CLIMATE

1.1. Global Warming Will Step Up After 2009 – Scientists
10 August 2007 , Planet Ark Reuters
Global warming is forecast to set in with a vengeance after 2009, with at least half of the five following years expected to be hotter than 1998, the warmest year on record, scientists reported on Thursday.
Climate experts have long predicted a general warming trend over the 21st century spurred by the greenhouse effect, but this new study gets more specific about what is likely to happen in the decade that started in 2005.
To make this kind of prediction, researchers at Britain ‘s Met Office — which deals with meteorology — made a computer model that takes into account such natural phenomena as the El Nino pattern in the Pacific Ocean and other fluctuations in ocean circulation and heat content.
A forecast of the next decade is particularly useful, because climate could be dominated over this period by these natural changes, rather than human-caused global warming, study author Douglas Smith said by telephone.
In research published in the journal Science, Smith and his colleagues predicted that the next three or four years would show little warming despite an overall forecast that saw warming over the decade.
"There is … particular interest in the coming decade, which represents a key planning horizon for infrastructure upgrades, insurance, energy policy and business development," Smith and his co-authors noted.
The real heat will start after 2009, they said.
Until then, the natural forces will offset the expected warming caused by human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, which releases the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
‘Hindcasts’ for the future
"There is … particular interest in the coming decade, which represents a key planning horizon for infrastructure upgrades, insurance, energy policy and business development," Smith and his co-authors noted.
To check their models, the scientists used a series of "hindcasts" — forecasts that look back in time — going back to 1982, and compared what their models predicted with what actually occurred.
Factoring in the natural variability of ocean currents and temperature fluctuations yielded an accurate picture, the researchers found. This differed from other models which mainly considered human-caused climate change.
"Over the 100-year timescale, the main change is going to come from greenhouse gases that will dominate natural variability, but in the coming 10 years the natural internal variability is comparable," Smith said.
In another climate change article in the online journal Science Express, US researchers reported that soot from industry and forest fires had a dramatic impact on the Arctic climate, starting around the time of the Industrial Revolution.
Industrial pollution brought a seven-fold increase in soot — also known as black carbon — in Arctic snow during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, scientists at the Desert Research Institute found.
Soot, mostly from burning coal, reduces the reflectivity of snow and ice, letting Earth’s surface absorb more solar energy and possibly resulting in earlier snow melts and exposure of much darker underlying soil, rock and sea ice. This in turn led to warming across much of the Arctic region.
At its height from 1906 to 1910, estimated warming from soot on Arctic snow was eight times that of the pre-industrial era, the researchers said.

1.2. Climate change likely to increase risk of hunger
7 August 2007 , Online news from FAO: http://www.fao.org/newsroom/
Industrialized countries could gain in production potential, developing countries may lose.
Climate change is likely to undermine food production in the developing world, while industrialized countries could gain in production potential, FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said today in a speech at the M.S. Swaminathan Foundation Conference in Chennai , India .
"Crop yield potential is likely to increase at higher latitudes for global average temperature increases of up to 1 to 3°C depending on the crop, and then decrease beyond that," he said. "On the contrary, at lower latitudes, especially in the seasonally dry tropics, crop yield potential is likely to decline for even small global temperature rises, which would increase the risk of hunger."
Greater frequency of droughts and floods would affect local production negatively, especially in subsistence sectors at low latitudes, Dr. Diouf added.
"Rainfed agriculture in marginal areas in semi-arid and sub-humid regions is mostly at risk," he explained. " India could lose 125 million tons of its rainfed cereal production — equivalent to 18 percent of its total production."
The impacts of climate change on forests and on forest dependent people are already evident in increased incidences of forest fires and outbreaks of forest pests and diseases. Climate change adaptation will be needed in a variety of ecosystems, including agro-ecosystems (crops, livestock and grasslands) forests and woodlands, inland waters and coastal and marine ecosystems, according to Diouf.
Using new biotechnologies
Science and technology must spearhead agricultural production in the next 30 years at a pace faster than the Green Revolution did during the past three decades, Dr. Diouf asserted.
"Exploiting the new biotechnologies, including in particular in vitro culture, embryo transfer and the use of DNA markers, can supplement conventional breeding approaches, thus enhancing yield levels, increasing input use efficiency, reducing risk, and enhancing nutritional quality," he said.
But, he cautioned, most genetically modified (GM) crops being cultivated today were developed to be herbicide tolerant and resistant to pests. Development of GM crops with traits valuable for poor farmers, especially within the context of climate change — such as resistance to drought, extreme temperatures, soil acidity and salinity — is not yet a reality.
"I cannot sufficiently underline the need to also address the needs of resource poor farmers in rainfed areas and on marginal lands," said Diouf. "Ensuring that new biotechnologies help achieve this goal, in full awareness of biosafety, socio economic and ethical concerns associated with the use of some of these technologies remains a challenge for the entire scientific community."
In India , successes and shortfalls
Noting that the theme of this year’s World Food Day (15 October) is "The Right to Food," Diouf praised India for playing a pioneering and model role in implementing this right with contributions from all parts of society.
In particular, he highlighted the country’s Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, which provides millions of mothers and children with health, nutrition and hygiene education, preschool education, supplementary feeding, growth monitoring and promotion, and also links to primary healthcare services like immunization and vitamin A supplements.
FAO’s chief executive also lauded India for its national Midday Meal programme, which provides lunch free of cost to school children, and for tackling issues of rural poverty via its National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.
Yet despite these successes, Diouf also noted that challenges remain.
"The genuinely impressive success story of Indian economic growth and its emergence as a global powerhouse is also confronted with a more pessimistic picture as a large proportion of the Indian population has yet to benefit from the dynamic changes underway in the country," he noted, citing statistics from India’s National Family Health Survey which show that 40 percent of the country’s adults are underweight and that 79 percent of Indian children between three months and three years suffer from some type of anaemia.
“No state in India is free from iodine deficiency disorders, and Vitamin A deficiency continues to be a public health problem among pre-school children. In a country with 348 million people aged under 14, these are alarming levels of child malnutrition,” Dr Diouf said.

