THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS Friday January UNEP and the by nikeborome


									                            THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                              Friday, 22 January, 2010

                        UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

        BBC News: Nature crisis 'must be tackled'
        Mother Nature Network (US): Top 7 disappearing glaciers
        Daily Nation (Kenya): Future wars could be fought over lakes, rivers
        Planet-Positive (Blog): The climate change refugee
        Jakarta Globe (Indonesia): Indonesia to Speak For the Seas at UN
        Waste Management World (Blog): The Aftermath of COP15
        ANSA (Italy): UNEP (Onu), dopo emergenza riparare danni ambiente
        Lorientlejour (France): Cri d‘alarme d‘un écologiste: les charbonniers défigurent Batroun

                              Other Environment News

       Independent (UK): Creating glaciers out of thin air
       Sciencemag (US): Antarctic Glacier off Its Leash
       AP: Global warming opens up Arctic for undersea cable
       LA Times: Climate change camp experiencing a cooling-off period
       Reuters: Carbon market exec still hopes for climate bill
       Reuters: U.S. vote dims hopes for stronger world climate pact
       BBC News: The attack of the killer everything
       Telegraph (UK): Past decade warmest on record, say NASA scientists
       ENN (Blog): Product Life Cycle Analysis

                  Environmental News from the UNEP Regions

       RONA
       ROAP

                                    Other UN News

       Environment News from the UN Daily News of 21st January 2010 (None)
       Environment News from the S.G.‘s Spokesperson Daily Press Briefing of 21st
        January 2010 (None)

                       UNEP and the Executive Director in the News

BBC News: Nature crisis 'must be tackled'

2010/01/22 09:17:03 GMT

Governments must tackle the underlying causes of biodiversity loss if they are to stem
the rate at which ecosystems and species are disappearing.

That was one of the conclusions of an inter-governmental workshop in London held in
preparation for October's UN biodiversity summit in Nagoya, Japan.

Delegates agreed that protecting nature would bring economic benefits to nations and
their citizens.

Representatives of 54 countries attended the UK-hosted meeting.

The organisers hope that securing agreement on fundamental issues now will keep the
October summit of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) free from the kind of
divisions that dogged last month's climate change summit in Copenhagen.

The UK's Marine and Natural Environment Minister Huw Irranca-Davies said that despite
the weak Copenhagen outcome, there had been general agreement on the need for
strong international action on biodiversity.

"One of the most important things was a strong feeling that we need to come out of
Nagoya with something concrete on the table - something that works all the way down
the local and community levels as well," he told BBC News.

"People are really focused on trying to stem the tide [of biodiversity loss] and reverse it."

The UN calculates that species are currently going extinct at about 1,000 times the
"natural" rate; and economic analyses being prepared for the UN Environment
Programme (Unep) show that ecosystems, such as coral reefs and rainforests, are worth
far more intact than depleted.

Species at risk

In 2002, governments set a target of significantly reducing the rate of global biodiversity
loss by 2010 - a target that is not going to be met.

Many observers now argue that it was not really achievable; global ambitions did not
translate into local and regional action, and not enough attention was paid to the
underlying factors causing depletion of the natural world.

New targets are likely to be set at the Nagoya meeting that are designed to be more
scientifically valid and achievable.

But according to Simon Stuart, chair of the International Union for the Conservation of
Nature's (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, setting targets is not the most important
task facing governments.

"We have a chance of a much tougher target for 2020 than we had for 2010, which
would be about having no net biodiversity loss," he said.

"I think the key thing is whether we'll see over the next few years concerted action on the
drivers of biodiversity loss - if we don't see that in the next few years, then we certainly
won't see good results by 2020."

All of those drivers, he noted, were related to the expansion of the human footprint -
among them population growth, loss of habitat, climate change, ocean acidification, and
growing demand for food.

Maria Cecilia Wey de Brito, secretary for biodiversity and forests with the Brazilian
government, who co-chaired the meeting with Mr Irranca-Davies, acknowledged that
these issues would be difficult to tackle, but said it could be done.

"Of course it's not easy; but it's possible, because what is at risk is our maintenance as a
species on the planet," she said.

"We think that people will understand very well that if our ecosystem services get to a
state where we won't have them anymore - the pollinators, for example - this is going to
be disastrous.

"So I think this is something that is going to be possible, because it's totally necessary."

Richer harvests

Eighteen years after the biodiversity convention came into existence, one of its key aims
- to agree a mechanism for fairly and sustainably profiting from nature exploitation -
remains unrealised.

The UN would like to conclude an agreement on it this year; and Mr Irranca-Davis noted
there had been some progress during the London talks. Delegates from developing
countries - that have historically been suspicious of the notion - have been speaking of
its potential benefits.

He said that some developing countries with rich biodiversity assets had expressed an
interest establishing an agreement for good, sustainable exploitation of their own natural

"[Some] developing nations expressed the view that, if we get those sort of agreements
right, there is more potential to harvest from biodiversity," he said.

"So it's in our interests not only to protect, but to identify where those biodiversity riches
are and to exploit them further, but in the right way, and making sure that these benefits
are not just to developed countries, but to developing nations as well."

The meeting also discussed whether an expert panel should be set up to collate
research on biodiversity - analogous to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
- but there is as yet no consensus.

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Mother Nature Network (US): Top 7 disappearing glaciers

21 January 2010

This week a volcano of controversy erupted over the very icy topic of glaciers with critics
attacking the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for including an incorrect
reference to the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035.

Many skeptics claim that this ―glacier goof-up‖ somehow disproves the credibility of the
IPCC as a whole and the thousands of scientists it cites in its report.

And more significantly they are calling into question the overwhelming accumulation of
data that proves that around 90% of the major glaciers in the world are melting... very,
very quickly.

Here‘s a quick reference chart that indexes average Mass Balance (loss or gain) in the
cryosphere (glaciated areas) in units of ‗m w.e.‘ or mass-water equivalent (i.e. the
―volume‖ of the glacier). Glacier Mass Balance is a rigorous form of analysis that factors in
a wide variety of measurements, including surface area.

The chart is from a 2006/2007 report by the World Glacier Monitoring Service, an
independent research organization which has been monitoring the world‘s glaciers since


It shows the world divided into 9 quadrants and the average level of change in glacier
mass for each. As is quite evident, most of the world‘s cryosphere is in a process of
deglaciation (red & yellow). Yes people, the world is melting.

According to the report, we have lost as much as 20% of the entire mass of glaciers on the
planet since WWII.

A figure that is almost impossible to comprehend, considering that most of these glaciers
have been here for tens of thousands of years with relatively minor fluctuations in mass.

It appears that the LIA (―Little Ice Age‖) had little impact on the size of the earth's glaciers
(an inconvenient truth for climate skeptics).

Researchers looking at the relationship between surface area and mass of glaciers dating
back to the LIA have this to say:The observed trend of increasingly negative mass balance
over reducing glacier surface areas thus leaves no doubt about the ongoing climatic
forcing resulting from the change in climate and possible enhancement mechanisms such
as mass balance / altitude feedback, altered turbulent and longwave radiation fluxes due

to the size and existence of rock outcrops or changes in the surface albedo (Paul et al.
2007) via UNEP.

In English that means that the glaciers are melting at an abnormally rapid speed, and this
can only be attributed to global warming combined with environmental feedback loops (for
instance.. the reduction of albedo or reflectiveness due to the fact that as glaciers melt,
dark rocks are exposes which attracts here and increases melting rates).

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Daily Nation (Kenya): Future wars could be fought over lakes, rivers

21 January 2010

Water is one of the most sought after natural resources in Africa. Many wars, especially
among pastoralist communities, have been fought over it while global warming and
reckless human activity have taken a heavy toll on the continent‘s major lakes in the past

A UNEP-produced Atlas of African Lakes shows the drastic depletion of the continent‘s
major water bodies by comparing and contrasting past satellite images with contemporary

Complicating matters further, some of the biggest natural lakes in Africa are usually
spread across national borders, which means the responsibility of ensuring there is a
sustainable usage of their waters is shared between nations.

But more often than not there is a sort of scramble, with the countries involved selfishly
trying to outdo each other in siphoning the lacustrine resources without giving much
thought to a common and sustainable operating policy. Where agreements are drawn they
are rarely honoured.

The state of Lake Chad is probably the best illustration of this madness. Once Africa‘s
largest fresh water body supporting the livelihoods of about 30 million people in
Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger, the lake has shrunk by 90 per cent from 25,000
square kilometres in the 1960s to less than 1,300 square kilometres today.

Reduced rainfall, increased irrigation, the southward march of the Sahara and heavy
damming of Logone and Chari rivers, the two major sources of the lake, are cited as the
main causes of this ecological catastrophe.

There are occasional conflicts involving Nigerian fishermen on one side and Chadian and
Cameroonian authorities on the other as the Nigerians venture outside their shallow
waters for bigger catches.

This dying water mass has forced many of the 30 million people who live around it to
abandon fishing for menial jobs or farming on the exposed lakebed using the scarce lake
water or relying on erratic rainfall.

 Environmentalists warn that the lake will be a mere pond in two decades, prompting
regional governments to think of channelling water from Oubangi River in the Central
Africa Republic.

Lake Turkana dying

Thousands of miles away from the dying Lake Chad on the Kenya-Ethiopian border is
Lake Turkana, the world‘s largest desert lake, which according to environmentalists is also
on its deathbed.

With about 500,000 people in both countries depending on the lake directly or indirectly for
their survival, activists are bitterly opposed to Ethiopia‘s plan to build the Gilgel Gibe III
hydroelectric dam, the second largest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Situated 600 kilometres up the Omo River valley, the dam is a monolithic piece of
architecture, with its wall soaring 240 metres high and holding back a 150 kilometre-long

Critics are complaining that the $2 billion (Sh150 billion) power project will interfere with
the flow of the river that provides 80 per cent of water to Lake Turkana.

Although authorities on both sides of the border say the dam will only moderate but not
change the total amount of water flowing into the lake, an independent collection of
European, American and East African scientists under the African Resources Working
Group (ARWG) insist the dam will have a catastrophic impact on Lake Turkana and its
people since it will retain 11 billion cubic metres of water, enough to reduce the level of the
lake by as much as four or five metres.

Gradually shrinking

―It is unclear how much the Gibe III will affect Lake Turkana,‖ says Paul Ikmat, a
hydrologist. Nobody has really done the studies.

 But as a hydrologist I find it hard to see how it couldn‘t have a significant effect. If the level
falls any further, there is real danger that the water will become too alkaline to drink and
damage the delicate fisheries.‖

Over the years the lake has been gradually shrinking and becoming increasingly salty and
highly alkaline, its water barely drinkable.

Funded partly by European Investment Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB), the
Gibe III hydro-plant is expected to generate 1,870 megawatts of electricity in 2013, a fact
that is bound to benefit Kenya and other electricity-hungry neighbouring countries.

Ethiopia says that besides power generation the dam will also reduce River Omo‘s
devastating floods that killed at least 360 people and thousands of livestock in 2006.

Activists have accused the government of Kenya of remaining indifferent to the issue since
it stands to benefit from the surplus power to be generated from the dam.

Kenya is bound to benefit from the more than 500 megawatts earmarked for export from
Gibe III to neighbouring countries.

This will help meet her electricity demand that is expected to rise to 2,000 megawatts in
the next five years, double the present installed capacity.
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Planet-Positive (Blog): The climate change refugee

21 January 2010

Global warming is an observable fact threatening our future that much is certain. But, for
many, climate change is affecting the here and now. More and more we are witnessing the
human cost of climate change: human migration.

In 2008, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council, more than 20 million people were
displaced by climate related natural disasters such as cyclones, heavy floods and rains.

A report by the Environmental Justice Foundation claims global warming could create as
many as 150 million refugees by 2050.

Most often the communities hit hardest are the poorest, lacking education on climate
change, least able to adapt to changing circumstances and with the smallest carbon
footprints on the planet.

Later on this year, the population of around 2500 of the Cartarel Islands, of Papua New
Guinea, will be forced from their homes to neighbouring islands as their homes fall victim
to rising sea levels.

This will not only adversely affecting fishing, destroying plantation and therefore
compromising future food sources, but is more tragically ‗swallowing‘, as they say, the
picturesque tropical island.

Murray Island, one of the 18 inhabited islands of the Torres Strait, lying between the far
north-eastern tip of the Australian mainland and Papua New Guinea, with a total
population of 7000 people is also feeling the effects of climate change.

Inhabitants‘ traditional ways of life living on the islands beaches is increasingly plagued by
abnormally high tides flooding and eroding the islands and shifting seasons leaving
inhabitants unsure as to when to plant crops.

Changing animal migration patterns means birds, turtles and sea cows traditionally hunted
for meat are now progressively scarce. One inhabitant claims it is usually customary to
see hundreds of turtles on the beach during mating season, in 2008, however, she saw
only 5 or 6.

Pacific ocean islands, such as Kiribati with a population of 100,000 and Tuvalu with a
population of 11,000, are also suffering from rising sea levels engulfing their lands
resulting in salt water mixing with groundwater, contaminating wells and food sources such

as plants and trees beginning to die out. In 2007, over 3,000 Tuvaluans fled the island to
the largest exile community in Auckland, New Zealand.

As of yet ,there are no extensive research studies into whether climate change is in fact
behind this phenomenon and if these people are in fact ‗environmental refugees‘. There
are many that believe this phenomenon is a result of the natural movement of the Earth‘s
tectonic plates which is causing islands to ‗sink‘.

However, research shows that the River Nile is also shrinking. The river, crucial to the
economy in many parts of Uganda, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, acting as a source of food
and a means of producing a livelihood threatens these populations‘ ways of life.

Other parts of these countries increasingly suffer from rising temperatures attracting higher
numbers of pests and mosquitoes leading to rising health problems and damaging crops
local communities depend upon such as coffee crops in Uganda.

Other countries increasingly affected by climate change are Bangladesh, small island
developing states such as the Maldives, which is witnessing the erosion of its coral reefs
due to warmer waters, and the Seychelles.

According to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), regions such as
Darfur have been transformed from sustainable agricultural lands into partial deserts
leading to tension and conflict over access to food and a means of generating a living

These ‗climate refugees‘ grow increasingly scared that their identities and cultures, which
they believe to be tied to their land, will be lost. Are we facing the extinction of our world‘s
different cultures?

It is clear that, before long, the observable trend of inhabitants forced from their homes
due to climate change will inevitably become a human rights issue, one which remains at
present underdeveloped.

 For this to happen however there remain legal complexities which must be solved before
positive action can be taken such as who is or becomes responsible for these
environmental refugees? Neighbouring countries? Who is then to blame for their forced
displacement and obligated to provide compensation? Corporations that emit the
greenhouse gases that have resulted in anthropogenic climate change? Changes will
have to be made to international law to deal with the effects of climate change.

What is certain is that the futures of populations such as those mentioned remain
uncertain and in the hands of those with the power to do something for them, namely
developing nations.

