First forecast for the next ten years

FishResearchers at the Hadley Centre in Britain have produced the world’s first short range climate forecast, covering the next ten years. And there are no surprises, it’s going to get warmer. From New Scientist:

Although average global temperatures have been relatively flat in recent years, the model says they will start rising again next year. At least half of the years between 2009 and 2015 will exceed the current warmest year on record. By 2015, global temperatures will be 0.5 °C above the average value for the last 30 years.

[More from the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, Nature]

Continue reading “First forecast for the next ten years”

NZ’s low carbon cows: global warming heroes?

CowA new report from Lincoln University´s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit finds that New Zealand’s dairy industry has a smaller global warming footprint than the UK’s, even after taking into account the emissions resulting from shipping products half way round the world. From Lincoln’s press release:

The Lincoln study´s central finding is that the UK produces 35 percent more emissions per kilogram of milk solid than New Zealand and 31 percent more emissions per hectare than New Zealand – even including transportation from New Zealand to Britain and the carbon dioxide generated in that process.

The report’s lead author, professor Caroline Saunders, explains the importance of this finding:

“Our report clearly demonstrates the fallacy of using a simplistic concept like `food miles´ as a basis for restrictive trade and marketing policies. It is obvious that production systems and not transport are the major contributor to the differences in greenhouse gas emissions and energy use.

Aussie carbon trading: big bikkies for grandad?

John Howard’s Task Group on Emissions Trading has produced its report [PDF]. It concludes that an emissions trading regime is the way forward for Australia, but fails to suggest targets. It’s a very useful overview of how carbon trading mechanisms might be made to work, but has clearly been hamstrung by the current political realities in Australia. It remains to be seen how John Howard, with his noted aversion to targets for greenhouse gas reductions will handle setting up a trading scheme if re-elected – or how he will be able to ignore section 7.2.1.

Adopting a credible long-term aspirational goal for national emissions reduction is critical. It sets the framework for Australia’s overall abatement efforts. Such a goal could be described in terms of the percentage reduction in emissions from a particular point in time, or in terms of the maximum number of tonnes of CO2-e that Australia is aiming to emit by a particular year.

Some Aussie press coverage here and here. Science Alert commentary here. The Australian Stock Exchange is slavering at the bit.

The scope for handouts to industry through grandfathering, as has effectively happened in Europe, is huge. BBC Radio 4’s File On Four claims that the EU’s carbon trading scheme has increased electricity bills, given a windfall to power companies and failed to cut greenhouse gases:

Power generators received their allowances free of charge but were allowed to reflect the value of those in increased prices to customers, as if the companies had actually had to buy the allowances. Energywatch believes this increased electricity bills by about 7% in 2005. And according to one government estimate, that delivered windfall profits of up to £1.3bn to the generators in that year – higher than environmental campaigners had claimed last year.

No Right Turn has an interesting post on how this problem might be addressed in NZ, warning that badly set up emissions trading schemes amount to taxpayer handouts to emitters.

Global warming and peak oil

Is peak oil good news or bad news? Much depends on your perspective. The gloomier prognostications about peak oil – living in a world where oil supplies are limited and expensive – suggest that it will be a bigger problem than climate change, and arrive sooner. On the other hand, if we’re forced to cut back on our usage of oil and gas as fuel for energy and transport, we might have a better chance of stabilising atmospheric carbon dioxide at levels low enough to limit the damage from climate change. The IPCC’s high-end scenarios typically assume that there’s plenty of fossil fuel – coal, oil and gas – to get us to double pre-industrial concentrations and beyond. What happens if the oil runs out?

Continue reading “Global warming and peak oil”

The pukeko bites back

Genesis Energy are going to the High Court to see if they can overturn a case that Greenpeace won against Mighty River Power. Greenpeace are not pleased:

“If Genesis wins this case it could remove the only legal control on polluters’ greenhouse gas emissions. This means that any climate polluting projects (such as Genesis’ forthcoming Rodney gas proposal) could go through the consent process without climate change being considered at all.