Environmental Policy

Update: UN climate change talks start making progress
June 15, 2013 07:40 AM - UN News Center

The United Nations climate change body said it has made concrete progress towards a new universal agreement on climate change during its latest round of talks which wrapped up this week in Germany. "This has been an important meeting because Governments are moving faster now from the stage of exploring options to designing and implementing solutions," said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). During the two-week talks in Bonn, participants focused on how to transform the world's energy systems quickly enough towards low-carbon, including renewable energy, energy efficiency and the consideration of carbon capture and storage.

Logging may destabilize carbon in forest soils
June 14, 2013 03:01 PM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Logging in temperate zones may release more greenhouse gases than previously thought by destabilizing carbon stored in forest soils, argues a new paper published in the journal Global Change Biology-Bioenergy. The research involved analysis of carbon released from forest management practices in the northeastern United States. It found that while most models assume carbon stored in mineral soils to be relatively stable, in fact intensive logging operations, like clear-cutting, trigger release of carbon from various pools above and below ground.

How can agriculture best adapt to changing climate?
June 14, 2013 06:37 AM - Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security via eurekAlert

Whether it’s swapping coffee for cocoa in Central America or bracing for drought in Sri Lanka with a return to ancient water storage systems, findings from a new report from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) chart a path for farmers to adapt to climate shifts despite uncertainties about what growing conditions will look like decades from now. As this week's UN climate talks in Bonn continue to sideline a formal deal on agriculture, the study, Addressing uncertainty in adaptation planning for agriculture, which was published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences (PNAS), finds that the cloudy aspects of climate forecasts are no excuse for a paralysis in agriculture adaptation policies. "Climate projections will always have a degree of uncertainty, but we need to stop using uncertainty as a rationale for inaction," said Sonja Vermeulen, head of research at CCAFS and the lead author of the study. "Even when our knowledge is incomplete, we often have robust grounds for choosing best-bet adaptation actions and pathways, by building pragmatically on current capacities in agriculture and environmental management, and using projections to add detail and to test promising options against a range of scenarios."

Offshore Floating Wind Turbines
June 12, 2013 06:20 AM - ClickGreen staff, ClickGreen

RenewableUK has heralded new announcements today which will bring floating turbines a step closer to UK waters and open up the possibility of further developments. At RenewableUK's Offshore Wind conference in Manchester, the Crown Estate, the managers of the seabed, announced a new offshore wind leasing round for innovative structures.

Are Airlines doing enough to cut emissions?
June 11, 2013 06:05 AM - Harry Stevens, Triple Pundit

The aviation industry has announced what it claims is "a historic agreement" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but industry experts and environmentalists say the agreement is vague and lacks the enforcement mechanisms necessary to give it teeth. At a meeting last week of the International Air Transport Association (I.A.T.A.), an industry group of more than 200 airlines representing 84 percent of the world's air travel, the assembled airlines agreed on a plan to improve fuel efficiency by 1.5 percent annually until 2020, cap their net carbon dioxide emissions after 2020, and cut emissions in half by 2050 compared with a 2005 baseline.

Nanotechnology could lead to better batteries for EV's
June 9, 2013 08:11 AM - MOVEFORWARD, Electric Forum

If you search the Internet for information on nanotechnology the likelihood is that you will see a number of scare stories suggesting that nanotechnology robots will take over the world but if you dig a little deeper you will see that nanotechnology will play a major part in every area of our life going forward. Indeed researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico seem to have stumbled upon a new type of technology which could lead to batteries able to hold 10 times the storage capacity at the moment. While the fact that these batteries could be commercially viable in the future is amazing in itself, it is also worth mentioning that unlike traditional batteries they do not require expensive precious metals such as platinum. This nanotechnology carbon-based catalyst is said to be able to squeeze maximum efficiency out of new lithium air technology which is currently being investigated by IBM for one.

Don’t Waste Your Energy: New Tracker Lets You Easily Search for States’ Energy Legislation
June 7, 2013 01:52 PM - Editor, Clean Techies

Colorado State University's Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) and Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) have created a free, searchable database of pending energy legislation in all 50 states. This growing information hub, called the Advanced Energy Legislation Tracker, aims to make available the more than 2,000 current bills in U.S. legislature that could influence the country's energy systems. Users can search by state, policy type, and/or keywords to find legislation.

Denmark's NOx Tax
June 7, 2013 06:12 AM - EurActiv

Denmark's tax on nitrogen oxide emissions, which was raised during the financial crisis, could be scrapped if it's proven to have a negative impact on jobs and competitiveness. The centre-left Danish government, which was formed in October 2011, decided at the end of that year to raise the tax from 5 to 25 Danish crowns (from €0.7 to 3.4) per kilo of nitrogen oxide NOx emissions. The tax was introduced on 1 July 2012. The increased NOx tax was adopted after long debates in the Danish parliament where opposition parties warned it would be expensive not only for companies emitting NOx, but for all businesses.

Small island states told to build wider ocean expertise
June 6, 2013 08:45 AM - Yojana Sharma, SciDevNet

With rising concern about ocean degradation and the sustainable use of ocean resources, small island states must build scientific expertise that goes beyond their national needs and that benefits the oceans generally, a meeting of UN scientific experts has heard. Small island developing states (SIDS) are the "custodians" of vast ocean spaces that are important for global food security, biodiversity, natural resources and carbon sequestration, and broader sustainable ocean policies will in turn enhance their own economic development, say experts.

Has power in the electric vehicle market switched from the US to China?
June 5, 2013 02:20 PM - Move Forward, Electric Forum

When we think of automobiles the likelihood is that the US is a country which will spring to mind and then perhaps other operations in the Far East, Europe and beyond. For many years the likes of Ford and General Motors have dominated the automobile industry giving the US government enormous power to lead while the rest follow. However, there is a growing concern that the US government may well be losing control of the electric vehicle market with the Chinese authorities now keener than ever to invest in this new technology. It seems almost inconceivable that President Obama, who has recently been forced to renege on his 1 million electric vehicle target, should lose control of the electric vehicle industry to China.

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