, but
because the alarm had been raised, the world was ready to take action. The
damaging chemicals were banned and the ozone regenerated.
So the doomsday scenario did not materialize, lending support
to those who say technology can take care of these problems. But if the
doomsday scenario had not been raised, then technology might not have been
ready to prevent it. "In part, you make these predictions to get people's
attention," says M. Gordon "Reds" Wolman, professor of geography and
environmental engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. "Lomborg's
argument [in The Skeptical Environmentalist] is that the Cassandra style is
beginning to be counterproductive, but the counterargument is that progress
would not take place without the equivalent of a bunch of Cassandras."
Miller says it is necessary to be dramatic. "I think that society responds
stronger to something that impacts them directly. How many societies look
multiple decades ahead and invest in trying to prevent problems that do not
have a direct impact yet?" he says. "Politics doesn't work that way. You
have to get peoples' attention."
Other than climate change, water -- Wolman's specialty -- is
the main item on the agenda of serious environmentalists. Again, Lomborg and
his allies point to improving water quality in a variety of once-polluted
areas as proof that modern society can handle this. Wolman says that water
is better in cities in North America and Europe, but the same cannot be said
about Asia and those parts of Africa where water quality is measured. "It
is hard to argue that we are doing immensely better everywhere," he says.
"It can be demonstrated that we are doing awfully well in some places, once
people put their mind to it, and their money. But that doesn't happen
without a tremendous amount of push." And that push doesn't happen, quite
often, until doomsayers get the attention of people and their political
leaders. "Some people say just relax, but you can't relax," he says. "The
world we live in doesn't get better by itself."
50) ON CLIMATE, STATES LEAD By John C. Ryan
The Christian Science Monitor
July 24, 2002
John C. Ryan is a fellow of the New America Foundation and
author of 'Over Our Heads: A Local Look at Global Climate.
SEATTLE, Jul 25, 2002 (The Christian Science Monitor via
COMTEX) -- California Gov. Gray Davis signed into law this week the nation's
first legislation aimed at reducing the greenhouse-gas emissions of cars and
trucks. Because California is America's largest car market, the law could
eventually reshape automotive fleets nationwide.
California's pioneering policy stands in stark contrast to
the continued foot-dragging of the Bush administration, which just this
month told Congress that it needs up to five years to decide what to do
about global warming. Though California's new law may be the most important
political action ever taken in this nation on behalf of the world's climate,
it is only one of a rapidly growing number of reforms that are leaving the
US government far outside the global-warming mainstream.
In 1997, Oregon passed the US's first law limiting emissions
of carbon dioxide. But today, policymakers around the country are working to
cut their states' impact on the global climate. The New England states have
adopted a plan to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent below
1990 levels by 2010 - a more aggressive approach than the Kyoto climate
treaty rejected by President Bush. Even gritty New Jersey has signed
agreements with its biggest electric utility and all 56 of its colleges and
universities to reduce emissions below 1990 levels.
A half-dozen states, including Illinois, Nevada, and Texas,
have enacted laws to require increasing portions of their electricity to
come from renewable sources. Texas's renewable energy standard has resulted
in the biggest windpower construction boom the nation has ever seen. To be
sure, it's not just the Bush administration, or the Republican Party, that
is shirking its responsibility to protect our climate. The
Democratic-controlled Senate this spring voted down improved mileage
standards (and reduced pollution levels) for motor vehicles, as it has done
Beyond the beltway, however, politicians, and even businesses
of all stripes, are taking climate change seriously. Michigan, New York, and
Ohio - all under Republican governors - are pursuing economic development
strategies centered on developing climate-friendly energy industries. Major
multinationals like Alcoa, Nike, Shell, and Toyota have set goals of
reducing their greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent or more below 1990 levels
by 2010. DuPont has gone further, aiming to cut its greenhouse gas emissions
by 65 percent over the same time period; it has already cut them in half.
Locally, more than 130 US cities - discharging about 15
percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions - have joined the Cities
for Climate Protection campaign. All are putting in place plans to reduce
local emissions of greenhouse gases. Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and
Miami-Dade County are all committed to reducing emissions 20 percent below
1988 levels by 2005. All this activity matters because the US is the world's
biggest polluter. Combine world-leading emissions with world-defying
policies, and the United States is the biggest threat to the planet's
long-term stability - the rogue nation of climate change. More precisely,
the United States is the head of a tiny clique of major polluters (along
with Australia and Canada) that appear likely to reject the Kyoto treaty
altogether. Call us the Axis of Emissions.
But the recent groundswell of climate-friendly reforms at
home and abroad is weakening political support for the United States'
business-as-usual approach to global warming. Though they are beginning to
make a dent in humanity's impact on the atmosphere, local and international
efforts to save the climate ultimately will fail if the US government does
not get on board. The only question now is how long can the United States
resist the rising tide of sane approaches to the global climate?
51) WHERE JUSTICE AND REALISM MEET: A CLIMATE CHANGE
SOLUTION? Interview with Benito Müller
July 24, 2002
Benito Müller is senior research fellow at the Oxford
Institute for Energy Studies. In September 2002, OIES and the Shell
Foundation will publish his new study Equity in Climate Change: The Great
What should be done, and what can be done, about global warming? The key to
a sustainable future for the planet may lie in tying together these two
questions, says the Swiss-born philosopher and mathematician Benito Müller.