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Jakarta Globe (Indonesia): Indonesia to Speak For the Seas at UN

21 January 2010

Indonesia plans to push for the inclusion of ocean issues at an upcoming United Nations
forum on the environment in Bali, a member of the State Ministry for the Environment said
on Thursday.

The 11th special session of the Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the UN
Environment Program will be held in Bali from Feb. 22 to 26 to discuss three major topics:
international governance and sustainable development, green economies and biodiversity
and ecosystems.

―Our main mission is to include ocean issues into the building blocks of adaptation,‖ said
Liana Bratasida, assistant minister for global environmental affairs and international
cooperation at the State Ministry for the Environment. Liana was referring to one of the
four ―building blocks‖ agreed to at the December climate change talks in Copenhagen.

―If we succeed on including the issue, then it would become one of UNEP‘s working
programs,‖ she said.

The government will also push for assistance for developing countries in implementing
low-carbon economic growth, she added.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said that unlike forests, oceans
had been difficult to include at the climate change negotiations because there was still
limited research on the issue.

 ―There was lots of criticism of the Copenhagen Accord because oceans were not
included, considering their great impact on climate change. But it has been thoroughly
discussed in the adaptation section compared to in the mitigation section,‖ Gusti said.

 In anticipation of the meeting in Denpasar, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has
instructed district heads and mayors to intensify environmental programs such as the
Clean Friday movement and to implement better waste management programs. Bali is
expected to be named the nation‘s first Green Province during the forum.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to open the forum, which is expected
to involve some 5,000 delegates from 192 countries.

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Waste Management World (Blog): The Aftermath of COP15

21 January 2010

Several reports on the desired outcomes of the COP15 summit in Copenhagen mentioned
disappointment, lack of success, and failure. In part, this was down to the lack of binding

 A newspaper headline following the conference spoke of ‗Lessons from the Copenhagen
Climate Talks‘, and it is important to think about what can we learn and what Copenhagen
will mean for the future? Even if the negotiations did not go as far as some had hoped,
important steps have been taken.

ISWA is accredited as an observer organisation with UNFCCC (United Nations
Framework Convention on Climate Change).

This meant a number of ISWA members had access to the COP15 premises. Attending a
major event such as this, and seeing the levels of engagement and involvement was very
encouraging. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were involved in discussions from
grassroots level right to the top, and will therefore be able to encourage change.

Another success is education. COP15 has created a wider global awareness of climate
change and its implications. Seen in that perspective, the outcomes of the COP15 are

This major UN event has opened up a global dialogue and the establishment of a
partnership for collaboration.

The subject of waste was brought up by a variety of attendees at COP15, including the
international climate justice movement and a global alliance of waste pickers.

The alliance is seeking to have the work of waste pickers recognized for curbing climate
change within the UNFCCC. This level of attention to issue of waste was much higher
than it has been at previous summits.

ISWA‘s goal for COP15 was raise awareness of the role good waste management
techniques can play in reducing climate change emissions. ISWA‘s primary approach was
to form an expert Task Force on Climate Change in 2008, assembling research data,
opinions, and findings from a participating group of global practitioners.

Task Force outputs included three workshops and recently (December 2009) a published
‗White Paper‘ on this topic for public distribution.

 The White Paper was released the week prior to the COP15 conference during the
ISWA/Dakofa Conference on Waste and Climate Change. (For reference, the ISWA White
Paper can be downloaded at the ISWA webpage ).

As a secondary step, ISWA, in partnership with UNEP, applied to run a technical side-
event to demonstrate the effectiveness of the waste management sector in delivering
carbon reductions.

COP15 representatives, having had huge interest and hundreds of similar applications, did
not make room for ISWA‘s side event this year.

Third, ISWA sought to raise awareness about sustainable waste management practices to
COP15 attendees, and to advocate continued improvements, particularly for developing

As we reflect on what we have learnt, it is clear there is much work to do in terms of
seeking emission reduction commitments and establishing the best approach to achieve
such reductions.

 New measures will receive increased focus, and some of these will apply directly to the
protection of waste management facilities and operating systems.

The COP16 will take place in Mexico in late November 2010 and certainly, the waste
sector will have a voice and a message to deliver.

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ANSA (Italy): UNEP (Onu), dopo emergenza riparare danni ambiente

21 January 2010

Una volta risolta l'emergenza, Haiti avra' bisogno di aiuto per risolvere i propri problemi
ambientali, a partire dalla deforestazione, acuiti dal disastro ma gia' presenti prima del

Lo ha ricordato in un' intervista all'agenzia Reuters il rappresentante dell'agenzia Onu per
l'ambiente (Unep).

''Dobbiamo lavorare per garantire un migliore utilizzo delle risorse naturali dell'isola', ha
spiegato Asif Zaidi, che ha ricordato come la deforestazione selvaggia ordinata dal
dittatore haitiano Dvalier sia alla base dell'erosione del suolo che limita la produzione di

Nei prossimi due anni l'isola sara' al centro di un programma dell'Unep per il ripristino sia
delle foreste che della barriera corallina, ha spiegato il portavoce.

Inoltre l'agenzia sta cercando donatori che forniscano la tecnologia per incentivare l'uso di
fonti di energia rinnovabile invece del carbone, prodotto proprio bruciando le foreste,
largamente utilizzato ora.

Gli sforzi sono piu' che mai urgenti: secondo uno studio della societa' inglese Maplecroft
Haiti e' seconda solo alla Somalia nella classifica dei luoghi del pianeta piu' esposti alle
conseguenze dei cambiamenti climatici

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Lorientlejour (France): Cri d’alarme d’un écologiste: les charbonniers défigurent

21 January 2010

Les arbres abattus par des charbonniers sont de plus en plus nombreux, et ceux-ci
travaillent sans relâche dans ce qui reste des forêts libanaises.

 Hier, l'écologiste Mazen Abboud, conseiller auprès du Programme des Nations unies
pour l'environnement (PNUE), a dénoncé la réduction significative, et à vue d'œil, des
espaces verts du caza de Batroun.

 Il s'est basé sur ses observations pour parler d'« une détérioration perceptible de la
qualité de l'air sur toutes les routes de Batroun, due à l'activité des nombreux
charbonniers ayant obtenu leurs permis au temps du précédent ministre de l'Agriculture ».

 Il est très facile à tout un chacun de remarquer, en passant en voiture, que l'abattage
d'arbres ne répond à aucun critère technique », poursuit-il.

L'écologiste a dit craindre « que l'abattage de certains arbres n'entraîne des glissements
de terrains, notamment sur l'autoroute de Tannourine, au niveau de la forêt de Deir Mar
Yacoub appartenant à l'ordre libanais maronite et adjacente à cette autoroute ». M.
Abboud a fait le lien entre une hausse du prix des carburants et une augmentation des
opérations d'abattage d'arbres.

Il a enfin rendu hommage à l'actuel ministre de l'Agriculture, Hussein Hajj Hassan, qui a
gelé les permis d'élagage (utilisés par les contrevenants pour l'abattage), et l'a appelé à
intensifier la surveillance des forêts.

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                                 Other Environment News

Independent (UK): Creating glaciers out of thin air

22 January 2010

At times, the moonscape land of Ladakh can appear as dry as a desert. In this most
northerly part of India, tucked high in the Himalayas, there is virtually no rainfall and almost
75 per cent of the local farmers rely on meltwater from the glaciers to irrigate their once-a-
year crops.

It was in Ladakh, confronted by receding glaciers – currently at the centre of an
increasingly bitter dispute between scientists and Delhi – that Chewang Norphel, a
government engineer, hit upon an idea to use nature to give the locals a helping hand with
growing more food.

Seeing how much fresh water was wasted during the winter – as villagers left their taps
running to prevent them freezing solid – and noticing the way that they stored snow on
shaded areas of the mountain, he decided to create his own artificial glaciers.

That was more than a decade ago. Now, with funding from the Indian army – which is
keen to maintain the support of local people in a strategically sensitive area close to the
border with China – Mr Norphel has created 10 artificial glaciers and is planning more.

Crucially he has constructed them at lower elevations than the naturally occurring glaciers
so that they melt at least a month earlier, providing the farmers with an opportunity to
produce a second harvest of wheat, barley, peas and potatoes.

Such has been his success that to local people and environmentalists, he is known simply
as Mr Glacier.

"I am a civil engineer by training and I was working in rural development. I had to visit
every village and I noticed that all their problems were related to water," Mr Norphel said.
"I thought about how to solve the problem.

There was a pipe near my house that provided water for a village. During the winter we
had to keep it open to stop it freezing. I thought that if we could hold that water it would all
turn into ice."

The engineer set about building a system of pipes with holes in them that diverted water to
a shaded part of the hillside and slowly reduced the volume as the water froze to ice. Over
the years he has fine-tuned the design of the glaciers and their location on the hillsides.

Natural glaciers, he explained, begin to melt in June or July but by locating his artificial
constructions 4,000ft lower down the valley, he is able to ensure they melt in May, which is
typically when farmers finish sowing their crops.

Last year his teams built three glaciers for Stamko, one of many villages that have
suffered from a drastic lack of water for farming. "There are a total of 113 rural villages in
Ladakh and 80 of them depend on the glaciers for irrigation," he said.

The magical but fragile eco-system of Ladakh and its traditional inhabitants are threatened
most directly by the ironic combination of droughts and floods.

Mr Norphel, 74, is certain of several things: that the glaciers are retreating more quickly
than before; that the region receives less snowfall and moisture than it did when he was
younger; and that the region is progressively getting warmer.

The engineer's instincts are supported by a survey recently conducted by Geres India, a
rural development organisation based in Ladakh.

It found a remarkable rising trend of average temperatures by 1C for winter and 5C for
summer between 1973 and 2008.

During the same period, rainfall and snowfall had shown a clear declining trend.
"Altogether snowfall has come down by almost 60 per cent in the past 50 years," the
group's spokesman, Tundup Angmo, told Reuters.

Yet India's Himalayan glaciers are currently the focus of heated debate. This week the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admitted that a claim included in a
938-page scientific report that all of India's glaciers would disappear by 2035 was
incorrect, after it emerged it was based on an unsubstantiated media report. The IPCC
expressed its "regret [for] the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this

India's environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, often attacked by activists, seized on the

"The health of the glaciers is a cause of grave concern, but the IPCC's alarmist position
that they would melt by 2035 was not based on an iota of scientific evidence," he told

 Mr Ramesh's ministry recently published a study paper which claimed that the Himalayan
glaciers, which give birth to several key river systems including the Indus, Ganges and
Brahmaputra, which provide water to hundreds of millions of people, had not retreated

Yet Mr Norphel is under no doubts about the reality of what is happening to the
environment in which he grew up and where he is now trying to use nature to help itself.

 "When I was small, if there was a foot of snow it would last for six months. Now it will melt
in a week," he said. "That is the result of climate change."

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Sciencemag (US): Antarctic Glacier off Its Leash

22 January 2010

An unmanned autonomous submarine has discovered a sea-floor ridge that may have
been the last hope for stopping the now-accelerating retreat of the Pine Island Glacier, a
crumbling keystone of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, researchers announced at the fall
meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

An unmanned autonomous submarine has discovered a sea-floor ridge that may have
been the last hope for stopping the now-accelerating retreat of the Pine Island Glacier, a
crumbling keystone of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The ridge appears to have once protected the glacier, but no more.

The submarine found the glacier floating well off the ridge and warmer, ice-melting water
passing over the ridge and farther under the ice. And no survey, underwater or airborne,
has found another such glacier-preserving obstacle for the next 250 kilometers

The Pine Island and adjacent Thwaites glaciers are key to the fate of West Antarctic ice,
says glaciologist Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University, University Park, in an e-
mail. And West Antarctica is key to how fast and far sea level will rise in a warming world.
"To a policymaker, I suspect that the continuing list of [such] ice-sheet surprises is not
reassuring," he writes.

At the meeting, glaciologist Adrian Jenkins of the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge
and colleagues described how the instrument-laden Autosub3 cruised for 94 hours along
510 kilometers of trackbeneath the floating portion of the Pine Island Glacier in January

The sub found a 300-meter-high ridge across the ocean cavity formed by the floating end
of the glacier.

Deep, warmer water was overtopping the ridge and passing through the gap between
floating ice and the ridge top on its way to melting back more of the glacier. That gap has
been growing, Jenkins said, perhaps since the 1970s.

An aerial photograph from 1973 shows a bump in the ice where the ridge is now known
to be, suggesting that the ice was then resting on the ridge and no warmer water could
have been getting through.

Although the last physical obstacle to continued melting and retreat of the Pine Island
Glacier has been breached, the ice's fate remains murky, says glaciologist David Holland
of New York University in New York City.

That's because glaciologists aren't sure what got the glacial retreat started in the first
place, he notes.

It wasn't the greenhouse simply warming the ocean, researchers agree. Instead, shifting
winds around Antarctica in recent decades may have driven warmer waters up to the ice
and dislodged it from its perch on the ridge.

But what caused the winds to shift? Global warming? The ozone hole? Random
variability? Glaciologists—and policymakers—would like to know.

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AP: Global warming opens up Arctic for undersea cable

21 January 2010

Global warming has melted so much Arctic ice that a telecommunication group is moving
forward with a project that was unthinkable just a few years ago: laying underwater fiber
optic cable between Tokyo and London by way of the Northwest Passage.

The proposed system would nearly cut in half the time it takes to send messages from
the United Kingdom to Asia, said Walt Ebell, CEO of Kodiak-Kenai Cable Co. The route
is the shortest underwater path between Tokyo and London.

The quicker transmission time is important in the financial world where milliseconds can
count in executing profitable trades and transactions. "Speed is the crux," Ebell said.
"You're cutting the delay from 140 milliseconds to 88 milliseconds."

The project, while still facing many significant obstacles, also serves as an example of
how warming has altered the Arctic landscape in profound ways.

The loss of summer sea ice prompted the U.S. to list polar bears as a threatened
species in May 2008. Walrus in two of the last three years gathered by the thousands on
Alaska's northwest shore rather than ride pack ice to unproductive waters beyond the
outer continental shelf.

Summer sea ice melted to its lowest recorded level ever in late 2007, and most climate
modelers predict a continued downward spiral. The result is a path through the
Northwest Passage, the Arctic route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific that has
fascinated explorers for centuries.

"That opens up the construction window to actually do something like this without the
need of heavy icebreakers," Ebell said. "On the other side, you've got the market part of
it and the increasing demand we're seeing for lower and lower latencies, or transmission

But the project, called ArcticLink, is not without hurdles — namely the estimated
construction price of $1.2 billion, said Alan Mauldin, research director at TeleGeography
Research, a Washington, D.C.-based telecommunications market research company.

"That's not a cheap project," he said by phone from the Slovak Republic.

By comparison, a line beginning service next month between Japan and the U.S. West
Coast was built for $300 million, he said.

The leaders of the project will need to persuade telecommunications companies to buy a
piece of the capacity created by the cable. Telecom companies will make that decision
largely based on demand from financial companies.

