THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Thursday, 8 November 2007
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
UN chief names Trinidad senator as deputy director of UN Environment
Ban names new deputy chief of UN environment program (Xinhua)
Ban Ki Moon Names UNEP Vice Director (Prensa Latina)
Trinidadian Named To Top UN Post (Hard beat)
Busway project gets foreign support (Jakarta Post)
New rice method could save water - and lives (People and planet)
Sowing the seeds of uncertainty (BBC)
Mau Forest At Risk As Evictees Move Back (All Africa)
Unep To Release Report On Environment (Bahrain News Agencies)
Dispelling the myths surrounding the U.N. (Utah Statesman)
Other Environment News
UN head begins South America trip (BBC)
Ban heads to Antarctic, Amazon on tour focused on environment (AFP)
China environment woes blamed on lack of planning (Reuters)
Canada's Environment Minister Sued Over Unreported Mine Waste (ENS)
Tanzanian project that could wipe out Kenya‘s flamingoes (Daily Nation)
Eat more chocolate and help the environment (Reuters)
Booming palm oil demand from Indonesia fuelling climate crisis (Antara)
Environment law delayed, China minister says (Telegraph)
ABC Online: Climate change dominates environment debate
EU opens development days with focus on climate change (Xinhua)
UN climate change chief impressed by China (China Daily)
Pollution-free Delhi by 2010, says Sheila (The Hindu)
Ship emissions seen causing 60,000 deaths a year (Reuters)
Carbon Capitalists Grab Gas From Pig Waste in Evangelical Quest (Bloomberg)
China to become biggest carbon polluter this year (Time Online)
China to be biggest carbon polluter (Press TV)
Environmental News from the UNEP Regions
Other UN News
Environment News from the UN Daily News of 7 November 2007
Environment News from the S.G.‘s Spokesman Daily Press Briefing of 7 November
UNEP and the Executive Director in the News
AP: UN chief names Trinidad senator as deputy director of UN Environment Program
UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the appointment
Wednesday of Angela Cropper, a member of Trinidad and Tobago's Senate and longtime
environmental campaigner, as deputy executive director of the U.N. Environment Program.
Cropper, who will have the rank of assistant secretary-general, is also president of The
Cropper Foundation, which promotes sustainable development, an issue she has worked on in
Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean region and internationally.
An economist with a degree in international law, Cropper will serve as deputy to the Nairobi-
based program's Executive Director Achim Steiner.
Ban's announcement said she brings to UNEP "profound experience in environmental policy,
analysis and negotiations."
Cropper has worked "on the nexus between environment and sustainable development and
has been an inspiration for activities in public policy, environmental education and policy
making and social justice within Trinidad and Tobago and throughout the Caribbean region,"
Xinhua: Ban names new deputy chief of UN environment program
UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on
Wednesday appointed Angela Cropper of Trinidad and Tobago as deputy executive director
of the U.N. Environment Program.
Cropper currently serves as an independent member of the Senate of the Trinidad and
Tobago Parliament and as president of a charitable organization committed to sustainable
development, said Ban's press office.
She has held a number of senior positions with the Caribbean Community and Common
Market Secretariat and the World Conservation Union and has also received a number of
environmental awards in recognition of her achievements in that field.
Prensa Latina: Ban Ki Moon Names UNEP Vice Director
United Nations, Nov 7 (Prensa Latina) UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon appointed
Angela Cropper, from Trinidad and Tobago, as the new Assistant Executive Director of the
UN Environment Programme.
The announcement was made by spokeswoman Marie Okabe, who added that Cropper will
also be an assistant to the secretary general.
Cropper, senator in Trinidad and Tobago, is well known for her work at diverse levels on the
link of environment and sustainable development.
Cropper brings UNEP profound experience on environmental policy, analysis and
negotiations, combined with high level intergovernmental treatment on environment, as well
as vision and strategy, a media report specified.
Hard beat: Trinidadian Named To Top UN Post
Hardbeatnews, UNITED NATIONS, NY, Thurs. Nov. 8, 2007: A long-time environmentalist
and independent member of the Senate of Trinidad and Tobago has been named the new
assistant secretary-general and deputy executive director for the United Nations Environment
Angela Cropper‘s appointment was announced yesterday by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-
Moon. The President of The Cropper Foundation, a not-for-profit charitable organization
committed to sustainable development, the Trinidadian national is set to take up the post in
Cropper has worked at the local, national, regional and international levels on the nexus
between environment and sustainable development. Her list of achievements and successes
include senior positions in a wide range of national and international institutions as well as
contributions to numerous key and relevant boards, trusts, committees and global
assessments - within and outside the UN.
Starting her career as an economist, Cropper has also held senior positions with the
Caribbean Community and Common Market Secretariat (CARICOM) and the World
Conservation Union followed by positions as interim executive secretary of the UN
Convention on Biological Diversity and as senior adviser on Environment and Development
with the United Nations Development Program.
Cropper has also been a visiting distinguished fellow with the Woods Hole Research Center
and a Visiting Distinguished Fellow and McClusky Fellow with the Yale School of Forestry
and Environmental Studies.
She has a degree in development economics and international law from Trinidad and Tobago,
and Barbados, respectively.
Cropper will succeed Shafqat Kakakhel who steps down next month after eight years of
distinguished service with UNEP in the Deputy Executive Director post.
The UNEP, according to its website, provides leadership and encourages ―partnership in
caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to
improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.‖ –
Jakarta Post: Busway project gets foreign support
Despite the severe traffic congestion it has caused, the busway project is expected to expand,
with the city administration having secured support from a foreign transportation institution.
Project director from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) Budi
Kuntjoro said Wednesday traffic congestion caused by the construction of busway corridors
would be short term and would lead to long-term benefits.
In a meeting with Governor Fauzi Bowo and his team Tuesday, visiting ITDP Asia regional
director John Ernst said if all planned busway corridors were completed, the city's traffic
problems would be partly solved.
"Despite the fact the congestion is bad now, in a few months Jakarta's traffic situation will be
better," he said.
However, he said the city administration should have conducted more extensive planning
before starting to construct busway corridors around the city.
"The finished and on-going construction of the corridors has happened too fast, resulting in
some imperfections," Ernst said.
Long waiting periods at intersections, crowded busses and bus shelters and lanes that are not
exclusive to busway busses are among problems the system faces, he said.
Such problems hamper the movement of other vehicles across the city and are part of the
reason the administration sought the advice of the ITDP, he added.
The ITDP is a New York-based non-governmental organization working to promote
environmentally sustainable and equitable transportation policies and projects worldwide.
It received funding from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) to assist Jakarta
with its busway project.
The UNEP considers the busway system to be environmentally friendly as it has the potential
to reduce the number of private vehicles on the streets. Busway busses also run off gas,
which is less harmful to the environment.
The ITDP, which has been employed by the Jakarta administration since the beginning of the
project, offered nine recommendations to improve the busway system at the meeting
The organization's recommendations included improving busway's services overall, more
efficient operational costs, improvements in commercial arrangements between the
administration and private institutions, improvements to busway's ticketing system and the
introduction of ideal ticket prices.
It was also suggested that better planning be carried out before further corridors are
Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo told the press after the meeting he would establish a team to
follow up on the recommendations and would hold regular meetings to discuss the project.
He said the city administration was yet to decide whether it would construct the next five
busway corridors next year as the system's effectiveness was still being discussed.
The administration is also planning to establish a team of stakeholders and transportation
experts to discuss improvements to the city's transportation system overall, Fauzi said. (wda)
People and planet: New rice method could save water - and lives
Posted: 07 Nov 2007
The latest UNEP report on the state of the planet found that cereal production has improved
over the past 20 years (from 1.8 tonnes per hectare in the 1980s to 2.5 tonnes today), but it
has not kept up with population. In fact world cereal production per person peaked in the
1980s, and has since slowly decreased. As a result a report from WWF on a new method of
growing rice that could save hundreds of billions of cubic metres of water and increase food
security, takes on fresh importance.
Focusing on India - a country which faces a major water crisis, yet has the world‘s largest
area under rice cultivation and a rapidly growing population - the report found that the ‗rice
intensification‘ method (SRI) has helped increase yields by over 30 per cent - four to five
tonnes per hectare instead of three tonnes per hectare - while using 40 per cent less water
than conventional methods.
In addition, this method will reduce significant amounts of methane emissions, since SRI
fields do not emit methane as is the case with
The method is based on eight principles which are different to conventional rice cultivation.
They include developing nutrient-rich and un-flooded nurseries instead of flooded ones;
ensuring wider spacing between the seedlings; preferring composts or farmyard manure to
synthetic fertilizers; and managing water carefully to avoid saturating the plants‘ roots.
The method was initially developed in the 1980s in Madagascar and has been demonstrated
to be effective in 28 countries.
Rice roots compared
―Although the system of rice intensification has shown its advantages, it is not widely
practised‖ said Dr Biksham Gujja, Senior Policy Adviser at WWF International. ―It is time to
start large-scale programmes to support a method that could make a lasting global impact
with far-reaching benefits to people and nature.‖ However, caution was urged as SRI is not
the answer to the agriculture-water crisis, as in each case the appropriateness and suitability
of SRI will depend on the particular biophysical conditions of the site, as well as the
objectives of individual farmers. SRI produces more rice for less water, but requires more
work from the individual farmer to do more weeding and more coordination amongst
neighbouring farmers for water management.
Demand for water-intensive crops such as rice is expected to increase (globally) by 38 per
cent by 2040, deepening the water crisis during the
same time. However, less than 6 per cent of rice is traded internationally and savings in water
have potential for mitigating domestic water conflicts, especially in poor, rural areas where
water is scarce. This is especially the case where water saved is returned to rivers or aquifers
for conservation benefits.
The report suggests that major rice-producing countries such as India, China and Indonesia
should convert at least 25 per cent of their current rice cultivation to the new system by 2025.
This would not only massively reduce the use of water but also help ensure food security.
For example, if the SRI method was applied in 20 million hectares of land under rice
cultivation in India, the country could meet its food grain objectives of 220 million tonnes of
grain by 2012 instead of 2050.
Authorities in the Indian state of Tripura, in North East India, have already committed to
move in that direction.
Rice field with farmer
―Our farmers proved that the system of rice intensification improves productivity and we
will convert at least 40 per cent of our rice cultivation using this method over the next five
years,‖ said Manik Sarkar, Chief Minister of Tripura State. ―We urge this as a model for rice
cultivation elsewhere as it represents one hope for the water crisis affecting so many billions
Already 1.2 billion people have no access to adequate water for drinking and hygiene. WWF
is focusing on sustainable agriculture efforts for cotton, sugar and rice, some of the most
water-consuming crops for which alternative techniques can result in a strong yield and water
The report More Rice with Less Water was released last month (October 2007)at a
conference held in Tripura. To download the report, go here.
Background note: Rice is the main source of directly consumed calories for about half the
world‘s population and 90 per cent of it is produced and consumed in Asia. Contrary to
popular belief, rice is not an aquatic plant and the main reason it is submerged in water is for
controlling weeds. Conventional methods of rice cultivation use 60-70 kilos of seeds per
hectare, SRI requires just five kilos per hectare.
BBC: Sowing the seeds of uncertainty
Founder director of Forum for the Future
There has always been a problem about the way in which big environmental issues are
handled by the media.
Causes once "in fashion" suddenly become invisible; other causes suddenly become all the
rage. Today, it's all climate change; if it isn't climate change - from a media point-of-view -
just don't bother.
Two weeks ago, for instance, the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep) published
its Global Environmental Outlook - a quite devastating audit of the state of the Earth, its
habitats, species and resources.
A quarter of the world's flowering plants, for instance, are now threatened with extinction
over the next 50 years. There was some reasonable coverage on the day itself (especially in
the Independent), but then silence. Environment going to hell in a handcart - heard it all
before; so what? Or words to that effect.
Save our seeds
The number of people out there today seriously worried about the health of all the plants and
seeds on which modern agriculture depends must be very limited, and the number of people
actively campaigning to protect them vanishingly few.
Making these two Radio 4 programmes called Save Our Seeds forcefully reminded me just
how crazy that is. Of the Earth's 250,000 plant species, only 200 are cultivated for food on
any serious scale.
Even more extraordinary, the vast majority of the world's food comes from just 20 crops, in
just eight plant families. Most of these monocultures are dangerously vulnerable to diseases
(both old and new), pest infestations, and a rapidly changing climate.
Yet the "genetic pool" on which plant breeders might need to draw to build resistance and
adaptability is being constantly eroded as older, non-commercial varieties disappear.
There are two ways of protecting the diversity of plants and seeds. The first is through seed
banks. I visited the hugely impressive Millennium Seed Bank, set up by Kew Gardens, which
is well on its way to collecting, sorting and storing the seeds of up to 10% of the world's
This is just one of 1,400 seed banks across the world, some of them surviving in almost
impossibly tough conditions, others well-funded with strong government support.
We interviewed some of the real heroes in the world of seed banks, including the redoubtable
Cary Fowler, director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, who is spearheading an astonishing
project to build a state-of-the-art storage facility for the world at Svalbard, way up in the
north of Norway.
But seed banks can only do so much in this massive salvage operation. The seeds they store
need to regularly germinated, otherwise they too die. The best way of maintaining an active
and vibrant seed bank is to ensure that farmers (and gardeners) are planting out those "land
races" and rare varieties of plants which are now so endangered.
More often than not, that sets small-scale, subsistence farmers (on whom this kind of "active
conservation" depends) in conflict with the juggernaut of industrialised, intensive agriculture.
This battle is far from over, with new efforts now under way to convert much of Africa's land
into vast monocultures to produce either food or biofuels for export. And because it's just
"seeds" we're talking about here, or nondescript plants for agriculture, the world just stands
aside as if this continuing "war on nature" was of little importance.
One suspects that there are some harsh lessons soon to be learned.
Jonathon Porritt is founder director of Forum for the Future and Chairman of the UK
Sustainable Development Commission
All Africa: Mau Forest At Risk As Evictees Move Back
The East African Standard (Nairobi)
8 November 2007
Posted to the web 7 November 2007
Experts have warned of an environmental crisis following the return of 10,500 evictees to
An NGO, Friends of the Mau, said this would destroy the water catchment and endanger the
lives of thousands of people and wildlife.
The evictees, some without title deeds, started trooping back to the forest three weeks ago
after President Kibaki promised to resettle them.
Last month, Kibaki said the settlers would not be evicted until the Government found
But conservationists want them resettled elsewhere to save the forest. Friends of Mau
chairman, Mr Jackson Kamuye, said logging and charcoal burning, among other activities,
would destroy the forest.
"We appreciate the evictees' desire to have a place to call home, but that should not be at the
expense of the forest," he said.
He criticised the Government for dragging its feet over the matter, saying a solution should
have been found since the eviction four years ago.
Kamuye said the forest was a source of 12 rivers. He accused the Government of using the
forest to woo the evictees to vote in its favour in the General Election.
The return of the evictees has also put a Sh92 million project in doubt. The Spanish
government had donated the money for a community conservation project.
The money was to be given through Unep, Kenya Forest Working Group, Ewaso Nyiro
South Development Authority and the Green Belt Movement, among other conservationists.
But Ewaso Nyiro Managing Director, Mr Francis Nkako, said the plan was still on. The
project, he said, would include tree nurseries in 24 schools.
"This is a three-year programme that will involve communities in commercial tree planting,"
Narok County Council and other players are formulating a forest management plan.
Investigations indicated that the settlers were felling trees for firewood, building temporary
shelters and burning charcoal.
Some claimed that many among them did not have valid claim to the forestland.
A spokesperson for evictees, Mr Kipteigok arap Chumo, said they would not vacate the
forest until the Government gave them alternative land.
"We will only move out if we are given land elsewhere. The Government should also
compensate us for the property we lost during the eviction when our houses and crops were
destroyed," he said.
The evictees have been living in harsh conditions in market centres since they were forced
out of the forest. Many had complained of lack of food, shelter and diseases, saying the
Government had abandoned them.
Bahrain News Agencies: Unep To Release Report On Environment
Date: 07 11, 2007
Manama, November 7 (bna) -- the office of United Nations environment programme for west
Asia and the Arab league will jointly release, in cooperation with un media centre, a report
including the fourth international environment forecast titled environment for development in
Bahrain on Sunday.
A statement issued by the unep office said the report was the result of consultations with
partners all over the world in the past five years. The report will highlight the developments
in environment and recommend policies in addition to the role of the environment in bringing
prosperity to the mankind. The conclusions of the report are based on a report of international
committee for environment and development issued in 1987 as a reference to evaluate the
achievements of the past 20 years. Em//bs 07-nov-2007 12:04
Utah Statesman: Dispelling the myths surrounding the U.N.
By: Jon Adams
This is a critical time for the United Nations. Many Americans have lost faith in the efficacy
of the U.N. and doubt its relevance in the 21st century. The American public has been
deceived, however, by shrill right-wing misinformation.
Myth: The U.N. is ineffective.
Reality: It's ironic that the people who most complain about the U.N.'s ineffectiveness are the
very ones who would rather it not even exist, but I digress.
Any bureaucratic behemoth is going to suffer some ineffectiveness. The U.S. government
certainly reflects this fact. But on balance, the U.N. has an impressive track record.
In 2005, the Human Security Centre at the University of British Columbia documented a
dramatic decline in the number of wars, genocides and human rights abuses since the
inception of the U.N.
Another report, published by Oxford University, found that in recent years the U.N. has
significantly increased peacekeeping operations and stepped up sanctions against despotic
regimes. Not only were these efforts more numerous, they were larger and more complex
than those of the Cold War era.
Concerning U.N. peacekeeping operations specifically, the U.S. Government Accountability
Office concluded they are eight times less expensive than funding a U.S. force. And a 2005
RAND Corp study found the U.N. to be successful in two-thirds peacekeeping efforts,
whereas only half of the U.S.' unilateral efforts succeeded.
The U.N., moreover, is only as ineffective as its member states make it. For instance, the
failure to intervene in Rwanda was largely the Clinton administration's fault, not the U.N.'s.
They feared that such an intervention would be a political liability, like Somalia was. Most
U.N. member states wanted to prevent the genocide, but the U.S. vetoed their resolutions.
Lastly, critics have a fixation with the U.N. Security Council's inaction, but they forget other
U.N. bodies like UNICEF, the World Health Organization, U.N. Environment Program, the
U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, etc. These organizations don't get
their due credit. And on balance, they have been extremely effective, saving millions of lives
and improving many more.
Myth: The U.N. is corrupt.
Reality: Well … this one is true. But there is nothing uniquely corrupt about the U.N. What
governmental body is without corruption? The answer isn't to withdraw from the U.N., but
rather to lobby for its reform. The Security Council needs to be more democratic. The
Human Rights Council shouldn't admit states guilty of gross human rights violations. And
the U.N.'s administration needs to be more transparent, accountable and efficient.
Myth: The U.N. threatens U.S. sovereignty.
Reality: Our veto power and diplomatic leverage are powerful protections of U.S.
sovereignty. What few concessions of sovereignty the U.S. has made have generally been
reasonable. It makes sense for nations, like individuals, to be held accountable to the rule of
The U.S. has committed itself to international laws of war, for example. Who is honestly
upset that the U.S. is not permitted to wage wars of aggression? The U.S. still retains the
right to act without U.N. approval in cases of self-defense or in response to an imminent
threat or dire humanitarian crisis.
So let's abandon the critics' antiquated and isolationist definition of sovereignty. Today's
world is increasingly interconnected. So while we are first and foremost American citizens,
we, too, are citizens of the world.
Myth: U.S. involvement in the U.N. is expensive.
Reality: Our U.N. obligations are, in fact, a bargain. While the U.S. accounts for 34 percent
of the world economy, we only finance 22 percent of the U.N. regular budget.
Each year, the U.S. spends a mere $1 billion (one-tenth of 1 percent of the federal budget) to
finance the U.N. and its agencies. Contrast this with the $10 billion we spend in Iraq each
The U.S. also enjoys a valuable relationship with the U.N. which directly benefits our
economy. American firms are the primary sellers of goods and services to the organization
and, in 2004, received $637 million through their business with the U.N.
Myth: The U.S. doesn't need the U.N.
Reality: Now more than ever, the U.S. can't afford to "go it alone." Nowhere is this more
evident than in Iraq. Instead of working with the U.N. (as we had with Korea, the First Gulf
War and Kosovo), the Bush administration gave the U.N. and international law the proverbial
finger and invaded Iraq. And consequently, the U.S. shoulders the costs of the war alone.
Multilateralism, then, is a means to get others to share the burden of providing public goods.
The U.S. State Department makes a similar point: "The U.S. alone cannot do all things for all
people, nor should we try. Even though as a nation we enjoy great wealth compared to a
large part of the world, our resources are not limitless."
U.S. involvement in the U.N. is also vital to the international community. We, humankind,
face global problems which require global solutions. Nuclear proliferation, the spread of
HIV/AIDS, climate change and transnational terrorism are among the greatest problems.
