Global environmental challenges
We’re told that President Obama is getting ready to propose a tripling of government loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors to the tune of more than $54 billion.
The move is likely to win over Republicans who want to see nuclear power playing a larger role in a climate bill for the country. Another group of Senators earlier this week said they would support a comprehensive climate bill based on Obama’s State of the Union speech that opened the possibilities of nuclear expansion.
Certainly, the Nuclear Energy Institute would agree the technology is the United States’ largest source of clean-air, carbon-free electricity, producing no greenhouse gases or air pollutants.
The problem, of course, there’s no such thing as a small nuclear accident, and what are we supposed to do with all that radioactive waste, argue opponents.
Supporters of a climate bill to cap and price greenhouse gases are losing hope that it will make it into law. But for many, the fight is far from over.
Topping the list of supporters of some form of the bill is President Obama. In his first State of the Union address, he focused on the bill’s potential to fuel a domestic clean tech industry lush with jobs, and said he still supported the bipartisan effort on the climate and energy bill, which would incorporate energy policies favored by Republicans.
from Davos Notebook:
It may have contributed less than any other continent to CO2 emissions, but Africa is on the front line when it comes to the impact of climate change.
Just ask Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.
"It is a threat for us," he told a panel at the World Economic Forum. "On Kilimanjaro the snow is fast disappearing, sea levels are rising -- we have one island that has already been submerged -- and we've towns around the coast where we have to incur huge costs of adaptation to erect walls."
from Tales from the Trail:
Could "heroism fatigue" be yet another bump in the road for any U.S. law to curb climate change? And what is "heroism fatigue" anyway?
To Paul Bledsoe of the bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy, heroism fatigue is what happens when the Congress has spent most of the year doing something heroic, like trying to hammer out an agreement on healthcare reform, when what lawmakers might rather be doing is naming a new post office. Following one big, gnarly piece of legislation with another -- like a bill to limit climate-warming carbon dioxide -- can seem daunting.
President Barack Obama came into office with climate change and the environment on his list of top priorities.
Nearly a year later, one of the top environmental groups in the United States says that Obama has made the grade so far.
from Global News Journal:
Sweden complained that the recent Copenhagen climate change summit was a "disaster." British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described it as "at best flawed and at worst chaotic." Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, dubbed the outcome confirmation of a "climate apartheid." For South Africa it was simply "not acceptable."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who for over a year had been urging the 192 members of the United Nations to "seal the deal" in Copenhagen, saw things differently. In a statement issued by his press office, Ban said the two-week meeting had a "successful conclusion with substantive outcomes." Speaking to reporters, the secretary-general expanded on that: "Finally we sealed the deal. And it is a real deal. Bringing world leaders to the table paid off." However, he tempered his praise for the participating delegations by noting that the outcome "may not be everything that everyone hoped for."
from The Great Debate UK:
- Julian Hunt is visiting professor at Delft University and formerly director general of the UK meteorological office. Charles Kennel is distinguished professor of atmospheric science, emeritus and senior advisor to the sustainability solutions institute, UCSD. The opinions expressed are their own. -
The non-legally binding "deal" agreed at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen among the U.S., China, Brazil, South Africa and India, has brought to a conclusion what has proved an extraordinarily complex set of negotiations.
The talks were supposed to be over, “family photo” taken, and slaps on the back given all round.
So all the 193 countries and many RINGOS, BINGOS, YOUNGOS, banks and others who had set up temporary Copenhagen offices had been told to have them packed up by Friday evening.
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.
There 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.