Monday, November 28, 2005
A study by Mann et al (J. Clim. 18, 4097 (2005) indicates that the two most common statistical techniques used to reconstruct temperature data do not systematically underestimate temperature variability and accurately estimate temperature history. The question was significant because:
"Reconstructing a temperature record for the past from proxy data (e.g., tree rings, corals, and ice cores) is difficult because proxies are imperfect thermometers, and the noise that contaminates the temperature signal can introduce large uncertainties into any estimate. The two most common statistical techniques used to interpret these noisy data sets are the climate field reconstruction (CFR, well suited for spatial patterns) and composite-plus-scale (CPS, with a simpler statistical procedure) methods. Evaluating the fidelity of those approaches is difficult, however, because the direct observational temperature record is too short and too incomplete to allow them to be verified thoroughly."
So Mann used climate models to provide temperature outputs that were long and geographically complete and then tested the CFR and CPS methods, using a virtual climate record that is essentially perfect.
The Fourth Circuit concluded last week that the Corps properly concluded that burying streams beneath mountain top coal mining rubble has a minimal environmental impact -- reversing Judge Goodwin's decision that had revoked 11 Corps of Engineer permits issued pursuant to Nationwide Permit 21. 4th Circuit opinion NYTimes: Mountain Top Mining Presumably, the Kentucky citizens who sued the Corps will seek rehearing or rehearing en banc.
BBC reports that Canada's moderate center-left Liberal government headed by Prime Minister Paul Martin has been toppled by three opposition parties, the Conservatives, the New Democrats, and the French separatists. The government was brought down by a corruption scandal where the government had financed anti-separatist efforts. A new election will be scheduled in mid to late January. BBC Report The Liberal government had been a powerful diplomatic force in climate change -- and if it loses the January election and is replaced by a Conservative government -- the future of international climate change efforts becomes cloudier. NY Times on Canadian role in climate change
IISD, Earth Negotiations Bulletin Vol. 12 No. 280
Monday, 28 November 2005 reports on COP11/MOP1:
The Earth Negotiations Bulletin is a premier publication for those following international climate change negotiations. You can stay tuned for more ENB coverage throughout the Montreal conference at IISD's COP11 site: COP 11 coverage Unfortunately the UN does not plan to continue subsidizing this coverage for future meetings.
The following is ENB's explanation of the basics of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and all the related international meetings.
The first Meeting of the Parties serving as the Conference of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 1) is taking place in Montreal, Canada, from 28 November to 9 December 2005. The event is being held in conjunction with the eleventh Conference of the Parties (COP 11) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These meetings are expected to draw as many as 10,000 participants.
At COP/MOP 1, Parties are expected to discuss and adopt decisions on the outstanding operational details of the Protocol, including procedures relating to compliance and guidelines for the “flexible mechanisms” intended to help Parties reach their emissions targets. Discussions on the mechanisms will cover issues such as the supervisory committee of the Joint Implementation mechanism, and recommendations by the Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism. Other issues on the COP/MOP agenda include the Adaptation Fund and future commitments for the period after 2012 (when the Protocol’s first commitment period ends). Various methodological, administrative, financial and institutional matters will also be addressed.
COP 11’s agenda includes items on capacity building and technology transfer, the adverse effects of climate change on developing and least developed countries, and several financial and budget related issues, including the report of the Global Environment Facility (which serves as the treaty’s financial mechanism). The UNFCCC’s subsidiary bodies will also meet, from 29 November to 6 December. The joint COP and COP/MOP high-level segment will take place from 7-9 December.
In addition to these meetings, over 140 “side events” will be held on a range of climate change topics. There will also be several major “parallel events” organized with assistance from the host government, as well as numerous other climate and energy-related exhibits, displays, launches and initiatives.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNFCCC AND THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
Climate change is considered to be one of the most serious threats to sustainable development, with adverse impacts expected on the environment, human health, food security, economic activity, natural resources and physical infrastructure. Global climate varies naturally, but scientists agree that rising concentrations of anthropogenically-produced greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere are leading to changes in the climate. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the effects of climate change have already been observed, and scientific findings indicate that precautionary and prompt action is necessary.
The international political response to climate change began with the adoption of the UNFCCC in 1992. The UNFCCC sets out a framework for action aimed at stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference” with the climate system. Controlled gases include methane, nitrous oxide and, in particular, carbon dioxide. The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994, and now has 189 Parties. The Parties to the UNFCCC typically convene annually in a Conference of the Parties (COP), and twice a year in meetings of the subsidiary bodies – the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).
