Environmental Policy

Nepal, Bhutan to assess air pollutants
December 13, 2012 06:32 AM - Smriti Mallapaty

The Himalayan countries of Nepal and Bhutan will, in 2013, have two permanent air monitoring observatories set up by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) as part of a programme to reduce black carbon and other short-lived climate-forcing pollutants (SLCPs). There has been increasing international attention on SLCPs — small particles and gases like black carbon, methane, and ozone — because of their warming effect on climate. Acting in decades — rather than the centuries taken by greenhouse gases like carbon di-oxide — SLCPs negatively impact human health and agricultural output. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition, launched by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2011 to reduce SLCPs, has now grown to 33 member-countries.

NRDC’s Plan To Reduce Power Plant Emissions
December 12, 2012 08:40 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman, Triple Pundit

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a proposal to reduce power plant pollution by 26 percent by 2020 and 34 percent by 2025. The plan's key component is that the EPA, partnering with states, would set new carbon pollution standards under the Clean Air Act. The benefits of the plan, if carried out, outweigh the costs by 15 times as much. The price tag in 2020 would be $4 billion, but benefits would be $25 to 60 billion, six to 15 times greater than the costs.

Fisheries Commission Ignores Advice for Ending Overfishing
December 11, 2012 09:01 AM - Prime Sarmiento, SciDevNet

A five-day meeting on fisheries ended last week (6 December) amid complaints that big fishing nations have blocked efforts to curb tuna overfishing and ignored scientific advice. The accusations were made following the ninth regular session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which is the governing body for an international fisheries agreement that seeks to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish, such as tuna, in parts of the Pacific Ocean.

Uncontacted Tribes in Peru at Risk
December 11, 2012 06:51 AM - David Hill, The Ecologist

Peru is set to embark on a major expansion of gas operations in the Camisea region in the Amazon - a move which could decimate Indigenous peoples, both those in 'voluntary isolation' and others in the early stages of contact. Operations in Camisea - in a concession known as Lot 88 in the Cusco region in south-east Peru - are run by a consortium headed by Pluspetrol and including Repsol-YPF and Hunt Oil. The bulk of this Lot (74% ) overlaps the Kugapakori-Nahua-Nanti Reserve, which was created in 1990 for ”˜isolated’ peoples and in a bid supposedly intended to prohibit companies from operating there.

Doha Negotiations
December 10, 2012 08:45 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

U.N. climate talks headed into the final stretch with a host of issues unresolved, including a standoff over how much money financially stressed rich countries can spare to help the developing world tackle global warming. The United Nations climate talks in Doha, Qatar ended Saturday with key countries agreeing to some guidelines on how to track progress toward meeting their commitments and set a path toward a stronger legal agreement in 2015.

Doha climate change deal makes aid to poor countries for loss and damage look likely
December 10, 2012 06:14 AM - EurActive

Poor countries have won historic recognition of the plight they face from the ravages of climate change, wringing a pledge from rich nations that they will receive funds to repair the "loss and damage" incurred. This is the first time developing countries have received such assurances, and the first time the phrase "loss and damage from climate change" has been enshrined in an international legal document. Developing countries had been fighting hard for the concession at the fortnight-long UN climate change talks among 195 nations in Qatar, which finished after a marathon 36-hour final session.

Improvements in Air Quality add Years to Life Expectancy in US
December 8, 2012 09:05 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Are all the environmental laws and regulations accomplishing anything? Sometimes progress is not apparent, so it is good news that a new study led by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has found an association between reductions in fine particulate matter and improved life expectancy in 545 counties in the U.S. from 2000 to 2007. It is the largest study to date to find beneficial effects to public health of continuing to reduce air pollution levels in the U.S. The study appears in the December 3, 2012 online edition of the journal Epidemiology. "Despite the fact that the U.S. population as a whole is exposed to much lower levels of air pollution than 30 years ago—because of great strides made to reduce people’s exposure—it appears that further reductions in air pollution levels would continue to benefit public health," said lead author Andrew Correia, a PhD candidate in the Department of Biostatistics at HSPH".

Climate Change Update: Reports Show Growing Risks
December 7, 2012 06:34 AM - Daniela Hirschfeld, SciDevNet

As the UN climate change talks continue in Doha, Qatar, several reports over the past month have highlighted a sombre picture of the Earth's changing climate, raising alarm bells in particular for the world's poorest regions. A report from the World Bank launched last month (18 November) warns that the planet "is on track for a four degrees Celsius warmer world" by 2100, marked by extreme heat waves, declining food stocks, loss of biodiversity and life-threatening sea level rise. This is double the generally accepted two degrees Celsius threshold beyond which catastrophic climate change impacts are expected.

Doha Climate talks: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
December 5, 2012 06:31 AM - Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter, via WWF

Developing and developed countries reached a stalemate over how to verify carbon emissions from forests in Saturday's talks on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation at the annual U.N. climate conference in Doha, Qatar. Represented by Brazil and Norway, respectively, poor and wealthy nations were unable to agree on how high to set the standard to verify emissions reductions at the 37th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the group that dispenses scientific advice to the delegates to the conference.

Magnetic Fields from Antarctic research stations a potential problem
December 4, 2012 06:23 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Antarctic research stations could be adversely affecting the local environment by emitting magnetic pollution, a new study has found. A new aerial survey is the first to research and assess the possible impact of a research station in Antarctica on magnetic fields. Estimations indicated that the station generated a magnetic field that extends up to 650 metres from the station with a peak strength of 2800 nanotesla (nT) within 100 metres from the station on the ground. This may have implications for organisms in Antarctica that are negatively affected by magnetic fields but the report's authors say further research is needed to investigate this.

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