November 5, 2009

Headlines
Senate panel approves climate bill without GOP
Climate change on the back burner?
Companies start lobbying group backing climate bill
Top economists agree that we’re better off cutting emissions
US scales down hopes of global climate change treaty
US climate envoy takes aim at developing nations
Climate agreement needed to prevent forced migration: UN
Climate insurance is in the cross hairs
Lawsuits have Shell debating Arctic drilling
FOE attacks carbon trading
China should halve CO2 emissions by 2050: U.S
Coal company destroys last intact mountain in valley
Is climate-change belief a religion?


[click on link below for articles]

News summaries
Senate panel approves climate bill without GOP

Okay, so Sen. Barbara Boxer has moved the energy and climate bill out
of the Environment and Public Works Committee and onto the Senate
floor. That doesn’t get the bill any closer to garnering 60 votes, but
as Sen. Boxer said, it can’t get 60 votes while stuck in committee,
either. The chairwoman of the environment committee defended her
decision to pass the bill despite a Republican boycott; usually, Senate
panels require at least a token presence of the minority party. Rules
do allow for a simple majority vote, rules that “are there to be used
when the Majority feels it is in the best interest of their states and
of the nation to act,” Sen. Boxer said. One interesting thing: Climate
change and global warming does seem to be slipping down the list of
Democratic talking points. Environmental Capital
Climate change on the back burner?
Climate change has slipped so far down on the agenda that at least one
key committee chairman has suggested it might have to wait until after
the 2010 elections. ‘Some people are talking about not doing it until
after the 2010 election,’ Commerce Committee Chairman John Rockefeller
(D-W.Va.) said Tuesday. A number of factors are conspiring against the
Senate version of the bill: a Republican boycott on the Environment and
Public Works Committee, a new EPA analysis that could take at least
five weeks and wide-ranging disagreements among six competing Senate
committee leaders who have jurisdiction. Politico
Companies start lobbying group backing climate bill
Several big utilities and other companies that would benefit from
pending U.S. climate-change legislation have formed a lobbying group to
support action to limit greenhouse gases and counter the U.S. Chamber
of Commerce, which has been critical of some Congressional climate
change proposals. The Wall Street Journal
Top economists agree that we’re better off cutting emissions
A tudy shows that top economists tend to agree that climate change
could have grave economic consequences, and the benefits of cutting
greenhouse gas emissions outweigh the costs. New York University’s
School of Law released a survey of the country’s top economists. The
survey found striking agreement that "climate change represents a real
danger to important sectors of the U.S. and global economies."
"Moreover, most believe that significant benefits from curbing
greenhouse gas emissions would justify the costs of action," the study
states. Dallas Morning News
US scales down hopes of global climate change treaty
The US has given up hope of reaching a global climate change treaty at
Copenhagen and is working towards a deal late next year, the Obama
administration said today. The decision ends hopes of a legally binding
deal being sealed next month. "We have to be honest in the process and
deal with the realities that we don’t have time in these four weeks to
put the language together and flesh out every crossed t and dotted i of
a treaty," said John Kerry, who chairs the Senate foreign relations
committee. The Guardian
US climate envoy takes aim at developing nations
Todd Stern, President Barack Obama’s top climate negotiator and envoy
to next month’s international climate summit in Copenhagen, used blunt
language in testimony to Congress when he zeroed in on developing
countries’ participation in talks. Some developing countries are
"hiding behind a misreading" of language in two key climate documents,
the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 2007 Bali
Action Plan, which recognize different responsibilities and
capabilities for rich and poor countries, Stern told the House Foreign
Affairs Committee. Reuters
Climate agreement needed to prevent forced migration: UN
The world urgently needs a climate deal out of a summit in Copenhagen
next month to forestall forced migration that is already occurring in
Asia and Africa, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday. "We
are in a critical period," Ban told delegates in Athens at a United
Nations conference on the economic impact of immigration. "Populations
will relocate due to more extreme weather. Terra Daily
Climate insurance is in the cross hairs
Advocates for nations vulnerable to climate change are accusing the
United States of trying to "kill" a prominent global warming provision
that would create a massive insurance program for countries that face
rising destruction from natural disasters. The controversial measure —
which currently is part of the voluminous draft treaty text leading up
to international climate talks in Copenhagen — seeks financial
payments for countries that might slip underwater sometime this
century, as well as for those that increasingly suffer from drought,
floods and cyclones. The program could cost the United States and other
developed nations billions every year, and perhaps amount to an
admission that Americans are largely responsible for warming the world.
That is considered a legal pitfall that might raise questions on the
scale of slavery reparations for African-Americans or financial
apologies to Native Americans, some observers say. Climate Wire
Lawsuits have Shell debating Arctic drilling
Shell, the giant oil company that hopes to open a new petroleum
frontier for Alaska, says it will decide within months whether to risk
sending a large fleet of vessels to drill for oil and gas in the
Beaufort and Chukchi seas next summer.
Scientists say Alaska’s Arctic waters could hide a massive storehouse
for oil and natural gas, estimated to nearly rival the onshore
discoveries of the North Slope. …[T]he oil company has been stymied.
Environmentalists and North Slope governments sounded the alarm about
potential impacts on bowhead whales and the possibility of oil spills.
Both sued successfully to block the drilling during the past two
summers. The Anchorage Daily News
FOE attacks carbon trading
The world’s carbon trading markets growing complexity threatens another
"sub-prime" style financial crisis that could again destabilise the
global economy, campaigners warn today. In a new report, Friends of the
Earth says that to date "cap and trade" carbon markets have done almost
nothing to reduce emissions but have been plagued by inefficiency and
corruption that render them unfit for that purpose. The Guardian
China should halve CO2 emissions by 2050: U.S
China should roughly halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to keep
the world on a safe climate path, the head of the U.S. delegation at
U.N. climate talks in Barcelona said on Thursday. Reuters
Coal company destroys last intact mountain in valley
A subsidiary of Massey Energy has begun mountaintop-removal coal-mining
operations on Coal River Mountain in West Virginia, the only peak in
Coal River Valley that hasn’t been blasted away for mining. Blasting
for the mine is taking place 200 yards from the Brushy Fork coal slurry
impoundment, which holds 8 billion gallons of toxic coal sludge above
the Coal River community. Local and national conservation organizations
including the Center for Biological Diversity are asking the
Environmental Protection Agency and the White House to halt the mining
operation. "It is just plain wrong to blow up the last mountain in
Coal River Valley and to jeopardize the lives of the people living
below the slurry dam. The federal government should intervene and
protect this community," said Tierra Curry, a biologist. ENN
Is climate-change belief a religion?
Actually, yes, at least if you live in the United Kingdom. Freakonomics