Environment Forum

from Chris Wickham:

Climate change is off the agenda in Dubai

The headline in the Gulf News English language daily reads 'UAE tops world on per capita carbon footprint'.

For a place so reliably bathed in sunlight, the Dubai property explosion seems to have generated enough construction noise to drown out the environmental debate raging elsewhere in the world.

For the first-time visitor, the scale of the global construction superlatives - The Palm, made from reclaimed land jutting out defiantly into the Gulf, the skyscrapers built in a region where there is no shortage of space - is staggering.

The amount of environmentally 'sinfull' concrete poured over the last decade is ncalculable. Billboards lauding the benefits of solar power look like a bit of an after thought.

Climate change was just beginning to take hold as an issue for property developers when the economic downturn struck and put paid to nascent environmental ambitions.  "Green is not cheap," says Markus Giebel, chief executive of Dubai property group Deyaar Development. "Dubai was on the right track, but there's no money now. People are thinking about survival."

from FaithWorld:

Christian Coalition joins hunting group in climate change fight

Remember the Christian Coalition of America?

Under the political operative Ralph Reed in the 1990s it was an electoral force to be reckoned with as it mobilized millions of conservative Christians to vote for mostly Republican Party candidates and causes.

It has since lost influence and political ground to other "religious right" groups such as the Family Research Council. But it remains a sizeable grassroots organization and is still unflinchingly conservative.

So it will no doubt surprise some to see that this week it has joined with the National Wildlife Federation -- whose 4 million members and supporters includes 420,000 sportsmen and women -- to run an ad urging the U.S. Senate to pass legislation that among other things addresses the pressing problem of climate change.

Copenhagen…DOpenHAgen…DOHA?

Some politicians are mentioning “Copenhagen” and “Doha” in the same breath — a worrying lament less than 2 months to go before a U.N. climate deal is meant to be wrapped up in the Danish capital.

So is there a risk – if negotiators are not smart — that the new U.N. accord to fight global warming will stall like the long-running Doha round on freeing world trade, launched in 2001?

India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, for instance, said on Oct. 10 that negotiators should aim for a realistic agreement in Copenhagen from Dec. 7-18 that was not too ambitious. He said there was a risk of repeating the “mistake of the Doha round”, saying that “the basic problem of the Doha round was ‘all or nothing’.”

Solar heads to developing world

While solar power has investors on Wall Street seeing green, countries in the developing world also see a bright future in solar technology.

They believe solar power systems that convert sunlight into electricity can help power developing areas without going the route of dirty coal-fired power plants.

Solar companies like China’s solar panel maker Suntech and California-based eSolar, have recently announced forays into the developing world.

A messenger Canada would rather ignore

If there’s one person the Canadian government would perhaps rather not hear from right now, it’s Tim Flannery, the vocal Australian climate change campaigner. Canada, which over the last 20 years or so has largely preferred to let economic development trump environmental concerns,  is trying to keep a low profile in the run-up to the Copenhagen meeting in December charged with producing a successor to the Kyoto accord.  Canada’s Conservative government — following the lead of former U.S. President George W. Bush – walked away from Kyoto on the grounds that it would damage the economy. Canada has made an enormous amount of money shipping oil to the United States, much of it from the tar sands in the western province of Alberta. Developing those sands burns up a huge amount of carbon and Canadian emissions are rising steadily, so it’s no coincidence that Canada says it is for action on climate change while allowing responsible economic development.  Environment Minister Jim Prentice told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp on Wednesday that Canada would bring “a reasonable constructive approach” to Copenhagen.  This is a message which wins few friends among environmentalists.

Flannery rolled into town on Wednesday and loudly announced that Ottawa’s role in the talks leading up to Copenhagen so far had been very unhelpful. “We desperately need Canada to play a much more positive role in the coming months . . . the Canadian government is largely isolated in its stand vis-a-vis the Copenhagen agreements. It would be tragic, I think, to see a country like this standing in the way of agreement,” he told reporters.

If the truth be told, Canada is not doing much of anything on the environment right now, in part because of last year’s U.S. presidential election and the victory of Barack Obama, who vowed tough action on climate change.  Ottawa had promised to introduce rules to cut emissions starting in 2010 but those are on hold until Washington decides what approach it will take on climate change. The same goes for Canadian plans to set up a carbon trading market: let’s wait for Obama.  While this is understandable — there’s little point taking the time and trouble to craft a green policy only to see it wrecked because your main trading partner decided to go off in a different direction — it only adds to the impression of inertia.

U.S. hunters, anglers weigh in on climate change

When people think of hunting and fishing politicians in America — at least prominent ones – two things spring to mind: 1. Republican and 2. Climate change skeptic. Former President George W. Bush, his vice president Dick Cheney and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin all fall into both categories.

But the hunting and fishing crowd — widely seen as reliably Republican because of that’s party’s successful portrayal of itself as the defender of God and guns — has also started to take note of climate change. After all, hunters and anglers are in the outdoors in pursuit of wildlife season after season, year after year.

But what may concern some Republican strategists is that many of them also accept the science of climate change, which overwhelmingly points to fossil fuel emissions as the main cause driving global warming.

Could patents bring solar power companies more revenue?

The high tech industry regularly sees lawsuits fly over intellectual property rights.

Time will tell if clean technology will see a similar play, but a settlement this week between California-based solar power company SunPower Corp and SunLink Corp may shed light on things to come.

In February 2008, SunPower sued SunLink, saying SunLink had violated patents protecting several of SunPower’s rooftop systems. Under the settlement, SunPower licensed its patents to SunLink but did not disclose the financial details.

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.

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.

Better Than A Rainforest? Air Capture Climate Technology Gets A Closer Look

It sounds almost too good to be true: new technology that would be better than carbon neutral — it would be carbon negative, taking more climate-warming carbon dioxide out of the air than factories and vehicles put in. It’s called air capture technology, and Reuters took a look at some promising versions of it on October 1.

This technology is expected to help some of the world’s poorest countries capitalize on any global carbon market, which would put a price on carbon emissions and let rich companies that spew lots of carbon buy carbon credits from poor companies and countries that emit less. The least developed countries emit very little carbon now. But the way the carbon market is set up under the Kyoto Protocol, this puts them at a disadvantage. If you don’t emit a lot it’s tough to get access to financing and clean technology under the current rules.

Most of these less-developed countries are going to be on the front lines of climate change, if they’re not there already. The predicted ravages of a changing climate, including droughts, floods and wildfires, would hurt them worst and first. The idea is that they need to develop, to give themselves a cushion against these disasters. To develop, they need energy. And usually, getting energy has meant spewing more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, adding to the climate change that caused the problem in the first place.

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