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Is Mexico City's 'Plan Verde' a Model for Latin America?

As more than 2,000 city leaders gather, Marcelo Ebrard hopes his Plan Verde will inspire them to sign the Mexico City Pact

By Maria Gallucci

Nov 12, 2010

MEXICO CITY—Mayors of more than 2,000 cities worldwide will gather in this Latin American megalopolis next week for two summits where they will develop climate initiatives and pledge reductions in carbon emissions at the municipal level.

Mexico City’s Mayor Marcelo Ebrard aims to be more than just a good host. He wants to make an example of the ambitious climate policies he’s pushing to transform the sprawling, polluted capital city into a green urban leader.

At both the Third World Congress of (UCLG), a three-day event that kicks off Nov. 16, and the on Nov. 21, Ebrard is likely to reiterate a stance he has held throughout his four years in office: Cities need a stronger voice in global climate talks.

Scientist Must Wait Until 2011 to See His Photos of Glacier Fracturing

Jason Box is pretty certain his cameras captured the dramatic fracture of the Petermann Glacier in Greenland. He'll be able to retrieve them in 2011.

By Andrew Freeman, for

Nov 12, 2010

You’ll forgive for being a little impatient these days. After all, you would be too if you were in his position. As a geologist specializing in Greenland's glaciers and climate at Ohio State’s , in the summer of 2009 Box placed high resolution, wide-angle time-lapse cameras along the Petermann Glacier in northwestern Greenland, near where it flows into the sea.

For Asian Games, Chinese Host City Using 'Iron Fist' to Clean the Air

In recent weeks Guangzhou stopped construction and banned cars. But whether it's improved air quality is unclear

By Violet Law

Nov 12, 2010

 GUANGZHOU, China—On the the eve of the opening of the , the world's second largest sports event, host city is looking greener—at least cosmetically. 

 In a last-ditch push to reduce air pollution in this smog-choked industrial powerhouse, capital of China's Guandong Province, a few weeks ago government officials issued a raft of measures, big and small, intended to minimize pollutants.

No barbequeing, the city commanded its inhabitants. Stop construction. Stop driving. Take the subway—it’s now free.  

Last week, Guangzhou Environmental Protection Bureau head Ding Hongdu said the agency was using an “iron fist” to clean the air. 

But skeptics doubt the impact of these short-term tactics, and there are no reliable measurements to indicate whether they are having any effect on Guanzhou’s air quality. Moreover, noncompliance abounds.

Oil Industry Unprepared to Clean Up Spill in Harsh Arctic Climate, Report Warns

The oil industry is pushing hard to drill in the Arctic but is unprepared to clean up an oil spill, according to a Pew study

By Suzanne Goldenberg, for

Nov 11, 2010

The next big offshore disaster could take place in the remote seas where hurricane-force winds, 30-foot seas, subzero temperatures and winter darkness would overwhelm any clean-up attempts, a new report warns.

With the ban on offshore drilling lifted in the Gulf of Mexico, big oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell are pressing hard for the Obama Administration to grant final approval to Arctic drilling. Shell has invested more than $2 billion to drill off Alaska's north coast, and is campaigning to begin next summer.

But the report, , by the , warns that oil companies are not ready to deal with a spill, despite the lessons of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

"There is a lot of pressure by Shell to drill this summer," Marilyn Heiman, director of the U.S. Arctic program at Pew, said. "But the oil companies are just not prepared for the Arctic. The spill plans are thoroughly inadequate."

College Campuses Continue to Leave Coal Behind

60 U.S. campuses have coal-fired power plants. Lawsuits and activism are trying to phase them out

By Joan Oleck

Nov 11, 2010

With campuses nationwide getting energy from coal plants, student protests and lawsuits over power generation have become a part of the college experience.

Earlier this month the Department of Justice filed a suit against the state of Pennsylvania over what it called repeated at Slippery Rock University’s coal-fired boiler plant.

And last month the Sierra Club and the Hoosier Environmental Council petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to look into an Purdue University got in July. It was signed by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and it will allow the school to continue operating and even expand its coal-powered boilers. The petition claims the permit violates the Clean Air Act.

