Environment Forum

Elections shape Brazil delegation at Copenhagen


BRAZIL-OIL/By Ray Colitt

Copenhagen summit attendees may be wondering why Brazil’s delegation to the U.N. climate meeting is being led not by its environment minister but by the president’s chief of staff. The answer is: elections next year in Brazil.

Chief of Staff Dilma Rousseff is the government’s likely candidate in next October’s general election and wants to boost her environmental credentials. She was nudged into action after internationally-renowned Amazon defender Marina Silva joined the presidential race and pledged to put the environment on the campaign agenda.

Ironically, it was Environment Minister Carlos Minc who saw the chance for Brazil to take a leadership position in global climate talks and Rousseff who was one of the more reticent members of government to accept aggressive emissions targets.

Still, in Copenhagen Rousseff has made sure everyone knows she is in charge by publicly correcting Minc’s statement on Brazil’s demand for climate mitigation funds.

 “The isolation of Environment Minister Carlos Minc is raising eyebrows here in Copenhagen,” said Senator Marina Silva, Minc’s predecessor.

from Global News Journal:

Sarkozy’s tough message on climate – did it get through?

CLIMATE-COPENHAGEN/After one and a half days of mostly uninspired and often irrelevant speeches by world leaders, French President Nicolas Sarkozy walked to the podium at UN climate talks in Copenhagen and produced a seven minute rallying cry - focused, energetic and packed with more punch than the rest put together.

Jabbing his finger, he berated leaders from Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States to own up to their responsibilities and make compromises. Point by point he delivered his challenges, each starting with: 'Who would dare..' (implied answer, no one)

Who in the developed world would deny his historic responsibility for global warming (a reference to the United States?), who in Africa would venture to tear up a deal that seeks to benefit African states (a reference to those who want more financing), who would have the nerve to reject the notion that emissions cuts must be transparent (a reference to China?).

The strange spectacle of too many heads of government

COP15picThere are around 120 heads of government at the Copenhagen climate talks, so many that it’s hard to keep track of the exact number.

Their presence has been trumpeted as a sign of the world’s commitment to tackling climate change. But in return for showing up, they all want a chance to address the conference – and by extension the world.

To fit all the dignitaries in, organizers have slots limited to five short minutes, which would probably be barely enough to cover their introduction back home.

Auxiliary verbs at 10pm and the scarcest resource – sleep

CO2tonneThe issues are global and urgent, but the bureaucracy can sometimes be mind-bogglingly slow and petty.

After a day of stalled talks, the 193 nations at UN-led climate talks finally met for a plenary to discuss one of the main drafts floating around the summit, just two days (and two hours) from the deadline for a deal.

First on the agenda – auxiliary verbs. There was a discussion of should vs shall, before an appeal from the chair.

The Poo run

As I trudge toward the edge of the Antarctic ice shelf, the thought of tumbling over and down into the icy waters below is bad enough.

Orcas patrol the coast, looking to devour seals and penguins and — presumably — clumsy humans stupid enough to fall into their path.

Expeditioners Mark Farrell (R) and Marty Passingham ferry their fragile cargo of kitchen slops and human waste to the edge of Commonwealth Bay. One man uses a rope to belay the other man, to stop him from falling in the bay.

But there is an even more horrifying prospect: to stumble over the edge while trying to empty gallons of human waste into the Southern Ocean.

North American car, truck of year finalists include two from GM, Ford

U.S. automakers claimed four of the six finalist spots North American Car of the Year and North American Truck of the Year as picked by 49 automotive journalists in the United States and Canada.

U.S. automakers Ford Motor Co and General Motors Co each have one truck and one car on the list.

The car finalists are the Buick LaCrosse, the Ford Fusion Hybrid and the Volkswagen Golf.

Can you trust the science?

Today we pose the question to our virtual panel of experts, “How far can we trust the science of climate change?”

Join the debate and leave your comments below.


Bjorn Lomborg, statistician and author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist”:

The vast majority of climate scientists tell us that increases in carbon dioxide cause higher temperatures over time. We know that this will mean changes in rainfall, melting of snow and ice, a rise in sea level, and other impacts on plants, wildlife, and humans.

There is still meaningful and important work going on looking at the range of outcomes that we should expect–it is wrong to suggest that “all of the science is in”– but I think it is vital to emphasize the consensus on the most important scientific questions.

from UK News:

Clashes and queues raise temperature in Copenhagen

climate talks protest

With the clock ticking for world leaders to clinch a climate deal in Copenhagen, the last place you want to be is stuck at the back of a long queue.

But for thousands of delegates meeting in the Danish capital, that is exactly where they have spent endless hours this week.

They stood in the cold, braving the odd snow flurry, for hour after hour, waiting to be allowed into the conference centre on the edge of town where 193 countries are trying to thrash out a new deal on climate change.

Lost in Detroit?

Ed Whitacre on July 10, his first official day as chairman of GM.

Ed Whitacre on July 10, his first official day as chairman of GM.

     For the past two weeks, GM Chairman and Chief Executive Ed Whitacre has been confined to the glass towers that house the automaker’s downtown Detroit headquarters and an adjoining hotel.

Living out of suitcases, he says he ran out of dress shirts last week and turned up at a GM assembly plant in Flint wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.

An outsider in a company long dominated by insiders, Whitacre admits to having lost his way in the signature round corridors of GM’s headquarters and being forced to ask security guards for directions.

Rainy Taiwan faces awkward water shortage

jennings Chronically rainy Taiwan faces a rare water shortage as leaders ask that people on the dense, consumption-happy island of 23 million finally start changing habits as dry weather is forecast into early 2010. 

Taiwan, a west Pacific island covered with rainforests and topical fruit orchards, is used to rain in all seasons, bringing as much as 3,800 mm (150 inches) on average in the first 10 months of every year. But reservoirs have slipped in 2009 due to a chain of regional weather pattern flukes giving Taiwan too much dry high pressure while other parts of Asia get more storms than normal, the Central Weather Bureau  says.

Deadly typhoon Morakot  in August brought more than half the year’s rain to much of south Taiwan, washing away drought fears as well as a lot of other things. But the three-day storm dumped too much rain at once for much storage or use. Despite the typhoon, southern Taiwan’s anchor city Kaohsiung was 20 mm below average in the first 10 months of 2009, with the typhoon’s contribution about half the 1,747 mm total. Below-average rainfall resumed after the typhoon, the weather bureau said, and the same is forecast through February.jennings2