Climate Change Bulletin December 2011 13 Dec 2011
- Return to less holidays on the cards? News
- New Zealand reaffirms commitment to open government News
- Inquiry into the 2014 general election News
- A Winning Start for SMEG Racing on the Track Living
- Flying Start Business Plan winners announced News
- The BMW Polo Open Steps It up a Notch in Clevedon Living
- Minister welcomes Law Commission report News
- Government House Ballot Closes on Friday Living
- Parliamentary Private Secretaries reappointed News
- Gordon Campbell on bad labour laws and poor safety practices News
• Durban climate deal struck
• More hacked emails in a bid to destabilize Durban talks
• Doubts over UK nuclear program
• British Tidal Power: the latest
• Crystalox and the Solar Revolution
• The big Reds go green
• Millions of jobs in China’s Green future
• Learning from the London Olympic Games
Durban Climate Deal Struck After Tense All-Night Session
A major crisis had been provoked after 3am on Sunday morning when the EU clashed furiously with China and India over the legal form of a potential new treaty. The EU plan to bind all countries to cuts was close to collapse after India inserted the words "legal outcome" at the last minute into the negotiating text.
EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard, backed by UK energy secretary Chris Huhne, said it would have made the EU plan legally meaningless and would have forced the EU to walk away, effectively collapsing the negotiations.
With ministers exhausted after nearly six days and three nights of intense discussions, Hedegaard told the 194 countries in Durban: "We need clarity. We need to commit. The EU has shown patience for many years. We are almost ready to be alone in a second commitment period [to the Kyoto protocol].
The Indian environment minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, responded fiercely that developing countries were being asked to sign up to the deal before they knew what was in the proposed treaty, and whether it would be fair to poor nations.
"Am I to write a blank cheque and sign away the livelihoods and sustainability of 1.2 billion Indians, without even knowing what the EU roadmap contains?
"I wonder if this is an agenda to shift the blame on to countries who are not responsible [for climate change]. I am told that India will be blamed. Please don't hold us hostage. We will give up the principle of equity."
China's chief negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, lambasted the EU in a passionate speech, saying: "Who gives you the right to tell us what to do?"
With tempers rising and the talks minutes from being abandoned, the chair, South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, ordered China, India, the US, Britain, France, Sweden, Gambia, Brazil and Poland to meet in a small group or "huddle".
Surrounded by a crowd of nearly 100 delegates on the floor of the hall, they talked quietly among themselves to try to reach a new form of words acceptable to all.
But it was Brazil's chief negotiator, lawyer Luis Figueres, who came up with the compromise, proposing to substitute "an agreed outcome with legal force" for "legal outcome". This, said an EU lawyer, was much stronger, effectively meaning "a legally binding agreement".
"Yes, yes," cheered the crowd of onlookers around the politicians, and the talks were back on track.
Two hours later the 16-day talks were effectively over, with a commitment by all countries to accept binding emission cuts by 2020. As part of the package of measures agreed, a new climate fund will be set up, carbon markets will be expanded and countries will be able to earn money by protecting forests.
Chris Huhne hailed the conclusion of the talks as "a triumph of European co-operation".
"We have taken a significant step forward. This will give business confidence and stop us locking in a whole generation of high-carbon technology," he said.
But Martin Khor, director of the intergovernmental South Centre in Geneva, said poor countries would be obliged to cut emissions proportionally more than the rich. "It's like the starving will be made to give up half their small amount of food but the rich just a bit," he said.
Green groups said the ambition shown by countries to reduce emissions was paltry. "Negotiators have sent a clear message to the world's hungry: let them eat carbon," said Celine Charveriat, director of campaigns and advocacy for Oxfam.
"Governments must immediately turn their attention to raising the ambition of their emissions cuts targets and filling the Green Climate Fund. Unless countries ratchet up their emissions cuts urgently we could still be in store for a 10-year timeout on the action we need to stay under two degrees [of temperature increase]."
Greenpeace International director Kumi Naidoo said: "The chance of averting catastrophic climate change is slipping through our hands with every passing year that nations fail to agree on a rescue plan for the planet."
