1.1. Human-caused climate change widely impact Earth
15 May 2008, Chinaview
A new NASA-led study shows human-caused climate change has made an impact on a wide range of Earth’s natural systems, including permafrost thawing, plants blooming earlier across Europe, and lakes declining in productivity in Africa.
Cynthia Rosenzweig of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Science and scientists at 10 other institutions have linked physical and biological impacts since 1970 with rises in temperatures during that period.
The study, to be published on May 15 in the journal Nature, concludes human-caused warming is resulting in a broad range of impacts across the globe.
"This is the first study to link global temperature data sets, climate model results, and observed changes in a broad range of physical and biological systems to show the link between humans, climate, and impacts," said Rosenzweig, lead author of the study.
Observed impacts included changes to physical systems, such as glaciers shrinking, permafrost melting, and lakes and rivers warming.
Biological systems also were impacted in a variety of ways, such as leaves unfolding and flowers blooming earlier in the spring, birds arriving earlier during migration periods, and plant and animal species moving toward Earth’s poles and higher in elevation.
In aquatic environments such as oceans, lakes, and rivers, plankton and fish are shifting from cold-adapted to warm-adapted communities.
Their study indicated that at the global scale, about 90 percent of observed changes in diverse physical and biological systems are consistent with warming.
"Humans are influencing climate through increasing greenhouse gas emissions," Rosenzweig said. "The warming is causing impacts on physical and biological systems that are now attributable at the global scale."
The research team also found the link between human-caused climate change and observed impacts on Earth holds true at the scale of individual continents, particularly in North America, Europe, and Asia.
1.2. Prince Charles: Eighteen months to stop climate change disaster
16 May 2008, Telegraph.co.uk
The Prince of Wales has warned that the world faces a series of natural disasters within 18 months unless urgent action is taken to save the rainforests.
In one of his most out-spoken interventions in the climate change debate, he said a £15 billion annual programme was required to halt deforestation or the world would have to live with the dire consequences.
"We will end up seeing more drought and starvation on a grand scale. Weather patterns will become even more terrifying and there will be less and less rainfall," he said.
"We are asking for something pretty dreadful unless we really understand the issues now and [the] urgency of them." The Prince said the rainforests, which provide the "air conditioning system for the entire planet", releasing water vapour and absorbing carbon, were being lost to poor farmers desperate to make a living.
He said that every year, 20 million hectares of forest – equivalent to the area of England, Wales and Scotland – were destroyed and called for a "gigantic partnership" of governments, businesses and consumers to slow it down.
"What we have got to do is try to ensure that these forests are more valuable alive than dead. At the moment, there is more value in them being dead," he said.
He estimated that the cost would be about £15 billion a year but said that this should be viewed as an insurance policy for the whole world. "That is roughly just under one per cent of all the insurance premiums paid in the world in any one year. It is an insurance premium to ensure the world has some rainfall and reasonable weather patterns. It is a good deal."
Last month, the Prince had a meeting at St James’s Palace with four state governors from Brazil to discuss the best way to allocate the money. One option would be for an organisation such as the World Bank to administer the fund. The Prince made clear yesterday that if nothing was done there was a "severe danger of losing a major part of the battle against climate change".
In an interview on Radio 4’s Today programme, the Prince disclosed that he had raised his concerns with the White House, Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, and President Sarkozy, of France. He said he had pressed Barclays, Shell, Goldman Sachs and McDonald’s to join his campaign.
But he also said consumers had to play their part by choosing products that were environmentally sustainable and called for improvements in labelling.
He denied, however, that he was interfering in the political process. "All I am ever trying to do is to provide an enabling facility," he said.
He conceded that at times he had been forced to keep his counsel when he would have liked to have spoken out. "You learn as you go along. I am going to be 60 this year. I would be a blinding idiot if I had not learnt a bit by now."
•The number of birds, animals, marine and freshwater creatures in the world has dropped by almost one third, according to the WWF conservation organisation. It found that between 1970 and 2005 land-based species fell by 25 per cent, marine species by 28 per cent and freshwater species by 29 per cent.