THE KYOTO PROTOCOL: In December 1997, delegates at COP 3 in Kyoto, Japan, agreed to a Protocol to the UNFCCC that commits developed countries and countries making the transition to a market economy to achieve emissions reduction targets. These countries, known under the UNFCCC as Annex I Parties, agreed to reduce their overall emissions of six greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008-2012 (the first commitment period), with specific targets varying from country to country. The Protocol also establishes three flexible mechanisms to assist Annex I Parties in meeting their national targets cost-effectively: an emissions trading system; joint implementation (JI) of emissions-reduction projects between Annex I Parties; and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which allows for emissions reduction projects to be implemented in non-Annex I Parties. Following COP 3, Parties began negotiating many of the rules and operational details governing how countries will reduce emissions and measure their emissions reductions. To date, 157 Parties have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, including 37 Annex I Parties representing 61.6% of 1990 Annex I greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005.
BUENOS AIRES PLAN OF ACTION: The process for finalizing the rules and operational details of the Protocol was agreed at COP 4 in 1998 in a document known as the Buenos Aires Plan of Action. The Plan set COP 6 as the deadline for finalizing these rules and operational details and strengthening implementation of the UNFCCC. In November 2000, Parties met at COP 6 in The Hague, the Netherlands, to complete these negotiations. They were not successful and delegates suspended COP 6 until July 2001 when it reconvened in Bonn, Germany. After further talks, delegates eventually agreed to adopt a political decision, the Bonn Agreements. While this decision provided high-level political direction on the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, delegates were still unable to finalize text on some issues, and agreed to forward all the draft decisions to COP 7 for final resolution.
MARRAKESH ACCORDS: In late October and early November 2001 at COP 7, delegates resumed their discussions and reached agreement on the Marrakesh Accords. These Accords consist of a package of draft decisions on many of the details of the flexible mechanisms, land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) and compliance with the Kyoto Protocol that should be adopted by the COP/MOP. The Accords also address support for developing countries, including capacity building, technology transfer, responding to the adverse effects of climate change, and the establishment of three funds – the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Fund, Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF), and Adaptation Fund.
Delegates sought to build on the Marrakesh Accords at
COP 8 and COP 9, agreeing on rules and procedures for the CDM Executive Board, and on modalities and procedures for afforestation and reforestation project activities under the CDM. Parties also discussed how to integrate findings of the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report into the work of the UNFCCC, and agreed on two new agenda items focused on adaptation and mitigation.
COP 10: At COP 10 in Buenos Aires in December 2004, delegates agreed to the Buenos Aires Programme of Work on Adaptation and Response Measures. Parties also took decisions on technology transfer, LULUCF, the UNFCCC’s financial mechanism, and education, training and public awareness. However, some issues remained unresolved, including items on the LDC Fund, the SCCF, and Protocol Article 2.3 (adverse effects of policies and measures). Meanwhile, lengthy negotiations were held on the complex and sensitive issue of how Parties might engage on commitments to combat climate change in the post-2012 period. The Kyoto Protocol requires Parties to begin considering the post-2012 period by 2005. Delegates agreed to hold a Seminar of Governmental Experts prior to SB 22 in May 2005, although the terms of reference for the Seminar did not refer specifically to the post-2012 period or new commitments.
SEMINAR OF GOVERNMENTAL EXPERTS AND
SB 22: This seminar took place in May 2005, in Bonn. Delegates started to address some of the broader issues facing the climate change process, including a future framework and commitments beyond 2012. Immediately following the seminar, the twenty-second sessions of the subsidiary bodies (SB 22) convened. These focused on preparations for COP 11 and COP/MOP 1, and addressed a variety of issues ranging from budget matters to adaptation and mitigation. Delegates provisionally agreed on a programme budget for 2006-2007 at a level that was US$1.75 million less than had been proposed. However, work on the SCCF was not concluded.
G8 MEETING AND MINISTERIAL DIALOGUE: On 8 July 2005, leaders attending the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, agreed to a communiqué recognizing humanity’s serious impact on climate change and making a commitment to promote innovation, energy efficiency, conservation and cleaner technologies. Participants also agreed to proceed with a “Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development.” The first ministerial dialogue was held in London, UK, on 1 November 2005. It was attended by energy and environment ministers from 20 countries, who focused on energy technologies and steps to achieve a low-carbon economy. According to some reports, the focus on technological solutions and private sector involvement reflected recent efforts by the EU, US and other large economies to find common ground in spite of differences over the binding targets set out under the Kyoto Protocol. The London dialogue followed an informal ministerial meeting in Greenland in mid-August designed to discuss policy differences among several key countries.