These threats know no borders and absent global cooperation, they cannot be addressed.
Other Environment News
BBC: UN head begins South America trip
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires
Ban Ki-moon in Argentina - 7/11/2007
Mr Ban has offered to mediate in the Falklands, or Malvinas, dispute
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is in Argentina at the start of a tour of South America
that is to focus on climate change.
His first trip to the region since he took office nearly a year ago will take him from the
jungles of the Amazon basin to the Antarctic.
After South America he visits Spain for a meeting of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on
The South America tour is also an opportunity to meet leaders of countries he has not visited
In Argentina he is meeting President Nestor Kirchner and his wife, Cristina, who will be
taking over as president in December.
He said he would offer to mediate in the dispute between Argentina and Britain over the
Falklands, or Malvinas, islands, but neither side had yet responded.
Mr Ban will go to Chile on Thursday where he will open the Ibero-American summit and
then fly to Antarctica to see the consequences of global warming and the impact of melting
The secretary general's next stop will be Brazil for a meeting with President Luis Inacio da
Silva and a trip to the Amazon, where he is expected to go for a boat ride.
With what he has learnt in South America, Ban Ki-moon will go on to Valencia in Spain for
a meeting of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The report released there will set the stage for the UN climate conference in Bali, Indonesia,
AFP: Ban heads to Antarctic, Amazon on tour focused on environment
UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — UN chief Ban Ki-moon will visit Antarctica and the Amazon
to investigate the effects of global warming as he undertakes a 12-day foreign trip to South
America, Tunisia and Spain.
The UN secretary general was to leave late Tuesday on the trip, with stops in Argentina,
Chile and Brazil mainly focused on climate change, before crossing the Atlantic for the other
Ban told reporters Tuesday that three South American countries he will tour "are politically
and economically very important members of the United Nations and play a key role in our
common efforts to address climate change issues."
The secretary general's first stop on Wednesday will be Buenos Aires for a 24-hour official
There he plans to hold separate talks with Argentine Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana, the
presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies as well as with President Nestor
Kirchner and president-elect Cristina Kirchner, who is to succeed her husband on December
The next day Ban will head for Santiago, Chile for talks with President Michelle Bachelet
before attending the 22-member Ibero-American summit there.
On November 9, the secretary general is to travel to Punta Arenas, where residents live with
a hole in the ozone layer, on his way to Antarctica for the first visit by a UN secretary
"In Antarctica and Punta Arenas, I would like to see the consequences of global
warming...the impact this global warming is causing to the melting of glaciers," Ban told
On November 10, he is to tour the Torres del Paine National Park, where glaciers have been
affected by climate change, before flying back to Punta Arenas.
Sunday, Ban flies to Brazil, where he plans to visit an ethanol plant -- Brazil is the world's
second biggest producer of ethanol behind the United States -- and meet with researchers and
indigenous groups in the Amazon region.
In Brasilia, on November 12 he is to meet UN staff before holding talks with President Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva and having dinner in Belem with the governor of the northern state of
Para in the Amazon.
The next day, a visit to the Amazon Tapajos National Forest is planned.
"In Brazil, I would like to see myself how the Brazilian government has been taking the
initiative and strategies in preserving the forest and the consequences on deforestation
issues," Ban said.
On November 14, Ban will leave for Tunisia to attend an international conference on
counter-terrorism organized by the Tunisian government and the Organization of the Islamic
The UN chief is then to travel on November 17 to the Spanish city of Valencia, where the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is to release its latest report.
Earlier this month, the IPCC, which groups some 3,000 scientists as the world's scientific
authority on climate change, was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice
president Al Gore.
It has warned that global warming is underway and accelerating, shifting weather patterns
and producing stronger storms, floods or droughts that endanger human life and its
Reuters: China environment woes blamed on lack of planning
(Also in Guardian)
By Ben Blanchard
BEIJING, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Lack of central planning, ministerial infighting and a pervasive
get-rich-quick attitude mean China's environmental problems are not going away any time
soon, a state newspaper on Thursday quoted an official as saying.
Many Chinese cities are enveloped in choking smog, including 2008 Olympic host Beijing,
while rivers run black and green areas are denuded as the country's economy continues to
Pan Yue, deputy head of the State Environmental Protection Administration, said the group
could only do so much to help given its limited powers and urged local governments be more
responsible, according to the official People's Daily.
Pan said the environmental assessment process that industry must pass to build new factories
or mines was "blocked at the front, and harried by troops at the rear".
That's to say it faced an impossible task -- unable to better the process without improved
laws, and constantly being pushed by companies and governments to approve their projects.
"There are many reasons for China's environmental problems, but the most serious is a lack
of a planning structure, which has brought enormous, hidden environmental safety worries,"
Pan said that while his administration did indeed have to sign off on projects, it did not have
the power to ensure cities or provinces did not cram a whole series of polluting factories into
"It's not rational to squeeze them in all in together," Pan said, being quoted in a newspaper
which is an important Communist Party mouthpiece.
"Whether or not an area's ecology can stand such projects, needs an overall environmental
assessment," he added.
Localities were normally more interested in short term economic gains than the longer health
or environmental impact, Pan said.
"This has meant that in the last two years, regions and departments have no supporting
planning work and have come up with many reasons to avoid their planning responsibility,"
Rules supposed to tackle this issue were meant to have come out in August or September but
have been pushed back due to "many differences in view from certain departments", Pan
"I want to stress again, these rules are not about expanding the power of the environmental
protection agency," he said.
"They are a concept, a scientific development concept," Pan added, refering to a policy of
President Hu Jintao's now enshrined in the Communist Party's constitution that espouses
gentler, more environmentally friendly growth. (Editing by Nick Macfie and Alex
ENS: Canada's Environment Minister Sued Over Unreported Mine Waste
TORONTO, Ontario, Canada, November 7, 2007 (ENS) - Two conservation groups launched
legal action today against Canada's Minister of Environment seeking to force the reporting of
what they claim are "hundreds of millions of kilos of toxic mining waste being kept secret
from the Canadian public."
The public interest law firm Ecojustice filed the lawsuit in federal court on behalf of
MiningWatch Canada and Great Lakes United, an international citizens coalition that works
to preserve and restore the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem on both sides of the
The complaint alleges that Minister John Baird broke the law when he directed mining
companies to ignore their legal responsibility to report millions of kilos of pollution from
their operations under the National Pollutant Release Inventory.
Tailings management facility at the Cameco uranium mine on Key Lake, Saskatchewan
(Photo courtesy Cameco)
"The law is clear - mining companies in Canada are legally required to report the amount of
chemicals they are releasing into the environment," said Justin Duncan, staff lawyer with
"Instead, at the direction of the Minister of Environment, these companies continue to flout
the law by not reporting massive amounts of toxic tailings they dump into our environment
each year," Duncan said.
By contrast, the U.S. government has required mining companies to report the amounts of
pollutants generated by their operations under the U.S. Toxics Release Inventory, TRI, since
1998, he said.
Despite the fact that the U.S. mining industry comprises only 72 of the 23,566 industrial
facilities filing TRI reports to the U.S. government, Duncan cites government figures
showing that in 2005 the mines released more than 530 million kilos of pollutants -
accounting for 27 percent of all pollutants reported across the United States.
Duncan says mine tailings and waste rock accounted for more than 97 percent of the total
pollutants reported by the U.S. mining industry.
It is the data on these pollutants that are being withheld from the Canadian public, the groups
"Given the enormous amounts of carcinogens and heavy metals like lead and mercury in U.S.
mine tailings, it is absurd that Canadian mines are being let off the hook," said Joan Kuyek
from MiningWatch Canada.
The 80 metal mining facilities that reported to Canada's National Pollutant Release Inventory
in 2006 were from: Ontario(33), Quebec(19), BC(9), Manitoba(6), Saskatchewan(6),
Newfoundland(3), New Brunswick(2), Nunavut(2), the groups say.
The Hemlo gold mine on the north shore of Lake Superior (Photo courtesy Turnstone)
"From Smithers to Voisey's Bay, Canadians have a right to know what - and how much -
pollution the mining industry is releasing into our air, water, and soil," said Kuyek.
"Two weeks ago the Minister of the Environment stood on the shore of Lake Superior with
the Prime Minster as they announced the creation of the world's largest freshwater marine
park," said John Jackson of Great Lakes United. "At the same time he protects the mining
industry by hiding the toxic pollution that could spoil this ecosystem for generations."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the creation of Canada‘s newest National Marine
Conservation Area on October 25. More than 10,000 square kilometers of Lake Superior,
including the lakebed, islands and shorelands, will become the largest freshwater marine
protected area in the world.
On the Ontario side of the lake, there are five gold mines and one palladium mine in
production. Hundreds of abandoned mines are scattered throughout the area, according to a
2001 report by the nonprofit group Northwatch.
The active mines on Canada's Superior coast are among the country‘s largest, including the
open pit and underground gold mines of the Hemlo camp and the expanded palladium mine
at Lac des Iles, north of Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Daily Nation: Tanzanian project that could wipe out Kenya’s flamingoes
Story by KEN OPALA
Publication Date: 11/7/2007
Kenya‘s multi-billion shillings tourism industry faces major test as Tanzanian authorities
plan a soda ash project that could eliminate the flamingos in the region.
The plans have sent world conservationists into a spin.
A number of them attending a key international environment meeting here in the Norwegian
coastal city of Trondheim are busy lobbying global action against the project that seeks to
mine soda (used in the making of glass) from Lake Natron, considered the cradle of a type of
flamingo that is endangered.
This writer was able to see a number of petitions signed by conservationist seeking to block
the project on grounds that, if implemented, it will kill ―the world‘s greatest ornithological
spectacle‖, even as it damages livelihoods that are intricately linked to the Rift Valley
Dr Hazell Shokellu Thompson, the head of Birdlife Africa Partnership Secretariat, says his
organisation has listed the services of two lawyers (a Kenyan and Tanzanian) to look at the
possibility of moving to the East African Court of Justice sitting in Arusha, Tanzania, to
block the envisaged project.
―We are meeting this Friday to look at that possibility,‖ he told this writer by the sides of the
UN/Norway Government Trondheim Conference.
Contacted our lawyers
―We have already contacted our lawyers in both the countries.‖
Dr Thompson was one of the speakers at the conference.
Others from Kenya included Unep‘s Bakary Kante, Walter Jami Lusigi (a senior adviser to
the World Bank in Washington), and Lucy Mulenkei (a minority rights activist)
In one of the petitions, the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST) and the
Birdlife Africa Partnership, say Lake Natron Resources Ltd, a company jointly owned by the
Tanzania Government and TATA Chemicals Ltd. of Mumbai, India is proposing the
development of a soda-ash facility at Lake Natron.
According to the conservationists, this development could ―bring about changes in the lake‘s
chemical composition, affecting the cyanobacteria on which the flamingos feed‖.
BirdLife Africa argues that all the three million Lesser Flamingos in the region, from
Djibouti down through Tanzania to Malawi, were hatched at Lake Natron
―New roads and railways, and an influx of settlers into an otherwise pristine area (with a low
population of Maasai pastoralists), will cause substantial disturbance. Following the people
will be scavenging birds such as Marabou Storks, associated with mass desertion of flamingo
The salty Lake Natron is close to the Kenyan border and is very shallow, just three metres
deep, although this depth varies from one end to the other.
Its bed is covered by the salt crust that runs through Kenya‘s Lake Magadi, in the north.
Magadi is the world‘s largest soda ash mine, and is just kilometres from Lake Natron.
―It is likely that the proposed plant would lead to a collapse of the lesser flamingo population
in East Africa,‖ says Dr Thompson.
The Nation has gathered that the Tanzanian National Environment Management Council
(NEMC) planned to meet to discuss the project‘s likely harm to both the environment and the
livelihoods of the local people.
A UN official attending the Trondheim conference confirmed he planned to visit the area of
Flamingos are a major tourism attraction in Kenya. Thousands of tourists visit the Rift Valley
lakes of Naivasha, Nakuru and Bogoria to view the pink spectacle of these migratory birds.
Lake Nakuru alone generates some $15 million (about Sh1.05 billion) annually.
Yet the birds have faced constant threat from pollution, but the latest threat could be one of
their biggest dangers of all, say conservationists.
The flamingos are attracted to the lake because it offers a reliable food supply and
freshwater, even as it acts as a protection against most predators, conservationists argue.
According to documents by BirdLife Africa, the lesser flamingo stands between four and five
feet high but is the smallest of the six flamingo species.
It has long pink legs and a long neck. Its large body is rose-pink, the colour coming from
pigments in its main food. The birds eat by holding their bills upside down in the water.
They are found throughout Africa south of the Sahara, and from the Arabian Peninsula to
Pakistan. They occasionally migrate to areas bordering the Mediterranean.
According to estimates, there are about 3.25 m lesser flamingos in the world of which around
three-quarters, about 2.5 million, are found in East Africa.
―Lesser Flamingos are extremely sensitive to environmental disturbance, particularly when
breeding. They easily abandon colonies,‖ says Dr Thompson.
Flamingos live until they are about 40 years old but only breed every five or six years. Non-
breeding birds do not return to breeding sites until they are ready to breed again.
Reuters: Eat more chocolate and help the environment
Tue 6 Nov 2007, 18:37 GMT
LONDON, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Chocoholics can assuage any guilt they may feel after a new
process was developed that turns the by-products of making chocolate into a biofuel --
meaning you can eat your chocolate and be eco-friendly.
A truck, fuelled by the biofuel, will set out from Poole on the English south coast to Mali in
West Africa later this month on a charity mission.
"The chocolate waste used to be used in landfill. But now we can make it travel as biofuel,"
said organiser Andy Pag who will be one of the two drivers on the trip.
North western English firm Ecotec has taken waste from the chocolate manufacturing
process, turned it into bio-ethanol and mixed it with vegetable oil to produce biodiesel.
Some biofuels have come under fire for either diverting much-needed food crops or leading
to massive deforestation as land is cleared to grow crops specially for biofuel production.
"This is to show that you can have environmentally-friendly biofuels and that you don't have
to convert normal diesel engines to use it," Pag told Reuters.
The BioTruck will depart on Nov. 26 and is expected to take about three weeks to drive the
4,500 miles to Timbuktu where it will off-load a small biofuel production unit with the local
But vehicles using the novel product will not exude the sweet smell of success. "No! I'm
afraid the exhaust doesn't smell of chocolate," said Pag.
(Reporting by Jeremy Lovell; Editing by Golnar Motevalli)
Antara: Booming palm oil demand from Indonesia fuelling climate crisis
London (ANTARA News) - Booming world demand for palm oil from Indonesia for food
and biofuels is posing multiple threats to the environment as forests are being cleared, peat
wetlands exposed and carbon released, a report said on Thursday.
The massive forest clearance for palm plantations underway in Indonesia removes trees that
capture carbon dioxide, and the draining and burning of the peat wetlands leads to massive
release of the gas, said environment group Greenpeace in its report "Cooking the Climate".
On top of that, the booming demand for biofuels that include vegetable oils to replace
mineral oil is in many cases actually generating more climate warming gases, the report was
quoted as saying by Reuters.
"Tropical deforestation accounts for about a fifth of all global emissions," said the report.
"Indonesia now has the fastest deforestation rate of any major forested country, losing two
percent of its remaining forest every year."
"Indonesia also holds the global record for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from
deforestation, which puts it third behind the U.S. and China in terms of total man-made GHG
emissions," it added.
It said that on top of Indonesia's existing six million hectares of oil palms, the government
had plans for another four million by 2015 just for biofuel production. Provincial
governments had plans for up to 20 million hectares more.
The report is aimed directly at a meeting next month of UN environment ministers on the
island of Bali which activists hope will agree on urgent talks to find a successor to the Kyoto
Protocol on cutting carbon emissions which expires in 2012.
Degradation and burning
It said every year 1.8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide -- the main climate change culprit --
are released by the degradation and burning of Indonesia's peatlands.
Once the peatlands are drained, they start to release CO2 as the soils oxidise. Burning to clear
the land for plantations adds to the emissions.
The report said peatland emissions of CO2 are expected to rise by at least 50 percent by 2030
if the anticipated clearances for expansion of palm oil plantations goes ahead.
It cited a report by environmental NGO Wetlands International that said production of one
tonne of palm oil from peatlands released up to 30 tonnes of CO2 from peat
decomposition alone without accounting for carbon released during the production cycle.
Greenpeace also noted that the European Union's push to boost the use of biofuels as part of
its plans to cut carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020 was a decisive factor in booming
palm oil demand.
"This use alone equates to the harvest from 400,000 hectares or 4.5 percent of global palm oil
production," it said.
"Meanwhile, palm oil use in food continues to increase, partly as food manufacturers shift to
using palm oil instead of hydrogenated fats and partly as it replaces other edible oils being
used for biodiesel," the report added.
Greenpeace called for a ban on peatland forest clearance, urged the palm oil trade not to buy
and sell produce from degraded peatland areas and said governments should exclude palm oil
from biofuel and biomass targets
Telegraph: Environment law delayed, China minister says
By Richard Spencer in Beijing
A key new law to tackle the notorious environmental devastation caused by China's industrial
boom has been delayed indefinitely by internal opposition, a vice-minister has revealed in an
unusual public revelation of splits inside the governing apparatus.
In an interview with one of the country's more independent newspapers, Pan Yue, the vice
environment minister, said a law designed to improve controls on development was meeting
Some departments and local governments "don't support this project very much, and have
even tried to avoid their duty to put environmental assessment into place under a variety of
excuses," he said.
His interview came in the wake of the 17th Communist Party Congress, the five-yearly
gathering which affirms all key policy and personnel decisions for the government, and
which continued to stress the primacy of economic growth.
This was in stark contrast with promises by President Hu Jintao and prime minister Wen
Jiabao over the past five years that the country was going to be "rebalanced" to curb growth
rates and tackle some of the world's worst environmental disasters.
These include inadequate and polluted water supplies and the pall of poisonous smog that
hangs over many of the country's cities, including the capital Beijing.
The new legislation was modeled on measures introduced in the United States and Europe in
the 1980s and 1990s and intended to make environmental impact assessments part of
Currently, local governments are supposed to assess the impact of individual factories and
building projects on the environment before giving approval, but in the absence of wider
policies the results are too easy to overlook in the rush for economic growth.
"Most planning for urban construction projects doesn't consider environmental factors," Mr
Pan said in an interview with the Beijing News. "Some city development plans are
superficial, and change every other year, with the result that residential buildings are put up
in industrial zones or industrial projects are built close to residential areas."
Mr Pan, and the newspaper, are at the forefront of what passes for political debate in China.
The Beijing News has followed as much controversy as is allowed in China's tightly
controlled media since its founding four years ago, while Mr Pan, a former journalist, is often
seen as a sort of licensed jester in the Communist Party court, arguing for more popular
representation in policy-making.
He has also argued for the new environment bill to contain provisions for public hearings on
disputed projects, and begun a process of "naming and shaming" companies that flout
existing environmental rules.
But he said the bill, first proposed two years ago, had still not been approved after opposition
from powerful interest groups and other government agencies, who were putting their short-
term interests ahead of the "long-term" view.
"Frankly, the environmental assessment proposals are facing very great resistance," he said.
"They are stumbling. The regulations were expected to come out around August or
September; but for various reasons, there are still big differences of opinion leading to the
He said there was still no clear timetable for its implementation.
It is not the only set-back to China's growing "green awareness". Yesterday, a visiting
European parliament delegation said officials had told them that Beijing would continue to
oppose mandatory limits on China's greenhouse gas emissions.
In the summer, plans for publishing a "green GDP", setting China's 11.5 per cent annual
economic growth next to the cost of the environmental damage caused, were abandoned after
similar internal opposition.
Individual environmental disasters have been given a high profile in the media, but those
who have drawn them to public atttention have suffered.
Nationwide publicity was given last month to a campaign to clean up one of the country's
best-known lakes, Lake Tai, which had been overwhelmed by sewage and green algae
making water supplies to millions of nearby residents undrinkable.
But at the same time, an appeal court confirmed a three-year prison sentence on a local
environmental activist who had spent years trying to draw the problem to public attention.
ABC Online: Climate change dominates environment debate
Climate change was the central focus of the debate between Malcolm Turnbull (L) and Peter
Today's debate between federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Labor
counterpart, Peter Garrett, has turned to issues of morality and principles.
Climate change was the central focus of the debate, but an early question from the floor put
both men on the spot.
Mr Turnbull was asked whether he entered politics to play "second fiddle" to Treasurer Peter
Costello when the next leadership round occurs, while Mr Garrett was asked if he entered
politics to "toe a party line".
But Mr Garrett insists he joined Labor to make a difference.
"I don't accept for one minute that what I'm doing is a betrayal of anything at all, including
my principles," he said.
But Mr Turnbull thinks otherwise.
"Peter [Garrett]'s had a tougher road on this point because he has had to recant a lot of
positions," he said.