1.3. Expert warns climate change will lead to ‘barbarisation’
16 May 2008, Guardian.co.uk
Climate change will lead to a "fortress world" in which the rich lock themselves away in gated communities and the poor must fend for themselves in shattered environments, unless governments act quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to the vice-president of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC).
Mohan Munasinghe was giving a lecture at Cambridge University in which he presented a dystopic possible future world in which social problems are made much worse by the environmental consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions. "Climate change is, or could be, the additional factor which will exacerbate the existing problems of poverty, environmental degradation, social polarisation and terrorism and it could lead to a very chaotic situation," he said.
The scenario, which he termed "barbarisation" was already beginning to happen, he said. "Fortress world is a situation where the rich live in enclaves, protected, and the poor live outside in unsustainable conditions.
"If you see what is going on in some of the gated communities in some countries you do find that rich people live in those kind of protected environments. If you see the restrictions on international travel you see the beginnings of the fortress world syndrome even in entering and leaving countries," he said.
The Sri Lankan-born expert on climate change and sustainable development was delivering the annual Clare College Distinguished Lecture in Economics and Public Policy. He said the IPCC’s fourth assessment in 2007 predicted that developing countries would be hit hardest by climate change, especially rising sea levels.
"One of the most distressing aspects is that developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate change and the poorest people will be the hardest hit. This is in fact rather unfair because they had least to do with the problem – apparently they will pay the biggest costs," he said.
Bangladesh, for example, could lose 17% of its land – mostly highly populated areas – to rising seas, according to Munasinghe. But, he was positive about international efforts to tackle the problem. "I tend to be optimistic because I believe this can be done through rational processes, but I also feel that the consequences of failure are unimaginable and that’s really the bottom line."
2.1. Verheugen raises doubts about EU car pollution targets
13 May 2008, EUobserver.com
EU industry commissioner Gunter Verheugen has signalled that the European Commission may need to make more concessions on its green proposal for cars, as the automobile industry appears unlikely to start producing more environmentally friendly cars by 2012.
Mr Verheugen told a German newspaper Handelsblatt in an interview published on Sunday (11 May) that while he "fully" supports the commission’s plan, he thinks "the European automobile industry will [only] be able to meet the target without great difficulty from 2015."
As part of a broad set of initiatives to fight climate change, the EU executive proposed an overall target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by cars sold in Europe to an average of 120 grams per kilometre by 2012. The current average across manufacturers is 160g/km.
The package includes a system of penalties for car makers who fail to reach the limits, with a charge of €20 per extra gram of CO2 per car, with the penalties rising to €95 by 2015.
The German commissioner suggested that his colleagues in the commission are well aware that "not all new cars will meet these standards" by the adopted deadline, and referred to calls in the European Parliament for its postponement by three years.
"The commission has to get it into its head that we have to reach a sensible compromise," Mr Verheugen argued.
His Greek colleague in charge of environment, Stavros Dimas, also appeared to soften his approach towards car manufacturers in an interview with the same newspaper in April.
Amid a row between Germany and France on how the car industry should distribute the ambitious green targets, Mr Dimas said it should be up to member states to agree on a workable compromise, as long as the overall target is maintained.
The move was viewed as a friendly gesture towards the German car-makers – predominantly producing larger luxury and less environmentally friendly cars, such as Porsche, BMW and Audi – who have been arguing that they are being unfairly hit by Brussels’ target.
But it remains unclear whether flexibility on burden-sharing could boost the chances of a compromise between Germany and countries producing smaller and greener cars, mainly France and Italy.
The complicated package is currently being debated by MEPs, with the leading euro-deputies trying to reach a deal with member states in order to make the legislative process go faster.
2.2. EU may force car makers to reveal emissions in adverts
17 May 2008, The Independent Europe
The European Union is preparing to introduce tough new rules on car advertising, forcing manufacturers to include conspicuous and easily understood information about petrol consumption and emissions.
The new line follows the EU’s decision to exert ever-greater control on the way that tobacco, alcohol and food products can be advertised, counterbalancing the claims and sales lines of advertisers with warnings about the health implications of their products.
