Category Archives: Policy

Consequences of being over-concerned

Recently, the world celebrated an International Day of Climate Action, called “350”, which is based on lifting public awareness on the need for an international climate treaty to reach a 350 parts per million CO2 level as a target threshold. I didn’t really join in on the fun or follow it in any detail, but from what I understand it was a pretty big deal, and I hope that they had some success in raising awareness.

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Tradeoffs and the next greenhouse gas

A fundamental issue with changes in atmospheric chemistry is that there may be multiple, and potentially competing effects in terms of problems caused to ecosystems or human welfare.    For instance, aerosol declines in developed nations since the middle of the century result in less health and pollution issues, but also lead to global brightening which makes the more of the greenhouse gas influence show up.

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Inaction is Inexcusable

First off, I apologize for my lack of posts recently… I’ve been busy and haven’t had much interesting to talk about. A hot topic this week has been the release of the Synthesis report from the discussions at the Copenhagen conference earlier this year. This report, in part, is to take off where the IPCC AR4 left off in discussing key developments that occurred after the deadline for AR4 references.

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EPA and Air Pollution

The EPA has recently announced a “Proposed Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Clean Air Act.” It is summarized here for instance,

The Administrator signed a proposal with two distinct findings regarding greenhouse gases under section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act:

The Administrator is proposing to find that the current and projected concentrations of the mix of six key greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6)—in the atmosphere threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations. This is referred to as the endangerment finding. The Administrator is further proposing to find that the combined emissions of CO2, CH4, N2O, and HFCs from new motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines contribute to the atmospheric concentrations of these key greenhouse gases and hence to the threat of climate change. This is referred to as the cause or contribute finding.
This proposed action, as well as any final action in the future, would not itself impose any requirements on industry or other entities. An endangerment finding under one provision of the Clean Air Act would not by itself automatically trigger regulation under the entire Act.

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Countries agree to cut GHG gases, developing ones not so much

From USA Today

TOYAKO, Japan — The world’s richest countries agreed Tuesday to support a 50% reduction in worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 — but environmentalists and developing countries denounced the move as a mushy compromise that would do little to stop global warming.

President Bush declared Wednesday that the world’s biggest-polluting countries had made “significant progress” against the threat of global warming after they agreed to work together to fight climate change.

But the agreement, signed here by 17 major economic powers, contained no binding requirements to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases.

The statement came a day after the Group of Eight industrialized nations — which wrapped up its annual meeting Wednesday at this resort in northern Japan — endorsed the idea of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2050. But the G-8 nations didn’t commit to meeting the specific targets and didn’t specify the year from which the cuts would start; Japan wants the start date to be 2008, but European countries want to cut emissions from 1990 levels.

And rising economic powers India and China balked at signing onto the 50% reduction target — though they joined with the G-8 and seven other countries in committing to “combat climate change” in their own ways.

“Each country is doing a bottom-up analysis of what they can achieve,” said White House environmental adviser James Connaughton. President Bush had come up with the idea of inviting “major economies,” including China and India, to work with the G-8 nations of the United States, Japan, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Russia on fighting global warming. Bush refused to commit the U.S. to specific emissions reduction targets until big polluters including China and India also signed on.

Of course, the United States doesn’t feel like they have to do much. We’re only the #2 country responsible for the amount of excess CO2 in the air today (after the UK). But developing countries like China and India have their own thoughts:

TOYAKO, Japan (AP) — China, India and other energy-guzzling developing nations on Wednesday rejected key elements of a global warming strategy embraced by President Bush and leaders of wealthy nations. And the U.N’s top climate official dismissed the G-8 goals as insignificant.

he “major economies” are the world’s 16 largest-emitting nations, accounting for 80% of the world’s air pollution. The expanded meeting that included all of them was the first time their leaders had sat down together for climate discussions.

But it ended with only a vague reference in their final declaration to a long-term goal for reducing global emissions and a pledge for rich and poor countries to work together. Only a few of the emerging powers — Indonesia, Australia and South Korea — agreed to back the 50% by 2050 reduction target.

The five main developing nations — China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa, who together represent 42% of the world’s population — issued a statement explaining their split with the G-8 over its emissions-reduction goals. They said they rejected the notion that all should share in the 50-percent target, since it is wealthier countries that have created most of the environmental up to now.

“It is essential that developed countries take the lead in achieving ambitious and absolute greenhouse gas emissions reductions,” said the statement.

Chinese President Hu Jintao went a step further in separate remarks. While acknowledging that developing nations must act, he said “developed countries should make explicit commitments to continue to take the lead in emissions reduction.”

Chris thinks that global warming is not going to be solved by finger pointing and the “he started it” game.