In an interview with Caspar Henderson, the Globalisation editor of
openDemocracy, he proposes that the application of 'distributive justice'
may just help to change life on Earth for the better.
Rich north, poor south, and causing the problem: the 'distributive justice'
aspect of climate change
openDemocracy - The question of climate change is often
discussed in terms of its more visible impacts and appearances. But you seem
to approach the issue more from a philosophical and moral point of view, in
terms of 'distributive justice' on a global level. Can you explain this
Benito Müller - I'm worried about global inequalities in general; that they
will bring social instability to the world on an unprecedented scale. Even
without man-made climate change, the wealth gap between rich and poor is
widening. Climate change will exacerbate this in a way that makes it
difficult to contain the effects. Let me give an example. If you have
increasingly frequent major floods in a poor country, and the floods create
large numbers of permanently displaced people, this can lead to political
instability. In many poor countries the infrastructure is often not very
good to start with, and political stability is already a problem. Large
numbers of additional displaced people are particularly hard to cope with,
and political and economic uncertainty is likely to intensify.
What does this mean for a poor country in concrete terms? Well, for one,
forget foreign direct investment. Any expectation that economic growth could
be driven by foreign direct investment will prove completely wrong. It's not
a matter of economic growth being reduced from, say, 6% to 4%; the
likelihood is of collapse. The idea of distributive justice bears directly
on this type of predictable outcome. Why should a poor country face these
catastrophic social effects when the core responsibility for them lies
elsewhere? My central point here is to argue that, in relation to climate
change, countries must bear a burden in proportion to their responsibility.
There is a basic principle, almost universally accepted, known as 'the
polluter pays'. This means that you have to clear up the mess and repair the
damage in accordance with your responsibility for having caused it.
openDemocracy - But isn't the question of human
responsibility and climate change more complicated than this? As you know,
there are uncertainties regarding the consequences of human emissions of
greenhouse gases. The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has
outlined some scenarios from now until the end of this century, and some
analysts have tried to calculate the probabilities of these various
outcomes. For example, if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow as they
have done historically, then there is roughly a five per cent chance of a
rise in the average global temperature of five degrees Celsius or more -
catastrophic, needless to say. But we cannot know for sure what will
happen. Historically, the Western industrialised nations have been by far
the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, but during the course of the 21st
century they may become the minority emitters. Moreover, it might never be
possible to tell which quantum of emissions might lead to really big,
adverse changes in climate, if indeed that is what happens. Given this, will
it be plausible in the longer term to maintain a model of rich North versus
Benito Müller - There are three points here. Firstly, there is a difference
between being causally responsible without awareness of the impact of your
actions, and being wilfully responsible for a bad outcome. It is certain
that, until recently, the northern industrialised countries were not aware
of the fact that spewing out CO2 could harm future generations. So we cannot
hold them responsible for wilful neglect, until 1990 at least - since, by
then, we had achieved a reasonable level of certainty on the science.
Secondly, the attribution of responsibility in view of uncertain causal
relations is a familiar problem in law and economics. Take the use of a
product with components produced by different firms; if it harms your child,
but you cannot identify any particular part that caused the harm, what do
you do? This kind of issue has been looked at for a long time, and many
types of different practical solutions have been used in courts of law to do
justice to the injured parties.
The relevance for climate change is that while it is not
possible to say that "the US is responsible for 20% of this hurricane, or
its quantifiable impact burden", it is possible to assign the degree of
responsibility for climate change as a whole. This, together with the
methods just mentioned, could be used to do justice to those who carry a
disproportionate impact burden, if there were a will to do so. Thirdly,
climate change is thus becoming an issue where the relevance of morality and
justice to international political processes is most vividly clear. It is
true that there are political theorists - so-called 'neo-realists'- who
think that states act only in their narrow self-interest, and that ethical
concerns are not relevant to their behaviour. I think this is wrong and for
When, for example, diplomats go home after negotiating an international
treaty, they might work along precisely these lines, driving the hardest
bargain they can. But, if the treaty they bring home is perceived to be, or
can be shown by others to be, unfair to their country - then the treaty is
dead in that country, even if it would have been of economic benefit. The
perception of being treated unfairly is a very strong opinion-forming force.
So, in order to be a willing participant in international negotiations, it
is important to work towards a treaty that is seen to be fair to you (and
your constituency). The ethics of the real world trump 'neo-realism'.
The US and the Kyoto agreement
Benito Müller - A case study of this issue of 'fairness' is
the controversy in the United States over the Kyoto Protocol. Many US voices
complain that, under the first stage of the proposed regime for emission
reduction, only industrialised countries are given targets. Of course,
there's a good reason for this - industrialised countries have caused the
problem in the first place. But, regardless of this, the complaint is that
the lack of targets for developing countries would put an unfair burden on
the US and its economy. The size of the costs that the Kyoto Protocol would
impose on the US would be completely disproportionate - particularly since
US firms would have to unfairly bear emission reduction costs while their
competitors in the developing world would not.
openDemocracy - Isn't that a perfectly logical position? If
I'm a US manufacturer and it's going to cost me more to manufacture because
my government has signed up to the Kyoto Protocol, I'm going to lose
business or move my factory abroad.