Mr Turnbull says he cannot think of any of his principles he has had to compromise since
Xinhua: EU opens development days with focus on climate change
BRUSSELS, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- The European Union opened its second development days
on Wednesday, with the impact of climate change on developing countries on top of the
"This year's forum aims to focus on climate change issues and how to respond to the needs
of already vulnerable countries hardest hit by the impacts of climate change," the European
Commission said in a press release here.
The three-day event, to be held in the Portuguese capital Lisbon, will draw around 1,000
decision-makers and stakeholders on development issues, who were scheduled to address the
linkage between climate change, poverty and migration and examine how developing nations
can best adapt.
"Climate change is the greatest challenge of our generation. Developed countries have a
special responsibility to take the lead in cutting emissions and pushing a comprehensive,
global agreement on future climate action, in the U.N. framework," commission president
Jose Manuel Barroso said.
Barroso said the EU is determined to help developing countries to face the impact of
climate change on the environment and on human and social development.
In addition to other high-ranking officials, the EU Commissioner for Development and
Humanitarian Aid Louis Michel would be present throughout the event.
"We are on track with scaling up development assistance, we are making it more effective
together with the member states and we strive to ensure other EU policies like trade and
environment more coherent with development goals," Michel said.
The EU is aiming to take the lead in the fight against global warming by adopting an
ambitious target of cutting greenhouse gas emission for 2020 earlier this year.
In September, the European Commission proposed a Global Alliance specific to climate
change, in order to encourage adaptation measures, reduce emissions from deforestation, take
advantage of the global carbon market and help developing countries be better prepared for
Last week, the EU launched the International Carbon Action Partnership, an initiative to
develop a global carbon market.
Climate change is "the biggest single challenge which we need to tackle together with our
partners in developing countries," Michel said.
China Daily : UN climate change chief impressed by China
By Sun Xiaohua (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-11-08 07:58
China is taking all the necessary steps to tackle the adverse impacts of climate change,
chairman of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Rajendra Pachauri
At a media workshop organized by the UN Development Programme in Delhi last week,
Pacahuri said he was impressed by what Chinese scientists and meteorologists had done to
fight climate change.
Pachauri-led IPCC shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize with green campaigner and US
former vice-president Al Gore.
"The facilities, capabilities and infrastructure developed by China Meteorological
Administration (CMA) have served the people very well," Pachauri said.
For example, China has 2,400 observation stations to monitor weather and climate change, he
said. China has a TV channel on the weather , too, and it reaches everyone.
China has been doing a great job as a developing country, Pachauri said, with its scientists
showing a very positive attitude toward working with international researchers to fight
"On the Fourth Assessment Report, China has been extremely active," he said. "A number of
Chinese scientists have contributed to the report. The Chinese government has been very
deeply engaged in every stage of the process of the report."
The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, "Climate Change 2007", will be released in Spain next
week. It will be the latest in a series of IPCC assessments providing the most comprehensive
scientific evidence on climate change. China is seeking a way to develop a low-carbon
economy, Pachauri said, and he will help it achieve it if he can.
The Hindu: Pollution-free Delhi by 2010, says Sheila
NEW DELHI: Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said on Wednesday that her Government was
striving to make Delhi a fully pollution-free city before the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
She said efforts were on to provide a healthier and more comfortable environment in the city
ahead of the mega sporting carnival that would attract a large number of foreigners to the
Speaking at the inauguration of a day-long international conference on ―CNG -- Averting
Disaster‖ organised by Green Leaf Foundation, the Chief Minister said it was with a great
deal of effort that the Government had succeeded in providing the city with the cleanest
transport fleet in the world. ―In the past six years, all old commercial vehicles have been
phased out and 1 lakh vehicles involved in public transport in Delhi have been put on clean
CNG fuel that has helped in substantial improvement in the ambient air quality of the city,‖
For the Commonwealth Games, Ms. Dikshit said, over 1,000 new CNG low-floor buses were
being purchased and for this a sum of Rs.500 crore would be released.
The Chief Minister used the opportunity to inform that Delhi needs enhanced supply of CNG
as the Government was within two weeks going to finalise a policy which would facilitate
switchover of 40,000 light commercial vehicles from diesel to CNG. She also exhorted the
people to speak up against diesel-run cars and asserted that their number needs to be limited
through withdrawal of all incentives that are given out on their purchase if the problem of air
pollution is to be tackled effectively.
The Chief Minister also spoke about evolving a consensus on the issue of pollution control
among all the States in the National Capital Region. ―The pollution level of Delhi also goes
up due to entry of diesel-propelled vehicles from other States which generally pass through
Delhi on their way to their destinations in other States,‖ she said.
Emphasising the need to commission the two peripheral expressways around Delhi that
would provide fast passage to those vehicles which are not otherwise supposed to enter
Delhi, Ms. Dikshit urged both Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to honour their commitments in
making these peripheral expressways functional at the earliest.
―The delay is on the part of other States as Delhi has been releasing its financial share for
these projects on time,‖ she said.
The meeting was informed that to improve traffic flow and to reduce emission on account of
traffic congestion about 150 km of roads are being widened in Delhi, 1,327 km are being
strengthened and resurfaced, 175 km are being street-scraped, and on 325 km of roads new
energy-efficient street lighting is being arranged.
The Delhi Government, Ms. Dikshit said, had already constructed 63 flyovers to reduce idle
time of cars and consequent carbon emissions. For the Commonwealth Games, she said,
another 28 flyovers and bridges are being constructed for better connectivity and traffic
management and for beautification of the Capital.
Reuters: Ship emissions seen causing 60,000 deaths a year
Wed Nov 7, 2007 3:59pm EST
By Lindsay Beck
BEIJING (Reuters) - Emissions from ocean-going ships are responsible for about 60,000
deaths a year from heart and lung-related cancers, according to research published on
Wednesday that calls for tougher fuel standards.
Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong, three of the world's five busiest ports, were likely to
suffer disproportionate impacts from ship-related emissions, said the study, published in
Environmental Science and Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society.
"For a long time there's been this perception that ship emissions are out there in the ocean
and they don't really affect anyone on land and I think this study shows that this is clearly
false," said David Marshall, senior counsel at the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force, which
co-commissioned the study.
"They do matter and they do need to be controlled."
Scientists said the fact that shipping takes place on the high seas -- away from populations
who can readily see impacts of emissions -- was part of the reason the industry's fuel
standards lagged those of the auto industry.
But sulfur emissions from international shipping represent about 8 percent of sulfur
emissions from all fossil fuels, said James Corbett, one of the authors of the study.
Most ships run on bunker fuel, which is cheaper than distillate, but also more polluting.
Corbett said it was also getting dirtier over time as distillate fuels become cleaner, since the
sulfur driven out of distillates ends up in the residuals used by ships.
"The international treaty process at the IMO (International Maritime Organization) has been
a slow process by which consensus is reached, rather than a process by which a regulatory
authority can set standards that an industry must agree to," he said.
"So this study, we think, is important to help policy-makers determine the appropriate path
forward as they consider new regulations for shipping," said Corbett, who is at the University
of Delaware's College of Marine and Earth Studies.
The number of premature deaths from ship emissions could rise by 40 percent in the next five
years because of increases in shipping activity, Corbett said, adding the number did not
account for additional health impacts such as bronchitis and asthma.
Switching to distillates would mitigate the mortality rate from ship emissions, but would also
likely come at huge cost to the industry.
Other options include cleaning up exhaust gases before they are released using scrubbers,
which act as a filter in smokestacks that captures particulates, Corbett said.
COSCO Group, China's largest shipping conglomerate, said there were other measures that
could be taken to reduce emissions.
"At COSCO we do our best to reduce emissions, especially we are reducing them in
newbuilds," said COSCO president Wei Jiafu.
"In existing ships, we reduce engine use as we approach the shore and stop the engines
altogether in ports. We use the shore power supply, and thereby cut emissions," he said.
(Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby, editing by David Fogarty)
Bloomberg: Carbon Capitalists Grab Gas From Pig Waste in Evangelical Quest
By Lisa Kassenaar
Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Bill Townsend, a one-time Texas oilman, gazes up at a dark-red
smokestack jutting from the cracked clay of southern Colorado and shakes his head. The
chimney is connected to a small plant that processes natural gas from the surrounding plains.
About 25 percent of the gas is methane, which is separated out and sold to Colorado
Interstate Gas Co. Most of the rest is carbon dioxide, which, on this August morning, climbs
the stack and pours into the cobalt-blue sky.
This plant, the brainchild of Townsend and his partner, Greg Spencer, is ready to sell its
CO2, a major cause of global warming. Yet $7 million in new equipment to ship the gas sits
idle because oil company BP Plc has yet to open part of a 400- mile (644-kilometer) pipeline
that will take it to West Texas.
There, Townsend and Spencer's plan is to bury the CO2 in aging oil wells. ``All our money
now is going up that pipe,'' Townsend says.
Townsend and Spencer, who met in a Utah Bible study group in 1985, are wildcatters of the
CO2 era. Like American oil prospectors of a century ago, they comb the country for
environmental projects that, one day, may gush profit.
The two Christian capitalists say they've found their mission: They help companies cut
greenhouse gas emissions and then take a cut of the profit. They've signed contracts with
more than a dozen companies giving them a share of earnings when captured emissions,
mostly CO2, sell in the fledgling U.S. carbon trading market.
In that market, greenhouse gases that have been diverted from the atmosphere are packaged
as pollution credits, known in the U.S. as ``offsets,'' and are bought or sold by the metric ton.
Since 2001, Townsend and Spencer's company, Salt Lake City- based Blue Source LLC, has
quietly amassed the largest collection of offsets in the country, about 270 million metric tons.
They have projects in 45 states, including efforts to bury CO2 from power plants, capture
methane from rotting pig waste and mountains of garbage and curb pollution from trucks by
shifting cargo to railroads.
``There's a biblical mandate to care for the planet that we have failed, as a culture and as
followers of Christ, to do effectively,'' Spencer, 50, says. ``This opportunity is a privilege.
The success is a blessing.''
Offsets trade in the U.S. even though President George W. Bush in 2001 pulled the country
out of the Kyoto Protocol, a climate agreement that creates a cap-and-trade program to
reduce global carbon emissions. In cap and trade, governments allow polluting companies a
set level of annual emissions. Companies then may buy offset credits -- representing tons of
emissions that haven't gone into the atmosphere -- to atone for any additional pollution.
U.S. companies, though not burdened by federally mandated caps, trade pollution credits to
meet their own environmental goals, according to EcoSystem Marketplace, a Washington-
based research group. The voluntary market grew 200 percent in 2006 to about $91 million,
the group says. As public concern about climate change ramps up, the U.S. Congress is
considering 12 bills proposing a federally regulated cap-and-trade system.
Blue Source, which both builds physical infrastructure to create offsets and sells them to
other companies, marks a new wave of U.S. carbon entrepreneurship. The big money is
already moving in: Blackstone Group LP's advisory unit signed Blue Source as one of its
smallest clients in April 2006, the day after hearing Townsend and Spencer's story.
``Bill and Greg are the real deal,'' says Erik Katz, senior managing director at the New York-
based firm. ``Blue Source is well positioned to be a key architect in the development of the
carbon highway. They have been able to thread the needle between financial gain and social
First Reserve Buys In
Katz hooked up Blue Source with First Reserve Corp., the world's biggest energy-focused
private equity firm, which acquired 50 percent of the company for an undisclosed sum in
As part of the agreement, First Reserve will make up to $1 billion available to Blue Source
for new projects. Already, Tyson Foods Inc., the biggest U.S. meat and poultry processor,
and trucker J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. are on Blue Source's client list.
As of October, forward sales contracts were up 350 percent from a year earlier, and profit for
2007 will be about $5 million, Spencer says. ``We feel we have a lead on how this is going to
be done,'' Townsend says. ``The carbon economy is going to happen on a grand scale.''
Blue Source's offsets exist as numbers on a computer screen, much like money looks in a
bank account. About 45 million metric tons are on registries such as Washington-based
Environmental Resources Trust Inc., a nonprofit that lists credits from more than 20 sources,
including News Corp. and Nike Inc.
The rest are managed out of Blue Source's office in a Salt Lake City business park with little
more than a spreadsheet identifying offsets by date and category: energy and power,
transportation, agriculture. Offset verification, which confirms that an activity avoided
pollution, is typically shown with an engineering report.
Customers who come to Blue Source usually sign up to buy groups of credits over time,
Spencer says, and Blue Source's supply agreements guarantee that it will have new offsets
flowing in until 2022. Buyers include New York-based securities firm Cantor Fitzgerald LP
and New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., the second-biggest U.S. operator of nuclear power
One large financial services firm that phoned Blue Source in early October wants to secure
prices now for offsets to be delivered after 2012, Spencer says. Blue Source now usually sells
its offsets for $4-$6 a ton.
$30 Per Credit
That price could shoot up to $30 or more, in line with trading in Europe's government-
regulated market, if Washington caps U.S. emissions, says Jon Anda, a former Morgan
Stanley vice chairman who heads the Environmental Markets Network for New York-based
``It'll be like lighting a match to methane,'' says Anda, who, as a banker, worked on Google
Inc.'s initial public offering. ``The dollars invested now will go to the moon.''
In Washington, more Republicans now recognize climate change as an issue in the 2008 race
for the White House, says Blythe Masters, head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s global
commodities group. She testified to a Senate committee on the subject in July.
California and 11 Northeast states are discussing their own cap-and-trade programs.
Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy Corp. and San Francisco-based PG&E Corp.,
two of the biggest U.S. utilities, have said they want a plan too. ``The biggest emitters are
holding up business decisions waiting to see what the rules are going to be,'' Anda, 50, says.
``They want something soon.''
For Blue Source, the gamble is huge. More than half of its banked offsets stem from reducing
CO2 in the air by burying it underground, a storage system called geologic carbon
sequestration. The process is not currently a source of tradable offsets under the Kyoto
In addition, Blue Source has been collecting credits for six years, and buyers are more
interested in pollution credits that represent recent saved emissions, Townsend says. That's
because verification rules are constantly evolving. Also, creators of all manner of carbon
credits in the U.S. are at the mercy of lawmakers in Washington, who'll decide what
constitutes a tradable offset.
``If only half our offsets end up qualifying, it would be a disappointment,'' Spencer says.
``But we're positioned to do well unless offsets aren't allowed at all.''
A `Pre-compliance' Market
Investment banks, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co., are
already adding traders and designing securities to sell in what they call the ``pre-compliance''
market, meaning trading before regulations are passed. Credit Suisse, the second-biggest
Swiss bank, is so sure the global carbon market, now centered in London, will include the
U.S. that it located its main trading desk in New York, says Paul Ezekiel, a managing
director who runs the carbon trading operation.
``People see the possibility of profit and of enormous risk,'' JPMorgan Chase's Masters says.
She spends about 25 percent of her time on building the firm's environment-related
businesses. ``The most dangerous position to be in is one of ignorance,'' she says.
Blue Source was once almost alone in the field. Now, competition is moving in. Credit
Suisse in June bought 10 percent of Dublin-based Eco Securities Group Plc, which is
working on more than 400 projects around the world to create offsets. Some 20 of its staff are
now focused on the U.S., up from none a year ago, U.S. country director Eron Bloomgarden
says. In January, Morgan Stanley bought 38 percent of Miami- based MGM International,
which has offset projects in China, Mexico and South America and is also accumulating
credits in the U.S.
Investing in Solar, Wind
Private equity firms, hedge funds and banks have billions of dollars earmarked for energy
projects that may generate tradable offset credits. They're investing in solar and wind power,
ethanol production and plants that capture methane. In March, First Reserve raised a $7.8
billion fund, of which about 10 percent will go to alternative energy, says Glenn Payne, who
oversees those deals for the Greenwich, Connecticut-based company.
Payne helped negotiate First Reserve's Blue Source purchase, which left Townsend, the chief
executive officer, and Spencer, the president, with 25 percent each. ``The green has George
Washington on it,'' Payne says. The timing looks even better than it did in 2006, says Payne,
an Australian who formerly worked at McKinsey & Co. ``We thought something would
shake free in Washington in the middle of the next decade, but the discussion has started
In Colorado, Blue Source is working with Manzano LLC, a gas exploration company based
in Roswell, New Mexico. Mike Hanagan, a co-owner of Manzano, met Townsend at an oil
industry conference in Midland, Texas, in 2003, when he was designing his facility.
`A Big Picture Guy'
``Bill's a very big-picture kind of guy,'' Hanagan says. ``They kept pushing that the big
picture was greenhouse gas emissions credits.''
Hanagan was persuaded to spend an extra 30 percent on the plant, which cost about $35
million. The additional $7 million bought a CO2 compressor and 16 miles of pipeline to
funnel his CO2 into a network that goes to Denver City, Texas. Hanagan's CO2 will be used
by oil companies to flush thick, sticky oil out of older wells, and then it will remain
underground. Blue Source consulted on the engineering and lined up sales contracts for both
the CO2 and the offsets.
On a midsummer Tuesday, Townsend and Spencer fly in and greet Hanagan on the runway
of a broken concrete airstrip outside La Veta, Colorado, a town of 924 people. In the distance
lie the Spanish Peaks, landmarks of the Southwest that Native Americans call Wahatoya, or
``breasts of the Earth.'' The three hop into a white pickup truck and drive to Hanagan's plant,
about three miles away.
Fourteen months after Hanagan's facility was finished, CO2 still spills into the air. Manzano
and Blue Source have been calling everyone they know at BP to try to get the gas flowing.
The London-based oil company has been slow to respond. Says Spencer, waving at the
chimney, ``If you believe in the science of climate change, it's hard to look at that and have it
not make you sick.''
One day earlier, in 92-degree Fahrenheit (33-degree Celsius) heat, Townsend and Spencer
drive 20 minutes into a canyon north of their Salt Lake City office for lunch on the balcony
of the Silver Fork Lodge, a 60-year-old log hotel decorated with old snowshoes and stuffed
Brisket and Cola
On the way, they point out sheer Rocky Mountain cliffs they've climbed over the years with
their adult children. At the table, they both order beef brisket and Coca-Cola. Then they tell
their tale. They talk for three hours, sometimes finishing each other's sentences.
Townsend, 53, grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His father worked for Ethyl Corp., a
gasoline additives company, and read the Bible every day, Townsend says. At 18, Townsend
headed to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and earned bachelor's degrees in
microbiology and mechanical engineering. He met his future wife, Andrea, at Purdue. All
three of their children, now aged 29, 27 and 23, are also Purdue grads.
In 1978, Townsend joined Houston-based Conoco Inc. and rose to manage the company's
Gulf Coast crude oil and liquid products pipeline systems. Seven years later, at age 31, he
joined the senior management of Petro Source Co., a crude-oil blending company with $70
million in annual sales, and moved his family to Salt Lake City. Among his first tasks was
building Petro Source's business in refined oil products. He laughs now about an early project
selling grass-scented green asphalt to Rocky Mountain golf clubs.
As Petro Source added oil refining and transportation to its repertoire over a dozen years,
sales rose to more than $1 billion, Townsend says. In 1995, he took on the company's CO2
division, pushing to spend $17.6 million on an 82-mile pipeline to carry carbon dioxide from
four natural gas plants near Val Verde, Texas, to Denver City, the main CO2 gathering center
for the U.S. domestic oil industry.
Townsend wasn't looking to create offsets when he initiated the Val Verde project, he says,
although he did consider the environmental gain in reusing the CO2. His long experience in
the petroleum business had taught him that one of the few commercial uses of CO2, the bete
noire of climate change, was right in front of him. For three decades, the biggest oil
companies operating in Texas, including Exxon Mobil Corp., had been tapping the ground
and building pipelines to gather CO2 from geologic formations.
Flushing Old Oil
They shoot the gas deep into aging wells, where it adheres to trapped oil, lowers its viscosity
and helps flush it out in a process called enhanced oil recovery, or EOR. EOR could help
recover 240 billion barrels of U.S. oil left in the ground by conventional drilling, according to
the U.S. Energy Department. Kim Gerard, an oil industry engineer, was working in Chicago
when Townsend phoned in 1997 for help with the Val Verde pipeline.
They had been colleagues at Conoco (now ConocoPhillips), where he was a fast-rising star,
she says. She quit her job and moved to Midland, Texas, to work for him. ``In this industry,
you have to make huge leaps of faith,'' says Gerard, who talks with a Texas twang and wears
oversized belt buckles engraved with horses and bulls.
Midland, now at the center of the U.S. oil industry, was a sleepy West Texas rail town until
May 1923, when an oil gusher blew 70 miles away. Midland turned out to be in the heart of
the Permian Basin, which contains 22 percent of U.S. oil reserves. Former President George
H.W. Bush worked in the oil business in Midland, and his son George W., the current
president, grew up there, as did his wife Laura.
Meeting in Midland
Gerard recalls a late night in a Midland hotel conference room in December 1998 with
Townsend and Steve Melzer, an oil industry CO2 consultant. They talked about how the
Earth was heating up because of carbon dioxide.
