Environment Forum

Factbox: Rich nations’ greenhouse emissions down 2.2 percent

Greenhouse gas emissions by industrialized nations fell by 2.2 percent in 2008, the steepest fall since 1992 as the world economy slowed, a Reuters compilation shows.

Following are official national greenhouse gas emissions data submitted to the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat in recent days.

A few are not yet available. (Thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent unless stated, excludes land use, land use change and forestry):


(Notes: Turkey’s emissions not listed in common format. A few base years differ from 1990)

Compiled by Alister Doyle and Terje Solsvik in Oslo. Editing by Lin Noueihed.

Attack of the giant offshore wind turbines?

Robin Rigg Wind Farm 2

by Kwok W. Wan

As I travelled up to Cumbria to visit E.ON’s offshore Robin Rigg wind farm in northwest England, I passed through the Lake District, a place famed for its natural beauty.  Out of the train window, I saw grassy banks, craggy hills, farm fields rolling into moody skies — and lines of giant electricity pylons.

I wondered if the 125 metre tall wind turbines I was about to see would be as much of a scar on the coastline as these unnaturally straight man-made structures on the English countryside.  Would they also poke out like huge metal thumbs across the Irish Sea and distract us from the wild beauty of the surrounding lowland hills?

Having never seen an offshore wind farm before, I was aware of the controversy over noise pollution and turbines onshore blighting the landscape.  I was also told to look out for towers casting long shadows, and warned the sun shining through the blades could cause a strobe effect which might set off epileptic fits.

Greening a business isn’t so hard


Yalmaz Siddiqui is Office Depot’s director of environmental strategy. The views expressed here are his own.

The 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 undoubtedly has many individuals and businesses ramping up their green efforts, programs and even launching new green products or processes.

At Office Depot, we’re doing the same, as our recent series of announcements has shown.

from The Great Debate UK:

Impact of the volcano disruption on the airlines

Joris Melkert

- Joris Melkert, MSc BBA, is assistant professor in aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Despite the announcement that air space could begin to re-open in Northern Europe, the Icelandic volcano eruption could prove to be a major turning point for the global airline industry with short- to medium-term questions already being asked by some about its future financial viability.

One of the biggest questions, which engineers will be grappling with right now, is whether there is a cost-efficient way to ‘design out’ the current problems that aircraft experience with dust clouds.

Skipping the risk mismanagement


Felix Salmon is a Reuters Blogger. This piece was produced by the Climate Desk collaboration.

About a decade ago, Miguel Torres planted 104 hectares of pinot noir grapes in the Spanish Pyrenees, 3,300 feet above sea level. It’s cold up there and not much good for grapes—at least not these days. But Torres, the head of one of Spain’s foremost wine families, knows that the climate is changing.

His company’s scientists reckon that the Rioja wine region could be nonviable within 40 to 70 years, as temperatures increase and Europe’s wine belt moves north by up to 25 miles per decade. Other winemakers are talking about growing grapes as far north as Scandinavia and southern England.

Betting on climate change


Clive Thompson is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired.  This piece was produced by the Climate Desk collaboration.

Last year, Beluga Shipping discovered that there’s money in global warming.

Beluga is a German firm that specializes in “super heavy lift” transport. Its vessels are equipped with massive cranes, allowing it to load and unload massive objects, like multi-ton propeller blades for wind turbines. It is an enormously expensive business, but last summer, Beluga executives hit upon an interesting way to save money: Shipping freight over a melting Arctic.

from The Great Debate UK:

Why the Icelandic volcano could herald even more disruption

Andy_Hooper- Dr Andrew Hooper is an Assistant Professor at Delft University of Technology and is an expert on monitoring deformation of Icelandic volcanoes. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The unprecedented no-fly zone currently in force across much of Europe has already caused the greatest chaos to air travel since the Second World War.  Thousands of flights have been cancelled or postponed with millions of travel plans affected.

The economic consequence to our ‘just-in-time’ society is incalculable at this stage given the disruption to holidays, business plans and indeed the wider business supply chain.  However, the global cost of the disruption will surely ultimately result in a cost of billions, with the share price of several airlines in particular already taking a hit.

Oil sands and ethical investing at a price

A greenpeace activists protests outside the BP Canadian offices in downtown Calgary, April 15, 2010. The Greenpeace activists were "greenwashing" a tar sands sign outside in protest while similar protests were happening in London.At BP’s AGM on Thursday, ethical investors including the Co-Op and Calpers failed in their effort to convince BP to review its biggest planned investment in Canada’s oil sands.

Nonetheless, 9 percent of investors voted in favour of a review — a much bigger venting of shareholder angst about a single project than oil companies are used to hearing.

Was this a vote for the environment or a vote for ethical fund managers’ own businesses?

What’s up with all the earthquakes?



This article by Julia Kumari Drapkin originally appeared in Global Post. The views expressed are her own.

The quake that hit China Wednesday was the latest in a string of earthquakes in the news lately. Many people are wondering what’s going on, so we decided to ask NASA. Eric Fielding is a geophysicist who uses satellites to study earthquakes at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories in California.

GlobalPost: So first question is the one on everybody’s mind. What on earth, literally, is going on? What’s up with the earthquakes?

“Transparency” too controversial at U.N. climate talks

leadersCan you object to a proposal for U.N. climate negotiators to “continue to work in a transparent and inclusive manner in accordance with the principles of the United Nations”?

If your answer is a bemused ”No”, you definitely aren’t a negotiator.

Delegates from 175 nations at U.N. climate talks in Bonn spent spent the best part an hour late on the evening of April 11 arguing about the apparently innocuous phrase as part of a 2-page document reviving talks in 2010 after the Copenhagen summit in December failed to come up with a new treaty to fight global warming.