Environment Forum

Delivering coup-de-grace to cap and trade

kempJohn Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own.

President Barack Obama read the last rites for national cap and trade in 2010 on Feb. 2, while senior Democrats in the House of Representatives prepared to put a stake through its heart to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency does not try to resurrect it unilaterally without congressional approval.

Obama finally bowed to the inevitable and admitted cap and trade might need to be separated from a more popular green jobs bill in the Senate, a shift that would effectively end prospects for cap and trade in 2010.

In a question-and-answer session the president commented: “The only thing I would say about it is this: We may be able to separate these things out. And it’s possible that’s where the Senate ends up.”

Obama made no mention of cap and trade in his State of the Union speech last week and it was absent from the list of priorities the president outlined in a meeting with Senate Democrats on Wednesday, when he called on them to “finish the job” on healthcare and financial reform.

Revenues from the sale of emissions permits have been stripped out of the president’s proposed budget — unlike last year when they were included.

Walmart accused of hypocrisy in green initiatives

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Just last month, Walmart announced that it would be moving to eliminate non-biodegradable plastic bags from stores across the United States to reduce their collection in landfills. While they’ve demonstrated positive green initiatives, this week there’s been accusations of hypocrisy because they’ve been passing off a harmful, manufactured textile as sustainable.

Environmental advocates had been applauding Walmart for their plastic bag reduction goals and the installation of more energy-efficient systems. For example, coolers that only light up when a shopper’s presence is detected. So this new accusation from the Federal Trade Commission comes at a bad time.

Walmart, along with many other big box and chain stores across the United States, has been selling products as bamboo that are actually rayon. It is a textile shrouded in debate, because it contains cellulose that is naturally occurring. However, it does require an extensive manufacturing process to produce.

Mount Everest of the seas

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David Rockefeller, Jr., a philanthropist, is sponsoring a year-long sailing trip around the Americas looking at environmental impacts on the oceans — from melting ice to fish farms. Here are his thoughts after stepping aboard the voyage for two weeks around Cape Horn.  The views expressed are his own.

For climbers, there is just one Everest.  For sailors, there is just one Cape Horn – the southernmost piece of the American Continents, and often the windiest, most treacherous place in all the oceans.

Eight of us voyagers recently sailed around “the Horn” on a boat called Ocean Watch.  We flew a billowing spinnaker with a graphic of the two American continents and a mainsail sporting our own expedition logo, “Around the Americas, 2009-2010.”  A flock of thirty albatross rode the surprisingly benign ocean swells.  Two breakfasting cruise ships gave scale to the forbidding cliffs.

from The Great Debate UK:

Time to invest in Europe’s bio-clean tech delta

Luuk- Luuk van der Wielen is at BE-Basic and Delft University of Technology; Roger Wyse is Managing Director, Burrill & Company, San Francisco. The opinions expressed are their own.-

Today the global megatrends of food security, energy security, global climate change and sustainability command the attention of nations worldwide.  Confronting these challenges will test political systems, drive policy and stress international relations.

To address them successfully, nations and companies are making massive investments in R&D, seeking solutions that will drive global innovation for decades.  The application of modern discoveries in biology and biocleantechnology will be a major enabling force to address these issues.

from UK News:

Climate scientists seek to calm storm of doubt

INDIAIf the scientific evidence for manmade global warming is so compelling, why do so many people still have their doubts?

Why do politicians and the media often discuss global warming with such certainty, ignoring the scientists' carefully worded caveats?

And how much harder will it be to persuade the sceptics after the uproar over whether scientists exaggerated unreliable evidence or colluded to withhold information to strengthen their case?

Haiti’s tragedy belongs to the environment

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global_post_logo This commentary by Stephan Faris originally appeared in GlobalPost. The views expressed are his own.

Most people wouldn’t consider an earthquake to be an environmental issue. But while the tremors that shattered Haiti early this month have nothing to do with the island’s degradation, the extent of the suffering they unleashed is a direct result of the country’s ecological woes.

The reason can be seen from the sky. The devastated nation shares its island with the Dominican Republic, but misfortune always seems to strike on its side of a border that is demarcated by an abrupt shift from lush green to bare brown. While the Dominican Republic has largely managed to preserve its trees, Haiti has lost 98 percent of its forest cover.

Obama gets high marks for green record: environmental group

obama_solarPresident 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.

In a review of his green record, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) highlighted dozens of moves by Obama at home and abroad. They cited the $50 billion the president put in the stimulus package for cleaner energy and energy efficiency; an executive order for federal agencies to set targets to cut emissions by 2020; and the adoption of strict auto emissions standards, modeled after environmental trendsetter California.

Carbon trading and a new climate deal

(Updates with comments from Karen Alderman Harbert)

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A key component of a prospective climate deal coming into Copenhagen has been the targets for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

Targets would help put a “price” on carbon emissions that could then be bought and sold under a cap and trade scheme. (Click here for a related article.)

Proponents of the potentially lucrative market say it provides clear incentives to reach targets or even overshoot them, while opponents say the system would give big polluters a way around any targets.

Packing while Copenhagen burns

Bella1The 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.

The rest of the plan has fallen apart, with world leaders crammed into conference rooms desperately trying to salvage something from two weeks of fruitless talks.

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.

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