"This will force governments to admit their current pledges to cut emissions are not enough to achieve 2C rise and will have to be strengthened," said Michael Jacobs, of the Grantham climate research institute of climate change.
Nnimmo Bassey, chair of Friends of the Earth International, said: "Delaying real action till 2020 is a crime of global proportions.
"This means the world is on track to a 4C temperature rise, a death sentence for Africa, small island states and the poor and vulnerable worldwide. The richest 1% of the world have decided that it is acceptable to sacrifice the 99%."
To read on more on Durban from a New Zealand perspective go to :
Hacked emails reignite 'Climategate' controversy
The "Climategate" dispute over global warming science was reignited yesterday, when thousands more hacked emails from climate researchers, some of them potentially damaging, were released online on the eve of a vital United Nations climate conference
The private messages between senior scientists in Britain and America, hacked from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia (UEA), were released five days before delegates from nearly 200 countries met in Durban, South Africa, in an effort to agree to a new international global warming treaty to replace the Kyoto protocol, which runs out next year.
The emails' release was widely seen as an effort to destabilise last week’s Durban meeting, as they were part of the same batch of emails originally hacked from the CRU's computers in November 2009 and released in an effort to damage the UN climate conference in Copenhagen the following month.
The 2009 hacking, which became known as "Climategate" and is still being investigated by the police, was seized on by climate sceptics who said the emails showed researchers manipulating data to support the theory that global warming was man-made and obstructing requests for information.
A series of reviews in Britain and the United States cleared researchers of any scientific impropriety and said the affair had not undermined the scientific basis of global warming, although the university was criticised for its failure to be open and respond properly to Freedom of Information requests. Some of the emails did not show scientists in the best of lights and are likely to have contributed to a growth in climate scepticism.
In yesterday's release, a compressed zip file containing more than 5000 further, hitherto unseen emails was suddenly made available to download on a Russian server - as had happened in 2009 - and links to the file were posted on climatesceptic blogs.
This time, those responsible, calling themselves FOIA, added a message appearing to equate fighting climate change with abandoning the fight against poverty.
UEA could not officially confirm that the emails were genuine, but the university said that they "had the appearance" of being part of the batch that was hacked two years ago.
The emails, which all date from before 2009, are apparently between some of the most senior figures in climate change research in Britain and the US, led by Professor Phil Jones, who was the head of the CRU at the time of the original hacking two years ago and who stood down from his post while the inquiries were carried out. Other figures mentioned appeared to include Professor Jones' CRU colleague Dr Keith Briffa, Dr Peter Thorne of the UK Met Office and Sir John Houghton, formerly head of the Met Office and a leading figure in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In tone, the emails are similar to the batch released in 2009, which means they may be embarrassing to some of the researchers. Some of the messages show climate scientists squabbling, politicking, calling each other names and, in effect, plotting how to present their information in the best possible light.
But climate experts asserted that they did nothing to undermine global warming science. "The emails ... do not raise any questions of substance that have not already been addressed by the independent inquiries into the original publication of hacked messages in November 2009," said Bob Ward at the London School of Economics' Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change.
"None of the inquiries found evidence of fraud or serious misconduct by climate researchers, but they did conclude that levels of transparency should be improved. These emails, like the last batch, show that climate researchers are human .”
-Source : The Independent
Nuclear plans threaten UK's part in renewables revolution,
The UK's "eccentric" determination to build new nuclear power means it is not fit to take part in the "third industrial revolution" of switching to clean renewable energy, according to one of the world's most influential climate scientists.
Prof John Schellnhuber, the current adviser to the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and previous adviser the president of the European commission and other governments, said the UK was missing out owing to its failure to replicate the successful use of feed-in-tariffs (Fits) to kickstart its renewables industry.
Schellnhuber also said that the world's energy system could be transformed to a cleaner and cheaper renewable model for the same expenditure already paid out in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.
In 2010, $409bn was given to the oil, gas and coal industry as subsidy, with just $66bn going to green energy.