``At the time, there were companies that said climate change was bull,'' Gerard says. ``We
thought we could just capture this stuff and actually make money off capturing it. It was one
of those times when you start discussing something and the juices start flowing, and you
reach a point where you go, 'This thing could become huge.' It went on and on.''
The Val Verde pipeline was the U.S. oil industry's first system using so-called
anthropogenic, or man-made, carbon dioxide, for EOR. Buyers were wary at first because the
supply was potentially inconsistent, Townsend says. His first sale was to Exxon at a 20
percent discount to the market.
``We built out $13 million of the $17 million project before we had a physical CO2 sale,'' he
says. ``We were way out on a limb with the investment and had absolutely no flow through
the pipeline. It was a very white-knuckle time.''
Cap and Trade
Concerned about revenue, Townsend took the project further. He knew that the offset market
was developing and had talked about it with Carlton Bartels, a managing director at Cantor
Fitzgerald's environmental brokerage unit. The Kyoto Protocol was gathering signatures, and
Europe was working on developing a cap-and-trade market.
Townsend reckoned he could earn pollution credits because his pipeline kept CO2 from
flying into the atmosphere. At the time, no standards or contracts existed for carbon capture
and storage offsets, he says.
After a year of meetings, Townsend and Bartels secured a deal to sell 1 million tons of
offsets from Val Verde to Ontario Power Generation Inc., a Canadian public utility. ``We
were inventing as we went along,'' Townsend says. ``It was exciting and scary.''
In November 2000, the two men announced their Ontario trades at a United Nations
conference on climate change in The Hague. Townsend expected the crowd of
environmentalists to cheer, he says. Instead, hecklers were so noisy that some were escorted
`We Got Booed'
``We got booed,'' Townsend says. ``People were still thinking that selling offsets was just
about moving money around. Europe still wasn't sold on carbon trading at that point.''
As Petro Source grew, Townsend became increasingly active in Salt Lake City's Christian
community. He and Spencer belong to the Evangelical Free Church, which sees the Bible as
the inspired, final word of God. Their church connections forged their friendship.
They raised $2 million together for Salt Lake's Intermountain Christian School, an
elementary school attended by Spencer's two sons. Townsend was chairman of Life@Work
Companies, a group advising Christians on bringing their faith into the workplace. Spencer
served as a legal and financial adviser to the board.
Townsend is now on the board of K2 The Church, a Salt Lake City-based congregation
founded in 2002 and named for the world's second-highest mountain, in the Himalayas. K2
attracts outdoorsy congregants with a rock-climbing wall, pool tables and a jeans-wearing
pastor who podcasts his sermons. Spencer belongs to the Mountain Life Evangelical Church
in Park City, Utah, the ski town 31 miles from Salt Lake City that hosted the 2002 Winter
Olympics' giant slalom competition.
Spencer moved to Utah from Colorado as a college student because he loved skiing in the
powdery snow, he says. At the University of Utah, he earned a bachelor's degree in
environmental science and a law degree.
In 1983, he joined American Stores Co., a food and drug retailer; 10 years later, he joined its
mergers and acquisitions team. In 1999, he took part in selling American Stores to rival
Albertsons Inc. in an $8.7 billion deal. Then he was let go, along with other senior managers.
Spencer doesn't call himself an environmentalist. ``You don't have to be either an
environmentalist or a capitalist now,'' he says. ``There's a new concept of sustainability.''
Americans should be able to drive SUVs and use air conditioners, he says, if they are willing
to pay for it, including accounting for the pollution they create.
While Townsend brought CO2 experience to Blue Source, Spencer brought a relentless
ability to network. Shortly after founding the company in 2001, he called Steve Graves, an
Arkansan who led Life@Work, to help land a meeting at J.B. Hunt, a Lowell, Arkansas-
based transportation company with 12,000 truckers on American highways.
In the corner office of John Roberts, a J.B. Hunt division president, Townsend and Spencer
made their pitch: They would help reduce the trucker's carbon emissions and then pay to
verify and market offset credits they created. When the offsets were sold, they would get a
percentage of the profit.
``John was curious,'' Spencer says. ``But he was also thinking, 'Why are you in my office
talking about a market that doesn't yet exist?''' It took 18 months to sign a contract, Spencer
says. J.B. Hunt signed on partly because the risk to the company was so low, he adds. ``They
had nothing to lose,'' he says.
Road to Rail
Blue Source began looking at the company's use of trains, which emit only a third the carbon
of trucks. By shifting long- haul shipping to rail, J.B. Hunt soon saw an environmental
benefit, says Gary Whicker, a senior vice president in charge of engineering. Blue Source
also came up with ideas for restructuring so-called empty-mile operations, when trucks travel
with no cargo, and for reducing the amount of time drivers' trucks stand idling -- and spewing
CO2 into the air.
Once a few emission-cutting ideas were put in place, J.B. Hunt's extensive data collection
system started showing big declines in energy use, Whicker says. The company sold its first
offset credits in partnership with Blue Source in 2005 and is now earning about $100,000 a
year from credit sales.
``Is it a big moneymaker for J.B. Hunt?'' Whicker asks. ``No. But it opened our eyes. They
gave us a free education in the carbon world.'' J.B. Hunt's customers increasingly want details
of its environmental record. ``If Blue Source hadn't been here, we'd be clueless as to what to
do in this area,'' Whicker says.
In 2001, Blue Source also picked up a client in northern Arkansas: Springdale-based Tyson.
The company had already started capping the vast pools of waste from its beef, chicken and
pork slaughterhouses with plastic covers, says Kevin Igli, Tyson's chief environmental
The system steers methane gas from the waste to a central collection area, where some is
used to power Tyson plants and the rest is flared off. Blue Source helped Tyson do an offset
trade in 2004, Igli says, and is now advising on new projects to capture methane.
By mid-2005, Townsend and Spencer were examining dozens of potential carbon capture
projects and rapidly building their offset portfolio. They still had just four employees. They'd
funded small jobs themselves and otherwise sought project financing. They decided they
needed a backer. ``So we called Blackstone,'' Townsend says.
Once again, Spencer's contacts were critical. While negotiating Albertsons' buyout of
American Stores in 1998, he'd worked with Katz. Spencer arranged a meeting in New York
on a Monday to get some friendly advice. By Tuesday afternoon, Blue Source was a client.
In their initial meeting in early 2006, Katz told Townsend and Spencer they could raise more
money than the few hundred million they anticipated, says Townsend, declining to offer
more specific figures. ``There has been no shortage of interest,'' Katz says. The banker set up
about 10 meetings with potential investors, including First Reserve.
With the private equity firm's backing, Townsend and Spencer have the resources to provide
both technical and financial help to people like Mike Hanagan, who are willing to take a
chance on the future market for pollution offsets.
For his part, Hanagan finally has his project under way. In early September, BP allowed him
to open the valve that lets his CO2 gas stream south. The project took longer than expected to
be completed safely, according to BP spokeswoman Sarah Howell.
For Townsend and Spencer, the connection means tons of new pollution credits to sell to
future customers -- and more fuel for their mission to make money and save the planet.
Time Online: China to become biggest carbon polluter this year
Carl Mortished, World Business Editor
China will become the world‘s biggest carbon polluter this year, overtaking the United
States, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a bleak forecast of soaring global
demand for fossil fuels. The rapid growth of the Chinese and Indian economies will raise
global energy demand by 50 per cent by 2030, the agency said in its annual World Energy
Outlook. India and China alone will account for almost half of the increase.
The agency pointed a finger at soaring coal demand, which threatens to upset carbon
reduction targets, as it painted an alarming picture of a future of energy insecurity, soaring oil
prices and a massive increase in carbon emissions. The dash towards prosperity in Asia will
be fuelled by hydrocarbons - and mainly by increased burning of coal – with an inexorable
rise in carbon emissions, hastening climate change.
Accelerating demand for oil, which will reach 116 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2030, up
32 per cent, will require huge investments to keep pace, the IEA said, and the sums are
increasing. Inflation has taken its toll, and the agency reckons that $5.4 trillion (£2.6 trillion)
must be spent to raise capacity, up a quarter from the estimate last year. It gives warning that
plans to raise output from new projects may not compensate for the decline in existing fields.
―A supply-side crunch in the period to 2014, involving an abrupt escalation in oil prices,
cannot be ruled out,‖ the IEA said in its report.
Fatih Birol, the agency‘s chief economist, said OECD countries needed to play a leadership
role in reining in energy demand and urged immediate action to slow runaway growth in
energy demand. ―The more we sit back and watch the game, the less time we have to fix the
problem,‖ Dr Birol said. ―To believe China and India are to blame is wrong because these
countries have the right to grow.‖
Coal is in resurgence as higher oil and gas prices push developing countries, notably China
and India, in search of cheaper alternatives. They account for 45 per cent of world coal
consumption, and China‘s drive to build power stations – the country needs to add 1,300
gigawatts to electricity generation capacity – will magnify its coal requirement.
China has huge coal resources, but peak early in the next decade but its demand for transport
fuel will quadruple over the next two decades. The IEA calculates that sales of new vehicles
in China will exceed those in the US by 2015, with 200 million vehicles on Chinese roads by
2030. demand for coal will increase faster became a net coal importer for the first time this
year. As it surpasses the US in 2010 as the world‘s biggest energy consumer, its appetite for
imports will accelerate.
The IEA predicts that global demand for coal will increase faster than than demand for any
other fuel, rising by 73 per cent by 2030. Although oil remains the biggest source of fuel, and
consumption will rise by a third, its share of the global energy mix will shrink as the world
moves towards coal, the cheaper burn.
The resurgence of King Coal will have consequences for the warming of the planet, the IEA
said. ―China is by far the biggest contributor to incremental emissions,‖ the agency said in its
report. According to its reference scenario, carbon emissions will soar by 57 per cent
between 2005 and 2030, with the US, China, Russia and India accounting for two thirds of
the increase. China will overtake the US this year in carbon emission, and India will reach
third place in 2015. Even so, China‘s emissions per capita will be only 40 per cent of those of
the US by 2030.
Increasing reliance on oil and gas imports will worsen energy security and heighten the risk
of disruptions as the volume of seaborne trade in oil and gas products increases. Most of the
extra oil and gas needed will come from the Middle East, where the risk of disruption is
acute. In its reference scenario, the volume of global oil trade will expand from 41 million
bpd in 2005 to 65 million bpd in 2030. The import requirement of China and India alone will
rise from 5 million bpd in 2006 to 19 million bpd in 2030.
China's oil output is expected to peak early in the next decade, but its demand for transport
fuel will quadruple over the next two decades. The IEA calculates that sales of new vehicles
in China will exceed those in the US by 2015, with 200 million vehicles on Chinese roads by
Press TV: China to be biggest carbon polluter
Thu, 08 Nov 2007 06:28:59
China is to become the world's biggest carbon polluter this year, overtaking the United
States, the International Energy Agency said.
According to the IEA, China is also to become the world's largest consumer of energy by
The rapid growth of the Chinese and Indian economies will raise global energy demand by
50% by 2030, the agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook.
This rising demanding has made China look to Africa, the Middle East and other countries in
Asia to satisfy its need for fossil fuels.
And burning of fossil fuels has created widespread pollution.
But the Chinese authorities while acknowledging the problem have acted slowly on climate
change, saying that the economy must take priority.
ROAP MEDIA UPDATE
THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Wednesday, 7 November, 2007
UNEP or UN in the news
Times of India : CWG preparations going well: Kalmadi
China View : Cooperation can boost tourism
ISNA : Seminar on "Exploitation of Environment in War" held in Tehran
Frontline : Climate of peace
General Environment News
ASIA-Japan Times : Biofuel quest, climate, urban flight endangering key staple
New Zealand-TVNZ : Quake jolts central NZ
Pakistan-Dawn : Minister fears decline in agriculture output: Climate changes
Thailand-Bangkok Post : Anand: Campaigns not effective
Vietnam-Dawn : $2.4m project to clean lake, save legendary turtle
UNEP or UN in the news
Times of India : CWG preparations going well: Kalmadi
COLOMBO, November 6: Organisers of the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi
have claimed that the preparations were progressing well and the venues would be ready by
the end of 2009.
Organising Committee Chairman Suresh Kalmadi said all venue plans have been finalised
and the awarding of construction tenders was near completion.
"Our goal is to see all the infrastructure required for the Games ready by the end of 2009 to
enable us to institute a comprehensive testing programme," Kalmadi told the CGF General
Representatives of 71 countries and representatives are meeting in the Sri Lankan capital this
week to decide the host city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the fight is between
Abuja (Nigeria) and Glasgow (Scotland).
"The city of Delhi is currently undergoing a huge transformation, driven by the approaching
Games," Kalmadi told the delegates.
"There has been an explosion of infrastructure development, Metro lines are being extended,
new high capacity buses are on the way, the city has new flyovers and expressways, and the
power and water supplies have been vastly improved," Kalmadi said.
He said the changes illustrated India's and Delhi's commitment to the Games to be held from
October 3-14, 2010.
Kalmadi, also the Indian Olympic Association President, said the organisers were pledged to
make the mega event environment-friendly.
"We have committed to delivering Green Games and have recently partnered with the United
Nations Environment Programme towards achieving this," he said.
China View : Cooperation can boost tourism
BEIJING, Nov. 7 -- As the delegates from 16 countries met in Hangzhou to discuss
cooperation in the Asian region and how best to balance the development of the tourism
industry and the environment, one thing became clear: increased cooperation creates a
situation of mutual benefit.
Tourism is one of the world's largest and fastest growing industries. The industry may grow
nationally, but its effect can be felt globally. Not only is tourism one of the world's biggest
exports, it is also a catalyst for growth because it earns governments substantial revenues and
facilitates investments in infrastructure, which can improve people's living conditions and
Asia is represented at the International Forum on Quality: Cities and Tourism (November
5-7) by participants from Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the
Maldives, Nepal, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. European countries such
as France, Finland and Greece, too, have sent their representatives.
Asia is the second most visited region in the world, according to the UN World Tourism
Organization (UNWTO). Asia recorded 167 million tourist arrivals last year, a 7.8 percent
increase over 2005, and now it attracts 20 percent of the global tourists, a 5 percent growth
compared to 1995.
Asia Pacific's share of international tourism last year was 139 billion U.S. dollars, an
increase of 4.3 percent over 2005, with a tourist spending 890 dollars in the region, compared
to the world average of 840 dollars.
About 200 million people are employed in the tourism industry across the globe, with Asia
Pacific alone creating 40 million of them directly or indirectly last year. But despite the
general contentment offered by the industry's rising graph, delegates in Hangzhou, capital of
Zhejiang Province, decided to deepen cooperation to meet some of the mutual challenges.
Changes in the global tourism industry require Asian countries to re-think their tourism
promotion strategies in the region, Malaysian Deputy Minister of Tourism Donald Lim Siang
Chai said in the keynote speech. To maintain the flow of tourists, Donald Lim suggested
having a joint marketing strategy for Asian countries that would replace the competing
initiatives of individual countries.
The other major challenge for the tourism industry is how to protect the environment,
which the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says is essential for the industry.
Infrastructure construction for tourism does pose a threat to the environment, but it helps
raise environmental awareness too. Used properly, tourism can become a tool to finance
protection of natural habitats and increase their economic importance, UNEP has said.
"Tourism development and environmental protection need to be connected," said Xuan
Yan, manager of the Scandinavian Tourist Board in China. Emphasizing the importance of
making tourists aware of the impact they have on the environment, she said she has found
ways to deal with the problem in Scandinavia.
For example, the air traffic industry deals with carbon dioxide emission by making
frequent flyers pay a voluntary amount as compensation for the damage they cause to the
environment. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), which offers a green flight system, uses that
money for environmentally friendly fuel.
ISNA : Seminar on "Exploitation of Environment in War" held in Tehran
TEHRAN, Nov. 06 (ISNA)-International Seminar on the Occasion of Nov. 6, as the
International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed
Conflict was held in Tehran.
The seminar was held with the presence of ambassadors and envoys of different counties to
The following is the final communique' issued by the secretariat of the International Seminar
and endorsed by the participants held in Tehran on November 5th, 2007.
On a non-governmental initiative, the Center for Peace and Environment convened a one day
international seminar on the occasion of Nov. 6, "The International Day for Preventing the
Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict" with participants from the
international community, members of diplomatic corp in I.R Iran, academia and pertinent
international NGOs in Tehran. Ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic
community from countries such as Croatia, Iraq, Japan, Lebanon, Palestine, Sierra Leone,
Syria and Vietnam as well as international organizations in Tehran namely UN Development
Program (UNDP), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the
International Red Cross Committee (ICRC) and a representative from the Regional
Organization for the Protection of Marine Environment (ROPME) addressed the Seminar.
Deliberate and accidental damage to the environment during wars and armed conflicts have
occurred throughout history. With the increase of technological advancements the level of
intentional activities against the environment has increased exponentially. The whole history
of war has been peppered with various strategies to destroy the environment as a weapon and
conducting ―ecocide‖ or eco-terrorism is not a new strategy.
Participants adopted a communiqué at the end of the International Seminar reflecting the
views and positions presented by participating countries particularly those who had suffered
from the consequences of armed conflict and war. Also participants urged, the international
community, relevant organizations and governments, and considering the urgency of the
situation in many parts of the world to take note and subsequent actions on the following
1) The international community should develop a strong legal mechanism that would prevent
the exploitation of the environment during war and armed conflicts which are both of
strongly condemned actions.
2) Current international legal instruments are not adequate, and effective alternatives are
lacking to prevent deliberate destruction and pollution of natural resources in times of war
and armed conflicts. The international community, the UN system, the Security Council and
other relevant international organizations whilst holding pertinent party responsible for
remedial actions, are expected to adopt necessary measures and take more serious steps to
prevent the escalation of conflicts and unilateral military actions in parts of the world.
3) Compensation mechanisms for affected nations need to be more effectively devised and
hence implemented by the UN relevant bodies.
4) Continued fact-finding studies and objective research on the dimensions and consequences
of war on the environment by UNEP and other relevant non-governmental and academic
research centers should be encouraged.
5) Well orchestrated regional and international cooperation is essential for evaluating and
abating damage and restoring the environment after wars. Also a new international approach
and strong commitment is necessary for competent dealing with deliberate environmental
destruction in time of war and armed conflict. Conflict resolution and peacemaking efforts
should be promoted to prevent loss of human life and destruction of natural resources.
Frontline : Climate of peace
The Nobel Peace Prize has been jointly awarded to former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore and
the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
THE selection for this year‘s Nobel Peace Prize has indeed come as a surprise. The
Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations body, and Albert
Arnold (Al) Gore Jr., the former Vice-President of the United States, have won it ―for their
efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change and to
lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change‖. The IPCC is
entrusted with the task of making a scientific assessment of climate change and its potential
impact. Al Gore, on the other hand, is a leading public campaigner for preserving the global
climate. His campaign has taken several forms, including the award-winning film An
Inconvenient Truth and a book by the same name, which have helped create public
awareness of the issue.
One might wonder why these two, whose accomplishments have more to do with protecting
the environment than with ensuring peace in the world or, as Alfred Nobel willed when
instituting the peace prize, with doing ―the most or the best work for fraternity between
nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion
of peace congresses‖. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the award has been criticised in some
For instance, Alan Hunter, a lecturer in peace studies in the United Kingdom, has been
quoted by Al Jazeera as saying: ―The link between climate change and peace is very
tenuously made. There are long-term predictions that it will lead to resource scarcity and
resource scarcity could lead to conflict, such as fighting over water in parts of Africa, but I
think that‘s accepted as being a few decades away.‖
However, with a broader and more generous interpretation of the eligibility criterion set by
Nobel, a rationale for the award can be advanced as, indeed, the Nobel Foundation‘s press
release does. ―Extensive climate changes,‖ the release said, ―may alter and threaten the living
conditions of much of mankind. They may induce large-scale migrations and lead to greater
competition for the Earth‘s resources. Such changes will place particularly heavy burdens on
the world‘s most vulnerable countries. There may be increased danger of violent conflicts
and wars, within and between states.‖
―By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the IPCC and Al Gore,‖ it added, ―the Nobel
Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that
appear to be necessary to protect the world‘s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat
to the security of mankind. Action is necessary now, before climate change moves beyond
―Through the scientific reports it has issued over the past two decades,‖ the release said, ―the
IPCC has created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human
activities and global warming…In the last few years, the connections have become even
clearer and the consequences still more apparent.‖
Indeed, the IPCC‘s Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), released earlier this year (Frontline,
March 9), on the physical basis for climate change, says: ―The warming of the climate
system is unequivocal, as is now evident from increases in global average air and ocean
temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level… Most
of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very
likely (greater than 90 per cent probability) due to the observed increase in anthropogenic
greenhouse gas concentrations.‖ This should be compared with its observations six years
earlier in its Third Assessment Report (TAR), which said: ―[M]ost of the observed warming
in the last 50 years is likely (greater than 66 per cent probability) to have been due to the
increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.‖
On the potential impact of climate change, the IPCC‘s recent report says: ―Much more
evidence has accumulated over the past five years to indicate that changes in physical and
biological systems are linked to anthropogenic warming.‖ It goes on to warn: ―Unmitigated
climate change would, in the long term, be likely to exceed the capacity of natural, managed
and human systems to adapt.‖
This consensual scientific assessment of climate change and its effects has not occurred
overnight. On a scale that is unprecedented in any international scientific effort, it has taken
the scientists, environmentalists, analysts and policymakers of the nearly 200 countries that
make up the U.N. and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) nearly two decades of
intense, collaborative effort. The scientific exercise alone is the result of the pooled efforts of
nearly 2,500 scientists from as many as 130 countries over the years. As Rajendra K.
