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Youth Activists Reveal Toned-Down Strategy for Cancun

With few government heads expected in Mexico, influence will come behind the scenes, not in front of a camera

By Stacy Feldman

Nov 24, 2010

What a difference a year makes for climate change activism.

Twelve months ago, thousands of young campaigners worldwide converged on Copenhagen to pitch protests against the global political failure to tackle global warming.

They disrupted summit meetings with non-violent civil disobedience to air demands of climate justice. Scores were arrested. Naomi Klein, the writer and activist, at the time that it felt as though "progressive tectonic plates are shifting."

Indonesia Eyeing $1bn Climate Aid to Cut Down Forests, says Greenpeace

Weak legal definitions of "forest" and "degraded land" are allowing logging industry to take advantage of an ambitious UN forest rescue scheme

by John Vidal,

Nov 23, 2010

Indonesia plans to class large areas of its remaining natural forests as "degraded" land in order to cut them down and receive nearly $1bn of climate aid for replanting them with palm trees and biofuel crops, according to Greenpeace International.

According to internal government documents from the forestry, agriculture and energy departments in Jakarta, the areas of land earmarked for industrial plantation expansion in the next 20 years include 37 million hectares of existing natural forest – 50% of the country's orangutan habitat and 80% of its carbon-rich peatland. More than 60 million hectares – an area nearly five times the size of England – could be converted to palm oil and biofuel production in the next 20 years, say the papers.

"The land is roughly equivalent to all the currently undeveloped land in Indonesia," says the report. "The government plans for a trebling of pulp and paper production by 2015 and a doubling of palm oil production by 2020."

The result, says the environmental group in a report released in Jakarta today, would be to massively expand Indonesia's palm, paper and biofuel industries in the name of "rehabilitating" land, while at the same time allowing its powerful forestry industry to carry on business as usual and to collect international carbon funds.

In Rubble of Cap-and-Trade, Big Green Taking a Beating

In the search for what's next, a range of options including civil disobedience, state-level action, and continued work on Capitol Hill

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 23, 2010

WASHINGTON—Barely a week ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid assured West Virginia governor-cum-senator Joe Manchin that any attempt to control greenhouse gases via a cap-and-trade system is dead and six feet under.

Grassroots and left-leaning environmental organizations, however, claim the Nevada Democrat showed up nearly a year late to the funeral of the much-maligned, market-based measure. A majority of them aren’t mourning the evident demise of poor ol’ cap and trade.

For the most part, they abhorred the book-length version of legislation that Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and Ed Markey of Massachusetts cobbled together and the House eventually passed as the American Clean Energy and Security Act in June 2009. And they cringed at the versions of its evil twin that reared themselves afterward in the Senate.

While they united against compromised legislation, these more progressive green advocates aren’t unified on a single way forward on how to curb heat-trapping emissions—and if SolveClimate News's interviews of these groups is any indication, consensus will be hard to come by.

Natural Gas, Not a Carbon Price, Spelling Trouble for Coal

Deutsche Bank report predicts massive fuel switching from coal to cleaner burning gas, even without a price on carbon

by Kevin Murphy

Nov 22, 2010

In 2009, U.S. lawmakers hoping to pass comprehensive climate legislation added tens of billions of dollars in federal subsidies for “clean coal” in the hope of striking a political deal to give coal a competitive future. The bill never made it through Congress.

Now a report released last week touting the bright future of natural gas points to the uphill battle coal may face holding on to its current share of the U.S. energy mix. A gas glut that has kept prices low to continue for another five years.

In the report, Deutsche Bank AG analysts predict natural gas—which creates about half as much carbon dioxide as coal—would comprise 35 percent of America's electric power generation by 2030, an increase from the current 23 percent. At the same time, they predict coal's share of the power grid would drop from 47 percent to 22 percent, with clean coal accounting for just one percent of the diminished total.

Algae Fuel Inches Toward Price Parity with Oil

With over 100 start-ups hard at work, industry predicts it can deliver success in under a decade if granted production tax credits

By Stacy Feldman

Nov 22, 2010

The promise of making motor fuel out of pond scum is inching closer to reality as the algae industry and its supporters plow forward with technology demonstrations and demand tax credits that are needed to cut costs.

The head of the 170-member , Mary Rosenthal, predicts the fledgling fuel source could be cost competitive with oil in seven years.

