‘Europe is asking for a catastrophe’

Extreme weather caused by climate change threatens to ravage Europe’s oldest cities. Cleo Paskal, an expert on geopolitical and environmental impact, says Europe is not facing the climate realities of the 21st century.

Deutsche Welle: Speaking at the Energy Security Conference in Frankfurt this month, you said we tend to focus on the impact humans have on the environment, but that we should also examine the impact our environment is having on us. What did you mean?

Cleo Paskal: We are in a world that is changing, not just for climate change reasons but because of population increases, depletions in groundwater, populations moving into increasingly vulnerable areas. What happened in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina was the result of building on floodplains. It was a city in a hurricane zone that was hit by a hurricane. It was not a surprise. It created an enormous social, political and economic disaster, from which the region still hasn’t recovered.

So, environmental change, and its effect on us, is being seen increasingly and in an accelerating way. This is going to change the way economies can sustain themselves, the way countries interact with each other and the way power is projected across the board.

via ‘Europe is asking for a catastrophe’ | Environment | DW.DE | 17.07.2013.

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Dominion converts 1st of 3 coal plants to biomass

Dominion Virginia Power’s Altavista power station is now running on renewable biomass as part of a previously announced plan to convert three of its coal-fired power plants in the state to burn mostly waste wood left from regional timbering operations as fuel, the energy provider said Monday.

dominion-altavistaThe subsidiary of Richmond-based Dominion Resources Inc. said the other plants in Hopewell and Southampton County should be operating on biomass by the end of the year. When in operation, the three plants are expected to produce a total of 150 megawatts of renewable energy, enough electricity to power about 37,500 homes.

via Dominion converts 1st of 3 coal plants to biomass – Connecticut Post.

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UN chief calls for achieving sustainable energy for all as International Year kicks off

As the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All kicked off today, United Nations officials called on governments, the private sector and civil society to help expand energy access, improve efficiency and increase the use of renewables.

Globally, one person in five still lacks access to modern electricity and twice that number – three billion people – rely on wood, coal, charcoal, or animal waste for cooking and heating.

“We are here to build a new energy future… a future that harnesses the power of technology and innovation in the service of people and the planet,” Mr. Ban said in remarks to the opening of the World Future Energy Summit, which is taking place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

For more on this story, visit: UN calls for achieving sustainable energy for all as International Year kicks off.

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North American CO2 market value set to double to $782 mln | Point Carbon

The volume of carbon permits and credits traded in North America is set to double in 2012, with as many as 179 million tonnes expected to change hands as California and Quebec’s carbon markets come to life, a new report by Thomson Reuters Point Carbon, Environmental Leader reports.

The news service said the volume of permits and credits traded could reach 179 million tons, valued at $782 million. It also said (via Business Green) that the WCI, a market across California and five Canadian provinces, will become the biggest North American market by value. In so doing it will overtake the RGGI, an agreement between nine north-eastern states. Point Carbon predicts that the WCI will distribute 24 million metric tons of allowances later this year in California and Quebec, for use in 2013.

For more on this story, visit: North American CO2 market value set to double to $782 mln – News – Point Carbon.

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Canada condemned at home and abroad for pulling out of Kyoto treaty | The Guardian

Canada has been condemned at home and abroad as “irresponsible” and “reckless” for pulling out of the Kyoto climate treaty, just a day after committing to a future legally binding deal at a major UN climate summit.

“I regret Canada’s withdrawal and am surprised over its timing,” said the UN climate chief Christiana Figueres. “Canada has a moral obligation to itself and future generations to lead in the global effort.” China, which agreed for the first time to legal limits on its emissions at the summit in Durban, denounced Canada’s decision as “preposterous” in its state media and called it “an excuse to shirk responsibility” in tackling global warming.

For more on this story, visit: Canada condemned at home and abroad for pulling out of Kyoto treaty | Environment | The Guardian.

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Important Progress at Global Warming Negotiations in Durban; Major Work Ahead | Jake Schmidt, NRDC

As Nelson Mandela famously said: “It always seems impossible, until we are done.”

That is exactly how it seemed at the United Nations COP-17 climate negotations over the past two weeks – extremely difficult (and even impossible at times). The negotiations lastest more than than 36 hours after they were supposed to end. They culminated in some extremely passionate statements from the floor and a quick “open air” negotiation among the major players to try to address one last minute disagreement. Eventually they ended in agreement in the dim light of Sunday morning.

The agreements reached in South Africa make important progress, but much more work lies ahead to address global warming.

The NRDC’s Jake Schmidt writes a quick overview of what was agreed and what it means.

For more on this story, visit: Important Progress at Global Warming Negotiations in Durban; Major Work Ahead | Jake Schmidt’s Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC.

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Climate deal salvaged after marathon talks in Durban | peacenews.org via The Observer

Countries have agreed a deal in Durban to push for a new climate treaty, salvaging the latest round of United Nations climate talks from the brink of collapse.

The UK’s cimate change secretary, Chris Huhne, hailed the deal, finally struck in the early hours of Sunday after talks had overrun by a day and a half, as a “significant step forward” that would deliver a global, overarching legal agreement to cut emissions. He said it sent a strong signal to businesses and investors about moving to a low-carbon economy.

For more on this story, visit: Climate deal salvaged after marathon talks in Durban | peacenews.org via The Observer.

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Full coverage of climate talks in Durban available online

The Guardian is offering quite a comprehensive look at the happenings at the climate talks in Durban. Resources, comments, timelines, most recent, top stories, as well as links to coverage in previous years, all can be found here. Click on the link above for the Guardian’s website.

Also, see this aggregation of stories from the climate talks — http://climate-connections.org.

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Cap & trade benefits CT: Study

Connecticut’s commitment to the regional cap-and-trade system and subsequent investment in energy efficiency bolsters the economy, even as power plants shell out cash for their air pollution.

In the first three years of the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Connecticut’s state government received $51.7 million of the $913.3 million awarded throughout the region. Connecticut invested 73 percent in energy efficiency initiatives; 23 percent in renewable energy projects; 5 percent on offsetting air pollution; and 1 percent on clean energy education for teachers and students.

For more on this story, visit: Cap & trade benefits CT, study finds | Hartford Business.

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EDF Applauds New Fuel Efficiency and Emissions Standards for Cars and Trucks

America has driven a little bit further down the road toward clean and fuel efficient cars.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation just announced their joint proposal to set new, stronger fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks – for model years 2017 to 2025.

EDF’s Fred Krupp said the announcement:

 … is more good news for American consumers, auto manufacturers, public health and the environment. By 2025 we’ll have cars that on average get more than 54 miles to the gallon, save their owners more than $8,000 in fuel costs, save our country more than two million barrels of oil a day, and drastically reduce the carbon dioxide pollution in our air.

This is the second phase of setting new fuel efficiency standards for cars. The Administration already set standards for model year 2012 to 2016 cars, which will reach an average of 35.5 miles to the gallon.

They also set new standards for trucks and buses. (Our experts have written about all of this before, of course – most recently here)

But the newly proposed standards are the biggest step forward yet. Together with the earlier improvements, they will:

  • Save Americans a total of $1.7 trillion in national fuel savings over the life of the program.
  • Reduce our oil consumption by an amount more than our 2010 oil imports from the entire Persian Gulf, by the year 2025
  • Reduce our carbon dioxide pollution, over the life of the program, by the equivalent to the emissions from the entire United States in 2010

You can get a lot more details, and a illustrative graph, on our new fact sheet.

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