In an interview with the Guardian, Schellnhuber, who heads the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, said the cost of transforming the infrastructure to run the world on renewable energy was roughly the same as current subsidies for carbon fuels. "The money is absolutely available," he said.
He added that, while up-front investment was needed to create the clean infrastructure, it would be much cheaper to run in the long term. "Renewables are by definition inexhaustable, so do not lead to the piling up of debts. They are also evenly spread: the wind is blowing almost everywhere, the sun is shining almost everywhere. In the end renewables are the quintessential democratic energy source," he said.
But he warned: "The world economy is still locked into the wrong paradigm." Energy costs are cut today by bequeathing debts to future generations, he said. "We are exploiting the future by using the atmosphere as a waste dump."
This was also the case for the broader economy, he said, where government spending today was dumped on future generations through national debt: "It is the very simple strategy of governments in the industrialised world to avoid social tensions by providing the so-called lower classes with benefits without taking the money from the rich. You maximise the benefit. It is the dictatorship of the present."
Schellnhuber said an international deal could not be done at the UN climate change talks, resuming on 28 November in Durban, South Africa, and where he will participate in a high-level policy discussion with the host president, Jacob Zuma, and others. But Schellnhuber said he was confident that the energy transformation was underway, with "pioneer" nations such as Germany and South Korea leading the way, probably followed by China.
"The German story is very encouraging," he said. The Fits and other policies had led to a "grassroots revolution on the energy supply". The big energy companies such as RWE and E.ON are asking themselves, "will anyone need us in 20 years' time", he said. In the UK, by comparison, the government is being taken to court after slashing subsidies for solar power by 50% with just six weeks' notice.
"Britain could have a very important role if it reconsidered the role of nuclear," Schellnhuber said. "I am a physicist and not afraid of nuclear power plants but if you factor in all the costs including nuclear waste treatment or dismantling a nuclear plant, it is the most expensive energy source. The myth of a low-cost, safer and easily manageable nuclear alternative [to renewables] is keeping the UK from becoming a member of the fitness club for the 21st century and a real partner for countries like Germany in the third industrial revolution."
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: "Nuclear will have a role to play in our future energy mix – as it does today – but we've always said that will be as part of a portfolio approach, of which renewables and clean coal and gas will play a key role too." He highlighted a statement made by Chris Huhne in October: "We do what any rational investor does with their own pension fund – we spread our risks, we have a portfolio."
The end game for climate change and energy is this critical decade, he said, as there will then be evidence of large-scale clean energy in operation and the imperative to make sure emissions start declining globally by 2020. If the clean energy transformation happens fast enough, Schellnhuber believes the global temperature rise can be held to 2-3C. If not, a temperature rise of 5C by 2100 is likely, and more beyond, with impacts rated as catastrophic by scientists.
"My advice is to invest everything we have into a smart and sustainable energy system, despite the financial crisis," he concluded. "And almost as a side effect we will solve the climate crisis."
Last week, the International Energy Agency warned that unless major changes are made to plans for new fossil fuel power plants in the next five years, it will become impossible to hold global warming to a "safe" level of 2C.
Source :The Guardian
Waves of progress in harnessing
The United Kingdom has confirmed its leadership in harnessing tidal power with the successful completion and installation of the first of a new generation of wave energy converters.
The latest “sea power” machine is claimed to produce 250 per cent more power than its predecessor prototype and at a third of the cost.
The innovative device is being pioneered by the Aquamarine Power Company from Edinburgh in Scotland; it has recently installed the first of three 800 kilowatt (kW) Oyster wave machines at the European Marine Energy Centre in the Orkney islands, off the north-east coast of Scotland.
The trio of Oyster 800 machines will create a 2.4 megawatt (MW) array linked to an onshore hydroelectric plant when they are in place in 2014, and will be followed by a pre-commercial 10MW project.
Aquamarine Power, formed in 2005 to commercialise Oyster wave power technology, has already tested a 315kW Oyster 1 demonstration device at the Orkney centre since 2009 where it has operated successfully through the rough water conditions of two winters and delivered more than 6,000 offshore operating hours to the national grid.
