Via UN News Center, I’ve just learned that the small Indian Ocean island nation of the Maldives has pledged to become the first country in the world to go carbon-neutral.
This is significant because Maldives is probably the most vulnerable nation in the world to climate change. Some 400,000 inhabitants live on small islands that rise no more than six feet above sea level. Even the most modest sea-level rise could literally wipe the country off the map. Of course, compared to major economies of the world, Maldives is responsible for a negligible amount of carbon emissions. Still, it is heartening to see that the country with the most at stake in climate change is willing to lead by example.
Photo from flickr user romsrini
Might a parliamentary delay in Australia’s carbon emissions regulation plan presage the American experience?
Lacking the political backing to implement the world’s most sweeping cap-and-trade scheme outside Europe, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said the regime would be delayed until mid-2011, but he still aimed to push laws through parliament this year.
“Starting slower because of the global economic recession and finishing stronger, with the prospect of a bigger outcome for greenhouse gas reductions… we believe gets the balance right,” Rudd told reporters.
Rudd’s assessment makes sense, but it’s nonetheless troubling — tighter emissions standards will never be more popular with industry, recession or not. Kicking the can down the road in hopes of doubling down later seems viable only inasmuch as the plan is actually able to be followed through on.
Potentially even more discouraging for the U.S. case, though, is the fact that Australia’s emissions reduction plan was already far more ambitious than the United States’ at the outset, so a parallel weakening, in a larger emitter, would arguably be more damaging to global efforts. The U.S. Congress, too, might be more hostile to stringent regulations than the Australian parliament. And, of course, there’s no American Green Party pushing hard against opponents of tough legislation.
(image of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd)
NPR is sure doing its due diligence on the “smart grid.” This week they’re running a 10-part series — every day both on Morning Edition and All Things Considered…now that’s dedication.
This morning, while moving my car to a legal spot, I caught Part 5: Getting Constant Current From Fickle Winds, which explores the chicken and egg problem that potential wind farmers face in South Dakota. They are slow to build wind farms because there are no power lines to take the energy to market, and they won’t build power lines because there is no power generation yet. Seems like a deal could be worked out…
Via 10 Downing Street’s Twitter, UK Chancellor Alistair Darling just released what the British government is calling the “world’s first carbon budget.” It pledges £1.5 billion for low carbon industries and commits the UK to a 34% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 (compared to 1990 levels). The Financial Times explains:
The effects of the “carbon budget” will not be worked out in detail until later this year, but Alistair Darling said the “landmark step” of setting such a legally binding target would “give industry the certainty” needed to make low-carbon investments.
Mr Darling had good news for offshore wind farm developers, increasing the amount they receive from the Renewable Obligation scheme, which subsidises renewables through charges on electricity bills. His reforms would give offshore wind farms an extra £525m, he said, which would “lead to major projects getting the go-ahead”. The future of several proposed offshore wind farms, including the London Array, the world’s biggest, was in doubt because of cost increases.
Happy Earth Day!
Photo from flikr user firthcycles of Alistair Darling holding the budget in a beaten up briefcase.
Today the EPA has submitted a proposed finding suggesting that greenhouse gases pose a danger to public health and welfare, an action that could trigger regulation under the Clean Air Act. The EPA’s “rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases — carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride” that lead to these proposals followed a 2007 order by the U.S. Supreme Court to do so. The next step before the findings are finalized is a 60-day public comment period.
A separate process is necessary to propose specific steps to regulate GHGs under the Act. Both EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and President Obama have said that they prefer to address the issue through Congressional action.
Interestingly, the review also noted:
disproportionate impact climate change has on the health of certain segments of the population, such as the poor, the very young, the elderly, those already in poor health, the disabled, those living alone and/or indigenous populations dependent on one or a few resources
as well as that…
climate change also has serious national security implications. Consistent with this proposed finding, in 2007, 11 retired U.S. generals and admirals signed a report from the Center for a New American Security stating that climate change “presents significant national security challenges for the United States.” Escalating violence in destabilized regions can be incited and fomented by an increasing scarcity of resources – including water. This lack of resources, driven by climate change patterns, then drives massive migration to more stabilized regions of the world.
But, none of this should come as any surprise. The UN’s IPCC has been saying this for quite a while.
A couple months ago I blogged about the virtues of “solar cookers” — devices designed, chiefly for the developing world, to reduce the often-dangerous reliance on ever-dwindling firewood (and reduce carbon emissions a la fois). Now I see that one particularly ingenious cooker, cutely called the “Kyoto Box,” has won first prize in a “green” technology contest.
It is made from two cardboard boxes, which use reflective foil and black paint to maximise absorption of solar energy.
Covering the cooking pot with a transparent cover retains heat and water, and temperatures inside the pot can reach at least 80 [Celsius].
Perhaps by next year they’ll have come up with an even better “Copenhagen box.”
Iraq: The SG met with Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki in Baghdad today as well as Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to review the ongoing security crisis. The SG congratulated Fouad Massoum on his election as Iraq’s new President and remarked that a new government “will strengthen the unity of the country, fight effectively against terrorism and ISIS, as well as uproot the seeds of sectarianism and division.”
SG: The SG met with Israeli President Peres in Jerusalem today to encourage dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. Speaking to the press with President Peres, he again underlined the need to stop violence and begin dialogue that addresses the root causes of the conflict.
SG: The SG briefed the SC today from Ramallah where he reiterated his message from today’s earlier press conference in Tel Aviv with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to: “Stop fighting. Start talking. And take on the root causes of the conflict.” The SG will continue travelling this week to Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
SG: The SG arrived in Cairo today where he will meet with the Foreign Minister, President el-Sisi and US Secretary of State Kerry to promote the Egypt-initiated ceasefire in the Middle East. Spokesman Dujarric told reporters today that “the overriding messages that [the SG] brings is, first, that the violence must stop, and needs to stop now.”