Benito Müller - As an argument about fairness, it raises two issues.
Firstly, can it be fair that the US - or firms in industrialised countries,
in general - is required to reduce emissions while developing countries are
excluded during this first reduction period?
This rather depends on whether, at this stage, developing countries would
actually carry any responsibility. For example, it is often justifiably
argued that if one were to introduce a worldwide emission cap, then the
emission permits would, as a matter of fairness, have to be distributed on a
per capita basis, i.e. in proportion to population size.
The way things are, most developing countries have per capita emissions far
below those of industrialised ones, with the effect that, in realistic
terms, their assigned fair target levels would in most cases be
substantially above their near term emissions, i.e. they would - in the near
term, at least- not be under any obligation to reduce. It can also be
argued, as we have agreed, that the parties most responsible for a problem
have the obligation to take the lead in overcoming it.
In short, yes - it is fair that industrialised countries should be asked to
lead the way in reducing emissions, even if it would put them at a
competitive disadvantage. The issue here is not one of unfair competition,
but of imposing unfair burdens in dealing with the problem of climate
change. (And incidentally, it is not self-evident that a unilateral
imposition of targets would lead to a competitive disadvantage. Even if some
industries migrate to less-regulated countries, the incentive to develop new
energy technologies can also be a huge boost to a national economy.
The second issue raised by the 'Kyoto would be unfair to the
US' argument is the 'unfair' overall size of the burden that would be
imposed on the US economy. Even though opponents of the Kyoto Protocol often
claim that it would lead the American economy into 'deep freeze' while the
developing countries would be allowed to pollute at whim, the projected
welfare impact of any effects on the US economy of implementing Kyoto is
actually rather less dramatic.
Even a study sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, generally
accepted as a 'worst-case scenario' could not find more than a 2% reduction
in gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020 if the US were to implement the
Kyoto Protocol, as against the 'business as usual' projection. According to
forecasts by the US administration, US GDP per capita would rise in real
terms from around $33,000 per head today (5.3. times the world average) to
$51,000 in 2020 (6.4 times the world average in 2020) under the Kyoto
Protocol - as against $52,000 (6.5 times world average) per capita without
the Kyoto Protocol.
Indeed, a model developed at the Oxford Institute for Energy
Studies has shown that, if the balance of trade effects (recalling that the
US is the world's largest importer of oil) and the benefits of new
technology are taken into account, then the costs would barely register.
Whether this sort of burden is unfair or not is one thing. What is certain
is that it would not mean the end of the American way of life.
openDemocracy - This argument is accepted by many influential
organisations, and even by parts of the machinery of government in the US.
Isn't there another argument against Kyoto? Namely, that there is no way for
the US to meet the target of cutting its emissions of greenhouse gases to
1990 levels by 2008-2012, and therefore Kyoto is the wrong mechanism. Is
this the logic behind the promised alternative policy of the US
Benito Müller - At the moment, US annual emissions of
greenhouse gases are about 30% above 1990 levels, and their target under the
Kyoto Protocol would be a reduction of 7% on 1990 levels by 2008-2012. So
they are 37% too high already, and their emissions are likely to continue to
rise between now and 2012.
openDemocracy - So it's clearly impossible for them to meet
the target and they're quite right not to adopt Kyoto?
Benito Müller - It clearly would be if the Kyoto Protocol
were asking countries to achieve their target purely by domestic action.
However, due mainly to pressures by the US administration at the time, the
Kyoto Protocol contains numerous 'flexibility' (i.e. trading) mechanisms
which allow for making up for a domestic deficit by buying in permit from
abroad. And the system, as it stands, has plenty of these cheap surplus
permits, particularly from Russia, which would make US compliance perfectly
However, since the US has rejected Kyoto, the important
question now is what should be happening on the ground to actually change
the trend line in US greenhouse gas emissions. President Bush has an
alternative to the Kyoto Protocol based on the idea of reducing US emission
intensity - that is, reducing the amount of greenhouse gas produced per
dollar of GDP.
In theory, if the US was stringent enough, this could lead to
a reduction in total emissions even as the economy continues to grow. But,
at the moment, the plan calls for an 18% reduction in intensity over the
next decade - roughly business as usual, thanks to normal technological
progress. Predicted economic growth over the same period is much greater
and, as a result, total US emissions would be around 40% above 2000 levels
by 2020. In other words, Bush's plan fails to address the need to reduce
openDemocracy - You have observed the US political scene
closely. For example, you witnessed the Congressional Hearings on the Kyoto
Protocol a couple of years ago. What in your view would lead to substantive
change in the US?
Benito Müller - One of the concepts economists love is 'no net effect
regulation'. It simply describes a situation where the losses of the losers
are balanced ('netted out') by the gains of the winners. The problem is that
in politics, potential losers tend to make much more noise than potential
In the case of the US and Kyoto, the potential losers are the
traditional energy providers, who are important and powerful players. The
winners, in contrast, scarcely exist yet - there are renewables, of course,
but the thought that you could actually be a big time winner by
decarbonising the economy has in the past not been taken seriously enough.