Now, the aim is to use data and lessons learned from the first Oyster to improve its power output significantly, simplify installation and allow easier routine maintenance. The shape of the device has been modified and made wider to enable it to capture more wave energy. Oyster 800 has also been designed to make operations easier and more cost effective.
Aquamarine Power’s chief executive officer Martin McAdam said: “The Oyster 800 is a significant advance on our first Oyster device. Our dedicated engineering and research and development teams have designed it to be simpler, more robust and more efficient.
“This means we can offer 250 per cent more power at third of the cost. Our goal is to make Oysters cost-competitive within the next five years. The Oyster 800 will help us gather the data that we need to deliver on that. A farm of just 20 Oyster 800 devices would generate sufficient power for up to 15,000 homes,” he added.
The UK government’s Carbon Trust organisation that backs industry moves to a low-carbon environment claims marine energy has a bright future and is “one of the UK’s most exciting green growth sectors and one where the UK has a real lead”.
The trust’s head of technology acceleration, Dr Stephen Wyatt, said: “Wave and tidal stream could provide a fifth of our electricity needs and be a major ‘made in Britain’ success. Our new analysis has found that the best marine energy sites could be cost-competitive with nuclear and onshore wind by 2025.
“The wave and tidal sector could generate up to 76,000 million pounds to the UK economy by 2050, and could also generate over 68,000 jobs.” He concluded: “As a whole, we believe the UK could capture just under a quarter of the global marine energy market.”
The UK is already the home of 25 per cent of the world’s wave and tidal technologies, and the Oyster project has attracted the backing of not only the Carbon Trust but also the government’s Technology Strategy Board, the Scottish government, the naval side of the BAE Systems aeronautical group, Scottish & Southern Energy company, the ABB Group, and the Scottish Enterprise agency.
Oyster was originally the product of research at Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 2003 and the key to its success is simplicity, despite being a gigantic steel structure measuring 26 metres long and 16m wide.
It is in effect a simple oscillating wave-surge pump that is fitted with double-acting water pistons and deployed near shore in depths of between 10 metres and about 16 m (33-55 feet) or five to eight fathoms. Each passing wave activates the pump that delivers high pressure water via a closed-loop sub-sea pipeline to the shore.
Onshore, the high-pressure water is converted to electrical power using well-proven hydroelectric generators. Because the most complex part of the system is onshore, it is accessible 24/7 and none of Oyster’s electrical generation equipment ever comes in contact with seawater.
At the Orkney marine energy centre, the first Oyster 800 has been sited 500 metres from the shore and its installation has been made simpler by being anchored with two seabed piles rather than the four piles used for Oyster 1.
Source : London Press Service
One Of The Keys To Solar Power’s
The customers of Crystalox are the world’s leading solar-cell producers who incorporate the multicrystalline silicon ingots and wafers it makes into solar modules to harness the clean, silent and renewable power from the sun.
Based in Oxfordshire, north-west of London, Crystalox is a highly specialised supplier to the world’s foremost solar-cell manufacturers and was the first to develop the technology on an industrial scale.
The company is playing a central role in making solar power’s cost competitive with conventional hydrocarbon power generation, and it continues to seek to drive down the cost of production while increasing solar-cell efficiency.
It is just one example of the United Kingdom’s commitment and of the global shift to a low-carbon economy that is bringing huge opportunities for UK businesses - and as an emerging international hub for low-carbon and renewable energy expertise and innovation.
With a low-carbon and environmental goods market worth about 112 billion pounds a year, the UK is already a net exporter and there are more huge opportunities in the fastest growing areas in carbon finance, and wind and solar power.
Crystalox Limited, the UK operating subsidiary of the international group PV Crystalox Solar plc, has won a 2011 Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its substantial growth in overseas earnings and commercial success.
It is the fourth time it has received a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, the UK's most important awards for recognising and celebrating business success, following previous wins in 1990, 1999 and 2003.
Iain Dorrity, managing director of Crystalox and chief executive officer of PV Crystalox Solar plc, said: “We are extremely proud and honoured to win this award for the fourth time, 21 years after our first award back in 1990.