ENERGY

2.1. EU electricity consumption "still rising"
Electricity consumption growing in spite of efficiency drive says EU report
A report from the European Commission’s in-house scientific service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), indicates that overall electricity consumption is growing in the EU. Even if the EU and the Member States have adopted numerous successful measures to curb energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions, the electricity consumption in the residential sector of the EU-25 grew at a rate comparable to overall GDP (10.8 percent), effectively nullifying overall savings between 1999 and 2004. The report, Electricity Consumption and Efficiency Trends in the Enlarged European Union, highlights the key findings of an in-depth 2006 survey on electricity consumption in buildings in the enlarged EU, and the market share of energy-efficient appliances and equipment. It calculates future potential savings based on currently available technologies. According to the report, electricity consumption in the tertiary (service) sector increased by 15.8%, and industry consumption by 9.5%. The average consumption for a single household in the EU-25 was 4098 kWh in 2004. This could be reduced by 800 kWh per house per year, or about 20 % less electricity consumption in each household, if replacement of existing appliances and equipment and a full phase out of incandescent lighting were to be actively promoted in all EU Member States.
European citizens are increasingly concerned about the environment. According to a recent Eurobarometer, protecting the environment ranks second only to terrorism among the issues citizens feel are best addressed at EU level. Over recent years, the European Union has adopted numerous successful measures, in the form of labelling, minimum efficiency requirements, voluntary agreements, incentives and saving obligations, to curb energy consumption and associated CO2 emissions. The EU Greenhouse Gas Emission Trading Scheme is the largest multi-country, multi-sector Greenhouse Gas emission trading scheme world-wide.
In November 2006, the Commission presented an action plan on energy efficiency with the goal of consuming 20% less energy in 2020 than is the case today. The 60 measures included in this action plan address many of the problems identified in today’s report.
The JRC report shows that such policies have permanently changed the face of the appliance market for the better in terms of efficient energy use, particularly for ‘white goods’, such as refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers. Nevertheless, the report clearly shows that electricity consumption in the EU-25 continues to increase, across all sectors (residential, service and industry).
The increasing demand for electricity in the EU Member States is down to many different factors. The widespread use in the EU of traditional appliances such as dishwashers, tumble driers, air conditioners and personal computers is one, as well as the introduction of consumer electronics and information and communication technology equipment such as Set Top boxes, DVD players, broadband equipment and cordless telephones. Other important factors are the increased number of double or triple appliances, mainly TVs and refrigerators/freezers in households, and the general increase in single family houses and larger houses and apartments.
One of the more notable findings of the report is that the area experiencing the biggest increase in consumption may be the easiest to remedy. The increasingly common phenomenon of household electronics on stand-by mode has a significant impact on a family’s electricity consumption, however new technology now makes it possible for manufacturers to produce equipment with very low stand-by losses. According to the report, simple changes in the way we regard the use of household appliances can lead to major energy savings. Researchers noticed, for example, that as older equipment is updated in a household, it is still often transferred to other parts of the home instead of being replaced, thereby contributing to greater electricity consumption.
Another important finding of the JRC report is that incandescent light bulbs, a relatively antiquated technology dating from the 19th century that waste a staggering 95% of the electricity they use to produce visible light, could be a field where modern technology could contribute to more efficient energy use. Many governments around the world have advocated the phasing out of incandescent lighting (e.g. Australia by 2012), and the JRC report notes that this may be a valid area of savings for Europe as well, in particular as new, very efficient technologies such as Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) and recently white Light Emitting Diodes [LEDs] are rapidly penetrating the market.
The JRC report contains many useful tips for reducing energy consumption, such as switching to solar energy water heaters.
To view the full report: http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/energyefficiency/pdf/EnEff%20Report%202006.pdf.

