UNEP – ‘How Close are we to the Two Degree Limit?’

An important outcome of the Copenhagen Accord, noted at the end of the UN climate convention meeting in December 2009, was the declaration that “deep cuts in global emissions are required … with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.” Based on current understanding of climate change science, scientists believe that the two degree limit will provide a measure of assurance that we can avoid many climate impacts. Furthermore, this aim provides a scientific underpinning to the Accord and establishes a benchmark for comparing emission commitments and mitigation actions submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Continue reading

UNEP Year Book 2010: New Science and Developments in our Changing Environment

The UNEP Year Book 2010 reports on new environmental science and recent developments in our changing environment. It looks at progress in environmental governance; the effects of continuing degradation and loss of the world’s ecosystems; impacts of climate change; how harmful substances and hazardous waste affect human health and the environment; environmentally related disasters and conflicts; and unsustainable use of resources. The chapters correspond to UNEP’s six thematic priorities. Continue reading

‘World’s largest solar project set to gain new partners’ – EurActiv

The Desertec project, which aims to power Europe with solar energy from the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East, is to go truly international next month as five new companies from Spain, Italy, France, Morocco and Tunisia join the scheme.

 The project aims to cover 15% of Europe’s electricity needs by 2050 by importing renewable energy, primarily solar power (see EurActiv LinksDossier on ‘Solar power’) via a high voltage cable. It utilises concentrating solar thermal power (CSP), which collects sunlight via mirrors to produce steam, which then drives turbines to generate electricity. Continue reading

‘Disaster Risk Reduction or Climate Change Adaptation: Are we reinventing the wheel’ – Jessica Mercer

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) policies and strategies are well established within the international development community, being utilised at the grassroots level to address all forms of hazards. An exacerbation and increase in meteorological hazards has in part been attributed to climate change. Climate change also contributes to noticeable seasonal fluctuations that severely affect natural resource based livelihoods. In response, a need in development policy has been identified to address climate change at the community level by helping those most affected through ‘climate change adaptation’ (CCA) strategies. This paper explores the differences—or, rather, the similarities—between DRR and CCA through analysing climate-related DRR in Papua New Guinea (PNG) within the context of wider development policies. Ways forward are identified for international development policy supporting all forms of risk reduction through integrating DRR and CCA strategies. (abstract) Continue reading

British Airways’ plans to produce biojet fuel

British Airways is planning to develop a plant in the east of London to produce biojet fuel from waste. It is estimated that the plant will be able to produce 16 million gallons of biojet fuel from 500 000 tonnes of waste.  It is also expected to create about 1200 jobs while resulting in reduced methane emissions. The Ministry of Defence is yet to approve the production of the fuel.

The full story is available here.

‘Parts of SA may be uninsurable’ – article by Melanie Gosling

As the effects of climate change intensify, large areas of South Africa could become uninsurable, according to Santam’s chief executive Ian Kirk.

“Huge tracts of this country, and of the world, could become uninsurable or become unaffordable to insure. It depends if we’re successful with reducing our carbon emissions.

“If we’re not successful, our risks are going to increase significantly, and there comes a point when a risk is too high to cover,” Kirk said. Continue reading

‘Green taxes’ in South Africa

It has been recommended in the 2010/2011 Budget Tax Proposals that the ad valorem carbon dioxide emissions tax on new vehicles, proposed in 2009, be converted to a flat rate emissions tax on vehicles producing more than 120 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre. The tax will be charged on new passenger vehicles at R75 per gram/kilometre for each g/km over 120g/km. The new flat rate will be effective from 1 September 2010 in contrast to the ad valorem tax which was to be effective from 1 March 2010.  It is also proposed that the tax later be extended to commercial vehicles. Continue reading

Why Carbon Offsetting Will Not Save the Planet

Steffen Bohm and Siddhartha Dabhi (eds) 2009 Upsetting the Offset: The Political Economy of Carbon Markets MayFlyBooks

Press Release:

Global carbon markets may well have been hailed as the saviour of the planet by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but in many ways they are doing more harm than good, according to new evidence. In fact, two academics from the University of Essex argue that measures put in place to reduce carbon emissions following the Kyoto Protocol on climate change have only made matters worse.

Launched to tie-in with the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen (COP15), Dr Steffen Böhm and Siddhartha Dabhi’s new book, Upsetting the Offset: The Political Economy of Carbon Markets, challenges the environmental claims made about carbon markets and carbon offsetting schemes. The book – which collates contributions from more than 30 leading experts – is another voice in the growing criticism about the business of carbon and how it has failed to deliver promised reductions in greenhouse gases. Continue reading

Meals per gallon: The impact of industrial biofuels on people and global hunger – ActionAid

While appearing to be supportive of biofuels that are produced sustainably and on a small scale, this report is critical of, and discusses the negative impacts of, industrial biofuels produced on a large scale. Continue reading

Bill Gates: CO2 = P x S x E x C

Bill Gates: the Most Important Climate Speech of the Year  – Alex Steffen (Worldchanging)

On Friday, the world’s most successful businessperson and most powerful philanthropist did something outstandingly bold, that went almost unremarked: Bill Gates announced that his top priority is getting the world to zero climate emissions.

Now, I’m not a member of the Cult of Bill myself (I’m typing this on a MacBook), but you don’t have to believe that Gates has superhuman powers of prediction to know that his predictions have enormous power. People who will never listen to Al Gore, much to less someone like me, hang on Gates’ every utterance.

And Friday, Gates predicted extraordinary climate action: zero. Not small steps, not incremental progress, not doing less bad: zero. In fact, he stood in front of a slide with nothing but the planet Earth and the number zero. That moment was the most important thing that has happened at TED. Continue reading

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