"We're hoping to be to be at parity with fossil fuel-based petroleum in the year 2017 or 2018, with the idea that we will be at several billions of gallons," Rosenthal told SolveClimate News in a phone interview.

Some are more optimistic.

Ladakh's Farmers Forced to Adapt to Changing Climate

A devastating flood in August destroyed 70% of irrigation network vital to agriculture in dry mountain region

by Athar Parvaiz,

Nov 21, 2010

The that struck the normally arid desert of , north-west India, in August has multiplied the worries of local farmers, already struggling with water shortages and harsh climatic conditions. Flashfloods and mudslides killed 233 people and damaged 14.2 square kilometres of agricultural land. 

Tucked high up in the western Himalayas, Ladakh is a sparsely populated, rugged desert where people struggle to turn barren and parched soil into cultivable land. The soil of Ladakh is not fertile and absorbs little water. Average rainfall is only 50 to 70 millimetres a year.

In these adverse conditions, farming is an unenviable task, but diligent farmers, with support from NGOs, have created an irrigation network covering 50 square kilometres of agricultural land in Ladakh. This allows them to live off the land, against the odds.

But nothing prepared farmers for August’s weather events.

In McKibben's Toolbox for Cancun, Art Visible from Space

350 EARTH project based on the notion that art gets to people in ways that science doesn’t

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 19, 2010

WASHINGTON—Bill McKibben might be an optimist.

But he isn’t delusional enough to think that what he’s billing as the first planetary art show centered on climate change will cause world leaders to suddenly hug, then break into a verse or two of Kumbaya while signing a treaty that slices greenhouse gas pollutants to scientifically recommended levels.

He’s cognizant that the march toward meaningful, binding action on taming carbon dioxide is a painfully sluggish slog.

“Every movement that has ever been successful has appealed to people’s emotions and reason,” the founder of the advocacy organization tells SolveClimate News in an interview from his Vermont home. “It is necessary if we’re ever going to get anything done in Washington or anywhere else. We need to build support to force recalcitrant actors to act.”

Degree by Degree, Heat Waves Claim Lives, New Study Warns

For each 1 degree F rise in mean temperature and for each day a heat wave persisted, scientists found a 2.5 percent increased risk of death

by Joan Oleck

Nov 19, 2010

Record-breaking—and dangerous—heat waves have lately become a staple of summer. In Moscow last July and August during a tragedy that grabbed global attention, average mortality doubled, to 700 people a day. In Kuwait the temperature soared to 122 degrees. Temperatures in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia all hit 100 degrees Fahrenheit and set new daily highs as the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association the warmest such period on record.

In China, intense heat actually caused a plague of locusts.

But while such events grab the headlines, even normal heat waves—the ones that make us run for air-conditioned homes and movie theaters—are dangerous. In fact, say two Yale University scientists, all heat waves pose public health risks more dangerous than most anyone has realized.

Is Sending Wyoming Coal to China Smart Economics?

Controversy growing over plans to build docks in the Pacific Northwest to export Western-mined coal to China

By Stacy Feldman

Nov 18, 2010

China has roared into clean technology markets to lead the global race to make green energy. Its manufacturing dominance has distressed many in the U. S. government, but not enough to upend longstanding energy priorities that favor fossil fuels.

Now some observers are warning that as Beijing clings to more coal to construct its new economy, America may become a key provider of the fuel source—at its own economic peril.

"What's China going to do with [U.S.] coal?" said K.C. Golden, policy director of , a Seattle-based nonprofit group. "They're going to burn it to make the steel that we don't make anymore. They’re going to manufacture the things we don't make anymore."

"Is this a good jobs strategy to become the resource colony for the development of the Asian economy?" he asked.

Halliburton Winning Battle in Pennsylvania to Keep Its Fracking Secrets

Of the nine companies EPA has asked for full disclosure of the chemicals used in gas drilling, only Halliburton has refused

by Marie C. Baca,

Nov 18, 2010

On Nov. 9, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that Halliburton had refused to give the agency a complete list of the chemicals it uses for gas drilling, resulting in a subpoena for the energy giant. But the battle to keep much of this information confidential is one that Halliburton is winning in Pennsylvania.

Halliburton did not respond to requests for comment on this article, but a company spokeswoman that the EPA had approached Halliburton with "unreasonable demands" and that the company was working to supply the agency with the information it needs to complete its study of the relationship between water contamination and the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Of the nine companies the EPA asked to supply the information, only Halliburton -- the largest North American provider of hydraulic fracturing services -- refused.