Environment Forum

Climate experts on Copenhagen

map2If we can predict one thing about the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen it’s that no one will have all the answers.

But there will be plenty of questions.

To help cut through the tide, Reuters has gathered a panel of some of the world’s leading thinkers on climate change.

Throughout the conference, Reuters.com will publish questions relating to news as it breaks in Copenhagen as well as overarching solutions to global warming. Answers from the panelists will lead the discussion.

Our assembly of academics, scientists and politicians includes:

Dr. David Suzuki, award-winning geneticist and journalist

Dr. Raymond Pierrehumbert, Louis Block Professor in geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago

Dr. Gidon Eshel, physics professor, Bard College

Karen Alderman Harbert, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy

In dengue-infested Indonesian village: clinic or trees?

It was as I lay in a Singapore hospital bed — ablaze with dengue fever but shivering in a sweat that chilled my aching bones — that I began to understand why villagers in a remote part of Indonesia would trade their forest for decent health services.

Teluk Meranti is a tiny, 800-family fishing hamlet in Riau province of Sumatra island in Indonesia, where dengue is common but health services are poor and infrastructure is very basic.

With a monthly income of around $200, the average Teluk Meranti dweller doesn’t have much — but they do have customary rights to an enormous tract of rainforest in the lush Kampar Peninsula, home to rare flora and fauna.

from The Great Debate:

Comfortable conservation and global warming

kemp.jpg-- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own --

Energy efficiency will have to make the single most-important contribution if policymakers are serious about limiting greenhouse gas emissions and dampening growing demand for fossil fuels.

Energy efficiency will not remove the need to invest in large volumes of wind, solar and nuclear generation, or in technology for carbon capture and storage, but it does form the third leg of the triad.

In the United States, nowhere have efficiency initiatives been given higher prominence and become as deeply entrenched in the public policy process as in the state of California. In response to a series of power crises, the state has adopted some of the toughest standards anywhere in the world.

Five minutes of Al Gore

He started late, made them laugh for the first 5 minutes then gently kicked out the media.

“I’m Al Gore and I used to be the next president of America,” he said. Everyone laughed.

“Now I’m a recovering politician”.

On a speaking tour that touched down for a $500-a-plate dinner in Toronto Tuesday evening, the former U.S. vice president and co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the IPCC  told a near-full banquet room of 1,300 members from the “mostly telecoms” business community about his perspective on the green, clean economy.

Pole-to-Pole air trek collects valuable air samples

A three-week tour from the Colorado Rockies to the Arctic Ocean, the tropics, Antarctica and then back again to the Arctic again can give a new perspective of the world.

“You get a feeling of how small the earth is,” said Pavel Romashkin, project manager for a scientific mission that just completed such a trek. “All of us are on a really small place, this little planet of ours.”

The HIAPER Pole-to-Pole Observation mission, sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation, takes researchers aboard a highly modified Gulfstream jet to measure carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other gases in the atmosphere at nearly all the earth’s latitudes.

Could denying bedroom privileges save the planet?

There will be a record number of side events at the United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Copenhagen next month, but one woman’s one-woman show could give the delegates, most of whom will be men, the incentive they really need to agree a new global warming treaty.

In “The Boycott“, Kathryn Blume plays Lyssa, First Lady of the United States and climate crusader.  Loosely borrowing from a play from ancient Greece, Lyssa launches a nationwide sex strike to fight global warming. As the play unfolds, Lyssa is forced to take on her indifferent husband, a hostile press and a romantic rival who’s not only in bed with the President, but with the oil industry as well.

Blume is co-founder of the Lysistrata Project, named after the Aristophanean comedy on which The Boycott is based.  Originally performed in ancient Athens in 411 BC, Lysistrata tells the tale of one woman’s attempt to end the Peloponnesian War by convincing all women to withhold bedroom privileges from their husbands.

Trade lessons for climate negotiators

- John Kemp is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

As hopes for reaching a binding agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions at the Copenhagen summit die, climate negotiators could learn useful lessons on how to structure the negotiations from the multiple rounds of trade talks within the GATT/WTO framework.

Climate negotiations are about limiting carbon dioxide emissions, but the negotiators are also hammering out a complex economic instrument that will define the distribution of production, energy use and income in the next few decades. It is the agreement’s profound economic effects that are making it so hard to reach a final deal.

While the stalled negotiations on the Doha Round might make it seem likely an unlikely role model, the GATT/WTO process has successfully created a legal framework for liberalising world trade through eight successive rounds of increasingly complex negotiations, as well as a dispute settlement system accepted by all major countries.

Don’t you find this car sexy?

That’s what Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn asked reporters in Los Angeles while presenting the Leaf, a pure electric car to be made for the masses and launched in late 2010. 

The hatchback to be manufactured in Tennessee starting in late 2012 is no nerdy eco-friendly car, that’s for sure. And the prototype certainly was fun to drive. Nissan set up a test course in the Dodger Stadium parking lot and even this cautious driver couldn’t help but race down the straightaway. No emissions, no tailpipe, no noise — but lots of speed, right away.

Ghosn says the Leaf goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in less than 10 seconds, although it felt much faster than that. “This is not a golf cart,” he reminded us several times.

Blue business washes in

Adam Werbach poses at the University Club of Toronto, November 11, 2009. REUTERS/Jillian Kitchener

Adam Werbach poses at the University Club of Toronto, November 11, 2009. REUTERS/Jillian Kitchener

Green is good and blue is better.

Keeping a business sustainable – or blue – goes beyond philanthropic nods to the environment. It needs to be a core business goal, says Adam Werbach, creator of Wal-Mart’s sustainability program and chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi S, the sustainability wing of the marketing and consultancy company.

Blue innovation embraces the social, cultural, and economic aspects of business along with green issues like protecting our last wild places and reducing carbon emissions.

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.