But things are changing in the US, especially at the State level, and in
industry. For example, some of the biggest US utilities have asked the
administration to introduce a carbon-dioxide 'cap and trade' regime - a
regulation that would limit the output from power stations.
Why? Well, when it became clear that the Kyoto Protocol
itself was not dead - that the Europeans and others would go ahead even
without the US - it dawned on the US power sector that, eventually, they
will be faced with some form of stringent regulation. Now the Bush
administration is asking the utility sector to build around 1500 new power
stations in the next decade - clearly an enormous, long-term investment. In
response, the industry has said: "Look, it would be much cheaper for us to
introduce these measures to limit carbon-dioxide emissions when we build
these plants, as opposed to having to retrofit five or eight years down the
line." Sometimes businesses are ahead of politicians.
Making fairness work for everyone: the logic of 'grandfathering'
openDemocracy - Looking to the longer term, is a fair global
agreement on greenhouse gas emissions possible, and if so how?
Benito Müller - Is a fair agreement possible? Let's set this
in context. Kyoto is meant to be a first step. No one in their right mind
would think that the five-year targets it sets could in themselves solve the
problem of greenhouse gases and global warming.
So we need to start thinking about the next period - what we
do after 2012, how we handle the issue of further targets in a 'fair' way.
But there is an even more important equity issue, namely the fact that the
predicted impacts of climate change will fall most heavily by far on
developing countries who are least responsible for them. We in the North
tend to focus on allocating emissions as the big equity issue. But people in
the South are much more concerned about being faced with impacts that are
wholly disproportionate to their causal responsibility, and about not having
the resources to deal with the situation.
In this light, the question should not so much be "Is it
possible?" but rather "Why is it necessary?" If people in developing
countries see an overall agreement as blatantly unfair, they will just not
join in - as we would not either. And even if their governments joined, the
resulting treaty would be shot down in the various parliaments - as Kyoto
was in the US. Emissions control would become even less likely. In short, in
order not to be unfair - and unacceptable - an agreement will, first of all,
have to take into account the concerns of developing countries about unfair
impact burdens. As for the issue of an equitable distribution of emission
targets, there have been, as you know, numerous proposals. One of the best
known is the 'contraction and convergence' model suggested by the Global
openDemocracy - This is based on the idea that, ultimately,
everyone in the world has an equal right, as it were, to emit greenhouse
gases; and that the expression of this right must be limited, so that the
aggregate amount of emissions is safe for the global climate. The practical
implication of this idea is that communities of people which emit a lot,
such as the nations of Europe and North America, must sharply contract their
emissions to a safe level that would ultimately converge with people in
other countries - from Bangladesh 'upwards' if you like. Like a few obese
people among a larger group of slimline people, the 'contraction' of the
former's waistlines would bring them closer to 'convergence' with the latter
- to everyone's benefit.
Benito Müller - In my view, the main drawback with 'contraction and
convergence' is that it starts out with a 'grandfathering' allocation -
essentially a uniform percentage target across the board - and only moves
towards presumably the fair per capita solution over time. Depending on the
speed of the convergence and the contraction, it is thus not only likely to
impose initial reduction targets on even the least developed countries, but
it deprives them of their legitimate surplus permits at the time when they
need these most in their quest to reach a path of sustainable development -
namely now. In contrast, I think it would be feasible, affordable, fair and
sensible to give everyone in the world an equal per capita allocation now.
Each person would also have the right to trade emissions so that the poor
low emitters could benefit from this legitimate asset.
Let's take a simple example, and contrast the US and Sierra
Leone, respectively, among the richest and poorest countries on the planet.
US per capita emissions are now in the region of 5 tonnes per head per year;
in Sierra Leone they are something like 120 kilograms. So, if you were to go
for, say, a 1 tonne per person per year target (a 10% reduction from the
current world average) the person in Sierra Leone would clearly get a
substantial surplus. The basis for a trading regime has already been put in
place under the Kyoto Protocol. It would be very important for countries
such as Sierra Leone to use the benefits of this trade for sustainable
development, including of course environmentally friendly energy systems.
openDemocracy - Would it really be feasible to do this now?
Benito Müller - As long as we have an agreed trading regime, then in my view
we could go for equal per capita emissions right now. The emphasis on trade
is vital - a static per capita regime would mean that we, in the rich
countries, would have to reduce emissions by a wholly unrealistic 60-80%
within five years. With trading, it is both feasible and not
life-threatening. Nor will it freeze the advanced economies; in our model,
the costs are actually less than current overseas development assistance
from the North.
openDemocracy - So what is the problem with it?
Benito Müller - The problem is...our grandfathers and their right to
bequeath their hard-earned assets to their descendants. It is fundamental
here to recognise that the existing order, which is a distribution in
proportion to current emission levels ('grandfathering'), can also be
defended on moral grounds. How so? Well, people and countries in the North
can say: "Look, we've worked hard to get where we are. It is not just
exploitation of the South. Along with our fathers and grandfathers, we have
actually earned through our work an entitlement to our proportion of the
global emissions, particularly since no one knew the adverse consequences."