"What we've seen is just because you have a diverse path does not mean that you can
necessarily sell that capacity for much more than the current market price," Mauldin said.

Ebell uses the analogy of building a shopping mall to describe the financing process:
Secure some initial investments and then lure an anchor tenant to really drive the project

The cable will cut a 10,000-mile path across half the world: It would be laid in deep water
from Japan to the Aleutian Islands, then traverse north through the relatively shallow
waters of the Bering Sea.

The line would need a regeneration station — essentially a booster of the signal to
compensate for the long distance — on the northern coast of Alaska, probably at
Prudhoe Bay. From there, it will wend its way through the Northwest Passage, then dip
around the southern tip of Greenland and across the North Atlantic to the United

Branches off the line would provide access to the East Coast of the U.S., ensuring
quicker transmission times between Tokyo and New York, Ebell said.

"It will provide the domestic market an alternative route not only to Europe — there's lots
of cable across the Atlantic — but it will provide the East Coast with an alternative, faster
route to Asia as well," he said.

The cable would pass mostly through U.S., Canadian international waters and avoid
possible trouble spots along the way.

"You're not susceptible to 'events,' I should say, that you might run into with a cable that
runs across Russia or the cables that run down around Asia and go up through the Suez
Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. You're getting away from those choke points."

Ebell's Anchorage-based company is partnering with KhaNNet, part of Khanjee
Holdings, Inc., on the project, and the partners are pursuing financing.

The company also hopes to link rural Alaska communities to the cable. It has applied for
$350 million in federal stimulus money, nearly 5 percent of that total for broadband grant
and loan program, for lines to eight hub communities in western and northern Alaska.
The Asia-Europe line does not depend on stimulus money, Ebell said.

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LA Times: Climate change camp experiencing a cooling-off period

21 January 2010

Climate change just isn't what it used to be. Case in point: The number of otherwise
intelligent people who are saying that all the cold weather (in the East) and rain (here at
home) are causing them to lose faith in the gospel of global warming.

To their way of thinking, it's fine and good to be bellyaching about rising sea levels when
it's 100 degrees outside.

It's easy to remember to carry around your reusable tote bag when drought begets
parched hillsides, which beget wildfires, which beget air that smells like rotisserie
chicken minus the chicken.

But guess what? It's been pouring all week. In Florida, the oranges are perishing under

The temperature bottomed out at minus 52 in North Dakota earlier this month, and
Beijing recently had its biggest snowfall since 1951.

Remember back in 2006 and 2007? Everyone was talking about "An Inconvenient
Truth," parading those eco-bags around and coveting hybrid cars.

Laurie David, who'd previously been known chiefly as the wife of Seinfeld co-creator
Larry David, was suddenly a quasi-famous person, palling around with Sheryl Crow and
ranting about CO2 emissions on the Huffington Post.

In fact, back then, it seemed like the entire world was buddies with Sheryl Crow and
blogging on the HuffPo.

We spent 2006 suspicious that Hurricane Katrina was a manifestation of global warming.
In 2007, it was California wildfires.

Then Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change's report concluded that humans were almost certainly responsible for rising
temperatures. To top it off, Laurie David filed for divorce and made the pages of People.
Those were the days!

Maybe the financial crisis has diverted our attention from the melting Arctic ice cap.

Maybe Sarah Palin effectively redirected all liberal indignation straight in her direction.
Maybe there were just too many eco-related marital conflicts.

(A trend story in the New York Times recently reported that therapists are seeing an
increase in couples who clash in their approaches to recycling and organic gardening.
Did we learn nothing from the calamitous breakup of the Davids?)

Or maybe the conditions now are just too conducive to climate change skepticism. Not
that anyone who's ever gazed out at a blizzard and thought, "This is global warming?"
deserves to be labeled a denier.

We all know (we do, don't we?) that weather is not the same as climate. It's not that we
don't want to save the planet anymore; it's just that it somehow doesn't seem quite as

Results from a Gallup Poll released last March showed that 41% of Americans think
global warming is exaggerated -- an increase from 2006 and the highest since Gallup
began asking about it in 1997.

Meanwhile, the December climate change summit in Copenhagen was done few favors
by the Climategate scandal -- the incident in which a number of e-mails were made
public that suggested climate scientists were cherry-picking data and tampering with
peer review procedures in an effort to downplay anything that might serve as
ammunition for global warming skeptics.

Maybe we shouldn't be too quick to mythologize the verdure of years past, or to
castigate ourselves for taking a few extra minutes in the shower or for not wanting a
Prius the way a little girl wants a pony.

Consider this about good old 2006: It was a scorcher. It was febrile. It was partly sunny
with a chance of Hades.

Moreover, it came on the heels of something even hotter: 2005. That year is tied with
1998 as the hottest ever. In fact, NASA reports that the first seven years of the decade
were among the warmest on record for average global surface temperature.

Remember how on July 22, 2006, the thermometer hit 112 degrees in downtown L.A.?
Remember going to see "An Inconvenient Truth" several times not necessarily because
it was so compelling but because the theater was air-conditioned?

This year's weather may be less convenient for the global warming cause, but it doesn't
change the facts -- the climate is changing.

 Here's the rub, though: In order for a cause to resonate, people need simple, clear
evidence. They need tangibles. And what could be more tangible than opening your door
and being hit by a blast of fiery air?

Science, alas, is complicated and weather has always been as predictable as, well . . .
the weather. Maybe that's why, if we're really interested in the truth -- about global
warming or anything else -- it helps to get beyond what's outside our own doors and

Just not this week. It's nasty out there.

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Reuters: Carbon market exec still hopes for climate bill

21 January 2010

"Our view is that it's not dead," Abyd Karmali, managing director and global head of
carbon emissions at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, told Reuters in an interview.

A climate bill passed the House last year, but the legislation has been bogged down in the
Senate and its future is uncertain after Republican Scott Brown, who has opposed capping
emissions, won the seat held by Ted Kennedy.

The prospect of Environmental Protection Agency regulation as well as a growing threat of
nuisance torts may be enough to garner support for the bill among emitters, Karmali said.

The cap-and-trade bill, expected to create a trillion-dollar carbon trading market, would cap
carbon emissions and allow pollution permits to be traded.

If the bill does not pass, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may begin regulating
carbon emissions for the first time.

"Right now, companies have a stark choice in front of them. One path is a market-based
approach through cap and trade, another is EPA regulation... In terms of trying to steer
things toward a positive outcome, clearly, the Senate would be a more manageable
forum," Karmali said.

In addition, a recent raft of climate-related tort suits which cite greenhouse gas emissions
as a public nuisance may give some emitters additional incentive to support carbon

"Without any action taking place to reduce emissions, large emitters are more likely to face
tort suits from environmental and civil groups and we've seen that already," Karmali said.

In September, for instance, a U.S. Appeals Court reinstated a lawsuit by eight states and
the city of New York against five of the largest U.S. utilities over their carbon dioxide

Some emitting companies, including some major U.S. power companies, are already in
favor of cap and trade legislation in the interest of having a more definite regulatory

"Companies are trying to make long-term investment decisions with assets that have 20-
30 year time frames and the uncertainty can act as an impediment to investing or lending,"
according to Karmali.

However, the window for passing the bill this year may be limited.

"If it doesn't happen by May, it's not going to happen this year," Karmali said.

Delay in the world's top industrial emitter to regulate has could further delay a global
warming agreement.

But if federal climate control legislation does not pass, individual states may continue to
develop their own carbon trading frameworks.

Already, 10 states in the eastern United States regulate carbon dioxide in the Regional
Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and a western U.S. and Canadian initiative led by California.

Although a state-by-state approach to carbon legislation is less desirable for development
of a carbon-trading market than a federal one, states may eventually form networks of
carbon markets.

"It's easy to envision a scenario where to try to make the patchwork quilt as manageable
as possible, those efforts begin to link up so there would be a coordinating mechanism
that's almost acting like a federal coordinating mechanism," Karmali said.

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Reuters: U.S. vote dims hopes for stronger world climate pact

21 January 2010

The election of Republican Scott Brown, an opponent of cap and trade, to the Senate after
the death of Democrat Edward Kennedy dims prospects for U.S. action. Once Brown
takes office, Democrats will have 59 seats in the Senate and the Republicans 41. The bill
needs 60 votes to overcome procedural hurdles.

Backers of the existing international Kyoto Protocol, which obliges all industrialized nations
except the United States to cut emissions until 2012, will be more reluctant to take on
tougher new goals for 2020 unless Washington also joins in.

U.N. climate talks in Mexico in November are meant to build on a weak "Copenhagen
Accord" worked out last month by nations including the United States that sets a goal of
limiting warming to no more than 2 Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial times.

But the Mexico meeting will be undermined if the United States, the top emitter behind
China, has not set caps on carbon emissions. That might dash hopes for a Kyoto
successor from 2013 and mean a system of domestic pledges instead.

"We can't afford climate to be a dysfunctional regime like trade," said Nick Mabey, head of
the E3G climate think-tank in London. He said there were risks talks would stall, like the
inconclusive Doha round on freer world trade launched in 2001.

Mary Nichols, the top official implementing California's state climate change law, told
Reuters that state and regional climate change efforts could now take center stage in the
United States.

"We've been feeling ever since Copenhagen that the focus was going to be on regional
efforts for the coming year, regardless of what happened in the Massachusetts election,"
she said in a telephone interview.

Many nations have been sitting on the fence before deciding firm carbon policies, waiting
for U.S. legislation. President Barack Obama wants to cut emissions by 4 percent below
1990 levels by 2020, or a 17 percent cut from 2005 levels.

Countries are supposed to propose carbon-cutting policies under the Copenhagen Accord
by January 31.

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the legislation might have to be split in two
to ensure that less controversial parts encouraging use of alternative energies can pass.
Tougher elements limiting emissions could then be handled separately.

"I don't believe that cap and trade is dead," he said.


Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, said U.S. willingness to act
had built since ex-President George W. Bush took office in 2001 and said Kyoto would
cost jobs and wrongly omitted carbon curbs by poor nations.

"I don't think that any political development in the United States means turning back nine
years on the climate change agenda," he said. Many Americans were concerned, for
instance, with energy security and hoped for jobs in a greener economy.

But some experts said failure to pass U.S. legislation could have a knock-on in countries
such as Australia, Japan or Canada which are considering stronger action beyond 2012
that aims to avert ever more heatwaves, droughts, floods and rising sea levels.

"2009 was fairly disappointing and 2010 could be another year of slow policy development
to those trying to launch their own cap and trade schemes," said Trevor Sikorski, director
of carbon markets research at Barclays Capital.

Still, he predicted the value of global carbon markets would grow in 2010 -- boosted by an
increase in prices even though the growth of trading volume would slow.

"The issue of cap and trade does not necessarily go away. I expect banks will continue
low-key capacity building as there is no downside if a market doesn't develop by 2011 or
later," said Garth Edward, head of environmental products at Citi.

"They'll keep building the franchise," he said.

The European Union sees itself as a leader in combating climate change, and has set a
goal of cutting emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, or 30 percent if others

"We need global cooperation and progress will only be possible with internationally binding
commitments -- but for everyone," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Bundestag
lower house of parliament on Wednesday.

The Pacific island of Tuvalu fears rising seas could wash it off the map. Ian Fry, who
represents Tuvalu in U.N. talks, said U.S. carbon caps had to be passed by mid-year or
would be put back into 2011 because of November elections that cover about a third of the
Senate seats.

Environmental activists saw only bad news from the Senate.

"On the international front, China is constantly looking to the U.S. on climate bills ... This is
definitely bad news. It doesn't bring new confidence to international negotiations," said
Ailun Yang of Greenpeace in Beijing.

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BBC News: The attack of the killer everything

20 December 2010

About two decades ago, the world's frog experts realised they were characters in the
opening chapter of a detective novel.

It wasn't so much a whodunnit as a wotisdoinit - killing, that is, frogs and salamanders in
different parts of the world at a rate that merited the description "dramatic".

The pages were littered with suspects: pesticides, the ozone hole, global warming,
disease, invasive species, farming... the list went on and on. And with it a question; was
any one suspect working alone, or in a gang?

Now we know that there are two prime movers in the ongoing amphibian massacre. One
is the fungal disease chytridiomycosis; the other is... everything.

"Everything?" Surely not?

Well... yes, everything - or pretty much, anyway.

While the chytrid fungus has blown whole populations away single-handedly in a
season's shooting spree, many species undergo a slow, inexorable decline more akin to
starvation or an ancient torture; squeezed into corners by the expanding human habitat,
poisoned by farmland chemicals, eaten by bigger invasive neighbours, hunted for meat,
stressed by temperature rise and stalked by viruses - or any combination of the above.

As the plot of that detective story becomes clear, it seems that scientists are beginning
to write another with a very similar narrative, but this time with bees cast as the victims.

Bee populations - wild and cultivated - have always had their ups and downs, their years
of plenty and years of absence. But about five years ago, commercial beekeepers in the

US began reporting total wipe-outs of hives on a scale not documented before, leading
to the term colony collapse disorder (CCD).

Since then, the phenomenon has been noted across much of Europe, with indications
that it's gone further afield - to Brazil, to Taiwan.

There's some doubt as to whether CCD exists as something new or whether it's just an
extreme form of a hive decline that's usually more gradual.

Whatever the realities of that, it's clear that wild bee populations are also declining at
serious rates, both Apis mellifera and other species such as bumblebees.

The search for a cause - an aetiology, in medical parlance - has once again focused on
individual suspects: disease, pesticides, climatic change, loss of genetic diversity,
urbanisation, etc etc etc - even the use of mobile phones.

Once again, as the pages turn, a more complex picture emerges of a syndrome that
might well have multiple causes - indeed, that might have a different mix of causes in
different locations.

The latest twist in the plot comes from the French National Institute for Agricultural
Research, where scientists working in the lab have found a link between the health of
hives and the diversity of plants on which bees forage for food.

Although the finding needs to be confirmed in field trials - which the team is hoping to
instigate - the indication is that a diet of diverse pollen gives the bees the amino acids
they need to synthesise their full panoply of chemical defences against pathogens.

A reasonable hypothesis, then, would be that if you put your bees to work pollinating one
particular crop all summer and feed them on one particular food all winter, such as corn
syrup - as is the practice in US commercial hives - they're going to fall like insects out of
the sky when an unpleasant disease comes along.

Along with that goes the notion that if you lose a diversity of wild plants, you'll begin to
impact wild bees. (The reverse may also apply, a little more intuitively.)

A recent study using records kept by amateur naturalists in the UK and the Netherlands
suggests that the diversity of bees and flowers have been declining at similar rates for
more than a century - a conclusion that could suggest the causes are intertwined.

If a monoculture diet was the only issue, perhaps it wouldn't matter; perhaps the insects
would survive.

But add in a lack of genetic diversity among commercial stocks, the use of pesticides
and other agricultural chemicals to which they may be somewhat sensitive, changes to
the availability of water brought about by everything from man-made climate change to
dams, the greater mix of pathogens that commercial bees must encounter as the hives
travel from one workplace to the next, the declining extent of "natural" habitat for wild
bees, and so on and so on and so on - and once again, "everything" becomes a
reasonable suspect.

