Environment Forum

Climate change, it’s snow joke

snowshow1.JPGIt’s summer at the G8 media centre in Hokkaido. Yet underneath the building are tonnes of snow to keep journalists cool as they write about global warming.

Japan budgeted $283 million for security at the summit and $30 million to build a temporary, low-emissions media centre far from where the G8 leaders are meeting in a luxury hotel.

The centre took five months to construct next to a ski resort and the company that built it says 95 percent of the materials will be recycled or reused once the building is torn down in the weeks after the G8 meeting.

During construction, tonnes of snow were scooped up from the resort’s car park and dumped into an insulated area under the floor. Of the 5.5 metres of snow, more than 4 metres remain, which is used to chill the air circulating around the cavernous two-storey building. Large arrays of solar panels also help power the centre and cut emissions.

Journalists can walk over glass panels to see the snow underneath.

 Jun Oishi of Takenaka Corporation, which designed and built the centre, says it will save 6,ooo tonnes of carbon dioxide over its short life compared with a conventionally designed building.

Substance trumps style at climate talks

bento21.JPG   It was like a scene from the future. A carpark brimming with fuel-cell and hydrogen-powered cars, while fuel-cell buses ferried delegates to lunch near the modern conference centre outside Tokyo.

   Japan was determined to display its green credentials at weekend G20 talks, one of the biggest meetings of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters since last December’s Bali gathering. Even conference staff were given chopsticks and traditional “bento” boxes that could be reused instead of the usual throw-away items.

    Inside the conference hall, though, delegates were more interested in substance than style as they discussed ways to agree on a global pact by the end of 2009 to curb growing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.