Unless this view is addressed, countries in the industrialised North may
refuse to take part in a truly global treaty on grounds of inequity, and
they can do so by referring to well-known entitlement theories of
distributive justice. The key difference to the egalitarian proponents of a
per capita allocation is simply whether the distribution is seen as an
allocation of new entitlements (the per capita position) or as a
re-affirmation of existing entitlements (the grandfathering position).
Unless both these views are somehow taken into account, we could well end up
in the worst of all worlds, where nobody benefits, and the urgent issue of
climate change is not addressed adequately.
openDemocracy - How do we deal with this?
Benito Müller - The key, I believe (based on the experiences
of my own forefathers in Switzerland, I suppose) is to try and find a fair
and transparent compromise between the two positions. Instead of gradually
transforming the status quo (grandfathering) proposal gradually into the per
capita distribution as proposed in the 'contraction and convergence model -
thus starting out with one of the contending positions and ending up with
the other- why not mix them right now, mathematically, as a weighted mean?
The effect would be that each country would have both a grandfathering and a
per capita component in its allocation of emission credits. Low-emitting
developing countries would in particular obtain immediately at least a
portion of the surplus permit which - according to the per capita position-
they would have seen as their legitimate due.
The method to arrive at such a compromise is based on a
voting procedure first used in elections to the French Academy of Sciences,
but probably better known from the Eurovision Song Contest. There, each
country's judges across the continent give nul points to the song they least
prefer, then une or deux for their moderately favoured, all the way up to
dix or douze for the songs they really like. At the end, all the scores are
added up. Now, these total scores in a sense reflect in their proportions
the social desirability of the candidates amongst the electorate, in this
case the panel of judges. Multiplying the scores given by each judge by the
number of people he or she represents, the scores could even be interpreted
(under some simplifying assumptions) to reflect the social desirability of
the candidates amongst the total represented public.
Now, the point of the 'preference score method' is simply to use these
social scores, not to elect the highest scorer, but as weights for mixing up
the candidates to create an acceptable compromise. Clearly, this would not
work with people, nor presumably with music scores, but it works perfectly
well with permit distribution proposals.
openDemocracy - Can we focus on a simple example to clarify
this? Let's imagine a negotiation between just two countries - the US and
India. There are roughly four times as many Indians as there are Americans -
over a billion as against 270 million or so. Of their combined current
emissions, about 16% originate in India and 84% in the US. India pollutes
about five times less than the US . Now, if the two nations wanted to reach
an agreement how would it work?
Benito Müller - In practice, people often combine moral
preferences and self-interest, convincing themselves that a solution, which
would benefit them, is also the fairest one. In this light, the obvious
starting point of an Indo-US negotiation might be that either country would
suggest the approach that seemed to suit them. Populous India would
recommend per capita distribution, in order to obtain emission permits in
proportion to its population (1000 for every 250 to the US). Meanwhile, the
high-emitting US would argue for the 'grandfathering' approach (which would
give it around five permits for every Indian permit).
Now, what would happen after these opening gambits were
stated? If India ranked these two proposals, clearly it would rank its own
proposal best - and a socially weighted score of one times its population
equals 1bn - while ranking the US proposal as second best, giving it zero
points. The US would, in turn, provide grandfathering with a score of 250m,
and zero for the per capita proposal.
In other words, the proportion between the social
desirabilities of the two proposals, in this simple case, would be 1bn:250m,
which is of course the same as 4:1 (per capita:grandfathering). According to
the compromise method I am suggesting, the agreement would end up being a
4-1 mix of the two proposals, with India ending up with two-thirds, and the
US with one-third of the permits. The 'take-home' message here is that you
can mix the proposals of different countries in a transparent way so that
people can see there is an element of fairness to all sides.
What would happen if this approach was applied to a real world divided
between rich and poor countries as they currently stand, assuming that each
would make preferences according to its own interests? In this case, the
emissions trading regime would turn out to be a mixture of about 75% of the
per capita model, and 25% of the grandfathering model.
This regime would entail a very strong per capita component in emissions
trading from the outset. Hence, significant trade flows - not aid flows! -
would help desperately poor countries in the developing world to improve
Delhi: the last chance for progress?
openDemocracy - What should be the next step in climate
negotiations? You've written that an 'environmentalist agenda' has dominated
discussions so far and that this needs to be complemented by a 'humanist
agenda'. What does that mean?
Benito Müller - The Kyoto Protocol will come into force by
the spring of 2003 at the latest, as the quorum of nations, sufficient to
ratify it, is passed. The Protocol establishes emissions targets for the
rich industrial countries for a five-year period after 2008. Even more
important, it establishes an architecture and the basis on which rich
nations can trade and so achieve reductions at the least cost. What next?
Most people in the North who have been involved in the negotiations for the
last decade believe that the next item on the agenda should be emissions
targets beyond 2012. In my view, this is a mistake. Politically speaking,
there is absolutely no way that the US will engage in discussions about a
future commitment period at this stage. And it is fanciful to think that
developing countries would take on commitments to reduce emissions without
the US even being willing to discuss their own commitments.
So what is to be done? It became clear to me at the 2001 Conference of the
Parties in Marrakech that we have to address the key concern we started
with, namely the impact of climate change on poor countries. What are the
best ways of trying to share the burden of these impacts fairly between
North and South? Let me be clear: it was not wrong for us to begin the
process by talking about emissions in the North. After all, they are the
main cause of the problem. But this does not mean that we can completely
ignore the effects, simply because we are too late actually to prevent them
from happening altogether. If we really want to get developing countries on
board, we now have to give the issue of impact management a more prominent
role - not to replace the issue of emission mitigation in the North, but to
openDemocracy - And how could that happen?