If this is right - and other branches of the natural world such as coral reef ecosystems
are also under multi-frontal attack - it raises a pretty obvious problem: how do you
combat "everything"?

A small but growing number of amphibian species now exist only in reserves or captive
breeding programmes - special places set aside for them. The only way to defend them
against the multiple attacks of the real world is to take them out of the real world.

That option does not exist for bees - especially for colonies and populations and species
that we do not domesticate, that live in the wild and pollinate many of the plants on
which they forage.

You might defend them against disease with a treatment, or against harmful pesticides
by finding a more sympathetic substitute, just as you can find a medical treatment for the
clear aetiology of a broken leg or a defective heart valve.

But just as there is no medical treatment for old age, there is no defence against
everything - nor is there ever likely to be.

Which leaves us with what conclusion to the story?

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Telegraph (UK): Past decade warmest on record, say NASA scientists

22 December 2010

Average global temperatures have increased warmed by about 1.5F (0.8C) since 1880,
when records began, research showed.

An analysis of global surface temperatures, by Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies
(GISS) in New York, found that last year was only a small fraction of a degree cooler than
2005, the warmest on record.

It found that In the Southern Hemisphere, where countries such as Australia have been
ravaged by drought and bushfires, last year was the warmest year on record.

In the past three decades, the GISS surface temperature records found an ―upward trend‖
of about 0.36F (0.2C) per decade.

Dr James Hansen, the institute‘s director, said the results proved that ―global warming has
not stopped‖.

"There's a contradiction between the results shown here and popular perceptions about
climate trends," said Dr Hansen, who was one of the first scientists to warn of the dangers
of global warming more than two decades ago.

"In the last decade, global warming has not stopped.

"There's substantial year-to-year variability of global temperature caused by the tropical El
Nino-La Nina cycle.‖

He added: ―When we average temperature over five or 10 years to minimise that
variability, we find global warming is continuing unabated.‖

In December Dr Hansen said any deal reached at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen
would be a ―disaster track‖ for the world.

Nasa said the institute used data from three sources to conduct its temperature analysis.

These included weather data from more than a thousand meteorological stations around
the world, satellite observations of sea surface temperatures and Antarctic research
station measurements.

The Met Office Hadley Centre in Exeter, uses similar input measurements but does not
include large areas of the Arctic and Antarctic where monitoring stations are sparse, Nasa

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ENN (Blog): Product Life Cycle Analysis

21 January 2010

How good or how bad is a product from a green carbon footprint point of view? Several
well known corporations like Airbus, Levi Strauss & Co., 3M, DuPont, and Kraft Foods
are volunteering to road test a full life cycle greenhouse gas analysis on a wide range of
products from blue jeans to manufactured steel.

A life cycle analysis studies all the potential contributions to a carbon footprint and
includes supplier, transportation, production and disposal. This concept is also related to
environmental sustainability.

The Product Life Cycle Accounting and Reporting Standard and the Scope 3 (Corporate
Value Chain) Accounting and Reporting Standard, provides innovative methods to
measure a product's full life cycle emissions is the planned method to be used. In all
sixty corporations have been chosen to participate.

The standard was developed with a multi-stakeholder, consensus based process to
develop greenhouse gas accounting and reporting standards with participation from
businesses, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and academic
institutions from around the world.

This draft standard was developed between January and October 2009 by two technical
working groups collectively comprised of over 70 members from a diversity of
businesses, government agencies, NGOs, and academic institutions.

    "We are encouraged by the overwhelming response from the private sector seeking to
    road test the new standards. There were more than 120 applications across a broad
    array of sectors and regions worldwide.

    The road testing will provide critical input in ensuring that the standards generate
    credible and meaningful data for business and government decision makers, while
    considering the practical challenges that businesses and programs will face during
    implementation," said Jonathan Lash in a press release.

    Lash is president of the World Resources Institute, which developed the standards along
    with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

    The new standards will also allow companies to look at the greenhouse gas emissions of
    their full corporate value chain, including supplier manufacturing, outsourced activities,
    and the products' ultimate consumption.

    The goal of life cycle analysis is to compare the full range of environmental and social
    damages assignable to products and services, and then to be able to choose the least
    burdensome one.

    At present it is a way to account for the effects of the cascade of technologies
    responsible for goods and services.

    The term life cycle refers to the notion that a fair, holistic assessment requires the
    assessment of raw material production, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal
    including all intervening transportation steps necessary or caused by the product's

    The sum of all those steps is the life cycle of the product. The concept also can be used
    to optimize the environmental performance of a single product.

    Common categories of assessed damages are global warming (greenhouse gases),
    acidification, smog, ozone layer depletion, eutrophication, eco-toxicological and human-
    toxicological pollutants, habitat destruction, desertification, land use as well as depletion
    of minerals and fossil fuels.

    The procedures of life cycle assessment are also part of the ISO 14000 environmental
    management standards.

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                                  RONA MEDIA UPDATE
                             THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                                Thursday, January 21, 2010

                                     UNEP or UN in the news

     Fox News: U.N. Panel's Glacier-Disaster Claims Melting Away
     Discovery News: Environmental Cleanup Starts Amid Haiti Rubble
     The New York Times: U.N. Official Says Climate Deal Is at Risk                           26
     The New York Times: U.S. Bound by Obama's Copenhagen Emissions Pledge --
      U.N. Official
   The Canadian Press: Prentice feels pressure to talk climate change at G8, G20
   The National Post: Temperature data skewed: researchers
   The Toronto Star (Opinion): Climate change a problem in desperate need of
   Vancouver Sun: United Nations report seeks mining moratorium in B.C.'s
    Flathead Valley
   Reuters: UN panel 'regrets' exaggeration of Himalayan thaw

U.N. Panel's Glacier-Disaster Claims Melting Away
Fox News, January 20, 2010, by Gene Koprowski

The world's most famous climate change expert is in the midst of a massive controversy,
as the leading environmental science institute he heads scrambled to explain data it
promulgated for a U.N. report.

The world's most famous climate change expert is at the center of a massive
controversy as the leading environmental science institute he heads scrambled to
explain its assertion that the Himalayan glaciers will melt completely in 25 years.

Rajendra Pachauri, head of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) and director general of the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Dehli,
India, said this week that the U.N. body was studying how its 2007 report to the United
Nations derived information that led to its famous conclusion: that the glaciers will melt
by 2035.

Today, the IPCC issued a statement offering regret for the poorly vetted statements.
"The Chair, Vice-Chairs, and Co-chairs of the IPCC regret the poor application of well-
established IPCC procedures," the statement says, though it goes short of issuing a full
retraction or reprinting the report.

Pachauri told Reuters on Monday that the group was looking into the issue, and planned
to "take a position on it in the next two or three days."

The IPCC's 2007 report, simply titled AR4, claimed that "glaciers in the Himalayas are
receding faster than in any other part of the world, and if the present rate continues, the

likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the
Earth keeps warming at the current rate."

Contacted by at TERI, officials would not respond to a request for
additional comment. IPCC is expected to withdraw the report's claim eventually.

Hundreds of millions of people in India, Pakistan and China would be severely affected if
the glaciers were actually to melt. There are some 9,500 Himalayan glaciers.

Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh questioned the findings of the 2007 report
during a news conference.

"They are indeed receding and the rate is cause for great concern," Ramesh said of the
glaciers. But, he said, the IPCC's 2035 forecast was "not based on an iota of scientific

One of the key elements in the growing scandal is the revelation that IPCC based some
of its public proclamations on non-peer reviewed reports.

"The data, all the data, needs to come to light," says Dr. Jane M. Orient, president of
Doctors for Disaster Preparedness and an outspoken skeptic on climate change.

"Thousands of scientists are capable of assessing it. The only reason to keep it hidden,
locked in the clutches of the elite few, is that it decisively disproves their computer
models and shows that their draconian emission controls are based on nothing except a
lust for power, control and profit."

The IPCC "made a clear and obvious error when it stated that Himalayan glaciers would
be gone by 2035," added Patrick J. Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental policy at
the libertarian Cato Institute, in an interview.

"The absurdity was obvious to anyone who had studied the scientific literature. This was
not an honest mistake. IPCC had been warned about it for a year by many scientists."

A letter just released to the Science Web site underscores the mistake. Written by J.
Graham Cogley of the department of geography at Canada's Trent University, it points
out that "the claim that Himalayan glaciers may disappear by 2035 ... conflicts with
knowledge of glacier-climate relationships, and is wrong."

The dustup is the latest scandal in global warming science, coming after the disclosure
of attempts to shade climate-science research findings at the U.K.'s East Anglia
University and the failed talks in Copenhagen by environmental policymakers last

The IPCC report had indicated that the total area of Himalayan glaciers would shrink
from 500,000 square kilometers to 100,000 square kilometers within 25 years. The study
cited a 2005 report by the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental advocacy group. The
WWF study cited a 1999 article in New Scientist magazine that quoted another expert,
who speculated that Himalayan glaciers could disappear within forty years.

The speculative comments were not peer reviewed, and other reports have indicated
that the glaciers are not retreating abnormally.

"Most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and could not melt fast enough to
vanish by 2035. The maximum rate of decline in thickness seen in glaciers at the
moment is two to three feet per year, and most are far lower," Don Easterbrook, a
professor emeritus of the department of geology at Western Washington University, told

Pachauri, the IPCC chief, is under attack on another front, as well, as newspaper reports
in India have commented repeatedly on his reportedly lavish lifestyle. TERI receives
funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of
Energy, both of which did not respond to requests for comment from
Reports indicate that there also are concerns in the United Kingdom surrounding 10
million British pounds in funding for TERI, and questions about TERI's objectivity.

"It's about time that somebody started following the money trail to the big interests that
want to prosper from the green regime, while the rest of the economy is crushed," Orient
told "It's not as though the amount were a trickle."

Environmental Cleanup Starts Amid Haiti Rubble
Discovery News, January 20, 2010, by Jessica Marshall

Just a week after Haiti's catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake, getting aid to victims
remains a top priority, but experts are also now starting to assess how to coordinate the
sorting and disposing of building rubble.

So far, no large industrial spills have been found. The biggest environmental issue,
according to the United Nations Environment Program, is dealing with all of the building
waste generated by the earthquake, which destroyed at least 40-50 percent of the
buildings in the capital, Port-au-Prince, and devastated other towns in the area.

"Waste management resulting from the earthquake and the devastation of buildings is
the biggest environmental concern right now because dealing with this is a precondition
for getting everything else done," said Muralee Thummarukudy of the Post Conflict and
Disaster Management Branch of the United Nations Environment Program, who arrived
in Haiti on Tuesday to coordinate environmental efforts.

"We have to clear debris from where houses, buildings and warehouses once stood so
reconstruction activities can begin."

The sheer volume of waste is part of the problem, Thummarukudy said. "Thousands of
buildings suddenly become debris and this overwhelms the capacity of waste

Much of the debris can be reused. Bricks, concrete blocks and timber will become part of
new construction. Smaller pieces of concrete and rubble will be crushed and used to
make roads.

"The amount of debris will be huge, because whole cities are in ruins. But the need for
building material will be equally huge," Thummarukudy said. "You need temporary roads
rapidly. You need to build almost the same amount of houses and buildings."

Although no large chemical or oil spills have been found, experts will be on the lookout
for other types of hazardous waste generated by the collapse. Asbestos is likely to be
found in destroyed buildings. Markets may have had shelves of cleaning products, oil,
paint or other materials that now create small hazardous waste spills.

Medical waste, including soiled bandages, syringes, and body parts, is another
component of the waste that must be disposed of safely by incineration. "As far as I
know there is not an incinerator operating," said Martin Bjerregaard, head of the UK-
based non-governmental organization Disaster Waste Recovery. Bjerregaard also
arrived in Haiti on Tuesday. "There will be a need to set up some sort of incinerator."

A key issue is separating the waste early before usable materials become mixed up with
these possible hazards. "The challenge is to sort it, recycle and re-use the material in the
beginning," Thummarukudy said. "Once it has been bulldozed and taken someplace, it is
much more difficult to do that."

Part of the experts' work will be finding suitable locations for temporary or permanent
waste and debris storage that are far enough from water supplies and possible landslide

"We've seen so many times, it is just put on a truck and taken a mile away and dumped
in a ravine or a river. What happened after the [2004 Indian Ocean] tsunami is that we
had huge piles of waste getting tipped onto rice paddies and shrimp farms," Bjerregaard
said. This prevented survivors from getting back to their livelihoods.

Much of the sorting and moving of the debris will employ local people as part of work for
food or income programs. They will be trained in identifying and handling hazards like

Thummarukudy and Bjerregaard also responded to the 2008 magnitude 7.9 earthquake
in Sichuan Province, China, which created similar challenges. The situation in Haiti is
likely to be worse, Thummarukudy said.

"Only one part of China was impacted," he said. "China could deploy a lot more
resources. The authorities could take materials out of the area to be handled and re-
used. Haiti does not have that sort of strategic depth. It doesn't have the resources.
There is no place for it to go unless it goes abroad. The assistance which will be needed
from the international community will be, in my opinion, much more, not only in terms of
money but in terms of training."

Haiti, as one of the world's poorest countries, faced serious environmental challenges
even before the earthquake.

"Take deforestation for example," Thummarukudy noted. "What is likely to happen to a
lot of slopes that have been destabilized and shaken when the next rainy season
comes? The risk is increased of more extreme mudflows. So there may well be a second

wave of problems when the rainy season comes. This is what we also found in China.
We expect it to be a little worse in Haiti."

U.N. Official Says Climate Deal Is at Risk
The New York Times, January 20, 2010, by John M. Broder and Elisabeth Rosenthal

WASHINGTON — Just a month after world leaders fashioned a tentative and
nonbinding agreement at the climate change summit meeting in Copenhagen, the deal
already appears at risk of coming undone, the top United Nations climate official warned
on Wednesday.

Facing a Jan. 31 deadline, major countries have yet to submit their plans for reducing
emissions of climate-altering gases, one of the major provisions of the agreement,
according to Yvo de Boer, the Dutch official who is executive secretary of the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which organized the climate

Fewer than two dozen countries have even submitted letters saying they agree to the
terms of the three-page accord. And there has been virtually no progress on spelling out
the terms of nearly $30 billion in short-term financial assistance promised to those
countries expected to be hardest hit by climate change. Still unresolved are such basic
questions as who will donate how much, where the money will go and who will oversee
the spending.

After a contentious two-week conference in the Danish capital last month,
representatives of more than 190 nations issued a skeletal document, known as the
Copenhagen Accord, that sets climate-related goals for developed and developing
countries, but without enforceable targets or timetables. The participants failed to agree
to even the minimum expectation of the meeting: setting a firm deadline for negotiating a
binding international climate change treaty.

In his first news conference and interview since the conference, Mr. de Boer said he
remained hopeful that the near-failure at Copenhagen would produce meaningful results
as the year progressed and the parties resumed negotiations.

