Environmental Policy

Air Quality in Scotland continuing to improve
September 11, 2015 08:06 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

A new report published today shows Scottish emissions of most air pollutants have continued to fall, with significant reductions in emissions of all air pollutants since 1990.

The announcement of the official figures was welcomed by Environment Minister Aileen McLeod who said an updated action plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide would soon be published.

Dr McLeod said: “Air pollution is harmful to human health and can contribute to climate change, and I very much welcome the significant progress that has been made reducing emissions of nitrogen oxides and other air pollutants in Scotland.

MIT study shows climate change mitigation potential of geoengineering the oceans
September 9, 2015 07:23 AM - Mark Dwortzan | Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, MIT

Like the leaves of New England maples, phytoplankton, the microalgae at the base of most oceanic food webs, photosynthesize when exposed to sunlight. In the process, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, converting it to carbohydrates and oxygen. Many phytoplankton species also release dimethyl sulfide (DMS) into the atmosphere, where it forms sulfate aerosols, which can directly reflect sunlight or increase cloud cover and reflectivity, resulting in a cooling effect. The ability of phytoplankton to draw planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and produce aerosols that promote further cooling has made ocean fertilization — through massive dispersal of iron sulfite and other nutrients that stimulate phytoplankton growth — an attractive geoengineering method to reduce global warming.

Coastal management strategies in the age of climate change
September 4, 2015 05:52 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

Coastal decision-makers must move away from considering physical and economic forces in isolation to fully recognise and explain changes to coastlines, according to new research from Cardiff University.

The coastlines where we live, work and play have long been altered by people, but now researchers have investigated why developed coastlines change over time in ways that are fundamentally different from their undeveloped, natural counterparts.

Climate change mitigation needs more ambitious emissions reductions
September 3, 2015 05:44 AM - ClickGreen staff

The collective climate targets submitted by Governments to the UN will lead to global emissions far above the levels needed to hold warming to below 2°C, researchers at the Climate Action Tracker warned today.

The analysis by the consortium of four research organisations was released today in Bonn where Governments are meeting for the second to last week of negotiations ahead of the Paris summit on climate action.

MIT study looks at benefits of acting on climate change
September 2, 2015 07:25 AM - Mark Dwortzan | Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, MIT

Since the 1990s, scientists and policymakers have proposed limiting Earth’s average global surface temperature to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels, thereby averting the most serious effects of global warming, such as severe droughts and coastal flooding. But until recently, they lacked a comprehensive estimate of the likely social and economic benefits — from lives saved to economies preserved — that would result from greenhouse gas emissions reduction policies designed to achieve the 2 C goal.

Now, a team of researchers from the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change has published a study in Climatic Change that provides scenarios that climate scientists can use to estimate such benefits. The study projects greenhouse gas emissions levels and changes in precipitation, ocean acidity, sea level rise and other climate impacts throughout the 21st century resulting from different global greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation scenarios. The scenarios include a business-as-usual future and one aimed at achieving significant GHG emission reductions limiting global warming since pre-industrial times to 2 C. Research groups convened by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have already begun using the MIT projections to evaluate the benefits of a 2 C emissions reduction scenario for agriculture, water, health, and other global concerns.

Even safe levels of air pollution found to have health impacts in European study
August 30, 2015 07:40 AM - EUROPEAN SOCIETY OF CARDIOLOGY via EurekAlert

Particulate matter and NO2 air pollution are associated with increased risk of severe heart attacks despite being within European recommended levels, according to research presented at ESC Congress today by Dr Jean-Francois Argacha, a cardiologist at University Hospital Brussels (UZ Brussel-Vrije Universiteit Brussel), in Belgium.1

"Dramatic health consequences of air pollution were first described in Belgium in 1930 after the Meuse Valley fog," said Dr Argacha. "Nowadays, the World Health Organization (WHO) considers air pollution as one of the largest avoidable causes of mortality. Besides the pulmonary and carcinogenic effects of air pollution, exposition to air pollution has been associated with an increased risk in cardiovascular mortality."

Carbon Credits Under Kyoto Protocol Actually Increased Emissions
August 27, 2015 07:28 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

At the end of November, governments will come together in Paris to hammer out agreements for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Under the KP, there are two greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions offsetting mechanisms: joint implementation (JI) and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

JI allows countries with emissions-reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol to generate Emission Reduction Units (ERUs) from GHG reduction projects and transfer them to other countries. Almost 872 million ERUs had been issued under JI as of March 2015, about a third of all Kyoto offset credits. In a nutshell, JIs are carbon credits and include things like reforestation projects.

Is fracking water safe to irrigate crops?
August 24, 2015 06:35 AM - Crystal Shepeard, Care2

The race to find cleaner energy sources has led to a boon in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in search of natural gas. Highly pressurized chemicals and water are pumped deep underground to break shale and release natural gas for harvesting. Residents and environmentalists have long been opposed to the process, which has seen an increase of health issues due to contaminated water. In drought stricken California, there is also concern about the amount of water being used in fracking operations, as well as what is done with the wastewater.

California farmers are frustrated with oil companies that have encroached on their areas. Fertile farm land is also filled with natural gas and there has been an increase in fracking operations. As the name implies, hyrdraulic fracturing is a water-intensive process. At the front-end, freshwater is infused with chemicals and is pumped into the shale. This has put farmers and oil companies in competition for the ever decreasing amount of water available.

MIT analysis improves estimates of global mercury pollution
August 21, 2015 07:26 AM - MIT News

Once mercury is emitted into the atmosphere from the smokestacks of power plants, the pollutant has a complicated trajectory; even after it settles onto land and sinks into oceans, mercury can be re-emitted back into the atmosphere repeatedly. This so-called “grasshopper effect” keeps the highly toxic substance circulating as “legacy emissions” that, combined with new smokestack emissions, can extend the environmental effects of mercury for decades.

Now an international team led by MIT researchers has conducted a new analysis that provides more accurate estimates of sources of mercury emissions around the world. The analysis pairs measured air concentrations of mercury with a global simulation to calculate the fraction of mercury that is either re-emitted or that originates from power plants and other anthropogenic activities. The result of this work, researchers say, could improve estimates of mercury pollution, and help refine pollution-control strategies around the world.

China's carbon emissions may be lower than estimated
August 20, 2015 01:30 PM - Eliza Berlage, The Ecologist

The IPCC has over-estimated China's emissions since 2000 by 14%, almost 3 gigatonnes of carbon since 2000, while its energy consumption has been 10% higher than realised, writes Eliza Berlage. The country is far more carbon-efficient than we ever knew.

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