Pachauri, the present chairman of the IPCC and director of the Delhi-based The Energy
Resources Institute (TERI), said in his statement following the announcement of the Nobel
Award, ―This is an honour that goes to all the scientists and authors who have contributed to
the work of the IPCC, which alone has resulted in enormous prestige for this organiszation
and the remarkable effectiveness of the message that it contains.‖
The IPCC was established in 1988 by the U.N. Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the
WMO to provide independent scientific advice on the complex and important issue of
climate change. Its mandate was to prepare, on the basis of available scientific information,
reports on all aspects relevant to climate change and its impacts and to formulate realistic
response strategies. Its constitution was initiated following the concern expressed by the
WMO at the First World Climate Conference in 1979 that ―continued expansion of man‘s
activities on earth may cause significant extended regional and even global changes of
climate‖. It called for ―global cooperation to explore the possible future course of global
climate and to take this new understanding into account in planning for the future
development of human society‖. The 10th WMO Congress in 1987 gave the directive to
establish the intergovernmental panel.
The IPCC‘s First Assessment Report formed the basis for negotiating the U.N. Framework
Convention for Climate Change (UNFCC), which was adopted at the U.N. Conference on
Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, popularly known as the
Earth Summit. The UNFCCC was opened for signatures in May 1992 and entered into force
in March 1994. Even after the UNFCCC came into force, the IPCC has continued to be the
most important source for its scientific, technical and socio-economic information ―on a
comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis‖.
It is important to note that the panel itself does not conduct new research, monitor climate-
related data or recommend policies. Indeed, an important principle followed by the IPCC‘s is
to be ―policy relevant but not policy prescriptive‖. It is this that has enabled the IPCC‘s
findings – which undergo extensive review by experts and governments – to have significant
impact on national and international perceptions on climate change and consequent policies,
such as the Kyoto Protocol (which sets mandatory limits on greenhouse gas emissions until
2012), which was adopted in December 1997. Over the years, this relationship between the
UNFCCC and the IPCC has, in fact, become a model science-policy interaction and several
attempts have been made to replicate it with regard to other global environmental issues.
Significantly, as Pachauri has pointed out in his foreword to an IPCC publication: ―The Panel
has also been instrumental in creating research and analytical capacity around the world,
which is the result of a conscious effort to draw in scientific expertise that represents a
geographical balance.‖ It is also pertinent to note that none of the hundreds of scientists and
authors who are engaged in the assessment exercise is paid any money by the IPCC. ―What is
even more pleasing,‖ says Pachauri, ―is the fact that more and more authors around the world
are willing to involve themselves in the work of the Panel.‖
The IPCC assessment reports have also been the subject of criticism, especially by global-
warming sceptics (including scientists) or those who doubt the importance given to human
activities as the cause of global warming or those who are concerned about the proposed
actions to address the issue, particularly vested business interests such as oil companies.
There have been purely scientific controversies as well. The latest was after U.S. scientist
Christopher Landsea resigned in 2005 from working on the AR4, stating that his research on
hurricane activity was being (mis)used to push through a preconceived and politically
motivated agenda on the impact of climate change.
The most serious one was following the Second Assessment Report, of 1995, when U.S.
scientist Fred Singer alleged that the final report was changed under political influence
without the authorisation of the scientists involved, thereby presenting a scientifically
inaccurate picture. Similarly, the TAR, of 2001, was also the subject of the so-called
―hockey-stick graph controversy‖, which referred to the prominent graph that the report used
to portray the large temperature increase in the very recent past. Some scientists argued that
the graph was an artefact of the statistical analyses of proxy data used to detect temperature
variations and was in direct conflict with the satellite data of the past 50 years.
It is, however, to the credit of the scientific community that the IPCC has been able to
weather these storms and stay on course and remain more relevant today than ever before.
Citing the 2007 report, Pachauri emphasised in his statement that bringing about reduction in
emissions is inevitable if the world‘s climate has to be stabilised. ―For an equilibrium
temperature increase of 2 to 2.4° C, the world can at best allow emissions to increase up to
2015 beyond which they must decline,‖ he points out. The statement issued by the IPCC, on
the other hand, said: ―What we need to do now is to get started on the negotiations of a post-
2012 framework…We urgently need a new agreement or a set of agreements…which can
deliver the greenhouse gas emission reductions in line with what science is telling us is
needed – 50 per cent by 2050 – along with significant funding for adaptation.‖
Al Gore, who shares the award with the IPCC, has been in the forefront of spreading this
urgent message of science through his public campaigns. About him, the Nobel release said:
―Gore has for a long time been one of the world‘s leading environmentalist politicians…His
strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened
the struggle against climate change. He is probably the single individual who has done most
to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.‖
Notwithstanding this glowing tribute to Gore, one may argue that in giving the award to Gore
the Nobel Committee has stretched its rationale a bit far. Indeed, much of the criticism has
been directed against giving the award to him. Writing on the website of the Transnational
Foundation for Peace and Future Research, Jan Oberg, the former secretary-general of the
Danish Peace Foundation, pointed to Gore‘s role as Vice-President to Bill Clinton under
whose administration Kosovo, Afghanistan and Sudan were bombed. The argument clearly is
that while Gore may have spread public awareness about climate change, his suitability for a
top peace award was highly questionable.
Some, in fact, have even contended that Gore‘s selection was politically motivated, a notion
that the Norwegian Nobel Committee – which decides the peace award unlike the others,
which are decided by different Swedish Academies – has sought to dispel. Some of its
members have defended the decision by saying that the award should inspire more reasoned
discussion on climate change and efforts towards a real solution than a baseless assault on the
underlying science. By awarding Gore, a politician, the committee perhaps intends to convey
the message to world politicians to act quickly and decisively to mitigate impending climate
In an interview, Gore has stated that he became intrigued by the topic of global warming
when he took a course at Harvard University with Roger Revelle, one of the first scientists to
measure carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It was Gore who initiated the first congressional
hearing on climate change soon after he entered the House of Representatives in the late
1970s: he brought together U.S. climate scientists and politicians to discuss the issue. He also
wrote a book in 1992, the year of the Rio Summit, on environmental issues titled The Earth
in Balance, which was on The New York Times bestseller list.
Gore was Vice-President from 1993 to 2001, during which period he tried to introduce a
carbon tax to reduce fossil fuel consumption and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It
was implemented partially in 1993. Though he helped push through the Kyoto Protocol,
ironically, the U.S. itself has failed to ratify it under President George W. Bush. During his
presidential campaign in 2000, Gore pledged to ratify the protocol.
He was also instrumental in 1998 in funding the satellite programme Triana (also called Deep
Space Climate Observatory) – which was aimed at making direct measurements of the
earth‘s albedo, the fraction of the incoming light and heat from the sun that is reflected back
into space – to focus research and awareness on environmental issues. The satellite,
unfortunately, was never launched because of political hostility and opposition. In fact, it was
removed from the launch pad of the ill-fated STS-107 Columbia shuttle. The $100-million
satellite continues to be in cold storage at a cost $1 million a year.
After his defeat in the presidential elections, Gore got intensely engaged in the preparation of
a slide show based on a compilation of his campaigns over the years on the environment and
climate change. He used this as a part of multimedia presentations on global warming in the
U.S. and in various parts of the world. According to Gore, he would have made at least 1,000
Inspired by the slide show at a presentation in 2004, film producers Laurie David and
Lawrence Bender engaged director David Guggenheim to make a film based on it. The
director, who was sceptical at first, stated that he was ―blown away‖. It apparently left him
thinking for an hour and a half that global warming was the most important issue. ―I had no
idea how you would make a film out of it, but I wanted to try,‖ he said. The result was the
Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which premiered at the Sundance Film
Festival in 2006 and had its first public screening on May 24, 2006, in New York and Los
The film has already grossed $49 million at the box office worldwide, making it the fourth-
highest grossing documentary in the U.S. The film‘s distributor, Paramount Classics, has
pledged to donate 5 per cent of the box office proceeds and Gore has decided to donate all his
earnings from the film to the Alliance for Climate Protection, an organisation founded and
headed by him that is dedicated to conveying the urgency of responding to what it calls the
―climate crisis‖. Though global-warming sceptics have called the film exaggerated and
erroneous, it has been acclaimed by film critics, a wide spectrum of scientists and politicians,
and has won two Academy awards.
It is also being used as part of school science curricula around the world. In the U.K., though,
a petition was filed in the British High Court of Justice in May against its use in schools after
the U.K. government, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Assembly announced in January-
March that copies of the film were to be sent to all secondary schools in England, Wales and
Scotland. Only about a week before the Nobel announcement, the court ruled that the film
was substantially based on scientific research and fact although science was used to make a
political statement and to support a political programme. However, the context of the
political bias evident in the film needed to be explained with the aid of guidance notes issued
along with the film, the court said. The judge also pointed, on the basis of expert testimony,
to nine errors, which were essentially statements not supported by mainstream scientific
analyses. The court, therefore, required that guidance notes also be supplied to address these
errors. A spokesman for Gore said that they had studies that supported these so-called errors.
The joint Nobel Award to the IPCC, a body grounded in climate science, and Gore, an
individual engaged in environmental activism, is thus a pointer to the increasingly apparent
truism in many spheres of human activity that science and public campaign need to go hand
in hand if political action at national and international level is required. Given the context of
the threat of climate change and its disastrous impacts, one may even argue that these
winners are much more deserving than some former winners of the peace prize.
Climate change is a truly unifying phenomenon in that it affects the entire world irrespective
of national borders, cultures and political structures. If the IPCC has, through its painstaking
scientific analyses, brought the topic to the centre stage of national policy and global treaty
making, Gore has been one of the leading public advocates on the need for immediate action
at an individual and societal level. These complementary efforts of the Nobel award winners
have been instrumental – the IPCC certainly to a large measure – in furthering the cause of
long-term human survival and sustainable development in peace and harmony on the only
habitable planet that we have, the Earth.
General Environment News
ASIA-Japan Times : Biofuel quest, climate, urban flight endangering key
By ERIC JOHNSTON, Staff writer
OSAKA — With Asia's recent decades of economic prosperity and rising middle classes, the
idea that rice, a staple for billions, may soon be in short supply is unthinkable.
But this critically important food faces severe threats both natural and man-made, warns
Robert Zeigler, director general of the Philippine-based International Rice Research Institute.
"International rice prices are at a 10-year high, and global rice stocks are at a 30-year low.
Some nations are now shifting land that was once used for rice cultivation into feed grains
and are preparing to use it for biofuel production. Meanwhile, trends possibly linked to
global warming have meant extreme weather patterns that are (wreaking) havoc with rice
crops," Zeigler said in an interview last month.
Rice is a staple in more than 100 countries and provides 20 percent of the calories humans
consume. About 90 percent of the land used to grow rice is in Asia, with India, China,
Indonesia, Bangladesh, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and the Philippines accounting for 80
percent of the total.
Recent meteorological data show the mercury rising, raising concerns about Japan's rice
crop. A Yomiuri Weekly report in September noted that in parts of Kyushu, the average daily
temperature for early August has risen 4 to 6 degrees since 1980.
Zeigler's institute, known as IRRI, was founded in 1960 with money from the Rockefeller
and Ford foundations. Its purpose was to become a modern research center on rice with the
aim of preventing famines in Asia. Zeigler was in Japan to accept the sixth annual Iue Asia
Pacific Research Prize, which was established by the Asia Pacific Forum Awaji Conference
Japan, in Hyogo Prefecture, in 2000.
The institute is devoted to the research and development of the world's estimated 110,000
known rice varieties in its gene bank as well as providing assistance to rice farmers and
consumers, especially in low-income countries.
This includes developing new rice strains, including the controversial, genetically modified
Golden Rice, which is more resistant to extreme heat and drought, as well as higher
concentrations of saltwater. IRRI is one of the leading advocates of Golden Rice. The strain
contains beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A upon consumption.
Nearly 125 million children worldwide suffer from a vitamin A deficiency, which causes
blindness in nearly half a million children annually, according to the World Health
Many of these children live in countries where vitamin A deficient rice is the main food.
Golden Rice was developed to address this deficiency, but it has proved controversial among
opponents of genetically modified foods.
The first varieties that appeared in 2000 and 2001 did not contain sufficient levels of beta-
carotene and were the subject of much criticism. Recent IRRI research shows the latest
varieties of Golden Rice have up to 36 micrograms per gram of beta-carotene, more than a
20-fold increase from the original grains.
"While bio-availability trials are still under way," Zeigler said, "this level of beta-carotene
almost certainly will yield very significant levels of vitamin A when consumed."
In the meantime, some parts of Asia are facing falling crops of traditionally grown rice.
India, which used to export about 5 million tons of rice annually, is now having problems
meeting its annual domestic demand. The Vietnamese government recently announced it was
banning rice exports until 2008 to ensure an adequate domestic supply.
Part of the declining cultivation can be blamed on global warming, but according to Zeigler
the freakish weather patterns resulting from global warming are the toughest challenge.
"Our biggest concern is not actually climate change per se, but the extreme weather events
that result from it. Floods and typhoons, especially in parts of India and Bangladesh, mean
seawater with a high salt content floods the deltas where rice, which needs to be irrigated
with fresh water, is grown," he said.
Rice farmers also need stable and predictable weather and rainfall patterns. Just a few
degrees in temperature can make a huge difference in the yield.
"Higher nighttime temperatures are a concern. Research at IRRI has shown that a 1-degree
temperature rise during the night means a 10 percent yield drop," Zeigler said.
The rush by many parts of Asia, especially China and Malaysia, to turn this basic food source
for all into biofuel for cars the rising middle classes covet is also putting a strain on land and
resources and causing rice shortages.
IRRI is counseling caution over mass biofuel production, warning that Asia's rush to embrace
biofuel needs to be weighed carefully with regional food security.
But perhaps one of the biggest challenges traditional rice farming faces is that today's sons
and daughters of rice farmers are much less willing to stay on the farm, opting instead for
less back-breaking work and better pay in major cities. Nor are scientists and governments as
keen on rice research as they once were.
This is an area in which Japan, Zeigler feels, can play a special role.
"A major challenge we face is to make rice research sexy again, like it was back in the 1970s
when many people saw it as the key to reducing hunger and poverty. With Japan's help, we
can do that again," he said.
New Zealand-TVNZ : Quake jolts central NZ
Nov 7, 2007 - The centre of New Zealand has been shaken by an earthquake measuring 5.4
on the Richter scale.
The quake struck at 11:17am on Wednesday and was centred 50 kilometres north of Hanmer
Springs at a depth of 60 kilometres.
It is reported to have been felt from Greymouth across to Christchurch and up to Wellington,
but there are no reports of damage.
Pakistan-Dawn : Minister fears decline in agriculture output: Climate
By Amin Ahmed
RAWALPINDI, Nov 5: Agricultural productivity in Pakistan is likely to decline considerably
due to warmer temperatures and shifting of the rainfall cycle in the coming years, if
environmental issues are not tackled properly and greenhouse gases (GHG) are not cut, the
environment minister, Faisal Saleh Hayat, said here on Monday.
Speaking at a two-day international workshop on ‗Carbon and water exchange in plants
under changing climate conditions,‘ organised by the Arid Agriculture University in
Rawalpindi, the minister said water needs of the country depended on a single river system of
the Indus, fed by glaciers in the Hindukush and Himalayas regions.
He urged researchers to evolve a strategy to maximise profits from the clean development
mechanism (CDM) initiated under the ‗Kyoto Protocol‘. ―We must learn from the Indian
approach in earning carbon credits on frequent basis from the environment-friendly projects,‖
Mr Hayat emphasised.
The minister told the workshop that global weather and climate change were now regarded as
the ―greatest challenges facing the world,‖ and said the rise in the global temperature and the
associated changes in precipitation, glacier melt and sea level rise were expected to have
considerable direct and indirect impact on various socio-economic sectors.
Mr Hayat said Pakistan is deeply committed to the global efforts of combating climate
changes and has taken various measures to address the issue of climate change. He said the
country had signed the UNFCC in June 1994, the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and acceded to the
Kyoto Protocol in January 2005.
The minister said a committee on climate change has been constituted as a policy and review
forum, besides establishing a global change impact studies centre.
Under the mid-term development framework (MTDF), Rs20 billion have been allocated for
the improvement of the environment sector. A clean development mechanism (CDM) cell
has been established under the climate change wing of his ministry, he explained.
Mr Hayat said the world needed innovative and creative measures to combat the perils of
climate change and it should act swiftly to minimize losses incurred by global warming. He
said we ought to start thinking beyond the Kyoto Protocol. Realising the importance of cuts
in greenhouse gas emissions, he said, the European Union had recently agreed to reduce
emissions by 20 per cent by 2020.
Earlier, the vice chancellor of Arid Agriculture University, Dr Khalid Mahood Khan, in his
welcome address appreciated the department of environmental sciences for organising the
workshop. He said universities must take a lead in creating awareness among masses and his
varsity had arranged seven seminars this year on various issues.
The VC highlighted the varsity‘s accomplishments and told participants that a separate
department of environmental sciences had been established to cater to the growing demand
of environmental scientists.
The current workshop aims at presenting an overall view of changing climatic conditions
(Carbon Dioxide concentration, increased temperature and water stress) of the world and to
define the relationship between different intensities and types of plants. The participants will
discuss and explore the possible options to intervene current scale of global climate change in
order to avert the rising global temperature.
The dean, faculty of forestry range management and wildlife, Prof Sarwat Naz Mirza and Dr
Mauro Centritto, an Italian scientist, also spoke on the occasion.
The workshop was organized by the department of environmental sciences of Arid
Agriculture University in collaboration with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and
the Institute of Agro- Environment and Forest Biology, National Research Council of Italy.
Thailand-Bangkok Post : Anand: Campaigns not effective
Most campaigns on global warming run by private and government agencies have failed to
tackle the problem effectively, former prime minister Anand Panyarachun said yesterday.
The campaigns, he said, had been used as a ''marketing tool'' to publicise the organisations
running them, rather than to create radical change in human behaviours that contribute to
He was speaking at the Ptt Plc's Green Global Awards ceremony.
The awards were presented to 48 groups and individuals for their outstanding work on
''I am concerned that the campaigns against global warming and climate change are mainly
used to create corporate images. It is hard to find a campaign that truly aims at tackling the
problem. Even the government seems not to be serious about its anti-climate change
campaigns,'' said Mr Anand.
Rural people, who are direct victims of climate change, had come up with much stronger
efforts to tackle the problem than any sector, including urban residents, despite the fact that
they were not major contributors to global warming.
The former prime minister called on corporations such as the Ptt Plc, a giant energy
conglomerate, to contribute more to environmental and climate protection works.
''This is not a merit-making, but it is a social responsibility,'' said Mr Anand.
Ptt Plc is one private firm that has spent a lot of money on environmental protection projects
and the rehabilitation of communities affected by its operations.
But the firm's petrochemical and energy development projects still face fierce protests from
villagers and environmentalists.
Among them are the Thai-Malaysian gas pipeline project in Songkhla province and the
petrochemical plant in Rayong's Map Tha Put industrial estate.
Vietnam-Dawn : $2.4m project to clean lake, save legendary turtle
By Frank Zeller
HANOI: Pollution threatens the lake that is the heart and soul of Vietnam‘s capital — and a
legendary turtle who lives below its murky waters — but now a high-tech solution may be at
hand to save them both.
Over the next three years, in time for Hanoi‘s 1,000th birthday in 2010, scientists intend to
clean up Hoan Kiem Lake, home to the creature that symbolises Vietnam‘s centuries-old
struggle for independence.
Vietnamese and German experts say they will use a new device, which borrows from the
designs of corkscrews, submarines and tanks, to suck several metres of toxic sludge from the
bottom of the ‗Lake of the Returned Sword‘.
The $ 2.4 million project will be a delicate one. The famed, algae-green lake is home to an
elusive turtle that is a key figure in Vietnam folklore.
In a story that every Vietnamese child learns at school, the 15th century farmer-turned-rebel
leader Le Loi used a magical sword to drive out Chinese invaders and found the dynasty
named after him.
When Le Loi, by now the emperor, went boating on the lake one day, a turtle appeared, took
his sacred sword and dived to the bottom of the lake, keeping the weapon safe for the next
time Vietnam may have to defend its freedom.