2.2. Commissioner Piebalgs welcomes more stringent energy efficiency standards in public procurement
11 July 2007 , http://www.publictechnology.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=10228
The European Parliament has adopted today a new version of the regulation on the ENERGY STAR programme. It requires the Member States to apply demanding energy efficiency criteria in the public procurement of office equipment. This marks the first time that the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission agree that certain energy efficiency criteria become binding in public procurement. ENERGY STAR is part of the EU’s strategy to better manage energy demand, contribute to security of energy supply and mitigate climate change.
"This result underlines the EU’s commitment to reach the energy efficiency targets agreed at the March Council. It is important both for environmental reasons and as a means of saving taxpayers’ money, since energy efficient office equipment is also cost-effective", remarked Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.
The regulation foresees that EU institutions and central government authoritities in Member States have to use energy efficiency criteria, which are no less demanding than the ones defined in the ENERGY STAR programme, when purchasing office equipment. It is expected that the new regulation will push the demand for energy efficient equipment and increase its market penetration. Until now equipment has been frequently purchased without considering the electricity costs for using it, although an energy efficient model is much cheaper in the longer run, when both purchase price and costs for electricity in use are taken into consideration. Experience from other countries such as the USA shows that public procurement is a powerful tool to push energy efficiency.
The Council is expected to adopt the regulation in July.
Further information on the Community ENERGY STAR programme is available at www.eu-energystar.org.

2.3. China falling short on energy conservation goals
12 August 2007 , Reuters
China ‘s power-guzzling industries consumed even more electricity in the first half of the year, making it tough for the country to meet its energy conservation goals, the official Xinhua press agency reported Sunday.
The government said on July 30 that energy intensity, the energy used to generate each dollar of national income, fell 2.78 percent in the first half of 2007 from a year earlier. That was an improvement on 2006, when energy intensity for the whole year fell by 1.33 percent, but was still short of Beijing ‘s goal of an annual reduction of 4 percent between 2006 and 2010.
Xinhua said figures from the China Electricity Council showed that total power consumption reached 1.5 trillion kilowatt hours in the first half of 2007, up 15.56 percent from a year earlier. By comparison, energy use grew 12.89 percent in the first six months of 2006.
But power use by six sectors that account for nearly 70 percent of Chinese industry’s energy consumption jumped 20.1 percent in the first half, 3.6 percentage points higher than a year earlier, according to the council. The sectors include iron and steel, nonferrous metals, construction materials and chemicals.
China is trying to weed out obsolete, energy-inefficient plants in these industries, but Xinhua said meeting the nationwide goal for reducing energy intensity was "arduous."

CONFERENCES

3.1. Scientific framework of environmental and forest governance — The role of discourses and expertise
27 and 28 August 2007 in Goettingen , Germany
Further information at: http://www.iufro.org/science/divisions/division-6/60000/61200/61202/activities/ or http://www.iufro.org/download/file/1648/3058/goettingen07-call-for-paper.doc.

3.2. Intersessional: AWG 4 and the Dialogue 4
27 – 31 August 2007 , Vienna , Austria .
More info: http://unfccc.int/meetings/intersessional/awg_4_and_dialogue_4/items/3999.php.

3.3. European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition
3 – 7 September 2007 in Milan , Italy
More info: http://www.photovoltaic-conference.com.

3.4. International Congress on Plant Oil Fuels
6 – 7 September 2007 in Erfurt , Germany
More info: http://www.pflanzenoel-kongress.de/index.php?lng=en.

3.5. General Conference of the Union of the Baltic Cities
27 – 28 September 2007 in Pärnu , Estonia
More info: http://www.reiser.ee/conference/ubc.htm.

3.6. RENEXPO 2007 – International Trade Fair and Conference for Renewable Energies
27 – 30 September 2007 in Augsburg , Germany
More info: http://www.renexpo.de/?lang=en.

3.7. European Sustainable Energy Seminar and Tour
1 – 5 October 2007 in Samsø , Denmark
More info: http://www.inforse.org/europe/seminar07_samso.htm.

3.8. European Meeting Point: Energy for Development 2007
10 – 12 October 2007 in Beja/Alentejo, Portugal
More info: http://www.energyanddevelopment-2007.net.

3.9. Climate Change at the EU REGIONS Open Days
8 – 11 October 2007 , Brusels
Registration for the event is possible through: http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/conferences/od2007/index.cfm.

3.10. CDM 2.0 conference: what post-2012 mechanisms do we need?
15 October 2007 in Brussels , Belgium .
A more detailed announcement will be issued in early September. Those of you wishing to register their interest in participation already should email their contact details to [email protected].

3.11. UN Millennium Development Goals – discussing practical examples on a local level
18 – 20 October 2007 in Bonn , Germany
More at: http://www.service-eine-welt.de/en.

3.12. 3rd Annual European Energy Policy Conference 2007
21 – 22 November 2007 in Brussels .
More info: www.euenergypolicy.com.

3.13. United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 13 and CMP 3)
3-14 December 2007, Nusa Dua, Bali , Indonesia .
More info: http://unfccc.int/meetings/cop_13/items/4049.php.

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