“The award recognises the valuable contribution of 140 dedicated employees in our facilities in Oxfordshire who have helped us win international success in an extremely competitive industry.”
Crystalox Limited was founded in 1982 and pioneered the development of the technology for the production of multicrystalline silicon ingots. Today, the company manufactures multicrystalline silicon in its facilities in Oxfordshire. These are exported direct for processing into silicon wafers for use by many of the world’s leading solar-cell companies.
The latest Queen’s Award was assessed on outstanding achievement in international trade over three years and during that period, 2007-2009, the company’s export earnings increased by 74 per cent, from 90 million pounds to 157 million.
During this time the company’s geographical reach has developed from shipments to its traditional markets in Japan and Europe to now include markets in China, Taiwan and the United States. Since 2009 the company has continued to grow, leading to export sales revenues that reached 237m pounds for the year ended 31 December 2010.
The group manufactures silicon ingots at Crystalox in the UK and carries out wafer production primarily for European customers at its facilities in Erfurt, Germany. Wafers for customers in Asia are produced in Japan. The group's own polysilicon plant started production in Bitterfeld, Germany in July 2009.
London’s “Green” Red Buses
Complete One Million Miles Test
London United, as one of the UK capital’s leading bus companies, is operating five single-deck and 22 double-deck vehicles powered by a UK hybrid electric propulsion system, and reports that they are the first of their kind in the city to reach the landmark of a million miles (1,609,340 km).
The operator was involved in London’s original hybrid bus trial and was an early adopter of the new technology when it placed an order for an additional 20 vehicles last year (2010).
London United’s engineering director Les Birchley said: “Our BAE Systems HybriDrive Series-powered hybrid buses continue to perform well and have proved their worth in terms of achieving both superior fuel savings and optimum reliability. Our passengers and drivers love them.”
The London United fleet of hybrids - built by the UK’s largest bus builder, Alexander Dennis and using a combination of a diesel engine and electric motor - has saved the company well over 44,000 gallons of diesel since late 2008 and prevented the release of more than 450 tonnes of CO2.
Their ability to cut emissions from exhausts is a major boost to calls for vehicles to become more “green” on route to the achievement of zero-emissions from renewable energy sources of power.
Rob Lindsay, BAE’s director of transport systems, UK and Europe, said: “We firmly believe that hybrid is the right technology for UK transit buses, and with the HybriDrive Series, the world’s most successful hybrid electric propulsion system, we have a proven, robust system that delivers both class-leading fuel economy and reliability.”
The UK hybrid electric system cuts pollution and fuel consumption while coping with the durability demands presented by the constant stop-starting of a typical bus operating in an urban environment.
The system consists of a generator, an electric traction motor and an energy storage system managed by computerised controls. A diesel engine turns the generator and operates independent of the electric drive motor, allowing it to run at the optimum engine speed for fuel efficiency. The system uses no mechanical transmission and gives the hybrids a significant maintenance advantage over conventional diesel buses.
Bus operators throughout the world are now adopting the HybriDrive system and more than 3,500 hybrids are in service. BAE says a total of more than two billion passengers have been carried worldwide by HybriDrive buses and over four million passengers a day continue to enjoy the smoother and quieter ride they offer.
In addition to London, the UK cities of Edinburgh, Manchester, Oxford, Reading, Newcastle and Hull are also trialling the country’s fleet of 230 such vehicles which is expected to grow to more than 400 by the end of 2012.
Up to now, HybriDrive-equipped hybrid buses have travelled more than 300 million miles, prevented 280,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and have saved more than 25 million gallons of diesel fuel.
HybriDrive first entered service in Daimler Orion buses on the streets of New York city in 1998. In 2002, the US hybrids were instrumental in New York’s transit authority winning the clean air excellence award from the Environmental Protection Agency. “This proved to be just one of HybriDrive’s subsequent hybrid awards,” said a BAE spokesman.