After a month during which many participants expressed disappointment at the outcome
and ascribed blame to various actors, Mr. de Boer described the next several weeks as
a ―cooling-off period that gives countries useful time to work with each other.‖

Next week, for example, the major developing countries that helped fashion the
agreement — China, India, Brazil and South Africa — will meet in New Delhi to review
the Copenhagen agreement and plan for the next phase of talks. None of them have yet
inscribed their plans for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the Copenhagen
document, Mr. de Boer said. Without a commitment to such plans, a major
accomplishment at Copenhagen — pledges by large polluters in the developing world to
cut emissions — will have been thwarted.

Mr. de Boer said several officials from those countries had told him that they negotiated
the accord with the understanding that it would be formally adopted by all the nations at
the conference. But in a raucous conclusion to the meeting in the early hours of Dec. 19,

the conference agreed only to ―take note‖ of the accord, not to endorse it. And five
nations dissented even from that.

Mr. de Boer said he expected a number of countries to miss the Jan. 31 deadline, and
he would not predict that they would ultimately submit their plans.
―Whether those countries do in fact decide to associate with it remains to be seen,‖ he

Connie Hedegaard, the former Danish environment minister who is soon to become the
European Union‘s commissioner for climate action, said it was critical for the United
States and the large emerging economies to formally inscribe their pollution-reduction
targets in the accord.

―I think much will depend on how countries treat that deadline,‖ she said. ―If only Europe
and Japan come up with plans, then you have a very different situation than if the U.S.
and major emerging economies all step up.‖

Todd Stern, the chief American climate negotiator, said the United States fully intended
to enshrine in the accord its declared target of a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas
emissions from 2005 levels by 2020. He, too, said it was ―incredibly important‖ for all the
other major emitters to submit their public pledges for inclusion.

But he also said that success of the accord hinged on the creation of a rigorous and
enforceable system of monitoring and verifying emissions-reduction programs. The
accord calls for such a system, but does not provide details.

The nations of the world, Mr. de Boer said, are counting on President Obama to follow
through on the emissions-reduction pledge he made at Copenhagen, despite Congress‘s
reluctance to pass an ambitious climate bill. ―Any self-respecting person,‖ he said,
―would well like to deliver on what we promise.‖

John M. Broder reported from Washington, and Elisabeth Rosenthal from New York.

U.S. Bound by Obama's Copenhagen Emissions Pledge -- U.N. Official
The New York Times, January 20, 2010, by Lisa Friedman

The United Nations will hold President Obama to his promise that the United States will
reduce carbon emissions even if the Senate cannot pass climate legislation, U.N.
climate chief Yvo de Boer said this morning.
In his first public comments since the Copenhagen climate summit last month that
produced a nonbinding promise from major-emitting countries to cut greenhouse gases,
de Boer noted that Obama vowed the United States will slash carbon about 17 percent
below 2005 levels in the coming decade.

Yesterday's special election in Massachusetts, in which a Republican won the Senate
seat formerly held by the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy since 1962, calls into
question Congress' ability to pass a cap-and-trade bill, but it does not alter the U.S.
commitment, de Boer said. He also noted that the administration has options other than
legislation, like taking regulatory action through U.S. EPA.

"Whatever route is taken, the president of the United States committed to a 17 percent
emissions reduction in Copenhagen," de Boer said. "The president of the United States
committed to more ambitious emissions reductions for 2030 and 2050. And it is those
statements to which the international community will hold the government of the United
States accountable."

Describing a decade-long evolution in U.S. political commitment to climate change, de
Boer, an Austrian-born Dutchman, insisted that Americans are concerned about global
warming, worried about energy security and eager to create "green" jobs.
"I don't think that any political development in the United States means turning back nine
years of political development on the climate change agenda," de Boer said. "The
change of one state from one party to another is not going to cause a landslide in the
politics of the United States on the question of climate change."

Prentice feels pressure to talk climate change at G8, G20 summits
The Canadian Press, January, 21, 2010, by Heather Scoffield

OTTAWA, Ont. — Environment Minister Jim Prentice says he's feeling international
pressure to put climate change high on the agenda at the G20 and G8 summits this

And while he's not exactly a champion of the idea quite yet, he's not saying No either.

Canada is dedicated to turning last month's Copenhagen climate accord into an
internationally binding treaty well before the end of the year, Prentice said in an

"It's an agreement that reflects Canada's principles, so we very much want to see it
converted into an international treaty over the course of 2010," he said. "Anything we
can do to advance that is important."

But whether the G8 and G20 summits Canada is hosting at the end of June will serve to
push along the process depends on how talks in the next few months go, he added.

"We'll be part of the drafting process to work it up to an international treaty. How far we
will be by the time of the G20 meeting remains to be determined."

The Copenhagen Accord is a three-page statement of principle that urges countries to
limit global warming, make commitments to cut emissions, and promises financing to
help developing countries deal with climate change.

The accord is not binding, nor is it detailed. It falls far short of the hopes of the European
Union and of environmentalists. Even the United Nations chief on climate change
expressed disappointment this week.

But for the Harper government, the accord is a "turning point" in how the world
approaches climate change, and is worth pushing into practice as soon as possible
before any momentum is lost, Prentice said.

Prentice recognizes that the EU has been advocating for Canada to highlight climate
change at the summits, to move the Copenhagen accord ahead. And he's aware that the
G20 summit will group the world's biggest emitters, as well as key drivers of the
Copenhagen accord: the United States, China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

But he noted that the accord will need support far beyond the G20 in order to become
binding. And he wants to see significant progress on negotiating details well before the
June summits, even though the discussions are complicated.

Much will depend on a marathon negotiating session set for Bonn at the beginning of
June, he said.

The first step toward making Copenhagen binding is for countries to outline their
emission-reduction targets for the UN by the end of January, said Prentice, and then
pony up contributions for the US$30-billion fund agreed to in Copenhagen for developing

Canada has done neither, but plans to do both soon, he said.

Both the G8 and the G20 have dabbled in climate-change politics in the past. The G8
summit in L'Aquila, Italy, last summer saw leaders agree to the bare bones that
eventually formed the Copenhagen Accord.

And while institutionalized G20 summits have only just begun, the leaders' meetings so
far have all focused on the need to figure out how to finance climate-change efforts in
developing countries. They've had no success, however. They want to find about
US$100 billion between now and 2020, but can't agree on where the money should
come from or how to structure the funding.

Still, the summits hand Canada a wonderful opportunity to reclaim some leadership on
environmental issues, said Clare Demerse of the Pembina Institute, an environmental
energy think-tank.

"When you have the world coming to your own backyard, you don't want to be criticized
for not doing enough. They don't want to be seen as a laggard rather than a leader," she

"So I hope this provides a huge amount of pressure on the government to step up its
level of ambition."

Ottawa likely sees a few key drawbacks in highlighting climate change, said John Kirton
who heads the G20 Research Group at the University of Toronto.

Ottawa has wrestled with the climate-change issue, and would prefer to avoid it for fear
of taking domestic heat while the world watches, he said.

And since the G20 and the G8 can't actually sign off on a climate treaty, it would be hard
for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to showcase anything concrete, Kirton said. Aid to
poor countries and help for Haiti, on the other hand, are easier announcements to make.

"It would be much tougher for him to produce a big visible thing on climate change."

Temperature data skewed: researchers
The National Post, January 21, 2010, by Richard Foot

Call it the mystery of the missing thermometers.
Two months after "climategate" cast doubt on some of the science behind global
warming, new questions are being raised about the reliability of a key temperature
database used by the United Nations and climate change scientists as proof of recent
planetary warming.

Two American researchers allege that U.S. government scientists have skewed global
temperature trends by ignoring readings from thousands of local weather stations
around the world, particularly those in colder altitudes and more northerly latitudes, such
as Canada.

In the 1970s, nearly 600 Canadian weather stations fed surface temperature readings
into a global database assembled by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA). Today, NOAA only collects data from 35 stations across

The Canadian government, meanwhile, operates 1,400 surface weather stations across
the country, and more than 100 above the Arctic Circle, according to Environment
Yet as American researchers Joseph D'Aleo, a meteorologist, and E. Michael Smith, a
computer programmer, point out in a study published on the website of the Science and
Public Policy Institute, NOAA uses "just one thermometer [for measuring] everything
north of latitude 65 degrees."

Both the authors, and the institute, are well-known in climate-change circles for their
skepticism about the threat of global warming.

Mr. D'Aleo and Mr. Smith say NOAA and another U.S. agency, the NASA Goddard
Institute for Space Studies (GISS), have not only reduced the number of Canadian
weather stations in the database, but have "cherry picked" the ones that remain by
choosing sites in relatively warmer places, including more southerly locations, or sites
closer to airports, cities or the sea-- which has a warming effect on winter weather.

Over the past two decades, they say, "the percentage of [Canadian] stations in the lower
elevations tripled and those at higher elevations, above 300 feet, were reduced in half."

The result, they say, is a warmer-than-truthful global temperature record.

"NOAA... systematically eliminated 75% of the world's stations with a clear bias towards
removing higher latitude, high altitude and rural locations, all of which had a tendency to
be cooler," the authors say. "The thermometers in a sense, marched towards the tropics,
the sea, and to airport tarmacs."

The NOAA database forms the basis of the influential climate modelling work, and the
dire, periodic warnings on climate change, issued by James Hanson, the director of the

Neither agency responded to a request for comment yesterday from Canwest News
Service. However, Mr. Hanson did issue a public statement on the matter earlier this

"NASA has not been involved in any manipulation of climate data used in the annual
GISS global temperature analysis," he said. "The agency is confident of the quality of
this data and stands by previous scientifically-based conclusions regarding global

Climate change a problem in desperate need of leadership
The Toronto Star (Opinion), January 21, 2010, by Désirée McGraw

It is now an accepted fact here in Canada and around the world that our country has
gone from being an environmental leader under former prime minister Brian Mulroney to
a laggard under the Liberals – and now a pariah under the Stephen Harper government.
The recent UN climate change conference in Copenhagen made this even more
painfully clear as we were given the dubious Fossil of the Year award for the third
straight time and dubbed a "corrupt petro-state."

Copenhagen demonstrated an important shift in global geopolitics with emerging powers
China, India and Brazil at the main table along with the U.S., while Canada was not even
in the room. This is not surprising given Canada's failure to address the most important
issue of our time: climate change.

Canada is the only country to have ratified the Kyoto Protocol and then to wear its
refusal to meet our international obligations under the agreement like a badge of honour.
At first, the Harper government claimed we needed a "made-in-Canada" climate change
plan (as if Kyoto precluded one when in fact it compelled one) and now it claims it
cannot produce a Canadian plan without an international agreement in place. This
hypocrisy undermines our credibility regarding environmental issues, but also other
areas of international affairs, particularly as global warming affects the global economy
and global security as well as the environment.

Canadians get it. A new survey commissioned by the Canadian Defence and Foreign
Affairs Institute found that Canadians believe climate change poses a significantly bigger
threat to the "vital interests" of this country over the next decade than international

Some provinces have responded to these concerns by putting their own plans in place to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This patchwork approach has pitted regions of
Canada – particularly oil-producing Alberta and hydropower giant Quebec – against
each other and has created great uncertainty for business.

This national leadership vacuum represents a real opportunity for the Liberal Party of
Canada – provided it can get beyond its own uneven record on climate change.

Under the Jean Chrétien government, Canada signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 and
then ratified it in 2002. The intervening five years of "consultations" were largely a
wasted period of procrastination, equivocation and outright obstruction by the official

The Liberals were strong on rhetoric and weak on action, as Chrétien adviser Eddie
Goldenberg admitted in his book when he stated that the then-prime minister signed
Kyoto essentially as a PR exercise. It was not until 2005 that a plan took shape under
Paul Martin with Stéphane Dion as environment minister. This plan ("Project Green) was
quickly discarded by the new Conservative government. Four years after their election,
the Conservatives still lack a credible plan of their own.

This summer's meetings of the G8 and, in particular, the G20 – which comprise the
world's major greenhouse gas emitters among both industrialized and developing
countries – represent an opportunity for Canada to get global climate change
negotiations back on track and, in so doing, reclaim our leadership on this critical issue.
Canada will play host, the Conservative government is unlikely to take up this challenge
because it does not want climate change on the agenda.

In anticipation of the G20 – itself the brainchild of former prime minister Paul Martin – the
Liberals should present clear and compelling environmental policies to Canadians. This
can be achieved by stating that Canada under a Liberal government would rejoin the
international community and show leadership by working with G20 countries in forging a
credible agreement on climate change.

Furthermore, a Liberal government would work with industry and the provinces to put
real measures in place to reduce emissions. The Liberal party recently pledged to invest
in green technologies, creating sustainable jobs for the future.

In contrast, the government's recent stimulus package missed a critical opportunity to
make these investments (with Canada coming in second to last among countries that
used stimulus funding to green their economies), while the EU and China made the most
of theirs and the U.S. recently announced $2.3 billion in tax credits for clean energy
technology development.

The goal should be clear: making Canada a green energy superpower. The Liberals
have announced that they would use this period of parliamentary prorogation to consult
on the economy as well as the environment. But Canada is well past the point of
consulting on a climate change plan. The challenge now is to create buy-in from
Canadians not for mere aspirations but for real action – starting with putting a price on
carbon through cap-and-trade and taxing pollution.

The Green Shift fiasco of the 2008 election was rooted mainly in the Liberals' failure to
communicate what should have been a straightforward policy: tax more of what you
burn, less of what you earn.

The Liberal party must show Canadians that it can muster the massive political will and
resources to successfully tackle seemingly intractable problems. The fiscal deficit of the
1990s provides a compelling case in point. The rationale presented was short-term pain

for long-term gain – it would be irresponsible to leave such a burden on future

The same logic applies not only to the ballooning fiscal debt, but to the ecological one. If
Canada can mobilize around the fiscal deficit, surely we can make headway on the
environmental deficit.

Désirée McGraw chaired the 2006 Liberal Renewal Commission's Taskforce on
Environment and Sustainable Development. She is co-founder of Al Gore's Climate
Project in Canada and lectures in international development and climate diplomacy at
McGill University.

United Nations report seeks mining moratorium in B.C.'s Flathead Valley
Vancouver Sun, January 21, 2010, by Larry Pynn

A United Nations committee report has recommended a moratorium on mining in the
controversial Flathead Valley of southeastern B.C. and development of a comprehensive
transboundary conservation and wildlife management plan for the area, a U.S. official
revealed Thursday.

Stephen Morris, chief of international affairs for the National Park Service, said in an
interview from Wash., D.C., that he has received a copy of a fact-finding mission report
by two UN world heritage officials who visited the area in September.

They are Kishore Rao of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Center in Paris and New Zealander Paul
Dingwall of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Morris said the report, almost 50 pages long, suggests that any mining in B.C.'s Flathead
could have a negative impact on neighbouring Waterton-Glacier International Peace

The report points to human-caused stressors already faced by wildlife on both sides of
the border and the growing impact of climate change. It also specifically recommends
improved connectivity for wildlife through the Crowsnest Pass area, Morris said.