Both lawsuits come at a time when American colleges are continuing to rethink the wisdom of having coal-fired plants on their campuses as a primary energy source.

New Mexico Adopts Emissions Cap, But Challenges Expected

The Environmental Improvement Board approves a controversial plan to restrict greenhouse gases starting in 2012. The state can now trade carbon allowances

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 10, 2010

WASHINGTON—Call it Bill Richardson’s last green hurrah. 

Even though cap-and-trade measures were maligned as poison for the tottering economy during the midterm election cycle, New Mexico’s Democratic governor is finally able to boast that his state has endorsed such a method for slicing global warming pollutants. 

Fittingly, it was Election Day when a regulatory body named the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board voted 4-3 to approve a controversial and relatively aggressive plan to restrict greenhouse gases beginning in 2012. The New Mexico Department of Environment–backed policy requires major polluters such as coal-fired power plants and the oil and gas industry to curb carbon dioxide emissions 2 percent per year until 2020. 

But with Republican governor-elect Susana Martinez opposed to the initiative, will Richardson’s joy be short-lived? 

"Fraser's Penguins" Documents Stark Climate Change in the Antarctic

In a new book, a veteran journalist spends five months with a researcher studying the effects of a melting world on ice-dependent penguins

By Jennifer Pinkowski

Nov 10, 2010

Bill Fraser’s decades-long research on the impact of climate change on the Antarctic Peninsula's decreasingly icy ecosystem—and, most famously, its tuxedoed inhabitants—is the subject of a .
(Henry Holt and Co., $26) details the five months senior editor and author Fen Montaigne () spent in Antarctica with the ecologist studying thousands of Adélie penguins during their breeding season.

“It’s the tale of how Fraser came to believe—and I think it’s widely accepted now—that warming is the main cause behind the drop in the penguin populations,” Montaigne told SolveClimate News.

Obama's Green Stimulus Too Slow to Deliver Money or Jobs

Time lags on projects that were supposed to deliver a quick fix to the economy hurt Democrats at the polls, especially in the Midwest

by Suzanne Goldenberg, for

Nov 10, 2010

From the moment he was elected president in the depths of a historic recession, Barack Obama held up a clear vision for America's economic future: .

Two years on, 15 million people are still looking for work and frustration with Obama's failure to haul the country out of recession led Democrats to a humiliating defeat in .

Study Finds CO2 the Culprit in Ancient Global Warming

Scientists describe an actual warming event rather than one predicted by a model

By Catherine M. Cooney

Nov 9, 2010

Some 40 million years ago, the world experienced an extreme spike in global warming. The heat was so intense that deep sea temperatures rose by about 4 degrees Celsius. This enigmatic sultry period, known as the Middle Eocene Climatic Optimum (MECO), marked a 400,000-year-long heat wave in the midst of a long era of global cooling.

Now research published Nov. 5 in the journal Science suggests the rise in surface sea temperature occurred during a time when atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were particularly high, according to a research team from Utrecht University and the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research.

First reported by U.S. scientists in 2003, the MECO warming period has been documented by data from a smattering of sites around the world. “Our paper is among the first to show that CO2 concentrations and the temperature varied hand in hand in that time,” says Peter Bijl, a paleoclimatologist at the Netherlands’ Utretcht University and one of the paper’s lead authors.

New Shipping Lanes in Melting Arctic Will Accelerate Global Warming

But current technology can reduce ship pollution 90%, and a House committee is weighing law to reduce black carbon emissions

By Lisa Song

Nov 9, 2010

In the next few decades, a warming Arctic will open up shorter shipping routes, potentially reducing the amount of fuel needed to travel between ports. But the increased amount of soot in the atmosphere could further accelerate the region's climate change, and the shorter distances won't generate enough fuel savings to offset the impact.

Those are the key findings of a published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. This new study is the first systematic analysis of how Arctic shipping could affect local climate.

About 15,000 ship trips occur in the Arctic region (north of 60° latitude) each year, but they comprise a small fraction of global shipping. Melting sea ice could create ice-free passages by 2030 and create shortcuts for global trade. Two of the most anticipated routes are the Northwest Passage linking Japan to eastern Canada, and the Northeast Passage along Russia's northern coast, which would connect China with Europe.