Today, occasional sightings of a giant soft-shell turtle draw large crowds, and photographs
and amateur video clips attest to the claim that at least one turtle indeed still lives in the lake.
―Since 1991 the turtle has come up about 400 times,‖ said Vietnam‘s pre-eminent authority
on the animal, Professor Ha Dinh Duc of the Hanoi University of Science — better known
here as the ‗turtle professor‘.
―Several times when it came up, it coincided with important events,‖ he said. ―It‘s something
we can‘t explain.‖ The turtle has appeared when Chinese presidents have visited, during the
inauguration of a Le Loi statute, at the start of last year‘s Communist Party congress, and
even during a conference on endangered reptiles, Duc said.
The professor says he doesn‘t know the age of the turtle — which he says is a new species he
has named Rafetus Leloiiis. He says it weighs around 200kg (440 pounds).
Previously, at least four of the turtles lived here — one of them is now stuffed and on display
in an island temple on the lake — but today only one is left and Duc frets about its well-
Stormwater run-off from the growing city has sullied the stagnant lake with chemicals and
organic pollutants that feed algae blooms and choke off oxygen.
―The water quality is decreasing, and we expect a breakdown of the aquatic habitat within a
decade,‖ said Professor Peter Werner of Germany‘s Dresden University of Technology. ―The
lake could be dead in 10 years.‖ Hoan Kiem Lake, about 600 metres long and 200 metres
wide, is now only about 1.5 metres deep while a four-to-six-metre deep layer of sludge has
accumulated on the lake bed, said Christian Richter of German company HGN
German scientists have developed a ―subaquatic vacuum cleaner‖ that will crawl along the
lake floor using two corkscrew-like spirals that dig up and funnel the mud into a pipe while
also propelling the device forward.
The remote-controlled ―SediTurtle‖ will use buoyancy to rise and sink like a submarine and
use brakes on its two coils to move left and right like a tank, said engineer Dr Frank Panning
of company GSan oekologische Gewaessersanierung.
―We are using low-impact environmental technology that is silent and minimises turbulence
and the release of toxic compounds,‖ said Werner. ―This project is very sensitive. We have to
take care of the turtle.‖ In the first phase, set to start early next year and take 24 months,
scientists will first analyse water and sediment samples from Hoan Kiem and test the
SediTurtle in another Hanoi lake.
If all goes well, Vietnamese experts could then take over and use the new technology to clean
up the famous lake itself, said Werner.—AFP
RONA MEDIA UPDATE
ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Wednesday 8 November, 2007
General Environment News
The Christian Science Monitor – In big U.S. energy bill, who will pay?
The Christian Science Monitor – Water reuse: a solution to drought in the
The Christian Science Monitor – Progress in California on curbing emissions
The New York Times – The Carbon Calculus
The New York Times – Seagoing Climate Experiment Begins
The New York Times – Foreign Firms Envision Wind Farms Dotting the U.S.
The New York Times – Private Efforts to Preserve the Coast
The New York Times – Aiding the Environment, a Nanostep at a Time
Associated Press – Florida warned about warming impacts
Associated Press – Changing wind, nutrient movement spur harmful red tides
along Florida coast
Associated Press – Kohl's: New stores will be environmentally friendly next fall
The Miami Herald – Scientists: Crist climate plan too little
PR Newswire – Emissions Trial Standard Announced - Milliken carbon negative
Canada NewsWire – Ministers Baird, Toews and Bezan announce Government's
additional investment in Lake Winnipeg cleanup 56
The Toronto Star –Turn GST into `green sales tax'
General Environment News
In big U.S. energy bill, who will pay?
Conservation measures may lead to most fuel savings since 1970s.
By Mark Clayton
The Christian Science Monitor
November 7, 2007
If the last energy bill was about squeezing remaining drops of oil from US soil, the newest is
still a nascent, muddy legislative donnybrook over one question: Who will pay to shift the
US energy mix to green and lean?
Energy-conservation measures in House and Senate bills approved earlier this year could by
2030 save the US twice as much oil as it now imports from the Persian Gulf, slash
greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent, and reduce electricity use by at least 10 percent.
If key elements of the two bills now being reconciled behind closed doors make it into the
final version, the result would be the biggest shift in US energy use since the 1970s – and
underpin larger greenhouse-gas cuts in future legislation, observers say.
"We haven't seen any plan this significant in terms of oil savings since the 1970s," says Bill
Prindle, deputy director of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy in
Washington. While electric-efficiency gains would be more modest, they would save
consumers billions of dollars on utility bills and eliminate the need for dozens of new power
Senate majority leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are pushing to give the
president a bill to sign no later than Christmas – before the 2008 election cycle hits. To do
that, they must reconcile two starkly different energy bills – and avoid a White House veto.
Two key but controversial measures hang in the balance: tougher Corporate Average Fuel
Economy (CAFE) standards for cars and trucks as well as a national Renewable Portfolio
Standard (RPS) for utilities to require more green power. Three other important pieces enjoy
broad legislative support: the "Renewable Fuels Standard" requiring more ethanol use in
gasoline, tougher electrical efficiency standards for appliances and lighting, and a production
tax credit for renewable energy.
But industry groups – oil, coal, auto, and electric utilities – worry that they will have to foot
most of the cost of any new energy legislation, which could run up to $32 billion. Most new
green measures would be paid for by repealing tax incentives of $16 billion (House bill) to
$32 billion (Senate version) that now flow to the oil and gas industry.
"Neither of those bills answers the question of how we produce more energy or how we get
more energy into this country," says Mark Kibbe, senior policy analyst for the American
Petroleum Institute, a Washington trade association representing large oil companies. "While
there might be some good in these bills, the negatives outweigh it."
Even those not hit by tax break repeals worry over anticipated higher costs of compliance.
The House bill, for instance, includes a new national RPS, requiring all electric utilities by
2020 to generate at least 15 percent of their power from renewable energy sources, such as
biomass, wind, or geothermal.
Although 25 states already have such requirements – many of them far tougher than the
proposed national RPS – utilities in the Southeast and elsewhere oppose a federal standard
that doesn't take geography into account.
"We oppose any federal legislation that does not recognize regional differences because it
would be an unfair burden," says Mike Tyndall, a spokesman for the Southern Company, an
Atlanta-based utility serving the Southeast. "We have extremely limited cost-effective solar
and wind resources compared with other parts of the country."
A recent compromise plan in the House-Senate negotiations would permit utilities to count
energy-efficiency gains for roughly a quarter of the 15 percent mandate. That could broaden
support for the measure, which is considered likely to survive in the energy bill despite a
presidential veto threat, observers say. The leadership in both the Senate and House favor it
and it has passed the Senate three times since 2002.
"I think it's most likely there will be an RPS," says Leon Lowery, a staffer on the Senate
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. "The South has one of the best renewable-
energy sources in the country, and it's not wind, it's biomass."
Mr. Tyndall agrees biomass is promising but says its immediate prospects are small. "To
attain a 15 percent level with biomass would be very difficult to achieve as a practical
matter," he says.
A key part of the legislation is the Senate's provision for new CAFE standards in which cars
and light trucks achieve a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon (m.p.g.) by 2020, a 40 percent
increase that would slash greenhouse-gas emissions from cars by about 15 percent, experts
Automakers support a softer bill pending in the House that would keep the dual auto and
truck mileage system, while raising fuel economy by a combined fleet average of 32 to 35
m.p.g. by 2022.
The automakers may hold a trump card. In a shot across Congress's bow, Allan Hubbard,
director of the president's National Economic Council, wrote Speaker Pelosi Oct. 18
threatening a presidential veto if a final energy bill did not meet a laundry list of concerns
and "maintain separate attribute-based standards for cars and light trucks."
Some observers see a compromise brewing.
"What we're seeing is probably the auto industry's best break in a generation for how things
could come out for them," say Kevin Book, a senior vice president at FBR Capital Markets,
an Arlington, Va., investment firm.
While Mr. Hubbard's letter also includes a threat to veto any bill with an RPS mandate, Mr.
Lowery and others see some wiggle room. "It was a very carefully worded letter," Lowery
says. "It said that senior advisers would recommend veto – not that the president himself
would veto this bill."
How much energy can proposals save?
The House and Senate energy proposals promise to be the most aggressive reforms in
decades, but just how much will they save? Here is a breakdown of a few key components:
• Auto fuel efficiency: A Senate provision would mandate a 35 m.p.g. fuel standard for all
cars and light trucks by 2020. That would cut US oil use by 2.5 million barrels per day and
lower carbon and carbon dioxide emissions by 134 million metric tons (MMT) and 495
MMT, respectively, by 2030. (One MMT is equal to about two Empire State buildings.) It
would also save 5.6 quads of electricity. (In 2004, the US used about 100 quads.)
• Renewable sources for electricity: A House bill calls for US utilities to produce 15 percent
of their power through renewable energy by 2020. That would cut 36 MMT of carbon
dioxide and save 44 billion kWh of electricity annually.
• Lighting efficiency: The House bill requires common light bulbs to use 20 to 30 percent
less energy than current incandescent bulbs by 2014. It would cut 29.7 MMT of carbon and
108.6 MMT of carbon dioxide, and save 1.5 quads of electricity annually by 2030.
Water reuse: a solution to drought in the Florida wetlands
West Palm Beach is sprinkling up to 10 million gallons of reclaimed water onto the marshy
expanse each day.
By Bill Frogameni
The Christian Science Monitor
November 7, 2007
West Palm Beach, Fla.
South Florida is one of the wettest regions in the country, but this year it's caught in a
drought. A leading indicator of the dryness – Lake Okeechobee – dropped to a record low of
8.8 feet in July. Now just below 10-1/2 feet, it is still five feet shallower than average.
The region has tried to compensate. Its water-management district instituted the toughest
usage restrictions in history last spring, allowing lawn irrigation or car washing only during
certain narrowly defined times. "Water cops" were deployed to ticket scofflaws who misuse
But it's not enough, experts say. At stake is not only the drinking supply for more than 5
million people, but also the health of the Everglades and agricultural production.
That's why South Florida is turning to another solution: water reuse.
Already, since the mid-1990s, the region has more than doubled water reuse – to some 230
million gallons per day in 2005, according to the South Florida Water Management District.
That's 28 percent of the water cycled back through public-treatment systems – but only a
small share of the total 3.4 billion gallons a day that gets used, most of it devoted to
agriculture or otherwise lost to lawn irrigation or other uses.
One of the most innovative ways to reclaim wastewater is to treat it to the point where it's
nearly potable and then to let land – a natural filter – finish the job.
Just 10 minutes inland from the densely developed Atlantic coast, the city of West Palm
Beach runs a reclamation project that combines advanced wastewater treatment with habitat
restoration. Here, on the edge of Grassy Waters Preserve – 20 square miles of wetlands,
which provide most of the drinking water for 130,000 people in the city and surrounding
municipalities – the city began augmenting its water supply last November. The city can
sprinkle up to 10 million gallons per day of highly treated reclaimed water onto the marshy
Bordered by residential development, the preserve is a tiny portion of the historic northern
Everglades and a habitat for bald eagles, alligators, bobcats and numerous other species. The
additional water will enhance biodiversity, according to Patrick Painter, a biologist who
manages Grassy Waters.
"Anytime you add water ... it's a dynamic system," says Mr. Painter.
What's more, the nearly potable reclaimed water will lessen West Palm's dependence on
Lake Okeechobee, which, situated just west of Grassy Waters, provides 25 percent of the
city's annual supply.
Mr. Painter says the reclaimed water is expected to take around two years to filter down
through native plants before being pumped to the city's reservoir where it will be processed
for drinking. Trickling through the vegetation and soil helps clean the water of remaining
trace impurities such as nitrogen and phosphorous.
While West Palm's reclamation project wins praise from community leaders and the local
Sierra Club, the municipality says it still injects around 30 million gallons or more per day of
less treated sewage 3,000 feet below ground.
"In the future, deep-well injection and ocean outfalls [pipes] for wastewater will be a thing of
the past," says Carol Ann Wehle, executive director of the water-management district.
"You'll see reusing that water as a source." Ms. Wehle expects restrictions to continue into
The WateReuse Association, a non-profit water reuse group, estimates that 32 billion gallons
per day of municipal sewage were produced in the US in 2006. Of that, they estimate 3.4
billion gallons per day were reused. By 2015 the Association expects the amount of
wastewater being reused will surge to 12 billion gallons per day.
One of the greatest continuing challenges in Florida is population growth. The state's
population is projected to increase from 18 million current residents to around 30 million by
2030, with the most populated and thirsty counties of South Florida – Miami-Dade, Broward,
and Palm Beach – among those expected to see the most growth.
Water reclamation is a positive step, says Drew Martin, cochair of the Sierra Club's
Everglades committee. "The problem from our standpoint," he adds, "is there's just not
enough of it."
That, however, may come down to money. It took $37.7 million to implement the city's
Wetlands-Based Water Reclamation Project, according to Ken Rearden, the city
administrator in charge of utilities for West Palm Beach. That figure includes costs for the
advanced treatment plant, engineering, and land. Mr. Rearden says it costs $1.85 million per-
year more to run the reclamation project than to inject the water underground.
Rearden says the city is moving to study the feasibility of building another advanced
wastewater treatment facility, which would double its reclamation capacity by adding another
10 million gallons a day.
"There just isn't enough water to go around if everyone has a straw in the ground," says
Painter. "We've got a long way to go before we can make this place sustainable."
Progress in California on curbing emissions
Its landmark plan to battle global warming, approved with fanfare a year ago, is moving
By Daniel B. Wood
The Christian Science Monitor
November 07, 2007
One year after California vowed to cut industrial and auto greenhouse-gas emissions 25
percent by 2020 to combat global warming, the state is groping its way toward answers about
how exactly it will attain that goal – and who will bear the costs.
Along the way, resistant officials have resigned or been fired, businesses and manufacturers
have griped, and consumer groups have complained that oil companies aren't doing enough
to pony up. But as other states and other nations watch, California is clearing major hurdles –
including passage last month of a bill allocating $125 million a year to develop alternative
transportation fuels and vehicles and another $80 million a year to improve air quality.
Environmental activists, in particular, are satisfied with the state's efforts thus far.
"California is off to a great start," says Roland Hwang, vehicle policy director of the National
Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in California. The recent funding to begin implementing
the greenhouse-gas cuts takes the emissions-cutting plan from drawing board to reality, he
says, and "shows that several big pieces are being put into place."
Even business groups, which a year ago were warning that companies would flee if
California pushed ahead with global-warming rules, are engaged in the implementation.
Many still worry about what their liabilities and costs will turn out to be, but say they no
longer feel as if they are simply dissenting voices on the outside looking in.
"We are in the driver's seat, participating in workshops and influencing how this plays out,"
says Dorothy Rothrock, vice president of government relations for the California
Manufacturers and Technology Association. "Happy is not the word, but we are ...
constructively involved in all the rulemaking developments … and that's good."
Outside California, ripples from its actions reach far and wide, observers say.
Governors of Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico and the Canadian
provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba in February partnered with Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger (R) to form the Western Climate Initiative. Their proposal is to cut
emissions 15 percent (based on 2005 levels) by 2020.
Twenty other states are devising their own ways to reduce gasoline consumption by use of
alternative transportation and fuels.
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R) signed a greenhouse-gas reduction bill in June, and New
Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has signed legislation calling for reducing greenhouse-gas
emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, about a 20 percent cut.
Still, a major piece of California's plan to curb such emissions is contingent on action in the
nation's capital. The state is waiting to hear whether the Environmental Protection Agency
will allow it to require automakers to achieve fuel-efficiency standards for new-model
vehicles sold in California that are higher than current federal standards. Named after
Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, who wrote the 2002 bill that resulted in a standard of 43 miles
per gallon by 2020, the Pavley Standards have since been adopted by 13 other states.
Collectively, the standards would cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 392 million metric tons
by 2020 – the equivalent of taking 74 million cars off the road for one year, experts say.
Nationally, nearly 26 percent of US greenhouse-gas emissions come from transportation.
"The administration's decision will either lead the issue of global warming or block us from
reaching our goals," says NRDC's Mr. Hwang.
The California initiative has also created international ripples. On Oct. 29, California, New
York, New Zealand, Norway, and several European countries and Canadian provinces
formed an International Carbon Action Partnership to create a global cap-and-trade carbon
market to build demand for low-carbon services and products.
In September, Governor Schwarzenegger joined more than 80 leaders at a United Nations
summit on climate change, leading some to speculate that individual US states will ultimately
push the federal government into taking a firmer stand against global warming.
"The governor plays a great role by being a cheerleader for global warming," says Jim
Metropulos of the Sierra Club. "He's a Republican in the biggest state, and to say that ... we
are going to do what we need to do to get these goals met has a big impact."
While it's hard to find an environmental group that doesn't like California's plan, some tax
and consumer groups are grumbling because they feel that air polluters are not shouldering
enough of the cost, leaving consumers with the burden. Drivers with new vehicles will have
to pay a smog-abatement fee of $20, instead of $12, for six years. Annual vehicle registration
costs will also increase $3.
But one year into the initiative, some still question whether a 25 percent cut in greenhouse
gases 13 years from now will have any benefit.
"We have one example to compare this to, which is Europe's attempt to cut CO2 since the
Kyoto accords in 1997," says Sterling Burnett of the National Center for Policy Analysis in
Dallas. "They promised to ... implement all these programs with all this money, [but] their
emissions have grown at a faster rate than [in] the US, despite our bigger population
growth.... That is ... probably what we will see in California."
The Carbon Calculus
By Matthew L. Wald
The New York Times
November 7, 2007
A CHANGE is in the works that could go a long way toward making alternative energy less
alternative, and more attractive to consumers and businesses.
It‘s not a technological fix from some solar-cell laboratory in Silicon Valley or wind-turbine
researcher in Colorado or the development of some superbug to turn wood waste into
Rather, the change would come from Washington, if Congress does what it has talked about
and puts a price tag on greenhouse-gas emissions. Suddenly the carbon content of fuel, or
how much carbon dioxide is produced per unit of energy, would be as important as what the
fuel costs. In fact, it might largely define what the fuel costs.
That could shake up the economics of energy, handicapping some fuels and favoring others.
Those that produce hefty emissions, like coal and oil, would likely look much worse. And
some — sunlight, wind, uranium, even corn stalks and trash as well as natural gas — would
probably look much better. ―Carbon-negative‖ fuels that take carbon dioxide out of the
atmosphere as they are made, might even become feasible.
Carbon dioxide is what economists call an ―externality,‖ something that imposes a cost on
somebody other than the manufacturer. At some point, the thinking goes, Congress will force
industries to pay those costs, either with a tax or a cap-and-trade system in which allowances
will cost money. The consensus in the energy business is that lawmakers will come up with a
charge that could start at $10 per metric ton or more.
On Thursday, a Senate subcommittee approved a bill to establish a cap-and-trade system for
carbon dioxide, and the Democratic leadership is eager to have the Senate pass it by year‘s
end. But prospects in the House are less certain.
Still, with all the talk about a carbon charge, ―your perspective shifts,‖ said Revis James, an
economist at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit utility consortium in Palo
Alto, Calif. ―We‘re definitely going to be paying a bill here for wanting to reduce these
Some companies are already counting on paying such a bill. In October, NRG, an electric
company in Princeton, N.J., made the first application in three decades for permission to
build a nuclear power plant. In an interview, the chairman, David Crane, said his calculations
showed that such a plant would be cost effective if the price of carbon dioxide emissions ran
into ―double digits‖ per ton.
The Electric Power Research Institute‘s staff estimates the effect of a charge on carbon
dioxide emissions on the price of a kilowatt-hour, the amount of electricity needed to run 10
100-watt bulbs for an hour. Natural gas produces 0.84 pounds of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-
hour, and coal produces more than twice as much, 1.9 pounds.
At $10 per metric ton, the impact is minimal. But at $50 a ton, for example, the cost of a
kilowatt-hour produced by coal goes from about 5.7 cents to about 10 cents. Wind power
currently isn‘t competitive, according to the institute‘s calculation, but it becomes
competitive when carbon dioxide costs $25 a ton. By their calculations, nuclear energy, with
negligible carbon dioxide emissions, looks sensible at a small carbon charge.
Here‘s how the new economics might work for solar power, according to Charles F. Gay, the
vice president and general manager of solar business at Applied Materials, a California
semiconductor company that has branched into that field.
Solar power from photovoltaic cells is very expensive, about 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt-
hour. But compare a kilowatt-hour produced by such cells, which emit no carbon dioxide,
with one produced by a conventional coal plant. At $20 or $30 a ton, the 1.9 pounds of
carbon dioxide emitted in producing that kilowatt-hour costs 2 to 3 cents. That cuts into
coal‘s price advantage and — when coupled with progress in reducing the cost of solar
power through manufacturing and economies of scale — gives solar power ―a much larger
chance to be relevant,‖ Mr. Gay said. Solar thermal systems, which use mirrors to
concentrate sunlight to boil water, might benefit even sooner.