Benito Müller - I believe there should be something like a
'Delhi Mandate'. In 1996, there was the famous 'Berlin Mandate', where
parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed that voluntary
targets for reduced greenhouse gas emissions were inadequate. At a
Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention in Berlin, they decided
that negotiations should be started to strengthen the commitments. These
negotiations, in 1997, led to the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol.
The next COP will be held in New Delhi in October 2002. New
Delhi is the capital of one of the biggest and most important developing
countries, and the latter's concerns should be high on the agenda. There
should be a decision to at least start discussing, if not negotiating, an
instrument to do for impact management what the Kyoto Protocol aims
ultimately to do for limiting emissions. This would be the basis of a 'Delhi
openDemocracy - Would it help if this proposal was raised at
the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg starting in
Benito Müller - No, and for two good reasons of 'summit
politics'. The climate change regime, I believe, has been the only
successful outcome of the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, whereas other issues
So, firstly, there is no need to push climate change at
Johannesburg, since the next conference devoted to the subject falls only a
month later. Secondly, the main focus of Johannesburg should be on
It is what happens after Johannesburg that is crucial. If and
when the Kyoto Protocol does indeed come into force by next spring, then the
subsequent meeting of the nations will be not a COP, but the first Meeting
of the Parties - that is, the first governing body meeting for the Kyoto
Protocol. We will be in new decision-making territory, and a tremendous
number of unresolved outstanding issues, such as compliance, which have been
postponed until this first meeting, will take up all the negotiating time.
So, New Delhi is likely to be the last COP, and the last chance to raise the
question of impacts before most energy is eaten up by the particular details
of the emissions Protocol.
Climate change and disaster relief
openDemocracy - For a conference organised by the
International Federation of the Red Cross you recently presented a proposal
for an Impact Response Instrument. What is that about?
Benito Müller - An urgent and neglected issue is the increasing prevalence
of weather-related disasters, such as hurricanes and extreme floods. In the
last 25 years, the number of disasters and the number of people affected has
more than doubled - for the latter, 168% from 1975, even after allowing for
population growth. Climate-related disasters are happening now. It's not a
matter of 50 years time, as is the case with the rise in sea levels. One
small and relatively easy thing we can do in response is to improve the
international disaster relief system. At the moment, in most cases, we wait
until the disaster happens; then the UN and other agencies, having been
asked to assist, go out and ask for donations. That's the way in which
international disaster relief funding is currently organised. Yet, why isn't
there a single country in the world that uses it to finance their domestic
emergency services? After all, there is no national ambulance service
financed by voluntary contributions after the event!
Some countries, including the UK, have already realised that
it would be better to pay annually in advance for international disaster
relief. I'm suggesting that we make this a general way of doing things. It
would allow for much better disaster preparedness, and consequently for a
more efficient relief regime.
openDemocracy - Are we talking about extra money here?
Benito Müller - No. The point is that national budgets
already include provisions for such emergency donations on an annual basis.
Countries know that there will be disasters around the world every year for
which they will be asked to make some donations. Two illustrations will
make the point. Firstly, another flood in Mozambique is inevitable. A
proportion of 'up front' money would mean that boats could be stored in the
region in case of emergencies, as opposed to having to fly them in a month
late, or using helicopters, which give good pictures but are close to
Secondly, this reform would make the whole emergency relief
system independent in a way that would benefit people's lives. For example,
there is a Disaster Emergencies Committee (DEC) in Britain, which
coordinates the work of the different international relief agencies here.
After the terrible earthquake in Gujarat last year, the DEC commissioned a
report on the effectiveness of their work. (This was not a climate-related
disaster, of course, but the point is important and relevant.) One of the
biggest criticisms in the report was that aid agencies had a tendency to
deliver relief where the media is. The agencies know that next time they
have to raise funding, they need to be able to prove their visibility. (Note
that organisations comprising the DEC receive funds from the British
government as well as those they raise in sponsorship from the public.)
There was a similar phenomenon during the floods in
Mozambique in 2000, where nothing happened for about a month. Then the media
made it a big story, and the country was overwhelmed with aid - but not
necessarily of the right sort in the right places. Meanwhile, other
disasters, which were not covered by the media, did not receive aid. These
non-humanitarian ties need to be broken - and the 'up front' method of
payment into a fund would do this. Making emergency disaster relief
independent, and introducing an element of forward planning into it would
help to save lives even in places not properly covered in the media. This
connects directly to the 'distributive justice' theme we started with. One
of the most profound changes which climate change is forcing on us is the
need to think globally.
52) BUSH, CLIMATE CHANGE AND FALSE ACCOUNTING by David
July 22, 2002
The US administration's political woes could provide an
opportunity for those seeking a more substantive response to the challenge
of global warming. As the administration of US President George W Bush
continues to defy international pressure on the need for urgent action to
curb man-made climate change, two separate events over the past week - one
on the scientific side, the second in the political area - suggest that it
is becoming increasingly difficult for the administration to maintain a
'business as usual' stance.