ASIA-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP ON CLEAN DEVELOPMENT AND CLIMATE: On 28 July, a new six-country partnership was announced to combat climate change through technology-based solutions. This agreement was announced by Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States. The first meeting of the partnership is expected in early 2006.
2005 WORLD SUMMIT: The 2005 World Summit, held at UN headquarters in New York from 14-16 September, gave some consideration to climate change. The Summit’s outcome document highlights countries’ commitments and obligations under the UNFCCC and Kyoto Protocol, stressing the need to act with “resolve and urgency” to address the many challenges faced in tackling climate change, promoting clean energy, meeting energy needs and achieving sustainable development. The outcome document supports the need to work expeditiously to establish a worldwide early warning system for natural hazards and articulates an agreement to speed up the transfer of affordable and cleaner energy efficiency and conservation technologies to developing countries “on favourable terms.” The impact of energy services on poverty is also clearly stated.
GEF REPLENISHMENT: The final scheduled meeting for the fourth replenishment of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund took place on 21 and 22 November, in Tokyo, Japan. However, the contributing participants were unable to reach agreement on funding pledges, and it is expected that a further meeting will convene in mid-December.
UNFCCC MEETINGS: Various UNFCCC events have been held since SB 22, including a workshop on the development of a five-year programme of work on impacts, vulnerability and adaptation (17-19 October 2005, Bonn) and a seminar on the development and transfer of environmentally sound technologies for adaptation (14-16 June 2005, Tobago). The UNFCCC has also held: a regional workshop for Asia on education, training and public awareness under UNFCCC Article 6 (11-15 September, Yokohama, Japan); a “Hands-on Training Workshop on Mitigation Assessments” (26-30 September, Seoul, Republic of Korea); a meeting of the Least Developed Country Expert Group (18-20 August, Kiribati); and a workshop on innovative options for financing the results of technology needs assessments (20-21 October, Bonn).
Several meetings have taken place in Montreal immediately
prior to COP 11 and COP/MOP 1. These include the 22nd meeting of the CDM
Executive Board (23-25 November), the fifth meeting of the Consultative
Group of Experts on National Communications from non-Annex I Parties
(24-25 November), an Expert Meeting on Response Measures (23-24
November), and a meeting of the Expert Group on Technology Transfer
Friday, November 25, 2005
The NY TImes editorial today opposes delisting of the grizzlies in Yellowstone because the US does not have legislation protecting "almost" threatened and endangered species. Do we need federal biodiversity legislation -- or can we trust the states to do appropriate wildlife management?
VOTE: Vote Here
USFWS DELISTING PROPOSAL
National Wildlife Federation
USFWS Yellowstone Grizzlies
Greater Yellowstone Coalition
Predator Conservation Alliance
RM Wildlife Reports
NY Times on Delisting Proposal (Nov 15 2005)
NY Times on Grizzly Status (Sept 2005)
Planet Ark reports that two articles published in Science today concern global warming. First, a study by Miller et al indicates that sea level has risen at double the rate during the last 150 years (about a centimeter a year) than the rate during the preceeding 5000 years. Miller says that half the sea level rise can be attributed to natural warming -- the remainder is attributable to human activity. 150 years, of course, corresponds nicely with the intensified use of fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution. A study by Stocker, et al indicates that carbon dioxide levels were relatively stable over the last 650,000 years until about 200 years ago. The rise during the last 200 years is 200 greater than any previous rise. Science Reports
Richard Kerr reports in Science (Science 18 November 2005: Vol. 310. no. 5751, pp. 1106 - 1108
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5751.1106)that the non-OPEC peak of oil production is likely to occur within the next decade (US production peaked in 1970; UK production peaked in the last few years). OPEC production may not peak for another two or three decades, but due to the decline in non-OPEC oil, world production is likely to peak between 2015 and 2030. summary
The problem with this scenario, of course, for those of us who remember the oil embargo is that the rest of the world becomes totally dependent on OPEC. OPEC countries have had more than their fair share of war, which tend to interfere with oil production. So do cartels that profit from holding supply below demand to increase prices.
