November 13, 2009

Clinton: No binding climate deal at Copenhagen
U.N. official says climate deal could be put off
Cooling the planet without chilling trade
Industry’s dominance of Hill climate hearings
Fight over carbon-emission permits comes to Senate
Biggest obstacle to a climate bill is rural America
U.S., Japan to call for 80 pct emissions cut
Black carbon: An overlooked climate factor
Texas, leading CO2 emitter, sees drop
Acidification impacts coastal rivers
Greenland ice loss accelerating: study
Global warming a growing threat to Arctic reindeer
Electric cars face obstacles to consumer acceptance

[click on link below for articles]

News summaries
Clinton: No binding climate deal at Copenhagen

Next month’s climate change summit in Copenhagen is not likely to
produce a legally binding treaty to cut the greenhouse gas emissions
that are widely blamed for global warming, U.S. Secretary of State
Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday…. Clinton said the Obama
administration would push instead for a strong ”framework agreement”
that could become a template for an eventual enforceable pact. ”We are
going to go to Copenhagen 100-percent committed to creating a framework
agreement,” she said. ”We doubt that we can get to the legally
binding agreement that everyone wants because too many countries have
too many questions.” The New York Times
U.N. official says climate deal could be put off
The top United Nations climate negotiator Thursday said a global
climate summit in Copenhagen next month could produce an agreement to
reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, but if the U.S. Congress doesn’t pass
climate legislation, a binding international climate deal would be
delayed until late 2010…Without a solid commitment on an emissions
target or financing package, Mr. Levi said it is unlikely China or
other developing nations will make any concrete promises, either.
The Wall Street Journal

Cooling the planet without chilling trade
The two means of "leveling the carbon playing field" in bills before
Congress — imposing additional "border charges" on carbon-intensive
imports and subsidizing domestic producers — are being criticized by
many U.S. trading partners as potential World Trade Organization
violations. These criticisms could lead to WTO challenges that might
undermine climate and trade agreements, or to retaliation that could
escalate to trade wars, choking the global economy. Yet without some
kind of border adjustment mechanisms, even if imposed after a fixed
period, U.S. climate legislation is unlikely to pass. The Washington Post
Industry’s dominance of Hill climate hearings
Energy industry officials have dominated witness tables at hearings on
climate legislation, appearing more often than representatives of any
other groups invested in energy policy, according to a new analysis. Greenwire
Fight over carbon-emission permits comes to Senate
The latest twist: Senators from coal-dependent states are pushing hard
to ease the pain for power companies that rely on coal…It may sound
arcane, but it isn’t. First, easing the pain for coal-heavy power companies
is a way to ease the pain for coal-dependent states, which carry the swing
votes for any climate legislation. But this isn’t just about politics and vote-counting.
There are billions of dollars at stake. Power companies that produce more clean
energy stand to gain from climate legislation under the current
formula; power companies that produce more dirty energy stand to lose.
That’s one reason companies such as Exelon and Duke have been
cheerleading climate legislation: Their bottom lines will bulge. And
it’s one reason fossil-fuel-dependent companies, from coal-heavy
utilities to Exxon, have been opposed to the current legislation.
Environmental Capital

Biggest obstacle to a climate bill is rural America
The US will not pass a cap-and-trade law in time for the global
climate-change summit in Copenhagen next month. To understand why, it
helps to ask a farmer. Take Bruce Wright, for example, who grows wheat
and other crops on a couple of thousand acres near Bozeman, Montana.
His family has tilled these fields for four generations. He loves his
job and the rural way of life. But he fears that higher energy prices
will endanger both….[H]e he cannot see how he could run his farm
without cheap fossil fuels. The Economist
U.S., Japan to call for 80 pct emissions cut
The U.S. and Japanese leaders will call for an 80 percent cut in global
greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in a post-summit statement on Friday,
but no mid-term target will be mentioned, the Nikkei business daily
reported. U.S. and Japan ties have been strained ahead of President
Barack Obama’s visit to Japan over a planned relocation of a U.S.
Marines base in Japan’s southern island of Okinawa, a key part of a
realignment of the 47,000 U.S. troops in Japan. Reuters
Black carbon: An overlooked climate factor
That soupy brown air is the result of so-called black carbon expelled
into the atmosphere in and around the Indian capital, from the burning
of biomass for cookstoves and of black coal for electricity, and the
incomplete combustion in the old diesel engines that propel most of the
cars and trucks in the city. Breathing here isn’t all that good for you
— there’s a reason the city is home to the "Delhi cough" — and now
scientists are discovering that the sooty air isn’t good for the
climate either. According to some estimates, black carbon may be
responsible for as much as 18% of the planet’s warming, making it the
No. 2 contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide, which
accounts for 40%. "The world could think that we just cut CO2 and the
problem is solved and we all go home, but it’s not," says Veerabhadran
Ramanathan, a climatologist from the Scripps Institution of
Oceanography and an expert on black carbon. "That’s my nightmare." Time
Texas, leading CO2 emitter, sees drop
Texas, the nation’s baddest greenhouse gas hog, is also leading the
U.S. in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels due
to lower industrial demand and the spread of renewable power. A report
released Thursday by environmental non-profit Environment Texas says
the Lone Star state saw its CO2 output decline 2% between 2004 and
2007. According to official statistics, Texas produces more CO2 than
any other state and even countries like Canada, but the report says the
state posted the second-biggest drop in absolute emissions in the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal

Acidification impacts coastal rivers
Ocean acidification, caused by rising CO2 levels, is affecting not only
coral reefs, but coastal ecosystems by changing everything from the
ability of oysters to adhere to the riverbed to the extent of dead
zones along the U.S. Pacific coast. Cosmos
Greenland ice loss accelerating: study
Greenland’s ice losses are accelerating and nudging up sea levels,
according to a study showing that icebergs breaking away and meltwater
runoff are equally to blame for the shrinking ice sheet…[I]ce losses
quickened in 2006-08 to the equivalent of 0.75 mm (0.03 inch) of world
sea level rise per year from an average 0.46 mm a year for
2000-08..Greenland locks up enough ice to raise world sea levels by 7
meters (23 ft) if it ever all thawed. At the other end of the globe,
far-colder Antarctica contains ice equivalent to 58 meters of sea level
rise, according to U.N. estimates. . Reuters
Global warming a growing threat to Arctic reindeer
For the moment though, reindeer numbers are holding up under the strain
of global warming, but that’s a fact Colman puts down to their very
resilience. AFP
Electric cars face obstacles to consumer acceptance
Nashville is one of a handful of cities in the U.S. targeted to become
an early focal point for electric vehicles, as Nissan plans to start
production of a battery-powered car in Smyrna by 2012 and a program is
launched to build a network of recharging stations. But getting to the
point where electric vehicles are common will take time and work, said
Joe Hoagland, TVA’s vice president for environmental policy, science
and technology. "If every one of us had a car or two in the garage that
was charging every night, could that be handled?" Hoagland said. "I’m
not sure." ENN