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Archive for December, 2010

Articles:

Looking at the Big Picture: The Importance of Landbase Interactions Among Forests, Agriculture, and Climate Mitigation Policies

(Nov. 2010)

US Forest Service

Human land use changes have significantly altered the global landscape, and future changes are a crucial consideration in the global climate.  Deforestation, urban patterns, and agriculture alter natural ecosystems, and are examined in the light of climate change mitigation for future scenarios in land changes, and interacting climate mitigation policies.  Land shifts under different land use policies and carbon pricing scenarios are considered, along with likely effects on raw materials such as timber, crops, and bioenergy if landowners were paid to store carbon on their land.

Agriculture in the Climate Talks: Looking Beyond Cancun

(December 1, 2010)

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

With a changing climate, concern for food production changes has long been recognized.   Temperature rise, water stresses, and climate variability due to climate change all stand to significantly impact agriculture.  This article considers the role that agriculture and land use changes will play in offsetting Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions from industrial processes in regards to the Cancun climate talks and beyond.  It considers mitigation versus adaptation and the potential shift of GHG reductions from developed to developing countries.

EPA Seeks New Timetable for Reducing Pollution From Boilers and Incinerators

(December 7, 2010)

Enviro.BLR

The EPA is seeking an extension for releasing scheduling rules that would decrease harmful emissions from boilers and incinerators.  Currently, a court- order requires the EPA to issue final rules in January, 2011; the EPA is requesting an extension to April, 2012 after receiving feedback, new data, and over 48,000 public comments following standards proposed in April, 2010.

The Missing Delegate at Cancún: Indigenous Peoples

(December 8, 2010)

National Geographic Blog

Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD) is a carbon-offsets program proposed by national delegates in the Cancun Conference of Parties.  It is designed to allow polluters to offset emissions from industrialized countries by paying developing countries for the carbon stored in their standing forests.  While supported by many large conservation groups, this essay examines shortcoming in the proposal for indigenous people, as perceived by the author- ecological and biocultural restoration ecologist, ethnoecologist, and ethnobotanist Dennis Martinez.

Bottom Up in Cancun

(December 10, 2010)

Center for American Progress

A shift from top-down to bottom-up climate measures emerged from the Cancun Climate Talks.  These measures lack the certainty and legal protection offered by a binding treaty, but the shift might be a critical one in breaking the climate change logjam.  Bottom-up deployment solutions that emerged from Cancun include: preserving forests, technology transfer, and access to climate finance.  These strategies seek to align the interests of developed and developing countries.

Climate Talks End With Modest Deal on Emissions

(December 11, 2010)

The New York Times

While the Climate Change Conference in Cancun ended with modest achievements, some are calling it a success as it takes a small, reasonably step forward, while laying the groundwork for stronger agreements in the future.  The Cancun agreements, supported by all countries in attendance except Bolivia, still falls well short of the broad changes scientists say are needed to avoid extreme climate change, but takes another step forward from the progress made in Copenhagen.

Study Suggests Tree Ranges Are Already Shifting Due to Climate Change

(Fall 2010)

US Forest Service

The changes in trees and forests as a result of climate change are largely uncertain.  Species distribution is likely to change with temperature ranges, and the affects could cause greater stress to populations that are already under stress from invasive pests and diseases.  This study finds that 70% of tree species are already showing range migration northward; future research and long-term monitoring is encouraged.

Reports:

Building Forest Carbon Trends:  A step-by-Step Guide

(November 2010)

Forest Trends

This publication seeks to provide streamlined guidance to developers of carbon forest projects in order to help them navigate the complex challenges the development of forest carbon projects entail.  It summarizes the key steps in project development, “aiming to provide high-level initial guidance to project developers.”  It is part of a larger compendium that is scheduled to begin in mid-2011.

Wealth Creation in Rural Communities: Energy and Rural Development

These 4 papers from Yellow Wood Associates examine various aspects of renewable energy with an eye toward potential benefits for low-wealth rural areas.

Financing Renewable Energy Projects: An Overview

“This paper reviews methods for financing residential and large-scale renewable energy projects.  Examples highlight how communities use these methods to develop cost-effective, energy-efficient, and stable energy resources.”

Distributing Electric Energy in Rural America: The Micro-grid Option

“This paper describes opportunities for and barriers to managing electricity production and consumption at the community level via micro-grid systems.”

Harnessing the Sun as an Alternative Energy Resource: Economic and Social Impacts of PV Use in Electricity Production

“This paper examines economic impacts, policy frameworks, and socially inclusive training programs related to photovoltaic energy.”

The Significant Potential of Wind Energy in America: A Transformative Force in Struggling U.S. Rural Economies?

“This paper examines opportunities and issues related to wind energy development in rural America, with case studies illustrating a range of wind energy projects.”

