Environmental Policy

Emissions Gap report warns of urgent need for climate change action
November 21, 2012 06:40 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Action to tackle climate change needs to be urgently scaled up if the world is to have any chance of keeping a global temperature rise below 2 degrees C this century, according to UN Environment Programme (UNEP) research. The Emissions Gap Report, coordinated by UNEP and the European Climate Foundation, and released days before the convening of the Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Doha, shows that greenhouse gas emissions levels are now around 14 per cent above where they need to be in 2020. Instead of declining, concentration of warming gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) are actually increasing in the atmosphere-up around 20 per cent since 2000.

Climate change predicted to hit poorest hardest
November 20, 2012 07:01 AM - EurActive

All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but the world's poorest countries will suffer most from food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank’s new report on climate change says. Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, a former scientist, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development. "We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today," Kim told reporters on Friday [16 November].

What History Teaches Us About Our Environmental Challenges
November 19, 2012 07:05 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

It seems that the environmental challenges we face are truly daunting. That we may never be able to survive them, even if we do our best to do so. A study by MIT professor Susan Solomon says it's often helpful — and heartening — to look to the past. Solomon points out that recent decades have seen major environmental progress: In the 1970s, the United States banned indoor leaded paint following evidence that it was poisoning children. In the 1990s, the United States put in place regulations to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide — a move that significantly reduced acid rain. Beginning in the 1970s, countries around the world began to phase out leaded gasoline; blood lead levels in children dropped dramatically in response.

Idea that we have reached "Peak Oil" incorrect
November 18, 2012 07:18 AM - Population Matters

A report by theInternational Energy Agency reminds us that the peak oil idea has gone up in flames, and that the truly global implications of the 2012 report lie in the warning that we must leave most of our fossil fuels in the ground, writes Damian Carrington writes on the Guardian’s Environment Blog. Given the bubbling cauldron of violence that the middle East so frequently and regrettably is, the prospect of the US outstripping Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer in the next decade is deeply striking. The redrawing of the geopolitical map may cool some tensions and perhaps spark others. But the truly global implications of the International Energy Agency’s flagship report for 2012 lie elsewhere, in the quietly devastating statement that no more than one-third of already proven reserves of fossil fuels can be burned by 2050 if the world is to prevent global warming exceeding the danger point of 2C. This means nothing less than leaving most of the world’s coal, oil and gas in the ground or facing a destabilised climate, with its supercharged heatwaves, floods and storms.

Will Liberalization of Myanmar Bring Ruin to Its Vast Forests?
November 15, 2012 09:26 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

For years, Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, has been under the control of a strong military regime. The restriction on freedom and human rights abuses they imposed made the nation an international pariah, and trade sanctions were established by all major world economies. Now, Myanmar is undergoing a stunning democratic transformation, its citizens are granted more freedoms, and the world is opening up to them. With this opening up comes a relaxing of trade restrictions, which may unfortunately bring disaster to Myanmar's native forests. It was over this long period of strong military control and lack of foreign investment which allowed the wild forests to be protected. Now that things are changing, the nation may not be able to control the economic forces from within and without, vying to exploit its natural resources.

Ocean-grabbing threatens the food security of entire communities
November 15, 2012 08:43 AM - Olivier De Schutter, Ecologist

All over the world, food systems and the ecosystems they rely on are coming under pressure from the over-exploitation of natural resources. But nowhere are these impacts occurring as rapidly and dramatically as in the world's oceans.

Great Potential for Energy Efficiency Improvements in UK
November 15, 2012 06:07 AM - Tina Casey, Triple Pundit

With the ambitious goal of kickstarting "a revolution in UK energy efficiency," England’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has just launched a new program called the Government's Energy Efficiency Strategy. The goal is to cut the equivalent of 22 power stations worth of energy consumption throughout the United Kingdom by 2020. Though the UK has already made some significant progress in energy efficiency, the new strategy underscores just how much more opportunity there is to save energy in a nation that boasts an impressive stock of centuries-old buildings. The challenges of upgrading castles, cottages and ancient estates is small potatoes, though, compared to some broader structural challenges the UK faces, and the DECC is not shy about laying those out.

Got (organic) milk?
November 14, 2012 10:04 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

In recent years, advertising for milk and milk products has been seen everywhere in mainstream America. Not only do we have our doctors telling us to drink more milk, but we also have celebrities endorsing the product. Of course milk does the body good, but do some types of milk do better than others? What about milk's impact on the environment? To analyze these questions, researchers need to study the types of farms from where the milk originates. As with the case for most farms, large-scale farm businesses have been taking over smaller, local farms causing tons of pasture-based dairies to disappear from the landscape. Even though the demand for organic milk and dairy products is on the rise (raking in at least $750 million annually), most of our country's milk is coming from cows confined in animal feeding operations known as CAFOs. Not only do CAFOs make a less nutritious milk product, but they also pollute our air, water, and soil and reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics in humans.

Borneo may lose half its orangutans to deforestation, hunting, and plantations
November 14, 2012 08:42 AM - Rhett Butler, MONGABAY.COM

Borneo will likely lose half of its orangutans if current deforestation and forest conversion trends continue, warns a comprehensive new assessment by an international team of researchers. The study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, overlays orangutan distribution with land use regulations in Malaysian and Indonesian Borneo. Borneo has suffered high rates of deforestation, logging, and forest conversion for industrial plantations in recent decades, endangering the world's largest surviving populations of orangutans.

Report: Climate-Related Migration
November 14, 2012 05:31 AM - Editor, Worldwatch Institute

Recent reports, as well as extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy, suggest that climatechange, and particularly sea-level rise, may be occurring faster than earlier anticipated. This has increased public and policy discussions about climate change’s likely impacts on the movement of populations, both internally and worldwide. Research suggests that when climate-related migration does occur, much of it is short distance and within national borders, as opposed to international, according to new analysis conducted by Lori Hunter, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, for the Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online service (www.worldwatch.org). Recent research has added nuance to the scientific understanding of the potential connections between climate change and human migration. Previous studies over the past two decades relied largely on descriptive data and simplistic assumptions to put forward at-times alarmist estimates of future numbers of "environmental refugees," ranging from 150 million to 1 billion people. But such broad-sweeping generalizations mask several central issues that are important in the development of appropriate policy responses. These include:

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