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Tue, 2010-11-30 14:40Emma Pullman
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Cancun Showdown: Results at the UN Climate Talks More Important Than Ever

The United Nations Climate Change talks kicked off yesterday in Cancun.  For many, the mood began much more sombrely than last year.  Copenhagen attracted celebrity clout, world leader buzz, and a sense of optimism for a binding agreement.  For all Copenhagen promised, however, those who hoped for a fair and binding global deal left empty handed.  

Along with analysts, pundits and the blogosphere, the U.S., UK and EU are already downplaying the chances of a deal being reached in the next fortnight.  And as Desmogblog reported today, those fears may not be in vain with threats that the U.S. may pull out of the talks early

The talks during the next two weeks are going to focus largely on forests and finance, but also on questions about the legal status of a future agreement and emissions targets, which are expected to be tackled beginning next week when ministers arrive.

The sense of general pessimism around the talks has led some to question the viability of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to deliver, and has led others to manufacture doubt over the scientific basis for action.  A new report released by Oxfam argues that despite the disconsolate atmosphere, a year of extreme weather conditions demonstrate more than ever that a binding climate agreement under the UN auspices is imperative.  The report, More than ever: climate talks that work for those that need them most, presents the weather events that have devastated much of the planet in the last year, and the even more harrowing costs of climate inaction.  

According to the report, at least 21,000 people died due to weather-related disasters in the first nine months of this year – more than twice the number for the whole of 2009.  “This year is on course to experience more extreme-weather events than the 10-year average of 770. It is one of the hottest years ever recorded,” wrote Tim Gore, Oxfam’s EU climate change policy adviser and report’s author.

Wed, 2009-12-23 16:14Emily Murgatroyd
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Did China Kill Copenhagen?

The Guardian published an interesting and depressing article yesterday on China’s behind-the-scenes involvement in killing Copenhagen.

A fascinating peek into the closed door meeting between Barack Obama and around 50 other international representatives during their last ditch effort to cobble together an internationally binding treaty. You might want to add some extra spike to your eggnog when you’ve finished reading.

Mon, 2008-06-23 10:21Bill Miller
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New Honda is powered by hydrogen, not fossil fuels

Honda Motor of Japan has launched the world’s first hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicle intended for mass production.

Although it will make just 200 of its FCX Clarity vehicles over the next three years, Honda plans eventually to increase production, especially as hydrogen filling stations become more common.

And even the small initial run represents progress toward a clean-burning technology many have rejected as too exotic and too expensive to gain wide acceptance.

Tue, 2008-06-17 12:12Bill Miller
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Solutions: New trading funds highlight expanding role of wind in global warming struggle

Two new Exchange Traded Funds, filed within days of each other with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, will focus on companies that provide products and services to the wind-energy industry, such as turbine makers and utilities with wind farms.

Wind energy reduces carbon dioxide emissions and cuts natural gas and water use. Of particular interest to investors, wind power is unaffected by price swings in natural gas, coal and uranium — all of which soared this year.

The new filings reflect the deepening role of wind in the battle against climate change.

Sun, 2008-04-20 12:48Bill Miller
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Nature throws one-two punch at global warming

Reducing greenhouse emissions won’t be enough to stop global warming.

Three respected climate experts made the troubling argument in Nature that changing light bulbs, carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems will have little impact because warming is already greater than anticipated and set to go much higher.

So much so, in fact, that we’re going to have to find new technology to bail us out.

Thu, 2008-04-10 09:47Bill Miller
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World Bank group loans India $450 million for massive coal-power project

A press release says funding the huge Tata Power project will help to expand electricity use across five states in western and northern India. This is in keeping with the “higher energy use” sought under “the development goals of the Bank Group and our client countries.”

While the release did say the bank group will try “to balance these energy needs with concerns about climate change,” it also cautioned that “fossil fuels are likely to remain a key contributor to the world’s electricity needs.”

Uh-oh!

Tue, 2008-03-25 16:13Bill Miller
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Global warming threatens millions in teeming South Asia, study finds

About 125 million people could be made homeless by rising sea levels due to a projected four-to-five degrees Celsius increase in global temperature this century.

Research released by Greenpeace said Bangladesh, Pakistan and India have almost 130 million people living in the coastal zone most vulnerable to sea-level rise, erosion and drought.

The study comes at a time of rapid growth throughout South Asia, not only in energy consumption but also population. Not surprisingly, nobody is suggesting cutbacks on either front.

Mon, 2008-02-04 14:02Bill Miller
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Bush fiddles with global warming in State of the Union finale

It’s tempting, but most certainly optimistic, to view President Bush’s 2008 State of the Union as his last gasp at blocking progress on global warming. He will, after all, be gone from office before the year is out and it’s tempting to think he hasn’t sufficient time to further damage efforts to reign in climate change.

But there’s no time to lose. And continued obstructionism by the Bush Administration doesn’t just highlight its continuing failure to grasp the urgency of the problem, it also ensures far greater difficulties for its successors, who will have to arrest the problem at home while pressing other major polluters like China and India to act.

Mon, 2008-01-14 12:56Bill Miller
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It’s already later than we realize in the struggle to arrest climate change

A recent essay says the most pressing current scientific and political challenge is to avoid what is known as “dangerous” global warming – the point where world temperatures become irreversible.

As there’s a 25-to-30-year lag between greenhouse emissions and the full impact of their warming, current climate chaos is a result of carbon spewed in the late 1970s. The hit from more recent discharges – including China’s coal plants – is but pain yet to come.

So we’re dangerously close already.

Tue, 2008-01-08 09:58Bill Miller
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China’s economic juggernaut wreaks social and environmental havoc in smaller nations

Having sped past the U.S. as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases, China has become a despoiler on a scale as monumental as its economic expansion, plundering smaller nations to fuel its own rising tide of consumption.

A New York Times article just after the UN climate-change conference in Indonesia identified China as the pivotal determinant on global warming. Now, the left-leaning Mother Jones magazine has drawn a scathing portrait of a nation that not only leads the world in coal consumption, but also uses more than the next three highest-ranked nations – the U.S., Russia and India – combined, with ominous implications for the planet.

China says that as a poor nation of 1.3-billion people, it is entitled to pollute and spew greenhouse emissions to alleviate poverty. But with its middle class projected to leap from less than 100 million to 700 million by 2020, and with sales of Porsches, Ferraris and Maseratis flourishing in Beijing, that argument is rapidly losing its edge.

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