Opinion

The Great Debate

from The Great Debate UK:

Why the Icelandic volcano could herald even more disruption

Andy_Hooper- Dr Andrew Hooper is an Assistant Professor at Delft University of Technology and is an expert on monitoring deformation of Icelandic volcanoes. The opinions expressed are his own. -

The unprecedented no-fly zone currently in force across much of Europe has already caused the greatest chaos to air travel since the Second World War.  Thousands of flights have been cancelled or postponed with millions of travel plans affected.

The economic consequence to our ‘just-in-time’ society is incalculable at this stage given the disruption to holidays, business plans and indeed the wider business supply chain.  However, the global cost of the disruption will surely ultimately result in a cost of billions, with the share price of several airlines in particular already taking a hit.

It is exceptionally hard to gauge how long the current grounding of flights will remain in force, although Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano which has erupted, could potentially sputter on for months or even more than a year.  Much could depend upon weather patterns, especially wind direction, over the next few days.

The worst-case scenario in terms of precedent here is the 1783-1784 eruption at Laki (a very large eruption of 14km3 compared to the one in Mount St. Helens in 1980 of 1 km3) that had a huge impact on the northern hemisphere, reducing temperatures by up to 3 degrees.  This led to catastrophe far beyond the shores of Iceland (where 25 percent of population died), with thousands of recorded deaths in Britain due to poisoning and extreme cold, and record low rainfall in North Africa.

States see pushback against carbon trading

CHINA-POLLUTION/

– John Kemp is a Reuters market analyst. The views expressed are his own —

Efforts to implement cap-and-trade programs at state level are faltering, just as policymakers in Washington are struggling to generate enough support to put in place a comprehensive national system.

Recent setbacks in California and Arizona point to growing headwinds against the policy. As cap-and-trade loses momentum and becomes embroiled in bigger political disputes about the size and role of government, opponents are becoming emboldened to try to block the policy completely.

Obama, politics and nuclear waste

yucca

-Bernd Debusmann is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own-

The project involved more than 2,500 scientists. It cost $ 10.5 billion between 1983 and 2009 and it included one of the most bizarre scientific tasks of all time: evaluate whether nuclear waste stored deep inside a Nevada desert mountain would be safe a million years into the future.

That was the safety standard set in September, 2008, by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a condition for allowing nuclear waste to be stored deep in the belly of the Yucca Mountain, 95 miles (155 km) from Las Vegas, long the subject of political debate and a fine example of nimbyism (not in my backyard).

The vastly complex computer models and simulations experts launched to figure out whether Yucca Mountain would be a safe environment in the year 1,000,000 and beyond ended before there was a scientific conclusion.

Emissions bill overhauled to secure votes

WEATHER/

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

Prominent U.S. senators are set to substantially re-write climate legislation in a bid to secure the 60 votes needed for passage before Congress is engulfed by the mid-term election campaign.

According to well-sourced media reports that emerged at the weekend from conversations with aides engaged in the process:

Emissions prices in 2020


kemp

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

Uncertainty about the future cost of emissions allowances for greenhouse gases is one of the biggest obstacles to winning consent for a cap and trade or cap and refund programme in the U.S. Congress. To have any realistic prospect of passing emissions legislation, lawmakers must find a way to reduce it.
Proponents argue a trading programme would ensure emissions reductions are achieved in the most cost-effective manner. They point to the success of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Acid Rain Program in cutting sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions much more quickly and at a fraction of the expected costs during the 1990s.

Title IV of the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) 1990 established a trading programme for SO2 emissions from power plants. Phase I, beginning in 1995, covered the 110 dirtiest coal-fired electricity generating facilities.

Anything but oil

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

As OPEC ministers meet in Angola this week, they can congratulate themselves on a brilliant piece of market management.

Quick decision-making and aggressive output cuts over the last 18 months have stabilised prices at their highest level in real terms since the early 1980s. And this despite the deepest recession since World War Two.

from The Great Debate UK:

John Reid on climate change and global security

johnreid- John Reid MP, formerly UK Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Defence, is the Chairman of the Institute for Security and Resilience Studies at University College, London. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Barack Obama’s announcement that there will be no all-encompassing protocol agreed at Copenhagen underlines that climate change is perhaps the most complex issue facing the world today.  In part, this is because it involves long-term thinking and modeling which our existing political, financial and economic institutions and governance frameworks are ill-designed and configured to grapple with and resolve.

With uncertainty building over what, if anything, the Copenhagen Summit can still achieve, now is therefore the time to remind ourselves about some of the larger stakes in play next month at what has been billed by some as the most important environmental summit in world history.

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.

from Environment Forum:

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.

from The Great Debate UK:

We Need a Fresh Approach on Climate Change

Bjorn Lomborg
- Bjorn Lomborg is adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School. He is the organizer of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, which brings together some of the world's top economists, including 5 Nobel laureates, to set priorities for the world. The opinions expressed are his own. -

In this blog, I would like to share with you some of the best – and worst – ways to fix climate change. This is important because the Earth is warming up, increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide are contributing to this warming, and humankind is dumping ever-increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Of course, this is a point that is made by many campaigners, politicians and the media every single day. But I think that in our discussions on global warming, we actually often miss a really important question: not if we should do something about global warming - but rather how best to go about this. Just like with any other problem we face, there are many possible remedies, and some of them are a whole lot better than others. Not just cheaper (although cost is one very important criteria), but more effective, more efficient and - crucially - more likely to actually happen.

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