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Stakes High as Negotiators Begin Climate Talks in Germany

Negotiators picked up discussions toward a new global climate treaty in Bonn, Germany this week. The meeting was the first since the 2011 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) in Durban where leaders initially agreed to put together a plan that would limit Earth-warming emissions. The stakes for the 10-day meeting are high—negotiators have set goals of building support for funding developing nations to the tune of $100 billion a year by 2020 and of constructing a global, legally binding climate agreement that extends the Kyoto Protocol. While countries agreed in Durban to sign the deal by 2015, U.N. Climate Chief Christiana Figueres insisted milestones should be set in 2012.

So far, the European Union and groups of developing countries are divided over details of how the Kyoto Protocol should be extended. The talks may have inspired Qatar—one of the largest emitters of carbon—to cut its emissions and pay into the Green Climate Fund. Qatar will host the next round of annual climate negotiations in November—the first member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to do so.

One university in Australia is looking at the effects of climate change by creating an atmosphere where CO2 is 40 percent higher than current levels and studying its impact on the environment, humans and other living things. The Aussie researchers predict an average increase of about 3 degrees centigrade, but the first results of the study won’t be available until next year. A new journal article says, depending on the area, as many as 40 percent of mammals migrate too slowly and won’t be able to keep pace with climate shifts expected in the next hundred years.

Japan Faces Summer Test

While Iran and the U.N. nuclear agency discussed Iran’s nuclear program and suspicions Tehran may have tested nuclear arms technology, Japan decided to restart nuclear reactors in one town as others there contemplated how to handle things nuclear-free before the summer’s heat sets in. At least one utility in the country is considering a rate hike to compensate for the impending hot weather, while the Japanese operator of the Fukushima plant posted a $10 billion loss stemming from the meltdown. The town is the first to restart a nuclear reactor since all the nation’s nuclear reactors were shut off following the Fukushima disaster roughly one year ago. According to one newspaper poll, residents there are split on nuclear power.

In the U.S., California also faces threats of summer power shortages due to complications with the San Onofre nuclear plant. And the nuclear reactor being built in Augusta, Ga., will not only be completed behind schedule, but come in at a much higher price—approximately$900 million.

Could cheap natural gas be choking aging nuclear plants? E&E Publishing reported the nuclear industry is questioning whether lower natural gas prices will put pressure on plants, just as cheap gas has done to coal.

EPA Declares ‘Gasland’ Town’s Water Safe

Vermont made history this week by becoming the first state to ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the hotly debated natural gas drilling technique that injects a mixture of water and chemicals underground at high pressures to release hard-to-reach oil and natural gas. The ban is not predicted have an immediate effect, however, because the state has no fracking projects under way and no evidence of natural gas reserves.

The news comes as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested more money to probe the technique. It was just days after the EPA announced water in the town made famous by hydraulic fracturing and the movie “Gasland” was given a clean bill of health. Though water at one home did show elevated levels of methane, the well water was declared safe. The EPA released data for 59 of the 61 wells tested, claiming “the set of sampling did not show levels of contaminants that would give the EPA reason to do further testing.” The finding has residents of the northeastern Pennsylvania town disputing the claim. The lawsuits and tests revolving around the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas have made it difficult for insurers to price risk.

While drilling continues in Pennsylvania—generating about $3.5 billion in 2011—the U.S. Department of Interior recently found roughly two-thirds of land leased by the oil industry goes unused. This equates to roughly 46 million acres both on- and offshore.

Recent cyber attacks aimed at computer networks belonging to U.S. natural gas pipeline companies may have ties to China, the Christian Science Monitor reported. The U.S. and China have agreed to cooperate on cyber security despite China’s implication in the pipeline attacks. As a whole, the energy sector is becoming more vulnerable to these types of attacks, which also struck Iran last month.

Some, however, are looking to other methods for energy generation. One group of researchers in California is trying to harness viruses for energy needs. As Norway opened the world’s largest carbon capture and storage test facility, La Ventosa Mexico—the windy place—inched its way toward earning a title for “the largest growth of wind power projects anywhere in the world.” The Atlantic Wind Connection project, a network of offshore wind farms off the East Coast that could power close to two million homes in the next 10 years, received permission to move forward. The “first-of-its-kind project” would be served by a 380-mile underwater power line running from Virginia to New Jersey.

The Climate Post offers a rundown of the week in climate and energy news. It is produced each Thursday by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

 

Comments

  1. zoosphere
    May 19, 2012, 8:56 pm

    The effects of the natural disaster is devastating In Japan. Especially, the nuclear radiation which is being emitted by the destroyed nuclear reactor is threatening the daily lives of Japanese citizens.I guess Japanese citizens have to adjust with the effects of the nuclear disaster. So, I hope the philosophy of the UNFCCC still cover the country, Japan with its damaged economy. What I’m saying is that the Climate Change global agreement need to be universal, and might not do everything they have been aiming for.

  2. Lukas Jackson
    Eastern US
    May 18, 2012, 9:32 am

    (Man-Made) global warming is bunk. The real agenda is “wealth redistribution”, plain and simple. The poorer nations have their hands out, but the richer nations are no longer rich enough to afford the payments.

    The UN is meeting in Bonn to solve this nonexistent problem. Like past UN climate powwows, nothing will be accomplished. The concerned attendees will arrive on their private jets, greeted by big, black SUVs, be taken to swanky hotels, enjoy the hors d’oeuvres and copious quantities of alcohol, flap their gums, then agree to meet again in the future and continue talking.

    These conferences aren’t really about fighting climate change; they’re about global wealth redistribution from the productive nations to the less-productive nations.
    The meetings are pointless and wasteful, and leave a big carbon footprint. Look at the IPCC’s predictive track record -

    http://www.appinsys.com/GlobalWarming/IPCC1995_Fail.htm

    Do not swallow the “all climate scientists agree” diatribe. It is false.

    Climate change is real. Man’s part in climate change is negligible. The sun, for better or worse, controls earth’s climate: http://www.prisonplanet.com/svensmark-evidence-continues-to-build-that-the-sun-drives-climate-not-co2.html

    Follow the money! How (and why) is it that a wealth transfer from “rich” nations to “poor” nations is the proposed solution for global warming? WHO STANDS TO GAIN?

    Deep Throat: Follow the money. Always follow the money.
    Woodward: What do you mean? Where?
    Deep Throat: Oh, I can’t tell you that.
    Woodward: But you could tell me that.
    Deep Throat: No, I have to do this my way. You tell me what you know, and I’ll confirm. I’ll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that’s all. Just… follow the money.

  3. [...] Stakes High as Negotiators Begin Climate Talks in Germany Source: National Geographic – Negotiators picked up discussions toward a new global climate treaty in Bonn, Germany this week. [...]