The trick will be finding new energy sources and encouraging conservation while world energy supply exceeds demand -- and prices stay relatively low. We had the American public's attention when gasoline went over $ 3. As it falls below $ 2 again, will hybrids still be hot?
Thursday, November 24, 2005
The CEL Forum has provided a communications channel for many of us interested in environmental law. The CEL has decided not to continue the forum. Welcome to the CEL members who should feel free to use this blog as a means to communicate events, books, and matters of substance.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
A study by IDDRI indicates that, although geological capture and storage could theoretically offset global power plant CO2 emissions, the difference in potential capture and storage in given regions makes it unlikely that we can rely on geological capture and storage to reduce emissions.geological carbon capture and storage
For another view, IPCC Special Report on CSS (update)
The NY Times reported that Goldman Sachs is setting the green standard among financial institutions. Goldman Sachs Goes Green Goldman Sachs environmental policy is far more specific than most corporate environmental policies. GS Policy
It pledges to:
- reduce its own footprint;
- use its power plants as demonstration projects for innovative technology;
- be a market maker for development of emissions markets;
- help develop markets in ecosystem services;
- become a leading wind energy developer;
- make a $1 billion available for renewable energy/conservation projects;
- avoid lending for projects in environmental sensitive areas or extractive projects affecting World Heritage sites,to companies or projects engaged in illegal logging, to projects violating domestic laws enacted to implement international environmental agreements;
- finance preservation and non-extractive use of forest resources in forests with high conservation values;
- develop due diligence procedures around key environmental issues.
Duke Law School maintains “Supreme Court Online,” with recent Supreme Court opinions, full-text and edited versions for classroom use, and plain-English summaries and commentaries. The site is designed to serve “the general public and facilitate the classroom use of recent decisions.” Supreme Court Online
The Tehran Times reports that the sturgeon, who so generously provide us with caviar, will be extinct within a generation due to poaching. May be this endangered species will get the Bush Administration's attention. Sturgeon
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Science reported that Sen. Stevens introduced legislation to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act last week. Both the Pew Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy urged dramatic changes to address the failure of the Act to effectively prevent over-fishing and to effectively manage the marine ecosystem. In September, NOAA proposed legislation.
Stevens's bill establishes a formal peer review process for the advice provided by scientific advisory panels of regional fisheries management councils. The panels provide data on sustainable yields, health of fish stocks, and risks of accidentally catching protected species. The new bill also specifically directs the regional councils to consider the panels' scientific advice when determining sustainable fish quotas.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
The Pew Center on Global Climate Change announced today
the release of a major new report outlining options and recommendations
for advancing the international climate change effort post-2012.
The report is from the Climate Dialogue at Pocantico, a group of
25 senior policymakers and stakeholders from 15 countries
convened by the Pew Center. The report was formally launched at an event
yesterday in the hearing room of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee
hosted by Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Indiana) and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr.
(D-Delaware), the committee's Chairman and Ranking Minority Member.
At the event,Senators Lugar and Biden also announced the introduction of a
Sense of the Senate resolution calling for the United States
to participate in negotiations under the Framework Convention on Climate Change
to establish mitigation commitments by all major emitting countries.
For information on the Pocantico dialogue and report,
and on the Lugar-Biden Climate Change resolution,
please visit Pew Climate Change
The new Pocantico report also will be the focus of
"Beyond 2012 - A High-Level Forum,"
a side event at COP 11/MOP 1 in Montreal
featuring an exchange of views among Ministers and senior business and NGO leaders.
The event will take place at 1-3 pm on Wednesday, December 7,
in the Palais des Congrès.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
European Parliament leaders agree to REACH compromise, enhancing the likelihood that the EU Council will vote next week on adopting REACH.
Planet Ark reports:
Changes agreed by major political parties bring the Parliament's version of REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) closer in line with the draft being discussed by European Union member states put together by Britain, current holder of the EU presidency.
REACH was designed to protect people from the adverse effects of chemicals found in a wide range of products such as paint, detergents, cars and computers. Chemical makers would have to register the properties of substances with a central EU database. Those of highest concern, such as carcinogens, would require authorisation to be used.
The parliament compromise reduces the number of substances in the low-tonnage category that would require tests for registration from 40% to 30%. That category applies to chemicals that are produced or imported in amounts of between one and 10 tonnes a year, estimated to be between 17,500 and 20,000 substances.