The report will be officially presented to the July meeting of the UNESCO world heritage
committee in Brazil. Canada and the U.S. will also offer their own responses to that

Last June, UNESCO's 21-member world heritage committee voted unanimously at a
meeting in Seville, Spain, to send a mission to "evaluate and provide recommendations
on the requirements for ensuring the protection" of the park.

The Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. named the Flathead the province's most
endangered river in 2009, while American Rivers rated the U.S. side of the Flathead the
fifth most endangered.

Conservationists are pushing for 45,000 hectares, including the Flathead River east to
the continental divide at Waterton Lakes National Park, to be folded into Waterton.

Another 300,000 hectares west of the Flathead River and north to Banff National Park
would be declared a provincial wildlife management area. Such a designation would
allow connectivity to other protected areas to the north and would allow logging, hunting,
and all-terrain vehicles respectful of wildlife values.

Mining, coal-bed methane, or oil-and-gas extraction would be allowed, but not in the

Waterton-Glacier became an international peace park in 1932 and a 457,614-hectare
UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, incorporating Waterton Lakes National Park in
Alberta and Glacier National Park in Montana.

The scenic and wildlife-rich peace park is situated on the eastern Rocky Mountains at
the western edge of the Great Plains and straddles the Continental Divide.

UN panel 'regrets' exaggeration of Himalayan thaw
Reuters, January 21, 2010

The UN panel of climate scientists expressed regret on Wednesday for exaggerating
how quickly Himalayan glaciers are melting in a report that wrongly projected that they
could all vanish by 2035.

Leaders of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change "regret the poor application
of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance," they said in a statement on the
flaw in a paragraph of a 938-page scientific report.

They noted that the projection of a thaw by 2035 did not make it to the final summary for
policy-makers in its latest report in 2007.

The summary projected a faster thaw in the coming years for glaciers from the Andes to
the Alps.

The IPCC statement said that the 2035 projection was based on "poorly substantiated
estimates of rate of recession" and that proper checks were not made.

                              General environment news

     Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks, Alaska): Murkowski warns of dire consequences for
      Alaska under greenhouse gas plan
     The New York Times: Expanding Use of Wind Power Feasible, but May Be Costly
     Ashland Daily Tidings: Oregon, others petition to halt gas pipeline
     USA Today: Eco-movement spreads with Earth Hour, National Green Week
     Vancouver Sun: Blame Asia for some of North America's growing ozone pollution:
     Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks, Alaska): Murkowski warns of dire consequences for
     Reuters: SCENARIOS-How Obama can re-energize his climate policy
     Calgary Herald: Yedlin: Climate policy caught in U.S. haze
    Reuters: US climate bill backers seen pushing wrong message
    The New York Times: Ahead of Debate, Coal Chief Says Environmental Concerns
     Are Exaggerated
    The New York Times: Gas Drilling Techniques Under Fire … Again
    LA Times: Winds carry Asian smog component to western U.S., study finds
    San Francisco Chronicle: Eels disappearing from London's River Thames
  Clean Air battle: Murkowski takes EPA fight to Senate floor

Murkowski warns of dire consequences for Alaska under greenhouse gas plan
Daily News-Miner (Fairbanks, Alaska), January 21, 2010, by Dermot Cole

Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a resolution today to block the EPA from regulating
greenhouse gas emissions, renewing a debate on the future of efforts to deal with
climate change.

She warned that the Flint Hills Refinery, the trans-Alaska pipeline and the proposed
natural gas pipeline would be jeopardized by allowing the Environmental Protection
Agency to regulate greenhouse gases.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln, an Arkansas Democrat, co-sponsored Murkowski‘s amendment,
agreeing that having the EPA involved would put a burden on the economy, according to
a press release from her office. She said she is in favor of reducing carbon emissions,
but not in a "heavy handed‘ way.

A Murkowski press release says she has two other Democratic co-sponsors, Sen. Ben
Nelson of Nebraska and Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, and 35 Republican co-

―If these regulations are allowed, the consequences for Alaska would be devastating,‖
Murkowski said.

―Hundreds of facilities will be subject to much greater regulation, including large hotels,
hospitals, fish processors and mines. Energy-intensive businesses throughout the state
will be forced to acquire, install and operate new equipment and technologies. In many

cases, that will prove impossible because the technologies are too expensive or simply
do not exist.‖

Murkowski said EPA rules would jeopardize the continued operation of the Flint Hills
Refinery in North Pole, the operation of the trans-Alaska pipeline and any proposed gas
pipeline. She said the compressor stations for the gas pipeline would emit carbon
dioxide and there are no good options for compliance.

The EPA ―will likely be unable, and in any event unwilling, to address these issues under
its command-and-control climate regulations.‖

She quoted Gov. Sean Parnell as supporting her position in opposing EPA efforts to limit
green house gases, with Parnell saying it would ―bury‖ Alaska businesses with a
regulatory burden.

―The last claim I‘d like to address are the allegations about who helped draft my
September amendment, which was never offered and is no longer on the table,‖ said

―Not only are the allegations categorically false, they highlight the unwillingness of
opponents of this measure to engage in the real policy discussion we should be having.
The question that so many of the individuals and groups opposed to my efforts have
failed entirely to answer, is if they honestly think that EPA climate regulations under the
Clean Air Act would be good or bad for America,‖ Murkowski said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, the chairman of the environment and public works committee, took
the Senate floor after Murkowski to say that the Supreme Court has ruled that the Clean
Air Act gives the EPA the authority to regulate greenhouse gases. She also said that
EPA is not proposing ―draconian measures.‖

Murkowski‘s assertion that the resolution is what the people of the United States want is
 incorrect, Boxer said, adding that the Alaska senator is catering to special interests and
taking a radical and unprecedented approach.
She said that it is not true that this is just a ―little moratorium,‖ but an attempt to overturn
an important scientific and health finding.

Expanding Use of Wind Power Feasible, but May Be Costly
The New York Times, January 20, 2010, by Matthew Wald

WASHINGTON — Wind could replace coal and natural gas for 20 to 30 percent of the
electricity used in the eastern two-thirds of the United States by 2024, according to a
study released Wednesday by the Energy Department.

But doing so would require a reorganization of the power grid and a significant increase
in costs. And it would have only a modest impact on cutting emissions linked to global
warming, the study found.

The Energy Department under President Obama has been a proponent of renewable
energy, and the study tackles one of the biggest questions involving wind energy: How

much can the power system use and still remain stable, given that the amount of
electricity generated by wind turbines is as fickle as the breeze?
The answer, according to the study, is that heavy reliance on wind energy is ―technically
feasible‖ but will require significant expansion of the power grid.

That expansion would require spending about $93 billion in today‘s dollars, according to
David Corbus, a senior engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which
supervised the study. He said that sum, large as it is on its face, was ―really, really small
compared to other major costs‖ in the power system.

A bigger obstacle is how to overcome a political impasse over building power lines, and
how to find, and finance, sites for 10 times more generating capacity. The study did not
address those questions.

Adding wind gets progressively more difficult as the amount used rises because of
wind‘s intermittent nature and the need for back-up power generation, according to the
study. Without a better grid, the system would often waste large amounts of wind power
because at many times during the year, the power grid would not be able to handle the
amount of power that wind turbines were putting out.

But the amount of wasted wind energy, and the amount of backup needed, would
decline as grid connections got better, the study said. A better grid, Mr. Corbus said,
would also lead to fewer blackouts.

The conclusions are hypothetical, because almost all planning for power lines in North
America is based on local considerations, not those half a continent away. Critical to
enlarging the use of renewable energy, according to the study, is a better planning
approach that takes account of the whole country‘s needs.
The study covers the Eastern Interconnection, which delivers electricity to about 70
percent of the United States population. It covers North America from Halifax to New
Orleans, and from Miami to Fargo, N.D. A parallel study for west of the Rockies is under
way; the third North American grid covers most of Texas, which is already heavily
dependent on wind.

While it is based on engineering, the study wades into a dispute between grid operators
and energy producers in the Great Plains and those in the East, especially New York
and New England.

Midwestern companies want to blanket parts of the Great Plains with windmills. They
argue that the region could produce about 25 percent more power than comparable sites
in the East because of stronger winds.

But the Eastern interests say that they can build turbines offshore, where wind is steady
and predictable and distances to big cities are short. The governors of 10 eastern states
entered the argument on May 4, 2009, sending a letter to Congress asking that no
special provisions be made to build additional power lines to bring Midwestern energy to
the East, because that would preclude wind farm development in their states.

The new study, conducted by the EnerNex Corporation, of Knoxville, Tenn., is the first
major effort to compare those assertions. It found that in the ―reference‖ case, with new
windmills being built to satisfy state-by-state requirements for renewable energy, total

yearly electricity costs in the Eastern Interconnection would be about $125 billion (in
today‘s dollars) in 2024. That would bring wind‘s share to about 6 percent of electricity.
Building windmills in the Midwest to get to 20 percent, with matching transmission lines,
would raise that to about $140 billion, and building offshore would bring costs of about
$150 billion.

Thomas Rumsey, a spokesman for the New York Independent System Operator, the
grid operator, said that building a better transmission system to the West would be a
pathway for bringing in more coal energy, as well as wind energy. New York, he said,
would focus on better connections to Quebec, which has hydroelectric power and the
potential for significant wind generation.

Regardless of where the windmills are built, the projected global warming benefits are
modest: a drop of about 4.5 percent in emissions, at best. If no additional wind machines
are built, carbon emissions will rise.

Oregon, others petition to halt gas pipeline
Ashland Daily Tidings, January 21, 2010, by Paul Fattig

The state of Oregon and the National Marine Fisheries Service filed separate petitions
Tuesday for a new hearing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in an
attempt to stop construction of a liquefied natural gas import terminal in Coos Bay and a
gas pipeline that would cross the upper Rogue River watershed.

They joined a coalition of local residents, environmental groups and fishermen who filed
a similar petition on Saturday, asking FERC to reconsider its December approval of the
terminal and 234-mile pipeline from Coos Bay to Malin near the California border.

In challenging FERC's decision, Gov. Ted Kulongoski and Attorney General John Kroger
said the commission failed to meet standards set in the Federal Clean Water Act and the
Coast Zone Management Act.

In addition, the decision failed to adequately consider the environmental impacts of the
proposed project, much less the need or alternatives available, they said.

"FERC continues to ignore Oregon's very real concerns about the unknown
environmental impact of the pipeline associated with the proposed LNG facility,"
Kulongoski said Tuesday in a prepared statement. "FERC's decision to issue a
conditional license for a project with such profound potential impacts on the lives of
Oregonians was based on woefully inadequate information that demands

"FERC has failed to do its job and conduct the kind of environmental analysis that is
required under multiple federal statutes," Kroger added. "The United States should be
striving for energy independence instead of relying on fossil fuels imported from
countries like Russia and Iran. This takes us in the wrong direction."

The state will appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals if FERC doesn't grant a
rehearing, Kroger said.

The NMFS said in its petition filed from its Seattle office that the commission failed to
complete required consultation with the service regarding the project's effects on
threatened or endangered marine species and their critical habitat and on essential fish

While Shady Cove resident Bob Barker, whose property would be crossed by the
pipeline, is worried about potential environmental damage, his principal concern is for
private property owners.

"This intrusion on private property rights and the Oregon environment is not justified by a
project that will increase our dependence on foreign source natural gas when the
domestic supply of natural gas is sufficient to meet U.S. needs for the foreseeable
future," he said.

"I am appalled that FERC would grant approval for a project of this nature with its
enormous threats to Oregon's waters, forests and communities without due diligence in
fully analyzing its necessity or impacts," added Lesley Adams of the Ashland-based
Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center.
If the commission, which has 30 days to respond to the rehearing request, denies the
petition, opponents will file a lawsuit with the 9th Circuit to stop the project, Adams said.

The 185-page petition lists numerous claims that the decision violated a variety of laws,
including protecting fish and wildlife on public lands and showing a need for the energy,
according to Susan Jane Brown, attorney for the Western Environmental Law Center in
Eugene which represents the plaintiffs.

Estimated to cost between $700 million and $850 million, the terminal and 3-foot-
diameter buried pipeline project is being spearheaded by Williams Northwest Pipeline of
Salt Lake City. Company representatives repeatedly have stressed the project is safe
and not a threat to the environment or landowners. Project partners include PG&E and
Fort Chicago Energy Partners LP.

The FERC voted 3-1 to approve the project's construction, drawing vows by those
opposed to it to appeal for a rehearing. But the Portland-based Energy Action Northwest,
a business and labor coalition promoting energy development, supports the project,
arguing that it will provide affordable energy and additional jobs.

Opponents say the project will make the West Coast energy grid too dependent on
natural gas coming from politically unstable countries such as Russia and those in the
Middle East. It also will allow developers to use eminent domain to seize private property
for the pipeline, they added.

"It is time for FERC to stop catering to outdated energy systems of the past and get on
board with energy-independent, energy-efficient, renewable energy systems of the
future," said Coos Bay resident Jody McCaffree, an opponent of the project since it was
first proposed in 2005.

Eco-movement spreads with Earth Hour, National Green Week
USA Today, January 21, 2010

There's no escaping the green movement, so it seems. In National Green Week, which
begins Feb. 1 , two million U.S. students are enrolled to learn eco-measures, including
gardening. On March 27, for the third annual Earth Hour, hundreds of millions of people
worldwide are expected to recognize climate change with the symbolic gesture of "lights
out" for one hour.

The non-profit Green Education Foundation is offering free programs in 3,000 schools to
help students become environmental stewards.

One program, in conjunction with Lowe's stores, involves planting 10,000
gardens "whether indoor, outdoor, rooftop or window box, in a pot or on a plot, flowers,
fruits or vegetables." The foundation says it will be the largest youth gardening initiative
ever in the United States.

Students will also be encouraged to carry their drinks and snacks in reusable containers,
learn what items can be recycled and audit their classrooms as well as homes to try to
reduce energy consumption.

"Children are in the best position to impact the future of our environment by developing
green behaviors that become lifelong habits," Victoria Waters, president and founder of
the Green Education Foundation, says in a statement.

Then comes Earth Hour, created by the World Wildlife Fund as a call for action
on climate change. People worldwide will, at 8:30 p.m. local time, turn off their lights for
one hour.

Since its inception three years ago, Earth Hour has caught on. Organizers say nearly 1
billion people participated last year in 4,100 cities in 87 countries on seven continents.

In the United States alone, the tally included 80 million Americans, 318 cities and
 landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, Las Vegas Strip, Golden
Gate Bridge, Seattle's Space Needle and St. Louis' Gateway Arch.

Last year, among the celebrities promoting the effort were actor Edward Norton, singer
Alanis Morisette and artist Yoko Ono.

Blame Asia for some of North America's growing ozone pollution: study
Vancouver Sun, January 20, 2010, by Margaret Munro

Ozone pollution has increased significantly over western North America in the last 25
years and much of it appears to be blowing in from Asia, according to an international
research team.

