Global environmental challenges
June 2-13 talks in Bonn on a new deal to widen the Kyoto Protocol after a first period ends in 2012 are ending on Friday with few agreements and many criticisms about a lack of progress.
But how do you focus delegations’ minds and get countries to do more to curb greenhouse gas emissions? U.N. reports last year warning the world of rising temperatures, droughts, rising seas and other risks in coming decades have not fully done the trick.
Sanctions under the Kyoto Protocol, the main existing plan for fighting climate change running to 2012, involve imposing stiffer greenhoues cuts in a next period. But does that do the job?
The UN’s climate surgery opening hours this week in Bonn, Germany, are 10am-1pm and 3pm-6pm.
Several times they’ve finished early — lack of demand?
“That’s good. Often they just go on and on. Next week it may be a bit later,” a UN spokesperson told me.
At the U.N. Biodiversity Conference in Bonn, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is being hailed as something of a hero. In what could be seen as an attempt to salvage both the talks and her own reputation as a champion of the environment, she announced millions of euros in handouts to help save the planet’s forests.
Campaigners fell over themselves praising her for setting an example. The physicist and former environment minister won credit last year for helping to broker EU and G8 deals to tackle climate change and some close to her insist the subject is close to her heart.
Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.
Colleagues of mine at Columbia have just published a large study of physical and biological changes recorded around the world since 1970 , during which the globe has been warming.
I have a confession to make — I’m glad gas prices in the United States, as elsewhere, are rising. And I’m quietly hoping they’ll keep going higher because there may possibly be no more effective way to promote conservation and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Higher pump prices might be the only way that we Americans will ever even begin adjusting our driving habits and reducing fuel consumption — when it hits you in the pocketbook. The price of gas in the United States may be cresting at over the $4 per gallon level but it is still far lower than it many other countries where fuel taxes are much higher.
In Germany, gasoline is now up to about 6 euros ($9) per gallon. German think tanks have forecast that it would take prices of 10 euros ($15) per gallon to radically change driving habits.
Certainly there are fewer mass transit options in the United States than in Europe and elsewhere. And higher fuel prices are especially problematic for people with low or no income. What’s nevertheless disheartening in the United States is that any suggestion of alleviating the price squeeze in the United States through the conservation of fuel by driving less or by driving smaller, more fuel-efficient cars or by using public transportation seems to get drowned out by a strange political debate about temporarily suspending the federal fuel tax for a few months during the summer holiday season.
Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s environment minister, said it would be a ”Herculean task” to safeguard animal and plant life. Try my colleague Madeline Chambers’ fine story about the opening.
According to a new list by nonprofit group Climate Counts, Nike ranked first among the world’s most climate-friendly companies.
In its second annual report, Climate Counts ranked companies based on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support of global warming legislation, public disclosure of their efforts to address climate change, and whether they measure their impacts on the environment.
Stuart Gaffin is a climate researcher at Columbia University and is a regular contributor with his blog “Exhausted Earth”. ThomsonReuters is not responsible for the content – the views are the author’s alone.
On April 16 President Bush gave a speech laying out a new United States climate policy goal – stabilizing US emissions by the year 2025.
The Maldives has a dilemma — it fears that rising seas caused by global warming could wipe the country off the map but it doesn’t want to restrict tourists who visit the Indian Ocean coral islands in aircraft whose emissions are a cause of climate change.
Read Melanie Lee and Neil Chatterjee’s story about the problem faced by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is writing a book about ”Paradise Drowning” but wants to keep the tourist-dependent economy going.
From ‘green movement,’ ‘Green Party,’ ‘green collar jobs,’ to ‘Greenpeace,’ the color reference is to plants, chlorophyll, the green pigment central to photosynthesis, which is the basis of all life. Quite often, however, the chief environmental goal being advocated has little to do with plants, but rather promoting low-impact technologies, practices and lifestyles.