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Japan's Motion to Kill Kyoto Protocol a 'Slap in the Face,' Advocates Say

Other rich states, most notably Russia and Canada, oppose extending the Kyoto treaty beyond 2012

By Stacy Feldman

Dec 2, 2010

Advocates for poor nations angrily assailed Japan at the Cancun climate talks on Wednesday for planning to kill off the Kyoto Protocol, a move they say might dent chances of progress in the two-week talks.

Secrecy of Fracking Chemicals Takes Beltway Spotlight

“It’s not as if it looks like the industry is hiding something. They are hiding something.”

By Elizabeth McGowan

Dec 1, 2010

WASHINGTON—Convincing the natural gas industry that a chemical disclosure protocol should be mandatory has proven to be much more formidable than blasting apart shale rock where the coveted hydrocarbons lurk underground.

And conservationists fear that the disclosure debate is slowing progress on resolving environmental impacts associated with natural gas drilling and its sister act of “fracking”—which is geological slang for hydraulic fracturing.

Those disparities became grist for a polite but enlivened exchange among three topic experts at the conservative Heritage Foundation. It was one of two fracking forums that unfolded in the nation’s capital Tuesday afternoon.

“The industry needs to deal with those issues rather than glibly keep saying they are America’s clean fuel source,” senior policy adviser Scott Anderson of the Environmental Defense Fund told those gathered for “The Promise and Perils of Hydraulic Fracturing: Best Answers to the Hardest Questions.”

“Nothing good is going to happen in the natural gas industry … until this disclosure issue is behind them,” Anderson continued. “It’s not as if it looks like the industry is hiding something. They are hiding something.”

Logging Loophole Under Attack at Cancun Climate Talks

The loophole would allow some 450 megatons of climate-changing emissions each year, or 5% of the global total, a new report says

By Stacy Feldman

Dec 1, 2010

An arcane accounting rule governing emissions from logging forests that is now being negotiated at Cancun climate talks is threatening to put the integrity of a future global-warming deal at risk, environmental groups said in a new analysis.

The groups urged UN negotiators to shut the so-called loophole for good during the Nov 29-Dec. 10 talks.

The incentive would allow rich nations to ramp up logging without accounting for the greenhouse gases that result, in effect hiding emissions increases. It takes the form of a proposed revision of the (LULUCF) rules under the Kyoto Protocol.

"At the moment they're cheating so badly on the LULUCF that it's almost a joke," said Melanie Coath, senior climate change policy officer for the , one of the groups behind the research. "What we need are incentives for developed countries to reduce their current logging emissions, not increase them with impunity."

Tax Pledge Adds Another Political Hurdle to U.S. Climate Action

“They’re continuing to argue against the laws of physics.”

By Elizabeth McGowan

Nov 30, 2010

WASHINGTON—Americans for Prosperity might promote its “No Climate Tax” pledge signed by 530-plus local, state and national elected officials as merely a badge of fiscal responsibility.

But their critics view the carefully worded pledge as a power grab and yet another hurdle for broad action on climate and energy legislation when the 112th Congress convenes in January.

There are already many. 

For one, with the exception of New Hampshire’s representative-to-be Charlie Bass, Republican freshmen legislators joining the House and Senate doubt the scientific veracity of global warming. Two, one survey shows more than half of all of the Republicans in the GOP caucus next year have questioned whether human activities are contributing to climate change.

U.S. Call to Preserve Copenhagen Accord Puts Climate Conference on Edge

Many poor countries want to scrap the three-page Copenhagen agreement that the U.S. wants to preserve

By Stacy Feldman

Nov 29, 2010

CANCUN, MEXICO -- The United States said Monday it would not back down on its plan to turn the unpopular Copenhagen Accord into a final global warming deal, setting the first day of already fragile UN climate talks in Cancun on edge.

"What we're seeking here in Cancun is a balanced package of decisions that would build on this agreement … [and] preserve the balance of the accord," Jonathan Pershing, lead U.S. climate negotiator in Cancun, told reporters at the talks.

Delegates from almost 200 countries are gathering here in the Mexican beach resort from Nov. 29-Dec. 10 for negotiations under the (UNFCCC). They aim to set down the path for replacement of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, whose first commitment period ends in 2012.

Many poor countries want to scrap the three-page Copenhagen agreement, cobbled together by a handful of nations in the final hours of the summit last year, and build a stronger blueprint to follow.

India's Green New Deal Making Progress, but Low-Carbon Path is Steep

India beginning to show that pitting climate and development objectives against each other is a false choice

by Manish Bapna,

Nov 29, 2010

A native of Chicago, I spent my childhood summers with family in Udaipur, Rajasthan, then a verdant oasis in India’s most arid state. With each successive year, I witnessed with dismay the surrounding forests and lakes shrinking and drying up as factories and mines sprouted outside the city.

My family, however, took it in stride as “the price we pay for development.”

I have never forgotten that firsthand lesson in environmental degradation, and in what seemed to me an unnecessary trade-off.

What my family was faithfully expressing was the decades-old belief, held by India’s government and business elites, that development often comes at the expense of the environment. In recent years, that belief has been extended to climate change. India cannot be expected to act to reduce its spiraling greenhouse gas emissions without outside help, its diplomats have argued until recently, because combating poverty is a moral imperative and the national priority.

While this traditional view has some merit—it is hard to argue, for example, for reducing energy use in a nation where large swathes of the countryside are without electrification—it is increasingly one that does not add up. And for one simple, highly encouraging reason.

India is beginning to demonstrate in its policies and actions that pitting climate and development objectives against each other is a false and unnecessary choice.

Scientists Warn of Dire Impacts of 4°C Global Temperature Rise

Impacts associated with 2C now represent the threshold of extremely dangerous climate change

by Damian Carrington,

Nov 29, 2010

A hellish vision of a world warmed by 4C  (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) within a lifetime has been set out by an international team of scientists, who say the agonizingly slow progress of the global climate change talks that restart in Mexico today makes the so-called safe limit of 2C impossible to keep.

A 4C rise in the planet's temperature would see severe droughts across the world and millions of migrants seeking refuge as their food supplies collapse.

"There is now little to no chance of maintaining the rise in global surface temperature at below 2C, despite repeated high-level statements to the contrary," said Kevin Anderson, from the University of Manchester, who with colleague Alice Bows contributed research to a special collection of published tomorrow. "Moreover, the impacts associated with 2C have been revised upwards so that 2C now represents the threshold [of] extremely dangerous climate change."

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."

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.

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.