Formerly the weekend roundup

Saturday’s promised omnibus extension never arrived, in part because of the arrival of a big cat on my computer, so here’s a Tuesday update.

  • The NZ government has joined the International Carbon Action Partnership, a forum for countries and regions that are implementing carbon trading markets. From the ICAP press release:“The ground-breaking international and interregional agreement was signed today by U.S. and Canadian members of the Western Climate Initiative, northeastern U.S. members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as European members including the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, and the European Commission. New Zealand and Norway joined on behalf of their emissions trading programs.”
  • The new president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, has announced a raft of environmental initiatives. The BBC quotes Sarkozy: “We need to profoundly revise all of our taxes and charges. The aim is to tax pollution – notably fossil fuels – more, and tax work less.” He also suggests taxing imports form countries that “do not respect the Kyoto Protocol”, which neatly underlines my argument last week about the need for NZ to stay within the Kyoto fold. The proposals were the end result of a consultation and negotiation effort called Le Grenelle Environnement, which brought together all sectors of the economy. A model for building cross-party consensus here, perhaps?
  • An article in Nature by two British social scientists argues that the Kyoto framework should be dropped, and replaced by “bottom up” initiative and by putting R&D spending on a “wartime footing”. The Herald has a useful overview, which describes the proposal as “not so much new science as old political ideology”.
  • There’s plenty of interesting science being done. In a paper in Science , Gerard Roe and Marcia Baker of the University of Washington in Seattle argue that the inherent complexity of the climate system means that it’s impossible to know the exact value of the “climate sensitivity” – the amount of warming that results from a doubling of CO2 – because you can’t rule out the small probability of large changes. Coverage in New Scientist, Scientific American , and at RealClimate. Meanwhile, methane bubbles out of lakes in melting permafrost, and icebergs from Greenland are increasing in numbers.
  • Growing corn for ethanol production is transforming US agriculture and changing the face of the prairies, but the practice of using food crops as biofuel feedstock was described as a “crime against humanity” by the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler.
  • Lovelock’s in the news, giving a lecture to the Royal Society where he suggests that rapid reductions in fossil fuel use could cause rapid warming by reducing the “global dimming” caused by pollution. “If there were a 100 per cent cut in fossil fuel combustion it might get hotter not cooler. We live in a fool’s climate. We are damned if we continue to burn fuel and damned if we stop too suddenly.”
  • Plus: eating kangaroos could cut Australia’s emissions, Monbiot argues we need to go “beyond zero emissions“, and Sun co-founder and tech guru Bill Joy panics: “Eugene Kleiner, the co-founder of Kleiner Perkins, said there is a time when panic is the appropriate response. And I think we should go into a panic–not only (because) the scale of the problem but also the economic opportunity that becoming more efficient in our use of energy gives to us,” Joy said during a talk at an investment forum.
  • And a note for my friends at Mainpower: please don’t buy any of the giant wind turbines being designed by GE – the ones with 70 metre blades

2 thoughts on “Formerly the weekend roundup”

  1. Hi Gareth
    We are aiming to be ‘fast followers’ of turbine technology. Not out there at the ‘bleeding edge’.

    Another minor issue might be that to keep to the heights we have been talking about, to date, we would need to put those GE turbines on 55m towers.

    Now that wouldn’t be so bad? Would it?

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