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Articles:

House Global Climate Panel Dies

(December 1, 2010)

Politico

After Republican takeover of the house, the 4- year old House Global Warming Committee was cut from the 112th Congress.  A republican spokesperson states that the committee was cut in order to reduce waste and duplication in Congress.  Some Democrats vow to continue the fight to curb greenhouse gas emissions from the minority over the next 2 years.

Modest Climate Change Steps Are Goal of Meeting in Mexico

(November 28, 2010)

Reuters

Delegates from over 200 countries began arriving at Cancun for this year’s U.N. climate conference. The primary goal of the conference is to get major economies to extend climate action beyond the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in December 2012. Copenhagen elicited some carbon reduction commitments from the U.S. and China but progress toward those commitments remains ambiguous. A key element of a strong global deal to cut emissions would be an international fund to help developing countries combat climate change and transition to a clean energy economy. International NGOs are pushing for strong climate finance packages to complement carbon reduction commitments.

Chicago Climate Exchange to Shut Down Emissions Trading

(November 17, 2010)

CNN Money

A pilot program for greenhouse gas trading in the US- the Chicago Climate Exchange- will close down its cap-and-trade market by the end of the year, due to lack of legislative interest.  Mitigation of emissions in farming and forestry through a crediting process will continue until 2012.  The Chicago Climate Exchange is part of a larger international company called Climate Exchange, which will continue to operate markets in Europe that are still going strong.

Can Social Scientists Help Ease the Nation’s Rift Over Climate Change?

(November 15, 2010)

EE News

Despite a plethora of scientific findings, economic models, and plans to fix climate change, there has been a lack of academic explanation into the mounting cultural doubt surrounding atmospheric warming.   The social sciences are missing from this particular discussion, which leads to a lack in critical questions about the cultural dimensions of the problem- both defining it and finding solutions.

EPA Guidance on Greenhouse Gas Permitting

(November 12, 2010)

McGuire Woods

The EPA issued guidance documents for the first phase of it’s ‘big polluters rule’ aimed at curbing carbon pollution from large sources, like coal plants. This new rule is geared specifically toward new or expanding plants, requiring these new investments to use “Best Available Control Technology,” or BACT. The BACT determination is set differently for each type of facility based on a number of factors, including cost.  The new rule will encourage plant-wide energy efficiency measures, cleaner fuels, and help make clean energy more competitive with fossil fuels.

EPA Gives States Leeway on CO2

(November 11, 2010)

Wall Street Journal

Clean Air Act regulations for greenhouse gasses have become a major political issue of late, but initial implementation of these performance standards will only affect sources of pollution that are new or modified.

Cancun Climate Talks Preview

(November 5, 2010)

Wall Street Journal (Subscription Required)

At Copenhagen last year, the U.S. committed to reducing carbon emissions 17% by 2020, and contributing our share of $100 billion annually by 2020 which would help developing countries adapt to climate change, and build a global clean energy economy. Recent studies from the UN maintain that the annual $100 billion goal is possible using revenue from comprehensive legislation discussed in developing countries. The Cancun conference will last from November 28 through December 10.

Press Release:

Lakeview Breaks Ground on Biomass Plant

(November 11, 2010)

Iberdrola Renewables

Construction has begun on the 26.8 megawatt Lakeview Biomass Cogeneration Plant in Lakeview, Oregon.  The plant is expected to bring jobs and improved forest health to Southern Oregon.  The plant is expected to finish construction and begin producing power by fall, 2012.

Reports:

Emissions Gap Report

(November, 2010)

A  U.N. study suggests that existing carbon reduction commitments made in Copenhagen last year only provide 60% of what’s needed to avoid 2 degrees Celsius of warming, the “dangerous climate change” threshold that countries agree should not be crossed.  Many scientists argue 1.5 degrees Celsius is a more appropriate threshold.

Oregon Climate Assessment Report

(November 30, 2010)

The Oregon Climate Change Research Institute released a long- awaited 400-page report on the impacts of climate change on the state of Oregon.  It states that global warming will affect Oregon substantially.  It drew on contributions from  70 university and government researchers throughout the Northwest.

Future regional climate changes (taken from Legislative Summary) include:

  • Increases in temperature around .2 to 1 degree F per decade
  • Warmer and drier summers
  • Evidence that extreme precipitation will increase in the future
  • Sea level rise

Key Findings of the report, taken from the Legislative Summary:

  • Summer water supply will decrease as a result of reduced snowpack and summer precipitation
  • Availability, quality and cost of water will likely be the most limiting factor for agricultural production systems under a warmer climate
  • Wildfire is projected to increase in all Oregon forest types in the coming decades
  • Frequency and magnitude of coastal flooding events may continue to increase
  • Many plant and animal species on land, in freshwater, and in the sea have and will shift their distributions and become less or more abundant
  • Changes to the marine environment including increasing water temperatures
  • Oregon’s economy, like many other states, is likely to be affected by a changing climate and by policies addressing projected changes
  • The important drivers of greenhouse gas emissions are population, consumption, and the emission intensity of the economy
  • We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change in Oregon

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