Toronto placed Canada’s first order for HybriDrive-equipped buses in 2005 and now has the country’s largest hybrid fleet. The same year, San Francisco chose the UK system and it now has California’s largest hybrid fleet. Houston, Ottawa, France and Japan also have the buses in service.
In 2006, the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory made a study of bus propulsion systems in New York and reported that the hybrids had achieved 45 per cent better fuel economy than conventional diesel buses. The hybrid buses were also found to be more reliable with 7,000 miles between service call-outs compared with 4,000 miles with pure diesel vehicles.
Source : London Press Service
China's Green Growth Potential 'Could
Create 9.5m New Jobs'
Report urges China to replace dirty, energy intensive industries with renewable technology and other 'green' businesses
China can make a net gain of 9.5m jobs over the next five years if it phases out its dirtiest, energy intensive industries and replaces them with renewable technology and other "green" businesses, according to an influential advisory body.
The potential for green growth was flagged up in a report that highlights the "Jeckyl and Hyde" nature of the environmental situation in China, which can claim both the world's biggest investment in new energy and the most dangerous levels of pollution. The report was released this week by the China Council of International Co-operation on Environment and Development, which is headed by Li Keqiang – widely tipped to become the next prime minister – and includes 200 domestic and overseas experts and leading figures in the United Nations and other world bodies.
On the economics of a shift to a more sustainable development path, it is brimful of ambition and optimism. The council advises the government to spend 5.8 trillion yuan (£61bn) on measures to save energy, protect the environment and replace polluting industries with hi-tech firms. It estimates this would create 10.6m jobs, boost GDP by 8 trillion yuan and result in energy savings worth another 1.4 trillion yuan. These gains, it says, would far exceed the costs of eliminating the dirtier sectors of the economy, which are calculated as a loss of 950,000 jobs and 100bn yuan in output.
At their annual meeting, the council emphasised the need to shift track – a process that the government has tried to promote in its latest five-year plan. "The industrial sector is still the prime energy consumer and a major cause of pollution, so greening the sector is key for China's green transformation," Li Ganjie, vice minister of environmental protection and the council's secretary general was quoted as saying by the China Daily.
On the environmental situation, however, the report painted a far bleaker picture for the next 10 years of worsening levels of toxic waste, ecological degradation and water shortages. At the release of the report, Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, praised China's $49bn (£31bn) investment last year in renewable energy, but said the country is also paying an alarming health cost for the past three decades of dirty growth. "They are paying a price first of all individually by premature deaths ... Respiratory diseases and premature deaths in the hundreds of thousands," he said.
The report - which was three years in the making - placed much of the blame on an obsession with GDP expansion, particularly at a local government level, which has resulted in lax implementation of environmental goals. "The blind pursuit of economic growth has now become a huge obstacle for China's green growth," it says.
It suggests the introduction of a carbon tax and new pricing mechanisms that would encourage more efficient use of scarce resources such as water. The central government says it is also trying to rebalance environmental quality with economic quantity, partly by setting new goals to reduce pollution.
In the latest promise of improvement, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said it will tighten air quality monitoring and include PM2.5 small particulate matter in the index for the first time. Zhou Shengxian, the environment minister, told the council that China would move towards international standards of monitoring, but warned that there was still a long way to go. "It will be a gradual process, and won't be achieved all at once," Zhou said while outside Beijing was shrouded in a thick haze.
Learning from the London Games
The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has launched Learning Legacy: London 2012, an online library of resources to share the knowledge and the lessons learned through construction of the Olympic Park. The Learning Legacy aims provide a blueprint for sustainable, safe and successful construction, to encourage and help the UK building industry to maintain and replicate the high standards set by the London 2012 project.
The London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is certified to the British Standard 8901: Specification for a Sustainability Management Systems for Events. The BS 8901 standard was inspired by the London 2012 bid and has been developed specifically for the events industry to help event organisers, venues and suppliers to operate in a more sustainable manner.
Source : Foreign Office
And don’t forget we have a Facebook site where you can also catch up on the latest Climate Change stories and more from the British High Commission: http://www.facebook.com/ukinnewzealand
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