The levels are getting so high, particularly in the spring, that it may "hinder" compliance
with clean air standards, say the scientists tracking polluted air masses wafting across
the Pacific Ocean.

"These increases in ozone could make it more difficult for Canada to meet the Canada
Wide Standard (CWS) for ozone pollution at ground level," David Tarasick, an

atmospheric scientist with Environment Canada, and co-author of the report published in
the journal Nature, said Thursday.

"There will be more exceedances," Tarasick said in an interview.

Ozone, which is created when sunlight reacts with pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides
and volatile organic compounds from the combustion of fossil fuels, can harm human
health, crops and is a potent greenhouse gas.

"Ozone isn't good for you at any level," says Tarasick.

The research team, led by Owen Cooper of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, pulled together and analyzed nearly 100,000 ozone observations
gathered by atmospheric balloons, research planes and devices fitted on commercial
aircraft. Measurements were made from Asia to Alberta and from British Columbia down
to California.

There has long been speculation that offshore pollution is contributing to western North
America's ozone, but this is the first study to provide evidence.

"What's really valuable about this study is that he's nailed it," says Tarasick, noting
Cooper did most of the number crunching.

The researchers, from nine institutions in the U.S., France and Canada, focused on
ozone found three to eight kilometres above the ground in western North America. They
tracked the emissions responsible for the ozone back to their origin using historical data
of global atmospheric wind records and airflow patterns.

It found a 14 per cent increase between 1995 and 2008 in ozone concentration in the
spring months, when intercontinental transport of ozone from Asia to North America is
most efficient.

When they looked even farther back, the scientists found a 29 per cent increase in
springtime ozone between 1984 and 2008.

The scientists say there is no evidence North American emissions are driving the

"In springtime, pollution from across the hemisphere, not nearby sources, contributes to
the ozone increases above western North America," says Cooper.

He and his colleagues say the ozone increases are most pronounced when air blows in
from Asia: "When air is transported from a broad region of South and East Asia, the
trend is largest."

The ozone the researchers tracked was well below the so-called "ozone layer" in the
upper atmosphere but above ground-level ozone and smog that is most influenced by
local pollution. Ozone in the intermediate region constitutes what the researchers call the
background, or baseline level in the lower atmosphere.

Ozone can survive three to four weeks and circle the planet a couple of times before it
dissipates, says Tarasick, noting that such long-range transport can have big impacts on
region pollution levels as the ozone can migrate down to ground level.

The report concludes that the springtime increases seen in the upper atmosphere "may
hinder" compliance with North American air quality standards for ozone.

The results "are a concern" because the ozone is a pollutant that can be harmful to
human health and vegetation and is also the third most potent greenhouse gas
influenced by humans, after carbon dioxide and methane, atmospheric scientist Kathy
Law, at the Universite de Paris, writes in a commentary in Nature accompanying the

Law says the findings "show that international agreements on air-pollution control must
be supported."

SCENARIOS-How Obama can re-energize his climate policy
Reuters, January 21, 2010, by Richard Cowan and Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One year into his presidency, Barack Obama's ambitious
legislative agenda, including environmental policy, is threatened by political setbacks
and an electorate questioning his priorities in the midst of tough economic times.

The Democratic president came to office promising to seek comprehensive energy and
environmental reforms, including the passage of a cap and trade bill to reduce carbon
dioxide emissions blamed for global warming.

But the U.S. Senate -- historically a burial ground for many presidential initiatives --
hasn't yet responded to Obama's call.

Here are some possibilities for Obama regaining momentum:


Senator John Kerry has been working with Republicans and independents in the Senate
on a grand compromise bill that would include cap and trade, expanded domestic oil and
gas drilling and added incentives for nuclear power.

But cap and trade has many opponents. It would require industry to reduce its carbon
pollution over the next 40 years and require companies to hold permits for every tonne
they emit. Those permits could be traded on a regulated market. Opponents say it will
drive jobs abroad and raise U.S. consumer prices.

Some Democratic leaders are now raising the possibility of passing just part of a
comprehensive energy policy -- the less controversial part, such as incentives for utilities
and others to use more alternative fuels such as wind and solar power.

That would leave the door open for possibly debating cap and trade, or another
approach to lowering carbon emissions, for another time.


A special election Tuesday resulted in Republicans picking up a seat in the Senate and
robbing Democrats of the supermajority of 60 that they needed to overcome roadblocks.

As a result, Obama is staring down the possibility that his leading initiative, healthcare
reform, may not pass.

Some Congress-watchers think that as a result, Obama and his fellow Democrats in
Congress should try to regain momentum in Washington by scoring a quick victory on
something, such as an energy/environment initiative that recent polls show the public

"If healthcare is not dead, it's awfully close to sleeping for a while and the agenda is
going to have to focus on someplace they can win. They need to post some points and
quick, no matter what. Time is running out," said Kevin Book, an analyst at ClearView
Energy Partners in Washington.

As the year wears on, Democrats' hopes of getting major bills passed diminish as the
November congressional elections further politicize debates.


Some environmentalists argue that unlike in the healthcare debate, there at least are
some Republicans willing to engage on cap and trade. Senator Lindsey Graham, for
example, is dealing with Kerry on a climate bill and Senator Susan Collins has co-
sponsored a Democratic bill calling for a carbon cap, but without the trading.

If Kerry, Graham and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman can strike a deal on a cap
and trade bill, it could rise from the ashes.


If recent events underscored anything, it is that the U.S. public is worried about the
economic future in the face of a 10 percent unemployment rate, the highest in a quarter-

When Obama delivers his annual State of the Union address to Congress on January
27, he is likely to focus on jobs and expected to cast his environmental policy as a way
to create jobs and stimulate the economy. "If you sell those arguments you've got a
winning issue," Kerry argues.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid opened the first legislative session of 2010
Wednesday saying Democrats will work to create "new jobs, good paying, clean-energy
jobs that can never be outsourced."


The Environmental Protection Agency has the power to act on climate change after the
Supreme Court ruled that pollution threatens human health. Obama would prefer that
Congress passes a climate law, but if it fails, EPA could crack down on emissions.
Lawyers for emissions traders say the EPA could craft its own cap and trade program.
But EPA action is vulnerable to potential moves by lawmakers and litigation from
industry groups to stop the agency from regulating the gases.

Yedlin: Climate policy caught in U.S. haze
Calgary Herald, January 21, 2010, by Deborah Yedlin

To the surprise and delight of some and the dismay of others, one year after Barack
Obama was sworn in as president of the U.S., a seat that had been held by members of
the Kennedy clan since 1952 turned over to the Republican side of the floor.

The election of a Republican as senator from Massachusetts on Tuesday night might
have taken place thousands of kilometres from the epicentre of Canada's energy sector,
but the implications of the Democrats losing their filibusterproof majority as a result of
the election are bound to have an impact on the direction of climate change policy south
of the border.

In fact, the morning-after take on the results from the perspective of what happens with
climate change is that it's now unlikely any sort of legislation will be passed; for all
intents and purposes, the Waxman-Markey climate change bill is dead. In fact, it's now
questionable if anything meaningful will happen on this issue during the remainder of
Obama's term, with some even suggesting that nothing will happen until 2013.

And while some in the energy business might be inclined to kick up their heels because
it appears as a "get out of jail free" card, on a bigger scale this makes things worse
because the result is a fractured landscape on the climate change file.

This fracturing of policy is viewed as extremely worrisome for Canada by political
observers, given the country's economic weighting toward resource-based industries --
particularly the oilsands. It contributes to uncertainty, which is not a good thing for
capital-intensive projects that are beholden to public markets for financing.

According to Philip Verleger, the David E. Mitchell-EnCana professor of management at
the Haskayne School of Business, Tuesday's election results mean California will be
able to push ahead with its low-carbon fuel standard legislation -- and possibly take with
it the other 11 states in the U.S. Northeast that adopted a similar policy in late

"It also means the Environmental Protection Agency can proceed with its regulations to
regulate greenhouse gas emissions -- which are better for the energy sector compared
with the legislation because the EPA regulations will treat all industries equally," said
Verleger in his opening remarks of a presentation to Calgary business leaders
Wednesday morning.

Unlike the current iteration of Waxman-Markey, where utilities will be given permits and
refiners will have to buy them, the EPA would not discriminate on where and how the
carbon dioxide molecule is generated.

As a taste of how disjointed things might become -- even though California is proceeding
with its low-carbon fuel standard, at the same time it, along with other states, is warning
the EPA not to move too quickly on implementing its regulations because of the
potentially negative impact on the economy.

And Canada, having made the case it will not move to implement any sort of climate
change legislation until the U.S. has figured out what it is going to do, is now in limbo.

Both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister Jim Prentice have been
clear that whatever happens in this country can't be at odds with what is happening
south of the border because of the impact on the Canadian economy.

This strategy made sense, as long as progress was being made on the climate change
legislation that had been tabled. But now the case can be made that Canada will have to
move forward in the context of establishing a climate change policy of its own. The
question is how to make it flexible enough such that it will not be at odds with what is
finally agreed to by U.S. lawmakers.

The challenge on this will be overcoming the various provincial agendas that are not
necessarily in harmony on this issue. If the U.S. wants a glimpse into what happens
when there is no consensus, they need only look northward.

For starters, Quebec has adopted the low-carbon fuel standard put forward by California
and has also been clear that it does not want the reductions in emissions achieved in its
province to offset those from Alberta's oilsands. Never mind that the cement industry in
Quebec -- which isn't exactly guilt-free from an emissions standpoint -- isn't included in
the province's emissions equation. And Quebec likes to ignore the economic benefit that
accrues to the province as a result of having a vibrant energy sector in the West.

Ontario is also of the Quebec view -- that its emissions reductions are not to be exported
for the good of the rest of the country. Farther west, Alberta has its $15 per tonne price
on carbon dioxide emissions and then there's British Columbia with its full-out carbon

At a minimum, some suggest that what the federal government needs to do -- even in
the absence of any coherent policy south of the border -- is to put a price on carbon that
is more reflective of the cost of emissions than Alberta's levy arguably is. Others say
there is nothing wrong with the current wait-and-see stance because anything that would
jeopardize Canadian business given the current state of the economy is not advisable.

Obviously, with Parliament not in session until March and a new cabinet in place, no one
knows how the Canadian government will play its hand. What's inescapable, however, is
that the loss of one seat by the Democrats is going to alter the direction of Obama's
presidency in a number of areas, with the uncertainty on the climate change file
undoubtedly having the biggest impact on policy decisions made in Canada on this

US climate bill backers seen pushing wrong message
Reuters, January 21, 2010, by Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Most Americans want the jobs and clean energy that
Democratic-backed climate-change legislation could help bring but its backers are
presenting the wrong messages, according to a prominent U.S. pollster.

The House of Representatives last June passed a climate bill featuring a cap-and-trade

market on so-called greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. But the
measure has been bogged down in the Senate and faces an uncertain future.

"If you really want to scare Americans it's not about glaciers that are melting or the
struggle of the polar bear," said the pollster and political adviser Frank Luntz, most
known for his work with Republicans.

"What scares Americans is the idea that this great technological industry will be
developed in China or India rather than America," said Luntz, who once advised former
President George W. Bush's administration to emphasize that there was a lack of
scientific certainty about climate change.

Luntz is a paid adviser to 21 companies in the U.S. Climate Action Partnership that are
urging Congress to pass legislation requiring reductions in greenhouse gases.

Passing the climate bill in the Senate became more difficult this week after Republican
Scott Brown, who opposes capping emissions, won the Massachusetts Senate seat held
until his death last year by Democrat Edward Kennedy.

Luntz said polls his company conducted late last year showed that a combined 65
percent of respondents stated that climate change exists and action needs to be taken,
or that the science was not settled but people should explore ways to cut emissions and
adopt clean energy. "This is true of Republicans and Democrats alike," he said.

Only 13 percent of the 1,007 registered U.S. voters nationwide questioned in the poll
said global warming and climate change do not exist. More than 54 percent said the new
energy economy must create new jobs and careers in America.


"Frank's research proves that no matter who Americans voted for in 2008, in 2010 they
want to see Congress act on climate legislation," Fred Krupp, the president of the
Environmental Defense Fund activist group who favors the climate bill, said.

Backers of the cap-and-trade bill have emphasized climate science too much, and the
potential positive results from a clean-energy bill -- domestic jobs, a healthier
environment, and potentially less money sent to the Middle East for oil -- too little, Luntz

Wording is important in drumming up support for the bill, he added. Backers should
emphasize it would create "American" jobs rather than "green" jobs, while Americans
want "reliable" technology more than "smart" technology, he said.

Poll respondents who were Democrats or Republicans believed the most important
environmental and economic goal for the United States should be cutting dependence
on foreign fuel and halting pollution of the air and water. Ending climate change came in
last of the 10 priorities in that category.

Under cap and trade legislation, the federal government would limit how much carbon
dioxide and other greenhouse gases could be released into the atmosphere by utilities,
factories and oil refineries.

Over the next 40 years, companies would have a dwindling number of permits for every
ton of carbon dioxide they emit. Those relying more on cleaner alternative fuels could
sell, or trade, permits to those relying more on dirty fossil fuels.

Ahead of Debate, Coal Chief Says Environmental Concerns Are Exaggerated
The New York Times, January 21, 2010, by Tom Zeller Jr.

Don L. Blankenship, the chief executive of the coal giant Massey Energy, has been
called a lot of things by those who oppose his industry in all its manifestations — from
―an affront to common democracy‖ to simply ―evil.‖

In some ways, he‘s courted the vitriol, thumbing his nose at environmentalists who have
been critical of certain mining practices, and even attacking those among his fellow
energy producers who have engaged the concerns of activists and politicians over fossil
fuels, global warming and environmental degradation.

But in the hours before a forum scheduled Thursday evening in which the combative
coal executive will discuss the nation‘s energy future with one of the environmental
movement‘s leading critics of coal, Robert Kennedy Jr., Mr. Blankenship said he
welcomed the opportunity to present his side of things.

―I guess the biggest thing is that this is an opportunity for people to hear the whole
story,‖ he said. ―It‘s such a complicated subject, and the business has been under attack
for a long time.‖

To be sure, the environmental impacts of coal mining and use have been under
increasing scrutiny in recent years — not least because coal is a prolific contributor to
carbon dioxide emissions, which scientists say are linked to global warming.

A study published this month in the journal Science also offered a damning analysis of
mountaintop removal mining in particular, the practice of blasting off a hilltop to get at the
coal seams inside.

In an unusual move, the dozen scientists involved in the study called for an end to the

―The evidence was absolutely overwhelming that the impacts are really severe and long-
lasting,‖ Margaret Palmer, the director of the University of Maryland‘s Chesapeake
Biological Laboratory and the paper‘s lead author, told The Baltimore Sun.

―And so, we made the unusual decision that as scientists we were going to make a
policy recommendation – because the evidence was so overwhelming – to halt
mountaintop mining.‖

But representatives of the mining industry have dismissed the study, and Mr.
Blankenship and Massey Energy enjoy broad support among the thousands of West
Virginians whose livelihoods depend on the coal industry.

