Climate Change

France Adopts National Climate Change Strategy

France has yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol (it plans to later this year), but on January 19 it announced a comprehensive national strategy to stabilize the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2008 to 2012. The plan includes about 100 measures, including a carbon tax beginning in 2001. A ton of carbon will be taxed from euros 23 – euros 30 (~$23-~$31), increasing to euros 76 by 2010. Energy-intensive industries will be exempt if they voluntarily reduce emissions. The plan includes support for renewable energy, tax breaks for energy efficiency in buildings, and requires methane recovery from landfills. Learn more about France’s climate change plan, if you can read French.

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EU Requires Labeling/Automakers Introduce Cleaner Cars in U.S.

The EU Council of Environment Ministers formally accepted commitments from the Japanese and Korean auto manufacturers associations to cut CO2 emissions from new cars to an average of 140 grams/km by 2009. European automakers made a similar agreement a year ago. This means new vehicles will attain the equivalent of 50 miles per gallon. The Commission is examining whether to extend the directive to light commercial vehicles. Further, as of 2001, all cars must carry a label indicating its carbon dioxide emissions and fuel efficiency. The information must also be included in promotional material. Volkswagen, Europes largest automaker, is already doing this. In the U.S., California’s next set of stringent air quality rules go into effect in 2004, but three gas-powered cars already qualify: Ford’s model year 2000 Crown Victoria, Honda’s 2000 Accord, and Nissan’s 2000 Sentra. Hondas and Nissans cars require low-sulfur gasoline to achieve reduced emissions, which is widely available only in California. EPA has been planning to finalize regulations that would make low-sulphur fuel accessible throughout the U.S. by 2004, but recently 12 governors asked the agency to extend the deadline from 2004 – 2007 to help small refineries find the least costly technology to reduce sulfur […]

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Emissions Trading Systems Make Headway

In Canada, Ontario Power Generation Inc.(OPG) completed the worlds largest spot trade in greenhouse gas emission reduction credits. It purchased credits from Zahren Alternative Power Corporation (ZAPCO) which produces electricity from landfill gas at 20 locations around the U.S. The trade is equivalent to the reduction of 2.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. OPG (formerly Ontario Hydro) is the fifth largest electricity producer in North America and owns 69 hydro, six fossil and five nuclear facilities. The company has voluntarily committed to stabilize its greenhouse gas emissions at 1990 levels as of the year 2000. This purchase facilitates technology upgrades, improved energy efficiency and use of cleaner fuels. In the UK, a greenhouse gas emissions trading system has been introduced that will supplement its Climate Change Levy, a tax on industrial energy consumption that starts in April 2001. There are three categories in the trading system: UK firms that accept absolute government limits; firms with negotiated Climate Change Levy agreements; and firms with concrete greenhouse gas emissions reduction proposals. Companies will receive tradable permits based on their annual emissions limit. Twenty-five companies, including BP Amoco and National Power, expressed support for the program.

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Kyoto Made Simple

A new report from the National Environmental Trust argues the United States can meet more than 50 percent of its Kyoto Protocol required greenhouse gas reductions through simple, low- or no-cost improvements in energy efficiency in electricity generation, transportation, and other fields. They recommend increasing such efficiencies as: – coal and gas-fired power plants by 5-10 percent – vehicle fuel economy by 10 percent – replace 5 percent of gasoline-powered vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles – aircraft fuel efficiency by 10 percent – commercial/industrial lighting and cooling systems by 25 percent – standards for new appliances The full report is available at [sorry this link is no longer available]

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U.S. Presidential Candidates' Views Vary Widely on Climate Change

