Environment Forum

Will Nobel Prize also take Obama to Copenhagen climate talks?

The surprise award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama just nine months into his presidency on Friday may put pressure on him to visit a 190-nation meeting on a new U.N. climate treaty in Copenhagen.

The prize will be handed over in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of the award’s founder Alfred Nobel, and the U.N. talks will run in Copenhagen from Dec. 7-18. It takes about an hour to fly between the two Scandinavian capitals.

And the Norwegian Nobel Committee heaped praise on Obama, including his climate policies, in its citation.

“Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting,” the secretive five-member committee said.

 Some Norwegian politicians said they hoped the award would stiffen Obama’s resolve to push the U.S. Senate to pass early legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the years to 2020.

from FaithWorld:

U.S. Religious Left campaigns for climate change legislation

The U.S. "Religious Left" -- which has been active at the grassroots level to support President Barack Obama's drive for health care reform -- has now launched a campaign in support his other major domestic initiative: climate change legislation.

Faithful America, a coalition of progressive evangelical, Catholic, mainline Protestant and Jewish groups, unveiled a video on Thursday urging viewers to "TELL CONGRESS: STOP CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS EFFECTS." The campaign is called Day Six.

You can see the video below:

 

A climate bill aimed at reducing America's emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming is being crafted in the U.S. Senate. The House of Representatives earlier this year passed its own version.

from Tales from the Trail:

The First Draft: Could Obama’s Olympic sprint be a preview of a Copenhagen climate trip?

THAILAND/OK, so President Barack Obama's lightning jaunt to Copenhagen last week was less than successful. Even with Oprah along, the Cheerleader-in-Chief couldn't clinch the deal for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympics. It happens.

But now that he knows the way to Denmark, might the American president consider arguing the U.S. case at international climate meetings in Copenhagen in December? The White House said he might, if other heads of state showed up.

"Right now you've got a meeting that's set up for a level not at the head of state level," presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Air Force One last week. "If it got switched, we would certainly look at coming."

from Tales from the Trail:

Cash for Clunkers: the day after

One of the most popular programs brought in by the administration of President Barack Obama, "cash for clunkers", which offered rebates of up to $4,500 to trade in older gas guzzlers, wrapped up on Monday.

USA/

Some auto dealers are concerned about the slow pace of reimbursements under the program and the low inventories that have followed in its wake.

(PHOTO: A clunker vehicle sits in a parking lot during the last day of the "Cash For Clunkers" auto rebate program at Courtesy Chevrolet dealership in Phoenix, Arizona, August 24, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Lott)

Smithsonian gets solar panel that once graced White House roof

U.S. President Barack Obama has made climate change legislation one of his top goals and has pushed for more clean, renewable energy like solar and wind power.

But back in 1979, when another Democrat was in the White House, 32 solar panels graced the roof above the Oval Office.

Part of an initiative called “Solar America,” the panels turned sunlight into electricity that heated water in the staff kitchen — which President Jimmy Carter often used. They were removed during Ronald Reagan’s administration in 1986.

from Tales from the Trail:

Team Obama’s Environmental Irony Tour

OBAMA/Okay, so it's August in Washington. It's hot. Congress has gone home. Even the summer interns are packing up and getting out of town. So it's not surprising that top members of the Obama administration might be ready for a road trip.

That's basically what the White House announced in a statement headlined: "Obama Administration Officials Travel America, Talk Clean Energy Economy." President Obama went to Indiana to announce $2.4 billion in funding for advanced battery and electric drive projects; Energy Secretary Steven Chu headed for Minnesota to look at renewable energy projects and North Carolina to announce a big grant to a lithium battery firm, finishing up the week in Massachusetts to talk about clean energy jobs at Harvard; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar went to a solar panel company in Colorado; EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was in Florida and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke traveled to Missouri.

ENVIRONMENT-USA/WINDProbably only a crank would wonder just how much greenhouse gas all this official travel spewed into the atmosphere. There's no hybrid Air Force One, after all. But it does seem like an exquisite irony that, with the best of environmental intentions, the Obama team may have stomped all over the United States with a heavy-duty carbon footprint.

Between Bangkok, Barcelona and a big bang (with one eye on Capitol Hill)

For those keeping track, there are five months left before the December meeting in Copenhagen where the world is supposed to agree on how to tackle climate change after crucial aspects of the carbon-capping Kyoto Protocol expire. Before they can agree on anything, they have to have a document to work from, and that’s where people like Michael Zammit Cutajar come in.

He and other diplomats at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will get together next month in Bonn to whittle down a 200-page text to something more manageable. On a visit to Washington, he said he didn’t expect any big breakthroughs at that meeting because “people don’t like to work much in August.” So far, he himself hasn’t read through the whole draft and admits it’s likely to be a tough thing to read: “You pick it up, you look at it, you see three pages, you say ‘interesting,’ you put it down again. It’s not meant to be read top to bottom.”

Zammit Cutajar figures the “crunch issues” are more likely to emerge at a meeting in Bangkok over 10 days in September and October, and at another gathering in Barcelona in November, before the main event in Copenhagen.

Is Bill Clinton’s climate legacy a problem for Obama?

Who was president when U.S. greenhouse gas emissions rose most sharply since 1990, the U.N. benchmark year for action to fight climate change?
– George W. Bush (2001-2007)
– Bill Clinton (1993-2000)
– George H.W. Bush (1990-1992)
(I’m giving presidents responsibility for the full calendar year of their inauguration in January; official U.S. data are only available until 2007)

Answer — Bill Clinton (by a long way).

Many people might have thought the worst scorecard was by George W. Bush, who gave up plans to implement the 1997 Kyoto Protocol for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, signed by the Clinton administration but never submitted to a hostile Senate for ratification.

But emissions rose by more than twice as much in the Clinton years, when climate campaigner Al Gore was vice president, as during the combined years when two Bush presidents, father and son, were in the White House since 1990.

Polar bears and a cactus urge climate action in Bonn

 U.N. climate talks started in Bonn on Monday with demonstrators dressed as camels, birds, trees, a cactus and several polar bears urging delegates to do more to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The cactus costume with the sign “water me” was my favourite (left).

Too many  protesters at U.N. meetings dress up as polar bears — the bears’ icy habitat is coming under threat from receding ice. So to get the polar-bear-weary delegates’ attention, a bit of variety is a good idea, even though it’s probably harder to make people feel sorry for a prickly plant than an iconic Arctic predator.

Electric cars to help solve riddle of storing power

Since the days of Thomas Edison, finding a way to effectively store electricity has been one of the “Holy Grails” for power companies.

While it won’t be an overnight revolution for electricity, eventually plug-in electric cars and trucks will be a step toward the elusive goal, said Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison International.

Edison International is the parent of Southern California Edison (SCE), which is the biggest utilty in the United States in terms of power delivered to customers.

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