The environmental damages arising from the coal industry are ―greatly exaggerated,‖ he
said. He added that ordinary citizens have not been given a clear view of how dependent
the world is on coal, a cheap and readily available energy resource.

On the specific issue of mountaintop removal mining, Mr. Blankenship said the
environmental concerns have also been exaggerated.

―All the disturbed areas amount to an area a little bigger than the size of Houston,‖ he
said, adding that the claims of water contamination linked to the practice of mountaintop
removal are ―just not true.‖

Mr. Blankenship did say that his company — and the coal industry in general — are
always seeking ways to use technology and other innovations to improve safety and
address environmental concerns. But ―it‘s not a perfect world,‖ he said. He added that
―there‘s more pollution coming off of cars than off of mines.‖

Asked what he most wanted to communicate during the two-hour dialogue with Mr.
Kennedy, which begins at 6:15 p.m. at the University of Charleston, he replied,
―Destroying people‘s lives and their way of making a living and taking away their homes
and the availability of low-cost energy is inhumane.‖

Gas Drilling Techniques Under Fire … Again
The New York Times, January 20, 2010, by John Collins Rudolf

Federal government oversight of hydraulic fracturing – a drilling technique that boosts
natural gas extraction by blasting water, sand and chemicals underground at high
pressure – is sorely lacking, putting drinking water supplies at risk, an environmental
policy group claimed in a report released Tuesday.

According to the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy group based
in Washington, drilling companies are side-stepping a permitting requirement for the use
of diesel fuel in their fracturing fluids by using similar petroleum distillates that contain
the same toxins as diesel, but require no permitting.

The report also cites evidence that drilling companies continue to inject diesel fuel
underground without the proper permits.

―The industry has been able to operate above the law,‖ said Dusty Horwitt, the group‘s
senior counsel. ―They‘re doing an end-run around what little oversight is left.‖

The use of hydraulic fracturing has vastly boosted the productivity of existing natural gas
wells and opened new territory to drilling, helping lift natural gas reserves in the United
States by nearly a third, and igniting a drilling boom from New York to Wyoming.

Yet as gas companies explore drilling in sensitive regions like the New York City
watershed in upstate New York, concern over the technology‘s potential to pollute water
supplies has mounted.

The drilling boom – and the growing controversy over the risk of water contamination –
was outlined in a December article by Times reporters Jad Mouawad and Clifford

As they noted, the evidence of groundwater pollution attributable to fracturing is thin —
though environmental groups contend that is because governments have been slow to
react to the drilling boom and are not looking hard for contamination.

Gas companies, meanwhile, acknowledge the validity of some concerns, but they claim
that their technology is fundamentally safe.

In 2004, the United States Environmental Protection Agency released a report declaring
that hydraulic fracturing posed little threat to human health. The following year, drawing
support from the E.P.A. report, Congress voted to exempt hydraulic fracturing from
oversight under the Clean Water Act.

The law made one exception, however – that companies acquire permits when using
diesel fuel in their fracturing fluid. Diesel contains benzene and other cancer-causing

Obeying the letter of the law, many drilling companies switched from diesel to other
petroleum distillates. Yet these distillates also contain toxics such as benzene,
sometimes in even greater levels than the diesel they are replacing, according to the
Environmental Working Group report.

―These substitutes are extremely toxic,‖ Mr. Horwitt said.

The group also contacted environmental agencies in New York, Pennsylvania, Montana,
Texas and Wyoming – states where hydraulic fracturing has been used extensively –
seeking information on the continuing use of diesel fuel in drilling.

Only one state, Wyoming, provided information on permitting, the report states.

―It‘s not even clear if companies are getting permits if they‘re using diesel,‖ Mr. Horwitt
said. ―This whole area has been shrouded in secrecy and lax regulation.‖

Drilling companies maintain that hydraulic fracturing is safe and have launched a fierce
lobbying and public relations effort to resist further regulation.

Congress will have a chance to revisit the controversy over the safety of the technology
this week as it weighs approval of the Exxon Mobil Corporation‘s proposed $41 billion
acquisition of XTO Energy, a major player in natural gas extraction.

Winds carry Asian smog component to western U.S., study finds
LA Times, January 21, 2010, by Margot Roosevelt

Experts say that baseline ozone, the amount of gas not produced by local vehicles and
industries, has increased in springtime months by 29% since 1984.

Ozone from Asia is wafting across the Pacific on springtime winds and boosting the
amount of the smog-producing chemical found in the skies above the western United
States, researchers said in a study released Wednesday.

The new study, published in the journal Nature, explores a phenomenon that has
puzzled scientists in the past decade: Ground-level ozone has dropped in cities thanks
to tighter pollution controls; but it has risen in rural areas in the western U.S., where
there is little industry or automobile traffic.

The study, led by Owen R. Cooper, an atmospheric scientist at the University of
Colorado, examined nearly 100,000 observations two to five miles above ground -- in a
region known as the free troposphere -- gathered from aircraft, balloons and ground-
based lasers.

It found that baseline ozone -- the amount of gas not produced by local vehicles and
industries -- has increased in springtime months by 29% since 1984.

The study has important implications both for the curbing of conventional pollution that
damages human health, and for controlling greenhouse gases that are changing the
planet's climate, experts said.

It shows the need for a transformation of global energy and transportation systems, said
Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board.

"Atmospheric scientists keep finding more evidence that pollutants travel around the
globe and move up and down as they travel," she said. "There is not a bright line
separating greenhouse gases from regular air pollution."

The study, co-authored by researchers from nine institutes in the U.S. and abroad, is
only a first step in understanding cross-border pollution, Cooper said. More research will
be needed to investigate how much of the ozone from the troposphere reaches the
ground and how much flows across borders at other times of the year. The researchers
began with the free troposphere because it is easier to eliminate local sources from
baseline ozone calculations. They chose April and May because that is when winds from
Asia are strongest.

"Ozone is a difficult gas to pin down," said Cooper, who works at the Earth System
Research Laboratory of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in
Boulder, Colo. "The study of intercontinental air pollution has been going on for a
decade, but whether it was increasing overall was uncertain.

"And in places where it had spiked, along coasts and in national parks, we didn't know
how much was from local sources and how much was from Asia."

Cooper said scientists have not determined how much of the ozone increase comes
from Asia, but they found that the increase was about twice as much when prevailing
winds came from South and East Asia. (Emissions of nitrogen oxides, a key ingredient
for ozone formation, have increased by more than 50% in China over the past decade

while decreasing in the U.S. and Europe.)

Still, the study offers "the most conclusive evidence so far of increasing ozone levels in
the free troposphere over North America," wrote atmospheric chemist Kathy Law, an
expert in long-range pollution transport, in a Nature commentary on the paper.

Moreover, she added, the increases "certainly have implications for climate change,
causing warming either at the mid-latitudes where ozone forms, or in sensitive regions
such as the Arctic to which ozone might be transported."

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, ground-level ozone is linked to
serious health problems, ranging from aggravation of asthma to increased risk of
premature death in people with heart or lung disease.

In Southern California, which has some of the highest pollution levels in the U.S., smog
levels exceed health standards more than 80 days a year. Based on new studies, EPA
announced earlier this month that it may tighten federal ozone rules.

Eels disappearing from London's River Thames
San Francisco Chronicle, January 21, 2010, by Sylvia Hui

LONDON, United Kingdom (AP) --

Eels that have been migrating across the Atlantic Ocean to European rivers for hundreds
of years are rapidly disappearing from London's River Thames, scientists said Thursday.

Conservationists say they're worried that the slithery creatures are not returning to the
capital, where they have been most well known in the form of a traditional dish. Jellied
eel — stewed eels in a spiced jelly made from the stewing juices — is a cockney
specialty from London's East End dating back centuries.

Less than 50 European eels were found in eel traps placed the river last year — a 98
percent drop from 1,500 of the fish found in 2005, records at the Zoological Society of
London indicated.

The decline was likely a combined result of changes in ocean currents due to climate
change, man-made structures such as dams, and the presence of certain parasites, said
Matthew Gollock, a Thames conservationist at the organization. It was difficult to
pinpoint what caused the change because there wasn't enough data on eel populations,
he said.

"We just don't know enough," Gollock said. "Eels are mysterious creatures at the best of
times, but we are very concerned about the rapid disappearance of the species in the

The critically endangered migratory fish — found in rivers across Europe from Sweden
to north Africa — has a long and complex life cycle. After spawning in the North Atlantic
Ocean, the eels' tiny eggs are carried thousands of miles (kilometers) by sea currents to

European rivers, where they settle and mature for up to 20 years. The eels then swim
back 4,000 miles (6,500 kilometers) to where they came from, to spawn and die.

The eels also have been disappearing from other European rivers, Gollock said — a
change that could have a domino effect on other species up and down the ecosystem

The water quality of the Thames, which runs through central London, has improved in
the past 50 years, but it remains a fragile estuary, Gollock said.

"It's quite a precarious ecosystem and the fast removal of any species — whether it is a
fish or a plant — is going to upset the balance," he said.

Clean Air battle: Murkowski takes EPA fight to Senate floor, January 21, 2010, by Erika Bolstad

WASHINGTON — Sen. Lisa Murkowski took her battle with the Environmental
Protection Agency to the floor of the Senate Thursday, saying she was left with no
choice but to fight a federal agency she believes is "contemplating regulations that will
destroy jobs while millions of Americans are doing everything they can just to find one."

The Alaska Republican announced she would seek to keep the EPA from drawing up
rules on greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters, such as power plants, refineries
and manufacturers. Murkowski did it by filing a "disapproval resolution," a rarely used
procedural move that prohibits rules written by executive branch agencies from taking

On Thursday, she threatened dire economic consequences if the EPA, rather than
Congress, writes the rules for how to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the
Clean Air Act. Both the White House and congressional leaders have said they prefer to
write a law that would cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but while the House
of Representatives has passed such legislation, it has stalled in the Senate.

The EPA is working on regulations that will limit emissions by large producers of
greenhouse gases, as part of its compliance with a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision
requiring the agency to determine whether greenhouse gases endanger the country's
health and welfare.

If Congress fails to act, the EPA‘s rules could set the standard for greenhouse gas
emissions from big, stationary sources of pollution. Murkowski on Thursday re-
emphasized her concern about an executive branch agency writing the rules rather than

―If Congress allows this to happen there will be severe consequences to our economy,‖
Murkowski said. ―Businesses will be forced to cut jobs, if not move outside our borders
or close their doors for good perhaps. Domestic energy production will be severely
restricted, increasing our dependence on foreign suppliers and threatening our national
security. Housing will become less affordable.‖

She was immediately countered by Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairwoman of the committee
that has done the most work on climate-change legislation: the Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee.

Murkowski‘s disapproval resolution would essentially throw out the process by which the
EPA found that greenhouse gases endanger public health, Boxer said.

The California Democrat called Murkowski‘s resolution an ―unprecedented move to
overturn a health finding by health experts and scientific experts in order to stand with
the special interests.‖

The EPA had no immediate comment. But the agency has been fighting Murkowski
since she introduced a proposal last fall that called for limiting for one year the EPA‘s
ability to regulate greenhouse gases. Murkowski argued then that it would give Congress
time to work on its own climate legislation so that what she called "the worst of our
options, EPA regulation," didn't take effect before lawmakers completed their work.

Murkowski has as co-sponsors 38 fellow senators, including three Democrats: Sens.
Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

Her move has prompted an aggressive response by environmentalists, who launched a
radio and television advertising campaign in Anchorage and Washington, D.C., that
focused on the role two industry lobbyists had in writing Murkowski‘s original proposal
last fall.

It‘s not clear how much support Murkowski has beyond her 38 co-sponsors. All 12 of the
Democrats on Boxer‘s committee oppose the disapproval resolution.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also criticized Murkowski‘s effort, saying recently
during an event in New York sponsored by the Geothermal Energy Association that
Murkowski‘s proposal was ―misguided.‖

―It's a highly political move, and a highly hazardous one to our health and the
environment," the Nevada Democrat said. "If this senator succeeds, it could keep
Congress from working constructively in a bipartisan manner to pass clean energy
legislation this year."

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                              ROAP MEDIA UPDATE
                         THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
                             Friday, January 22, 2010

                                UNEP or UN in the news

         Indonesia to host environment ministerial meeting – People‘s Daily Online
         Indonesia To Speak For the Seas at UN – Jakarta Globe

Indonesia to host environment ministerial meeting – People’s Daily Online

January 21, 2010 - Indonesian Environmental Affairs Ministry is to host the 11th
miniterial meeting attended by members of the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) on
Feb.22-26, a senior official of the ministry said Thursday.

The meeting is expected to be attended by 192 environment ministers, Toxic and
Hazardous Garbage Deputy at the ministry Imam Hendarto said.

He added that 150 of the ministers expected to attend the summit have already
confirmed their attendance.

"The summit would discuss global environmental issues based on the terms agreed in
UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change) meeting in
Copenhagen in December last year, " Imam said.

He added that Indonesian government would take the opportunity to secure its national
interests in global climate change issue.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has pledged Indonesia's targets to
reduce carbon emission by 26 percent or 41 percent by foreign assistance by 2020.

Indonesia to Speak For the Seas at UN – Jakarta Globe

Indonesia plans to push for the inclusion of ocean issues at an upcoming United Nations
forum on the environment in Bali, a member of the State Ministry for the Environment
said on Thursday.

 The 11th special session of the Global Ministerial Environment Forum of the UN
Environment Program will be held in Bali from Feb. 22 to 26 to discuss three major
topics: international governance and sustainable development, green economies and
biodiversity and ecosystems.

 ―Our main mission is to include ocean issues into the building blocks of adaptation,‖ said
Liana Bratasida, assistant minister for global environmental affairs and international
cooperation at the State Ministry for the Environment. Liana was referring to one of the
four ―building blocks‖ agreed to at the December climate change talks in Copenhagen.
  ―If we succeed on including the issue, then it would become one of UNEP‘s working
programs,‖ she said.

  The government will also push for assistance for developing countries in implementing
low-carbon economic growth, she added.

Meanwhile, Environment Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said that unlike forests,
oceans had been difficult to include at the climate change negotiations because there
was still limited research on the issue.

 ―There was lots of criticism of the Copenhagen Accord because oceans were not
included, considering their great impact on climate change.

But it has been thoroughly discussed in the adaptation section compared to in the
mitigation section,‖ Gusti said.

In anticipation of the meeting in Denpasar, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has
instructed district heads and mayors to intensify environmental programs such as the
Clean Friday movement and to implement better waste management programs. Bali is
expected to be named the nation‘s first Green Province during the forum.
  President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to open the forum, which is
expected to involve some 5,000 delegates from 192 countries.

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                            ENVIRONMENT NEWS FROM THE
                                  UN DAILY NEWS
21 January 2010 (None)

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                           ENVIRONMENT NEWS FROM THE

21 January 2010 (None)

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