The results of a preliminary survey conducted by the Sustainable Energy Coalition show the range of views held by the presidential candidates on climate change and the proposed Kyoto Protocol. Democrats Bill Bradley and Al Gore support Senate ratification of the Kyoto Protocol and emphatically concur that climate change is a matter of major concern. Gore stresses “there is overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to global warming … while Bradley notes it is a “serious problem” that “we need to confront … without further delay.” Both candidates endorse corporate incentives for voluntary action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. No Republican is in favor of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol. Bush calls it “ineffective, inadequate, and … a bad deal for America and Americans.” He “believe[s] there is global warming,” but “both the causes and impact of this slight warming are uncertain.” What does he think should be done about it? Bush says, “America must work with businesses … to develop new technologies to reduce harmful emissions.” John McCain acknowledges that “a growing number of scientists believe that global climate change is a real phenomenon” but sees the issue as a “scientific question, not a political question.” He wants […]

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$11 Million Global Warming Media Campaign Begins

The National Environmental Trust, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Physicians for Social Responsibility begin an international $11 million media and grass roots global warming campaign this week. It starts with TV spots on 200-plus stations nationwide and a movie trailer, “A Perfect Balance,” later this month. Narrated by celebrities, the trailer illustrates how global warming is caused, and how it can be reduced. Translated into at least 10 languages and broadcast in 60 countries until Earth Day 2000, it is expected to reach more than a billion people world-wide. An associated website, http://www.hotearth.com serves as an information source on global warming and practical solutions. A “Pollution Solutions Tour” will visit 36 cities in the next two months, displaying readily available environmental products.

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DuPont Commits to Major Cut in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In 1993, DuPont was the first company to sign on to the U.S. EPA/DOE Climate Wise program. Now, the company has reached its goal to reduce its global greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by the year 2000. Although production increased by over 35 percent during this period, total energy consumption remained flat. At a PEW Center for Global Climate Change conference this month, DuPont announced its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2010, while holding energy use at 1990 levels. Dennis Reilly, COO, also announced the company’s plans to supply 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2010. If DuPont were to meet 10 percent of its energy needs with renewable energy now, the company would consume 17 percent of total U.S. capacity and four percent of world capacity for wind energy. To increase renewable energy capacity significantly, Reilly emphasized the need for incentives. At current prices, using renewable energy carries a cost penalty. For DuPont, it would mean an increased cost of $60-90 million dollars a year. “Credit for early action” and other incentives offer the possibility of eliminating cost penalties and encouraging, and possibly accelerating, the growth of cost- effective sources […]

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U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Stabilizing

Despite economic growth of almost four percent, U.S. CO2 emissions rose only .4 percent in 1998, the smallest increase since 1991. Since CO2 emissions equal about 84 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions they are a good indicator of total emissions. Increased summer electricity use was offset by a very warm winter, reducing fuel use (the irony of global warming). The transportation sector, which constitutes about a third of emissions, increased by 1.8 percent while industrial emissions declined by 1.2 percent. Utilities used higher emitting, cheap oil instead of natural gas resulting in 3.2 percent higher emissions. Energy Information Administration

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More Refugees Flee From Environmental Disasters Than Warfare

25 million refugees fled from drought, floods, deforestation and degraded land last year outnumbering people displaced by war, for the first time, according to the International Red Cross.Its 1999 World Disasters Report, an annual survey of humanitarian trends, says last year’s “natural disasters” were the worst on record, creating 58 percent of the world’s refugees. “Everyone is aware of the environmental problems of global warming and deforestation on one hand and the social problems of increasing poverty and growing shanty towns on the other,” says Astrid Heiberg, president. “But when these two factors collide, you have a new scale of catastrophe.” The cost of weather related disasters in 1998 exceeded the cost of all such disasters during the 1980s. International Federal of Red Cross FROM The Gallon Environment Letter

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New Danish Law Caps Power Emissions

Under a new Danish law, power companies that produce more than 30 MW will be subject to CO2 emissions quotas and will be taxed if they exceed them. Total power sector emissions will be capped at 23 million tonnes for 2000. Companies that emit less than their quota will be able to bank or trade emissions permits. CO2 calculations will include the heat produced to promote combined heat and power technology. The tax will be 40 Danish Krone (about US$5.60) per ton of CO2. Source: ENDS Environment Daily

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