The new calculus of energy would not be limited to electricity. Like a kilowatt-hour, a gallon
of ethanol is a commodity. But its impact on the environment depends on how it is made.
Ethanol is a prime example of a product with what Lee Schipper, an energy and
transportation expert at the World Resources Institute, calls ―closet carbon.‖ That is, carbon
dioxide embedded in the production of what is supposedly a renewable product.
For example, Range Fuels, of Denver, plans to open a plant in Soperton, Ga., next year to
make ethanol from pine tree waste. About 25 percent of the tree cannot go to a lumber mill or
paper mill, the company says, and is usually left behind when the forest is clear-cut. If it is
burned, it produces carbon dioxide. If it rots, it produces methane, an even more potent
Range has a thermochemical method for turning the waste — bark, cones, treetops, needles
and small branches — into ethanol. Burning ethanol creates carbon dioxide no matter how it
was made. But the economics could vary if Range got credit for producing a fuel by using
material that was going to turn into a greenhouse gas anyway.
In contrast, corn ethanol is made using natural gas or coal that also contains carbon, but could
have stayed in the ground if not for the ethanol manufacture. Ethanol advocates say that some
gallons of corn ethanol have twice as much closet carbon as others. One new approach to
ethanol uses algae; in Arizona, a utility is testing a process to fertilize algae with carbon
dioxide captured from an adjacent power plant. The algae can be grown and processed into
―As carbon dioxide fees are imposed, these thing become more and more cost-competitive,‖
said Jennifer S. Holmgren, director of renewable energy and chemicals at UOP, a subsidiary
of Honeywell that is taking on the project. ―Algae, because of its ability to capture carbon,
has a bigger potential than anything else for being carbon neutral.‖
Meanwhile, sugar producers in Brazil are arguing that the ethanol they produce should be
able to be imported without the stiff tariffs it now faces. It is made from sugar cane and, they
say, requires far less energy to make than corn-based ethanol. Each gallon of sugar-cane
ethanol results in 10 percent as much CO2.
Some researchers think there could even be products that are carbon negative. Two papers
discuss using renewable energy to displace fossil fuel and to remove carbon from the
One is built on the 80-year-old technology of making liquid motor fuel from a gas consisting
of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. The Nazis pioneered the technique in the 1930s, making
the gas, called ―synthesis gas,‖ from coal, and some companies in the United States would
like to revive it, again using coal. But the ―synfuel‖ has more than a closet full of carbon; it
produces about twice as much carbon dioxide per mile driven as ordinary oil does, counting
the carbon dioxide released in production.
But synthesis gas can also be made from biomass: wood chips, corn stalks or the paper in
garbage. Getting synthesis gas that way is carbon neutral, since next year‘s production will
come from new trees or agricultural waste, which gets its carbon from the atmosphere.
At Princeton, however, Robert H. Williams, a physicist, is pushing carbon negative
bioenergy, in which the carbon monoxide is burned for heat to drive the process, but the
resulting carbon dioxide is captured chemically, pressurized into a liquid, and pumped
If you use plants to make syngas and capture the carbon dioxide, the carbon dioxide is not a
byproduct but a co-product, he said.
The invisible hand of carbon affects even building sites. Michael H. Deane, operations
manager for sustainable construction at Turner Construction, said that companies building
offices are looking at sites for characteristics that barely mattered before.
―You can set a building into a hillside, so you can take advantage of the existing mass of the
hillside,‖ he said. The ambient temperature of the dirt is 55 degrees, winter and summer,
which can help with heating and cooling, he said. And sites are now evaluated for solar
orientation and prevailing winds, both of which can heavily affect energy use, he said.
Carbon dioxide can also be invoked to try to justify other kinds of changes. In October, a San
Francisco company, the Wine Group, said that heavy glass bottles took too much energy to
make. The lower-carbon way, it said, was plastic bags of wine in cardboard boxes.
Bottles, the company said, were too vulnerable to ―carbon criticism.‖
Seagoing Climate Experiment Begins
By Andrew C. Revkin
The New York Times
November 7, 2007
The Weatherbird II, a 115-foot private research vessel, has put to sea from Florida as part of
a novel — and contentious — effort to commercialize the removal of heat-trapping carbon
dioxide from the atmosphere using blooms of plankton.
The ship is operated by Planktos, one of several companies seeking to profit from the global
market in ―carbon offsets,‖ credits that individuals or companies seeking to compensate for
carbon dioxide emissions buy.
A lack of iron in some ocean waters prevents plankton from blooming. The company would,
in essence, fertilize such areas by adding iron. But some environmental groups oppose such
The groups include the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which threatened to block the
fertilization effort this summer if it took place near the Galápagos Islands, as had been
Some scientists have estimated that hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide might be
absorbed by fertilized seas, particularly in regions bereft of iron. But others say much more
research should be conducted before commercial-scale operations begin.
The Weatherbird II entered international waters on Sunday, said Russ George, the chief
executive of Planktos, but he declined to discuss its route or whether a second ship would
join it in its work because of what he said were continuing threats.
Foreign Firms Envision Wind Farms Dotting the U.S.
By Peter Maloney
The New York Times
November 7, 2007
THE European Union has taken the lead on many climate change issues — from ratifying the
Kyoto Protocol to passing laws to require and encourage the development of renewable
sources of energy. Why, then, are so many European energy companies looking to the United
States for investment opportunities?
For António Mexia, the chief executive of Energías de Portugal, the answer is short and
simple. ―The United States is the fastest-growing market in the world for wind power,‖ he
said. ―If we want to be a leader, we have to be here.‖
In July, Energías paid nearly $3 billion to buy Horizon Wind Energy from the Goldman
Sachs Group. The purchase, Mr. Mexia‘s first foray into the United States, doubled the
amount of wind power in Energías‘s portfolio, giving the once sleepy utility the fourth-
largest wind-farm capacity, behind Iberdrola of Spain, FPL Energy (an affiliate of Florida
Power and Light) and another Spanish company, Acciona Energía.
All the biggest players in wind power are focused on the United States. Earlier this year,
Acciona acquired the wind farm development rights of EcoEnergy of Elgin, Ill., and
Iberdrola bought CPV Wind Ventures of Silver Spring, Md. Iberdrola also added the wind
development company PPM Energy of Portland, Ore., through its acquisition of a British
company, ScottishPower, in April, and in 2006 it bought Community Energy of Radnor, Pa.
BP, based in Britain, also added to its green portfolio in 2006, by buying two United States
wind developers, Greenlight Energy and Orion Energy. Last month, the German company
E.On bought the North American wind farms of Airtricity, of Dublin, Ireland, for $1.4
In short, those looking to be big come here. ―In America you can put up a 200- or 300-
megawatt wind park,‖ Mr. Mexia said. ―You can‘t do that in Europe,‖ because there is not as
much open space.
There is also greater potential for growth in the United States, where wind farms account for
about only 1 percent of installed generating capacity. In some European countries, that figure
is as high as 10 percent.
But the biggest incentive is not the scope and speed of the wind blowing across the Prairie
States, but a number of laws put in place in Washington and about half the states to
encourage the development of renewable energy.
At the federal level, energy legislation calls for subsidies for wind power producers in the
form of a tax credit. Meanwhile, 25 states now have laws that require utilities to obtain a
certain quota of the power they sell from renewable resources. That combination puts the
United States at the top of Ernst & Young‘s ranking of countries based on their renewable
For many United States companies, however, that patchwork of laws and regulations
amounts to a headache. Things are much simpler in Europe.
Spain, for instance, sets electric rates once a year, and many European Union countries have
simple ―feed-in tariffs,‖ under which producers are paid at fixed rates for electricity
generated from renewable resources. But in the United States, ―regulation is a daily event,‖
said Edward Tirello, a senior strategist at Berenson & Company, a consulting firm.
Until recently, Mr. Tirello said, many European energy companies were state owned, and
they still enjoy the legacy of their monopoly positions, including rich cash flows.
For Mr. Mexia, the mix of state and federal laws in the United States provides Energías de
Portugal with ―regulatory diversity.‖ It also provides an investment field unfettered by legacy
issues. It does not hurt that European utilities are used to lower margins. They are usually
happy to receive a 9 percent return on equity, whereas utilities in the United States
commonly receive rates of return of about 11 percent. Unregulated power-generation assets,
including many wind farms, have no caps on their profits.
But European power companies are not just looking at the United States; they have expanded
to countries in Europe beyond their traditional home bases and are considering projects in
―The U.S. is a bridgehead in a global market for renewable assets,‖ said Jonathan Johns, head
of renewable energy at Ernst & Young.
Bolstered by the bulk and visibility of its United States acquisitions, Iberdrola plans to spin
off its renewable energy business in an initial public offering before the end of this year.
Energías de Portugal, which has already demonstrated a willingness to pay up to stay in the
game, is unlikely to be far behind.
―We are studying an I.P.O. of our worldwide wind business in 2008,‖ Mr. Mexia said.
Private Efforts to Preserve the Coast
By Felicity Barringer
The New York Times
November 7, 2007
ON the last Friday in October, Ed Ewing, who has spent four decades fishing out of Morro
Bay in California, took his newly leased boat, the South Bay, for a trial run. He was testing
the repairs he had made to the used craft and calibrating the net-and-weights apparatus he
will use when he trawls for sole, sable and sand dabs off the central coast.
As his trial run ended, the Nature Conservancy‘s own trial run began. The fisherman and his
boat, gear, one-year fishing permit and plans for catching bottom-dwelling fish are part of an
experiment. Nature Conservancy executives hope the market mechanisms they use to
conserve environmentally sensitive land can help restore troubled fisheries.
The concept of an easement would be translated to marine environments to control where
fish are caught, how many of a specific species are caught and the gear used to catch them,
said Chuck Cook, a Nature Conservancy official who is on loan to the University of
California at Santa Barbara as project leader of the Sustainable Fisheries Group. But there is
a difference between the legal framework of land transactions and the regulations that govern
coastal fishing. It is clear who owns land. But who owns the water, or the fish, or the right to
Both the Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defense, another large national
environmental group that favors market mechanisms, are working to resolve those questions
by lobbying federal fishery managers and regulators to adjust their permitting systems to
allow for conservation easements.
―You have to have a fishery with a dedicated access to it, so there is a bundle of legal
interests that can be leased, bought and traded,‖ Mr. Cook said.
There are just 10 such limited-access programs along the coasts of the United States,
covering less than 10 percent of the total harvesting areas, the National Marine Fisheries
One is a trawl fishery off the central California coast, a particular concern to
environmentalists because the commonly used heavy gear not only produces a large by-catch
of stocks that are quickly being depleted, like canary rockfish and cow cod, but can also hurt
the sloping rocky habitat where these species live.
After consulting local fishermen about how to keep commercial fishing productive while
trying to protect depleted stocks, the conservancy bought up seven trawling permits and four
boats from fishermen on the central California coast for $3.8 million. Two boats were
scrapped, and one was leased back to Mr. Ewing, along with a license to trawl — but with
lighter gear and restrictions that keep him mostly on sandy or muddy bottoms and away from
the rock slopes. Asked if he could make a living this way, he said, ―I‘m not sure yet.‖
While the marine program is in its embryonic stages, it represents a potentially major
expansion of the use of easements for conservation objectives. Six months ago, the Nature
Conservancy created a finance unit that structures acquisitions intended to earn returns for
In 2002, the conservancy worked with the Great Northern Paper Company to protect 241,000
acres of forest near Mount Katahdin in Maine. The conservancy bought $50 million of loans
to Great Northern, retired $14 million and refinanced the rest. In return, the company
transferred 41,000 acres to the conservancy and placed a conservation easement on 200,000
acres that allows some logging but guards sensitive habitat.
More recently, in partnership with a Montana-based equity fund called Beartooth Capital, the
conservancy put an easement on the 3,160-acre Bear Mountain ranch in Clyde, Idaho, which
abutted the conservancy‘s 625-acre Summit Creek Preserve. The easement restricts
construction and will keep cattle mostly away from sensitive streambeds. In return,
Beartooth, the ranch‘s owner, acquired the 625-acre parcel as well as new access to roads and
the right to maintain Bear Mountain as a working ranch.
But the deal-making can leave other conservation groups feeling shortchanged. One of the
largest deals, with the Plum Creek Timber Company, involving about 350,000 acres around
Moosehead Lake in northern Maine, has raised hackles.
The conservancy, with the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Forest Society of Maine, has
contracted to buy 74,200 acres for $35 million from Plum Creek. The group also acquired a
conservation easement that prohibits development but allows continuing logging and access
for hunters and hikers on 266,000 other acres.
About 20,000 acres remain available for developing vacation homes, resorts and amenities.
Jym St. Pierre, the Maine director of a conservation group called Restore: The North Woods,
said, ―We think there‘s too much development in too many of the wrong places, and the
conservation to offset it is too weak.‖ Because the deal is contingent on state regulators‘
agreement to Plum Creek‘s plans, Mr. St. Pierre feels that the conservancy is giving Plum
William Ginn, the conservancy‘s director of conservation markets and investments,
responded, ―We believe what has been created is far superior than what would have
happened had this been left just to a regulatory process.‖ In the last 15 months, he said, the
conservancy‘s revolving funds have put $300 million into such transactions. With the help of
$500 million more from partners like Beartooth Capital, the group has bought or obtained
easements on more than a million acres of land.
With new opportunities on sea as well as on land, he said, the amount of investments in these
types of deals will increase.
Aiding the Environment, a Nanostep at a Time
By Barnaby J. Feder
The New York Times
November 7, 2007
SOME of the grandest ideas about how to preserve the environment involve molecular-scale
engineering known as nanotechnology. Such visions might inspire more confidence, though,
if there were real products available to achieve them.
Nanotechnology‘s supporters have been talking for more than a decade about fashioning new
metals, plastics and biological compounds that could enable innovations like increasingly
efficient batteries for electric cars and solar energy panels for homes. They also say that
nanotechnology can be used to restore damaged environments — by cleansing polluted soil,
for example, with tiny particles that could make toxins harmless.
There is nothing implausible about such ideas. It is easy to see how the ability to manipulate
matter at the scale of a few nanometers, or billionths of a meter, could lead to environmental
breakthroughs. That is one reason billions of dollars are being spent on nanotechnology
For now, though, nanotechnology is often linked to the environment in a negative way: the
fear of the potential hazards posed by novel inventions. Novelists like Michael Crichton have
imagined nanoscale robots creating an ecodisaster. On a more practical level, toxicologists
are struggling to assess the damage actual particles can do to living cells and laboratory
Unfortunately for nanotechnology‘s reputation, the most exciting green nanoproducts are still
on the drawing boards. To most Americans, nanotechnology means limited improvements, as
in stain-resistant clothing, superdurable bowling balls or transparent sunscreens.
―The first products the public has heard about have been luxury items,‖ said David M.
Berube, a professor of communications at the University of South Carolina, who studies
public perception of nanotechnology. The next highly visible wave will include antibacterial
cleaning agents, followed by pharmaceuticals and medical devices, he said.
But the absence of a symbolic green nanotech product does not mean there is no progress.
―While shifts to cleaner and greener sources of energy are critical, energy conservation
remains the most powerful lever to improve the environment,‖ said Sean Murdock, executive
director of the NanoBusiness Alliance, a trade group. And nanotechnology has been playing
a role in energy conservation for decades.
Mr. Murdock said the best example might be specialized glass for commercial buildings that
PPG Industries began marketing in 1982. A transparent coating only a few nanometers thick
sharply increased buildings‘ ability to retain heat. That cut their demand for energy.
Since then, PPG has developed a far more environmentally beneficial window named
Solarban, which slashes demand for air-conditioning in warm climates. The trick has been to
develop transparent coatings that block light at infrared frequencies, which add heat. The
new coatings cut infrared penetration by 46 percent while allowing more light to get through
than earlier, less-effective infrared-reflecting windows.
But PPG‘s Solarban windows and similar products are — and will probably remain — too
costly for most homeowners or for commercial buildings. So some experts say that a better
example of the environmental benefits of nanotechnology may be the light-emitting diode.
L.E.D.‘s have already replaced old-fashioned incandescent bulbs in traffic lights. Now,
because of improvements in the light-emitting microchips, white L.E.D.‘s show signs of
becoming an alternative to fluorescent lights as a replacement for the staggeringly inefficient
but cheap incandescent bulb in other uses.
―When you go to Japan, they don‘t even use incandescent Christmas tree lights anymore,‖
said Stephen B. Maebius, a patent lawyer in the nanotechnology field. ―It‘s all white
Less noticeable to consumers are advances in catalysts, said Barbara Karn, a nanotechnology
expert in the research arm of the Environmental Protection Agency. Nanotechnologists have
been successfully tinkering with the metals and other materials used as catalysts at oil
refineries or in automotive catalytic converters. They are exploiting basic science: the smaller
the particles of a catalyst can be made, the more surface area is available to assist reactions.
That leads to faster chemical reactions, energy savings and less waste.
There could be a downside, Ms. Karn said. Some of the industrial products benefiting from
the nanocatalysts are toxic chemicals. Making them cleaner and cheaper to produce may
leave the industry with less incentive to find safer alternatives.
Ms. Karn said a different symbol of green nanotechnology might be the products being
synthesized to clean up waste sites, especially nanoscale particles of iron compounds that
have been under development since the mid-1990s. When injected into contaminated soil,
they have proved far more effective than larger iron-based compounds at breaking down
hazardous organic compounds like PCBs and dry-cleaning fluids, and at neutralizing poisons
like lead and arsenic.
Six ounces of nanoscale particles does the job of a ton of micron-size particles because of
their vastly increased surface area and the greater ease with which they move through the soil
in water, said Wei-xian Zhang, a pioneer in the field at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
Environmentalists say they remain worried about the long-term impact of dumping novel
nanomaterials into the environment to clean up hazardous wastes. And there is another
potential downside. Jennifer Sass, the senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense
Council, said that any nanotechnology cleanup product could deflect attention from the
―I hope the public will ask probing questions like, ‗Who put that pollution there in the first
place, and why didn‘t the government stop them?‘‖ she said.
Florida warned about warming impacts
In testimony to lawmakers, one predicts 1.5 foot sea level rise in 50 years
November 7, 2007
Scientists and economists Tuesday warned lawmakers of consequences Florida faces from
climate change, including more destructive hurricanes and a rising sea level, but they also
said the state could be a leader in reducing global warming.
Three panels of experts spoke at a symposium held by the House Environmental Resources
Council and three related committees.
Climate change will figure into comprehensive energy and environmental policy legislation
the lawmakers will be considering during the 2008 legislative session, said Council
Chairman Stan Mayfield, R-Vero Beach.
Some legislators, though, questioned whether Florida could do much to reduce carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gasses, spewed mostly from power plants and vehicle exhausts,
that contribute to global warming. That's because Florida emits only 1 percent of those gasses
"If Florida is the only group in the world doing anything you're not going to make a dent in
this," acknowledged Judy Curry, a professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia
Institute of Technology. "But some of the things that Florida is doing really could lead the
Gov. Charlie Crist has attempted to put Florida in the lead by ordering that greenhouse gas
emissions be reduced to 2000 levels by the year 2017, to 1990 levels by 2025 and 20 percent
below 1990 levels by 2050.
Economist David Montgomery, a business consultant from Washington, D.C., said Crist's
goals will be difficult, if not impossible, to meet without a significant reduction in the
demand for electrical power through such approaches as a carbon cap-and-trade system or
carbon taxes. That's because other options for reducing emissions are limited, he said.
Nuclear power is one solution, but it's unlikely regulatory hurdles for building new plants can
be overcome in time to meet Crist's goals, Montgomery said. Systems to capture and store
carbon from coal-burning plants also are unlikely to be available to meet that schedule and
Florida lacks a sufficient supply of natural gas or renewable fuels, he said.
Tufts University economics professor Gilbert Metcalf acknowledged Florida's contribution to
global warming is "a drop in the bucket."
Metcalf said, though, that Florida and California, which also has a greenhouse reduction
policy, can put pressure on the federal government to adopt a national program because
businesses don't like the idea of dealing with a patchwork of different state requirements.
Martin Manning, director of a technical support unit with the Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change, said he thought solutions can be found but it'll take until the end of the
In the meantime, scientists said Florida can expect more frequent and destructive hurricanes,
hotter weather and rising sea levels that could inundate coastal areas.
Harold Wanless, chairman of the University of Miami's Department of Geological Sciences,
predicted a 1.5 foot rise in sea level in 50 years and a three- to five-foot increase by the end
of the century. At two feet, South Florida would still be livable, Wanless said.
"Three feet's going to get messy," he said. "Four feet becomes extremely difficult to live in
South Florida and five feet probably impossible."
Scientists don't yet have a clear picture of whether climate change will make Florida wetter
or drier, but either way the forecast is for heavier rains that are fewer and far between,
creating a potential for flood and drought, said Brian Soden, an associate professor of
meteorology and physical oceanography at the University of Miami.