Yesterday, Ms. Sunita Narain of the Centre for Science and Environment, the 2005 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate was interviewed on BBC World’s "HARDTalk" programme. The archived interview can be viewed online at the following BBC link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/hardtalk/4421750.stm
Among other things, she discusses growth in India and global warming.
This week, the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP), a market oriented think tank based in Europe and the US initiated a regular series of climate change policy briefings to benefit key European stakeholders. Leading climate change policymakers—including those from U.S. States, European States, China, Mexico, and Canada—will convene in Brussels in 2005 and throughout 2006 to discuss their efforts to address climate change and implications for European climate policy. The inaugural meeting, hosted at the offices of DG Environment of the European Commission, attracted over 50 invited participants to hear representatives from California discuss one of the most important climate change policy initiatives in the United States—California’s regulations to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new motor vehicles—and its implications for Europe’s voluntary agreement with automakers to reduce GHG emissions from cars (see below for more details on both programs). The seminar was attended by the key players from different backgrounds, including from various services of the European Commission and the European Council, research centers, environmental think tanks, representatives of the European, Japanese and Korean automotive industry, consultancies, and law firms. Tom Cackette, Chief Deputy Executive Officer and Chuck Shulock, Program Manager for GHG Reduction in the California Air Resources Board, introduced participants to the California GHG Vehicle standards and its implementation. European respondents included: Günter Hörmandinger, representing Clean Air Transport Unit of DG Environment in the European Commission, Aat Peterse, Program Manager Low Carbon Cars in the European Federation for Transport; Environment and Herman Meyer, Director for Environmental Policy in the European Automobile Manufacturers Association.
The State of California has undertaken one of the most important climate change policy initiatives in the to address transportation emissions. In September 2004 the California Air Resources Board approved regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles. The regulations, which will take effect in 2006 following an opportunity for legislative review, apply to new passenger vehicles and light duty trucks beginning with the 2009 model year. The standards will result in greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions of 22% in 2012 and a 30% reduction in 2016. This regulation will be one component of California’s effort to meet Governor Schwarzenegger’s June, 2005, announcement of statewide GHG emissions targets of 2000 levels by 2010, 1990 levels by 2020, and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. In Europe, European, Japanese and Korean car manufacturers (associated in ACEA, JAMA and KAMA respectively) entered into a voluntary agreement with the European Commission with a target to reach emissions levels of 140 g CO2 per km by 2008 (ACEA) and 2009 (JAMA, KAMA). While there is uncertainty as to whether 140 g can be reached in the given timeframe, the European Commission is reviewing the EU strategy, whose objective is to achieve a fleet average of new passenger cars of 120 g CO2 per km by 2012. The issue of CO2 emissions is also a part of the CARS 21 process a new initiative of DG Enterprise and Industry developing a roadmap of recommendations to improve the global competitiveness of the European automotive industry.
Upcoming topics for the CCAP BRUSSELS SEMINAR SERIES include: >Chinese Efforts to Reduce GHG Emissions: Current Policies and Future Opportunities >GHG Emissions Trading in U.S. States: the Northeastern Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Efforts in the Western U.S. >Canadian Large Final Emitters Program: Possibilities for Linkage with the EU Emissions Trading System? >Brazilian Emissions from Deforestation: What Options for Reduction? >Options for the International Response to Climate Change Post-2012: Results of the Future Actions Dialogue >Joint Implementation: Opportunities and Barriers in new EU member states, Accession and candidate countries More information can be found at http://www.ccap.org/international/brussels-seminars.htm
The Corps testified yesterday on the New Orleans levee project. It did not attribute the delays in the project to the NEPA lawsuit and distanced itself from the claim that the revised levee project was less protective than the project designed before the lawsuit. The Corps doesn't appear anxious to jump to hasty conclusions. Corps testimony on New Orleans levee project
Tuesday, November 8, 2005
An IDDRI study indicates that using agricultural land for forest plantations that are harvested on a short rotation basis to provide wood for material can contribute substantially to reducing CO2 emissions through 2050.
A study by Krueggers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science suggests that the impact of climate change on conservation planning may be greater than we thought. Using regional climate modeling, the predicted reduction of current range of two oak species due to climate change was roughly twice that predicted by global climate modeling. Climate change is expected to cut the current range of those species in half. If similar results are found with other species, biodiversity conservation efforts will be vastly more difficult in the face of climate change.Regional climate modeling and range restrictions