Details of the proposal to compel car manufacturers to own up to the carbon footprint of their vehicles will be unveiled by the end of the month, after which the politicians and car industry representatives will discuss them for the first time. As well as spelling out the environmental implications of the cars, the draft regulations are said by Der Spiegel magazine to require manufacturers to put a brake on the prose and the images used to imprint the desirability of their latest models. Any reference to sportiness will apparently be frowned on.
The target of the new rules is obviously the gas-guzzler, and as the country that produces the great majority of Europe’s luxury cars – including those driven by the chauffeurs of most European Commissioners – the German industry is already up in arms about the restrictions.
As the EU sends its forces of righteousness into new terrain, the advertising men are putting up a fight. Volker Nickel, of the German Advertising Industry Association, complains of "constant new regulations and more and more government control," amounting to "a gigantic re-education programme for consumers and producers."
Magazine and newspaper publishers, which depend on car advertising for as much as 20 per cent of their revenue, are worried that the car companies, threatened with having their images of luxury and sportiness mutilated by the sort of loud warnings that adorn cigarette packets, may seek other ways to promote their products. Bernd Kundrun, the chairman of the German publishing company Gruner + Jahr, fears "dramatic consequences" for print media. Mathias Dopfner, the chief executive of the publishing giant Axel Springer, claimed the new rules would be "a major threat to free competition and journalism".
Environmentalists argue that the car industry has only itself to blame. Way back in 1999, Brussels introduced guidelines on information about the CO2 emissions and petrol consumption of cars, stating that it should be "easily legible and no less pronounced than the main part of the advertising message" and "easily understood, even when read briefly". But these were only guidelines, and the industry abused them heartily.
In a flagrant recent example highlighted by environmental campaigners, the image of a luxury car was splashed across a 23ft-long hoarding – with the consumption and emissions information about it printed in letters one-quarter of an inch high.
So now self-regulation has failed, tough rules are to follow. But they are still being thrashed out in Brussels. The president of the EU Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, is still fighting a long duel with the car industry over CO2 emissions caps, due to be introduced in 2012, and is said to be chary about starting another war until that one is resolved. So the first guidelines may be relatively mild, but if so that will be only a tactical ploy. Implementation of tough rules will merely be delayed.
Meanwhile, the commissioners will continue to burn down the Continent’s roads in their Mercedes, BMWs, Audis and Jaguars. The only exception, appropriately, is the Environmental Commissioner, Stavros Dimas – who ostentatiously putters about in a Japanese hybrid.
3.1. Damage to some Chinese nuclear facilities can’t be ruled out: French experts
13 May 2008, Energy Daily
French nuclear experts on Tuesday said damage to nuclear facilities close to the epicentre of China’s massive earthquake could not immediately be ruled out.
The Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) said it was unlikely that China’s four nuclear power plants — Daya Bay and Lingao in the south, Qinshan in the east and Tianwan in the northeast — had been badly damaged.
They are all more than 1,000 kilometres (620) miles from the epicentre, which was in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
"As the maximum (ground) acceleration detected during the quake at such distances did not exceed 20 centimetres per second, it is likely that these reactors have not suffered significant damage," the IRSN said in a bulletin.
Twenty centimetres per second is equivalent to a movement of 0.72 kilometers, or 0.45 miles, per hour.
The IRSN noted that other nuclear sites, used for fuel manufacture or as research reactors, were located in Sichuan, and some were within 100 kms (62 miles) of the epicentre.
"Given the sharp ground acceleration of 250 centimetres per second (nine kph, 5.6 mph) detected 70 kilometres (43.75 miles) from the epicentre, it is not possible at this stage to rule out damage to these facilities," the institute said.
4.1. Bonn Climate Change Talks 2008
Sessions of the Subsidiary Bodies, 2-13 June 2008, Bonn, Germany
The twenty-eighth sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held from 4-13 June 2008.
The second session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA 2) and the second part of the fifth session of the Ad hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP 5 ) will be held from 2-12 June 2008.
More info at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php
4.2. CLIMATE CHANGE – ANALYSING, PROBLEM-SOLVING, MOBILISING
12-13 June 2008, How can you become a participating organisation ?
More at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/comparl/agora/agora_participation_en.htm
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