Changing wind, nutrient movement spur harmful red tides along Florida
By Randolph E. Schmid
November 7, 2007
Harmful red tide blooms along Florida's west coast in the fall are spurred when seasonal
changes in wind patterns move nutrients east from the Mississippi River, scientists reported
Harmful algal blooms occur from time to time in most coastal areas, with different algae
affecting different areas. Florida's red tide blooms are caused by an organism called Karenia,
and researchers have been seeking ways to better forecast when they will appear.
Researchers led by Richard P. Stumpf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration concluded that nutrients from the Mississippi were encouraging the blooms,
which occur along fronts of changing water density in the ocean. Changes in temperature or
salinity can result in differing water density.
Karenia can swim up and down in the water, allowing them to feed on deep nutrients and
then can come to the surface for light, forming the toxic blooms, Stumpf explained at a news
Now that they have found the algae congregating below the surface, scientists are
experimenting with an underwater mechanism to detect the blooms before they come to the
"The key goal is to do a better forecast," Stumpf said.
Nationwide, NOAA reports, harmful algal blooms have a direct economic impact estimated
to average $75 million annually, including public health costs, commercial fishing closures,
recreation and tourism losses and in management and monitoring costs.
Scientists had been puzzled about why the west Florida blooms formed in water that is
normally low in nutrients that the algae live on.
"We found that the concentrations of nutrients needed to start the Florida red tides is much
lower than previously suspected," said Stumpf. "The hypothesis means that offshore areas
should be examined for both small increases in nutrients and modest concentrations of the
algae at the start of the bloom season."
Normally, water from the Mississippi travels west, he explained, but seasonal wind changes
in late summer and fall move it eastward toward Florida.
Findings of the research team are published in the journal Continental Shelf Research.
On the Net:
NOAA Coastal Services Center: http://csc.noaa.gov
NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/
Harmful Algal Bloom Forecasts: http://www.csc.noaa.gov/crs/habf/
Kohl's: New stores will be environmentally friendly next fall
By Emily Fredrix
November 7, 2007
Kohl's Corp. plans to make all its newly built stores environmentally friendly, meaning
they'll use sustainable materials and cut down on energy costs, starting with stores open next
The company plans to follow guidelines to earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design, or LEED, certification from the Washington-based U.S. Green Building Council,
said Ken Bonning, executive vice president of logistics for Kohl's.
The changes will affect new stores the company builds, not ones that move into pre-existing
buildings. The Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based retailer plans to pursue LEED certifications on
80 new stores it will begin constructing in 2008. The stores will be spread across 28 states
such as Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania and will open in either 2008
The new stores will be inspected after they are built to determine whether they meet the
certification guidelines, Bonning said. Changes will include adding more insulation, using
recycled or reused building materials and even ensuring that materials are locally supplied,
meaning items won't have to travel as far or cause as much pollution in their transport, he
said. Lighting, heating and cooling units will also be controlled centrally from the company's
headquarters to prevent excess energy consumption, he said.
Some new stores in the works are already going to be using solar power under a separate
program, he said. The company plans to have 22 stores in California using solar power to
meet 40 percent of their energy needs by the end of this year. Three locations in Wisconsin
will use solar power to meet 20 percent of their needs.
Bonning said the company figures the changes will reduce energy consumption by as much
as 15 percent. He did not say how much it will reduce costs, but was sure the changes will
mean savings as energy costs rise.
"We think it's not only good for the environment, but it's also good for our business," he said.
The announcement comes as Kohl's continues its expansion across the company. The retailer
plans to add nearly 500 stores in the next five years. At the end of this month, it will operate
929 stores in 47 states. It hopes to have 1,400 stores by 2012.
Kohl's is among a handful of retailers, including Target, Best Buy, and Starbucks, that are
incorporating green practices into their new stores, said Doug Gatlin, director of national
accounts for the U.S. Green Building Council. With those three retailers alone, there are
between 250 and 300 projects in the works, he said.
The retailers are also coming up with standards that can be used by more retailers to help
spread the building concepts, he said. Those standards should come out next year. So far,
there are only 25 LEED-certified retail locations operating right now, Gatlin said, but he
hopes that number goes up with the new standards.
"I think we'll see a snowballing effect quickly," he said.
Scientists: Crist climate plan too little;
A panel tells legislators that Florida is especially vulnerable to climate change and the cure is
expensive and uncertain.
By Mary Ellen Klas
The Miami Herald
November 7, 2007
Florida produces 1 percent of the world's greenhouse gases and could have vast swaths of
coastline swallowed by the sea, but the governor's aggressive proposals to curb the ravages of
global warming may be an expensive ``drop in the bucket.''
Those were the comments a panel of scientists and economists made at a day-long legislative
summit on climate change Tuesday. The House of Representatives convened the ''Science
and Economics of Climate Change'' session to show legislators that global warming is real,
but the solution is costly.
''There is absolutely no doubt that the cause of the greenhouse gases is human activity,'' said
Martin Manning, director of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change. If trends continue, he warned, global climate conditions will be the warmest in
125,000 years by the middle of the century.
Harold Wanless, chairman of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of
Miami, was more grim: The ice sheets of Greenland are ''starting to literally collapse and
slide to the sea,'' and Florida ``should expect a sea level rise of 1.5 feet in the coming 50
years and at least three- to five-foot rise by the end of the century.''
That means ''Turkey Point will be an island in Biscayne Bay'' and ''the expanded 10,000
Islands would have great fishing,'' he said.
Scientists tempered their alarmist predictions with cautious optimism, however, that
technology and change can arrest the damage.
''Aggressive climate policies could make a big difference,'' Manning said.
Judy Curry, professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of
Technology, said it's going to take a ''silver buckshot approach,'' with ``no single solution and
everybody has to do their part.''
The debate served to underscore the importance of the global warming initiatives begun this
year by Gov. Crist. By 2020, the governor wants tough new emissions standards on cars,
energy-efficient construction of new buildings and penalties on utility companies that pollute
the atmosphere with carbon-emitting power plants.
But the economists on the House panel were not as optimistic.
To pursue something ''regardless of the cost'' gives too much credit to uncertain science, said
Gilbert Metcalf, an economics professor from Tufts University. ``We want to be balancing
reductions against the losses to our economy. . . . A state-level policy when you're 1 percent
[of] world emissions is a drop in the bucket.''
W. David Montgomery, vice president of CRA International, who has studied the economic
impact of California's global warming initiatives, said Crist's proposals mirror those of
California's and ``the technology doesn't exist to get there.''
The result in California has been a 14 percent increase in energy costs, an 8 percent reduction
in carbon emissions and a $10 billion to $30 billion loss to the economy.
Crist is on a trade mission to Brazil, where he plans to sign an agreement with that country,
as he did with the United Kingdom and Germany earlier this year, promising to trade carbon
credits when they're available.
Emissions Trial Standard Announced - Milliken carbon negative status
November 7, 2007
CHICAGO, Nov. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Leonardo Academy, respected for its work on
sustainable buildings and climate change, announced the Draft American National Standard
for Trial Use LEO-500-2001 to support clear communication about the factors included in
climate emission inventories and offset statements. As a pilot program, Leonardo Academy
worked with Milliken & Company to apply the standard to all of its U.S. operations to third-
party certify its carbon negative status. This announcement was made during U.S. Green
Building Council's annual Greenbuild conference being held in Chicago November 6-9.
"Unambiguous communication on these issues is important because statements about
emissions and offsets are frequently confusing," said Michael Arny, founder and president of
the Leonardo Academy. "We have been fortunate to have a company like Milliken that is
committed to participating in our pilot program for this Draft American National Standard
Milliken & Company is a pilot participant in The Draft American National Standard for Trial
Use LEO-500-2001 which covers Emissions Inventories, Offsets, and Reduction Credits. The
international textile and chemical manufacturer has already applied this standard to all of its
operation in the United States, quantifying its emissions from its direct energy use and from
its electrical energy use, as well as quantifying the carbon sequestration delivered by its
"As a company with a strong engineering culture, we appreciate the opportunity to assess our
progress against a standard. Looking to the future, Milliken is committed to applying this
standard to all emissions of the entire company world wide," said Russell Grizzle, president,
Global Floor Covering Division of Milliken & Company.
A third party, Leonardo Academy has carried out the analysis and verified that according to
the requirements of the draft standard. Under the Draft American National Standard for Trial
Use LEO-500-2001 sections specified Milliken's operation in the United States is producing
more carbon sequestration credits each year than the amount of carbon contained in the
carbon dioxide it is emitting each year.
"Over the next year Milliken plans to expand its emission analysis to cover its operations
worldwide. Once completed, Milliken will work step by step through the emissions caused
indirectly from its activities and its supply chain," Arny explained.
To comply with the language of the draft standard, an inventory of Milliken's emissions has
been completed that (1) Covers a Level 2 Scope of Emissions Sources, which means that the
inventory includes the emission caused by Milliken's direct energy use on its sites and the
emissions caused by the electricity Milliken uses, and (2) Covers the Level 4 Category of
Green House Gas Emissions, which means that Carbon Dioxide and the other 5 major green
house gases have been addressed. Finally, a quantification of the emission sequestered in
Milliken's forests has been completed that uses the definition of additionality which specifies
actions beyond what is required by law or regulation.
About Leonardo Academy. Leonardo Academy is a charitable nonprofit dedicated to
advancing sustainability and putting the competitive market to work on improving the
About Milliken & Company. A commitment to ecountability supports sustainable policies
that began more than a century ago with this international textile and chemical manufacturer.
Milliken & Company champions sustainable principles and practices internally and in
partnership with others around the world. http://www.sustainablecarpet.com/
CONTACT: Nancy Rogers of BOLDface Communications, +1-404-231-5789,
firstname.lastname@example.org ; or Michael Arny of Leonardo Academy, +1-608-280-0255,
Web site: http://www.sustainablecarpet.com/
Ministers Baird, Toews and Bezan announce Government's additional
investment in Lake Winnipeg cleanup
November 7, 2007
The Honourable John Baird, Minister of the Environment and the Honourable Vic Toews,
President of the Treasury Board, announced today that the Government of Canada is ramping
up its support to clean up Lake Winnipeg. The Government will be investing $18 million
under the Action Plan for Clean Water to fix serious water quality problems affecting the
lake. This is an additional $11 million to the $7 million already committed by this
"Our Government is taking real action to protect and preserve our environment for all
Canadians," said Minister Baird. "Today's investment is another concrete step towards
restoring the health of Lake Winnipeg. Local MPs like James Bezan (Selkirk-Interlake) have
fought hard for the clean up of Lake Winnipeg, and today's announcement reinforces our
commitment to protect Canadian waters under the Action Plan for Clean Water."
The increased funding for the clean up of the Lake Winnipeg Basin will support a science-
based approach to understanding how nutrient runoff affects the ecology of the lake and how
to control nutrient contributions in watersheds. The Government will also expand and
improve the network of water monitoring sites in the basin area. Through these measures the
Government hopes to reduce blue-green algae levels; restore the ecological integrity of the
lake, ensure a sustainable fishery, and reduce beach closures.
"Work is underway on a number of fronts to address the water quality problems in Lake
Winnipeg and its contributing watersheds, but there is still a lot more to be done," said
Minister Toews. "Our Government is committed to delivering real results for Manitobans.
Today's investment of $18 million over the next five years will help reduce pollution and
restore the health of Lake Winnipeg."
This major investment to clean up Lake Winnipeg is part of the Government of Canada's
Action Plan for Clean Water. Recently, the Government has also taken action to protect
water quality including tough new regulations against the dumping of raw sewage and
improving raw sewage treatment in municipalities and first nation communities across
Canada. These measures will help filter out substances like phosphates, which can lead to
excessive blue-green algae production.
A backgrounder on the Lake Winnipeg initiative is available at www.ec.gc.ca
(Également offert en français)
Lake Winnipeg is fed by a vast basin covering 960 thousand square kilometers extending
over four provinces and four states. The problems facing the lake are the result of excessive
phosphorous and nitrogen from farms and municipal waste water ending up in the lake, more
than half of which originate outside Manitoba's borders.
The excessive phosphorus and nitrogen, also known as nutrients, are contributing to the
growth of huge tracts of blue-green algae, which rob the lake of oxygen, clog fishing nets,
foul beaches and produce harmful toxins. Satellite images of the lake over the last decade
show a worsening trend with blue-green algae, at times, covering more than half the surface
area or about 13,000 square kilometers.
The funding announced today will assist scientists to better understand how nutrient
contributions can be controlled in the watershed and how nutrients affect the ecology of the
lake. This knowledge will be used to encourage best practices in the agricultural industry and
improve municipal management practices in the watershed. The Government will also work
to develop new performance indicators to monitor the health of the lake, and improve the
monitoring network by creating a number of new sites and improving existing sites.
The Government will also create a new Water Stewardship Fund for the Lake Winnipeg
Basin. The fund will be used to support cost-share projects that focus on reducing nutrient
loads through actions taken by stakeholder and community groups.
This basin-wide initiative will include participation from stakeholders within four provinces.
To help restore the health of Lake Winnipeg, the Government of Canada is negotiating an
agreement with Manitoba to improve how we work together to improve the water quality and
long term sustainability of the lake.
Turn GST into `green sales tax'
The Toronto Star
November 7, 2007
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's decision to reduce the goods and services tax to 5 per cent
beginning Jan. 1 must be recognized for what it really is: yet another incentive to consume.
Just two weeks after the Speech from the Throne committed Canada to "help lead the effort"
against global climate change, Prime Minister Stephen Harper put to rest any hope that he
might have actually seen the (green) light.
If he were serious about "getting things done" on the environment, he should have suggested
the unthinkable: raise the GST back to 7 per cent and use the extra 2 per cent strictly for
climate change purposes.
Remember, despite its loathsome reputation among Canadians, the GST has at least one thing
going for it from an environmental perspective: like all sales taxes, it penalizes consumption.
Despite the efficiency gains we seem to be making, we simply can't stop ourselves from
Consider that 60 per cent of Canadian households have now made the switch to compact
fluorescent light bulbs. Clearly, energy-efficiency has penetrated into consumer
consciousness. Yet per capita energy consumption continues to rise.
Cue the broken record. By 2005, Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions were 33 per cent
above its Kyoto commitment. In 2004, the average Canadian emitted 23.7 tonnes of
greenhouse gases, a 10 per cent increase over 1990 levels.
Regrettably, these trends show no signs of slowing down, let alone reversing. Any
meaningful national response to climate change must confront this reality.
How can Canada's increasingly resource- and consumption-driven economy sustain what is
now a decade-long growth period in the face of environmental conditions that demand
Here's a start: make people understand that when they consume, they must also assume some
of the costs associated with their choice to consume.
Although this may sound like a difficult idea for the average consumer to swallow,
Canadians are growing far more accustomed to targeted tax mechanisms that do just that.
Think of the gas tax. Now think of an eco-friendly GST as a gas tax on steroids. Rather than
taking just a few cents from every dollar spent on gas (environmental bad) and passing it on
to cities for investment in sustainable infrastructure (environmental good), Ottawa could
expand this approach to cover broader consumption activities and their climate-related
Remember, being an environmentally conscious consumer isn't always an option.
Not everyone is in a position to stop commuting by car. Not everyone, for that matter, can
afford to buy local or organic produce. And even if they could, not everyone would
necessarily choose to do so. Such is life in a free market.
Dedicating a portion of the national consumption tax to combat climate change would at least
help compensate for the deleterious effects of this economic truth.
The latest 1 per cent GST cut represents roughly $5.5 billion in expected annual revenue. Just
imagine what $11 billion, or nearly 21/2 times the amount allocated to environmental
protection in the last federal budget, could accomplish in terms of reducing carbon emissions.
Canada could become a leader in the development and implementation of renewable energy
technologies and fuels, establish incentive programs to achieve meaningful energy efficiency,
land use and waste reduction objectives and, crucially - proponents of the One Cent Now!
campaign take note - revitalize its cities by investing in public transit and sustainable urban
All it takes is some imaginative thinking.
Gabriel Eidelman is a PhD candidate in the department of political science at the University
ROWA MEDIA UPDATE
ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Wednesday, 8 November, 2007
Law on drilling of water wells
Abu Dhabi: Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has issued the executive order of law number 6 for
2006 on regulation of drilling of water wells in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The General Commission for Environmental affair holding a Workshop on Priorities of
Working Environmental Programme (Arabic)
Projects give Jordan Valley town better life
A new factory opened recently in Deir Alla for the manufacturing of treated organic
fertilisers from animal waste has the potential to solve a bundle of problems inherent in this
impoverished Jordan Valley town.
The use of animal waste as fertilisers in the farms, in the rural valley in general and Deir Alla
in particular, causes the spread of flies that created environmental and health problem, and
subsequently, kept tourists away, officials say.
The new factory, built upon directives by His Majesty King Abdullah among other projects
serving similar purposes, was the answer, according to Ahmad Hawarat, director of Deir Alla
He was speaking to reporters accompanying King‘s Adviser Yousef Issawi, who toured the
projects, whose blueprints were prepared following visits to the area by the King in 2006. All
are complete now.
"We collect animal waste from Deir Alla and other parts of the Kingdom and manufacture
treated organic fertilisers that are rich in nutrients. They also contain a substance that keep
flies away,‖ said the director of the factory and a resident of Deir Alla, Mohammad Bess.
The plant has spared the government the expenses of combating flies, a great nuisance to
locals and visitors, let alone its positive effect on environment as pesticides are no longer
used to fight the insects, according to Bess and Saleh Hawarat, president of Al Wadi Al
Khassib Society in Deir Alla.
Nizar Sleibi, the project's supervisor, said the plant produces 30-50 tonnes of treated organic
fertilisers a day. The sustainable product is marketed locally, ―but we will start exporting
soon", he said.
A shipment of 200 tonnes of the treated fertilisers will be dispatched soon to Lebanon, he
elaborated. In addition, there are orders placed by importers in Turkey, Iran and other
The plant hires only 13 workers from the town of 56,000 inhabitants. However, with the
increasing demand, more and more will join its labour force, Sleibi said, adding that another
production line is in the making.
Also yesterday, Issawi toured newly built, or revamped, schools and Princess Iman Hospital
in Deir Alla, where a dialysis unit was added to the medical services it offers to the town and
the surrounding villages.
According to the hospital's director, Mahmoud Nsour, kidney patients are now spared the
inconvenience of trips they had to make regularly to Salt or Amman.
At the new facility, there are three dialysis machines, which treat 10-12 patients.
"I used to go to the Salt Public Hospital and pay JD10 for transportation to have a dialysis.
Now, I come by taxi for almost JD1 to the unit and have dialysis free of charge," Saadiyeh, a
lady in her 60s, said.
The visit also covered the new health centre in Deir Alla, which replaced a shabby rented
building that housed a primary health centre that lacked most of the core services. At the new
centre, there is dental, paediatric and maternity clinics, in addition to a modern lab.
The projects also include a centre that targets people with disabilities with a variety of
services, including physiotherapy, rehabilitation programmes and speech therapy, according
to the centre's director, Hdeires Dawaheek, who noted there are a total of 1,152 persons with
disabilities in Deir Alla.
ENVIRONMENT NEWS FROM THE
UN DAILY NEWS
7 November, 2007
Secretary-General in Argentina
The Secretary-General is paying an official visit to Argentina today, and he will meet early
this afternoon in Buenos Aires with the country‘s Foreign Minister. After that, he will meet
with the Presidents of Argentina‘s Senate and Chamber of Deputies.
This evening, the Secretary-General and Madame Ban Soon-taek will meet with the
country‘s President and President-elect, Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
The Secretary-General yesterday spoke to reporters about his visit over the coming days to
Argentina, Brazil and Chile, which he said were politically and economically important
members of the United Nations that also play a key role in our common efforts to address
climate change issues.
He added that, after his visit to the Latin American countries, he will travel onward to
Tunisia, where he will attend an international conference on counter-terrorism that is
organized by the United Nations, the Tunisian Government and the Organization of the
Islamic Conference. From there, he said, he will travel to Valencia, Spain, to participate in
the launch of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We have
his comments upstairs and on the web.
I have an appointment of the Secretary-General. He has appointed Ms. Angela Cropper of
Trinidad and Tobago as Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director for the
UN Environment Programme. Ms. Cropper currently serves as an independent member of
the Senate of the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament and as President of a charitable
organization committed to sustainable development. Ms. Cropper has held a number of
senior positions with the Caribbean Community and Common Market Secretariat
(CARICOM) and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and has also received a number of
environmental awards in recognition of her achievements in that field. We have a full bio of
ENVIRONMENT NEWS FROM THE
S.G’s SPOKESMAN DAILY PRESS BRIEFING
7 November, 2007
Questions and Answers
Question: Marie, after the Secretary-General visits Tunisia, attends the meeting on terrorism
in the country, is he going to visit any other countries in the region, and, or meet any of their
Deputy Spokesperson: I just mentioned to you that he will also be going to Valencia,
Spain, where he will be at the IPCC…