They also indicate that a failure to act could become as
heavy a political liability as the administration's sympathy for an energy
industry plagued by accounting scandals. And this could itself provide a
useful opportunity for those demanding the US to take a more positive
attitude towards global warming.
The first event was the publication in Science of evidence
that the glaciers in Alaska are melting at more than double the rate
previously thought (see Alaska's role in sea-level rise vastly
underestimated). Scientists at the University of Fairbanks in Alaska say
that this rate has accelerated in the past seven to eight years as a result
of global warming, and that the state's glaciers are now contributing twice
as much to the rise in sea-levels worldwide as the Greenland ice sheet, the
largest ice mass in the Western hemisphere.
The second was the signing by the governor of California, in
the face of opposition from the automobile industry, of regulations
restricting the sale of high consumption automobiles, in particular sport
utility vehicles. This is the latest - and perhaps most dramatic - of moves
by several individual US states to take action to curb the emission of
Both events could, in their own ways, be seen as somewhat
opportunistic. There is no firm evidence linking the Alaskan situation to
human activity. The new results merely confirm other evidence, such as the
melting of the permafrost and the destruction of the state's spruce forests
by insects, that Alaska is particularly sensitive to the current trends of
Similarly, few would doubt that the California governor's
action has a political dimension to it. Last week, when a group of 11 State
governors complained to the Republican White House about a "regulatory void"
that was leading to an uneven patchwork of anti-global warming regulations
across the country, critics were quick to point out that the governors
concerned were all members of the Democratic Party.
Nevertheless both events make it more difficult for the
administration to defend its current stance, either scientifically or
politically. On the scientific front, there appears to be evidence that at
least some senior officials in the Bush administration accept the view of
the International Panel on Climate Change that there is a strong likelihood
that global warming is caused by human activity. And it follows that they
respect the implication of the need to act rapidly to mitigate the
situation. This, for example, was the main thrust of a US government report
submitted to the United Nations in June.
At the same, the intense spotlight thrown by the Enron affair on the Bush
administration's close ties to the energy industry - and the widespread
public distaste generated by some of the dubious accounting practices that
have been exposed by this scrutiny - has created a weak spot in the
administration's political armour that offers a significant opening to its
At this stage, it would be unrealistic to expect, or even
demand, that the United States should rejoin the Kyoto Protocol process,
from which it opted out so provocatively last year. This would require a
U-turn of such massive proportions as to be inconceivable.
In contrast, however, it is realistic to demand that the US
administration commits itself to a course of action that could lead to a
convergence several years down the road between its domestic policies on
issues such as limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and those which may be
agreed by signatories to the Kyoto Protocol. This, for example, is the
strategy that is being pursued by some non-governmental organisations and
other US pressure groups, aware that it may be the most realistic way to
achieve their long-term goal: to achieve significant reductions in
greenhouse gas emissions.
One spin-off from a move in this direction is that it could
help to keep the Kyoto process alive. Despite repeated statements of
optimism by negotiators, this outcome is far from being guaranteed. When
both the European Union and Japan agreed to ratify the protocol early last
month, its full coming into force (which requires ratification by countries
responsible for 55 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions in 1990)
seemed just around the corner.
Now with Australia blowing cold, Canada seeking to bring its energy exports
into the equation (on the ground of its proximity to the United States), and
Russia keen to exploit any loopholes that the Canadians can open up, the
immediate prospects of achieving this are far less certain than some
pretend.All the more reason to keep the United States in the negotiating
loop, even if the frame of reference is slightly different. It will,
however, require strong political pressure on the White House; Bush has made
it clear that even if he disapproves of some of the activities of his
friends in the oil industry, he is not prepared to ditch them, at least not
on this issue. But with a growing number of senior politicians within the
Republican Party prompting him to do just that, it could soon prove to be a
politically expedient move.
ON THE WEB
53) POWER SHIFT LOOKING FOR LEADERSHIP ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Grist Magazine Special Edition
July 31, 2002
Two hundred-odd years ago, on his way out of office, George
Washington famously advised his successors to avoid entangling alliances
with foreign nations. That was in 1796 -- pre-NAFTA, pre-International
Monetary Fund, and pre-globalization, not to mention pre-Darwin,
pre-internal combustion engine, and pre-Republican Party -- hell, back then,
all of Texas was still ruled by Spain. In the 18th century, Washington's
advice might have been sound. But in the 21st, the United States can't avoid
entanglement: Our T-shirts come from Taiwan, our PCBs drift toward Africa,
California-based corporations do business in Djibouti, and policy made in
D.C. affects people in Palestine.
All of which leaves the current President George entirely
unmoved. Ever since taking office, he has not merely avoided but actually
undone foreign alliances, entangling or otherwise. Take his decision to
withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. The U.S. generates fully
36 percent of the industrial world's greenhouse gas emissions, yet it is
almost alone among industrialized nations in not ratifying Kyoto. Bush's
attitude toward climate change amounts to an abdication of responsibility, a
kind of modern-day Let Them Eat Carbon. But when you drop the ball, someone
else is bound to pick it up: As the nation's leadership actively eschews
alliances (except with industry), the nation's people are busy forging them.
In dorm rooms and board rooms, in city halls and houses of worship -- all
across the country, a grassroots network of activists is implementing the
best maxim the environmental movement ever coined: They are thinking about
global climate change, and combating it locally.
Case in point: Earlier this summer, the California
legislature passed a landmark law requiring dramatic cuts in carbon dioxide
emissions from vehicles. The Bush administration, which is in bed with every
relevant industry from auto to oil, wouldn't have touched the legislation
with a 10-foot pole, but California's courage could change the way cars are
made in our nation.
The California example is the biggest and boldest, but other,
more modest climate change initiatives are springing up all over the
country. Their collective impact might not be enough to stabilize the
climate, but it just might be sufficient to enact a fundamental power shift:
raising public awareness, making climate change a key political issue,
catapulting proactive candidates into office, and ousting do-nothing
incumbents. It might also auger another kind of power shift -- from
dependence on energy sources that pollute our environment and alter our
climate to a nation powered by clean energy.
In this special edition, Grist looks at efforts to combat climate change in
the absence of federal leadership:
Katherine Ellison, an author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, examines
the origins and implications of the trend toward local climate change
Journalist Shelley Smithson looks at university-based climate change
initiatives, from buying green energy to building green dorms.
Amanda Griscom, environmental journalist and author of the Grist column
"Powers That Be," writes about corporate initiatives to cut greenhouse gas
Ross Gelbspan, author of The Heat Is On, takes on the big Beltway
environmental organizations for their failure to exercise leadership on
Journalist Hal Clifford takes a close look at the city of
Aspen, which currently boasts the world's most expensive carbon tax.
Activist Kristin Casper offers a frontline perspective on local climate
work, in Grist's diary section.
54) NEWS RELEASE: WRI REPORT WARNS ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS
COULD REDUCE SHAREHOLDER VALUE OF LEADING OIL AND GAS COMPANIES
July 24, 2002
WASHINGTON, DC and LONDON, July 24, 2002 -- A new World
Resources Institute (WRI) report released today calls on investors to pay
closer attention to how oil and gas companies are exposed to environmental
risks. The new WRI report, Changing Oil: Emerging environmental risks and
shareholder value in the oil and gas industry, warns that shareholders in
leading oil and gas companies could see losses of more than six percent of
their investments due to prospective actions to curb climate change and
growing constraints on access to energy reserves. The report also finds that
companies have made only very limited disclosure to investors on the
relevance of these issues for future financial performance. Sixteen leading
oil and gas companies were studied. They are: Amerada Hess (AHC), Apache (APA),
BP (BP), Burlington Resources (BR), ChevronTexaco (CVX), ConocoPhillips
(COP), Eni (E), Enterprise Oil (ETP), ExxonMobil (XOM), Occidental Petroleum
(OXY), Repsol YPF (REP), Royal Dutch/Shell Group (RD), Sunoco (SUN),
TotalFinaElf (TOT), Unocal (UCL), and Valero Energy (VLO). As of June 30,
2002, these companies had a combined market capitalization of nearly $1
More information on the report is available online at:
55) KYOTO POSSIBLE WITHOUT HURTING ECONOMY: CEOS
FINANCIAL POST POLL
July 30, 2002
OTTAWA- Business leaders believe implementing the Kyoto Protocol on climate
change can be achieved without causing major economic disruption, says a
Financial Post poll. Some 57% of the executives said greenhouse emissions
could be cut drastically with little economic impact -- the same position
expressed by David Anderson, the Minister of the Environment.
The Kyoto questions, conducted by COMPAS Inc., the polling
company, were part of a twice-annual survey for the Financial Post called
The Business Agenda.
The executives were asked to rate on a scale of one to seven
whether it would be possible to reduce emissions without hurting the
economy; 57% of the respondents rated the possibility of little economic
damage between five and seven. Meanwhile, 29% of respondents said they were
firmly opposed to the Kyoto Protocol and 13% had no opinion. Steve Kiar, a
COMPAS senior partner, said the poll response is surprising because such key
business groups as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian
Manufacturers and Exporters and the Canadian Association of Petroleum
Producers have warned that implementing the treaty would be devastating for
the Canadian economy. "[The polls shows] a fairly optimistic view," said Mr.
Kiar. "They believe Kyoto doesn't entail serious, significant costs to the
economy. "They see [climate change] as a serious problem but don't see it
requiring a drastic solution."
The poll, a survey of 500 senior business people, was
completed in June. The results are deemed accurate to within five percentage
points 19 times out of 20. Last month, the Canadian Council of Chief
Executives, which represents Canada's blue-chip companies, called Kyoto a
"straitjacket" that will undermine the country's ability to meet its social
and economic priorities.
In February, the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters said
Kyoto would wipe out 450,000 manufacturing jobs in Canada, and that it would
cost the economy up to $40-billion and force a radical lifestyle change on
people. However, this latest COMPAS poll is similar to previous findings: In
the first such poll, in 1998, 60% of those surveyed thought Kyoto could be
implemented without hurting the economy. Mr. Kiar believes this shows the
anti-Kyoto campaign "is not really resonating with business leaders. "I'm a
little surprised that when you have the lines drawn so clearly, really,
attitudes have not changed very much."