Due to a technical problem on Wednesday Jan
16, we are upgrading the news management system by a Canadian
software company, which will be
completed in coming days.
It has taken longer than
anticipated. That is one of the drawbacks of outsourcing. C'est
la vie - even Google News updating falls behind at times!
News Headlines to Jan 16 2008
Today's News Links
Click for Monday's stories and links from Jan 17 2008
European Commission to set tough carbon emission cut targets for
Rich countries including Ireland; Lack of clarity from Government on
cuts plan and impact
The European Commission will this week publish plans
setting emission cut targets for Member Countries and it's reported that Ireland
as a rich country will have to cut greenhouse gases by 20%,
compared to 2005. Poor countries such as Bulgaria will be allowed to
increase greenhouse gas emissions by up to 20% in the next 12 years.
The publication of the targets is expected on Wednesday.
The expected cap means the maximum possible cut would reduce
Ireland's CO2 emissions to 55 million tonnes by 2020, which is
the same level of emissions as 1990 - the base year of the Kyoto Protocol.
Under the Kyoto
Protocol, Ireland was allowed to increase
its emissions to a level of 13% above the 1990 figures but,
with just four years left of the Kyoto framework, Irish emissions
are 25% or 13 million tonnes, above 1990 levels.
There is a plan to ban energy
inefficient light bulbs and a Taxation Commission is due to
be set up in the coming weeks, but it's reported that the Department of Finance
does not expect it to report for at least two years, potentially delaying the
new carbon tax.
The tough choices are ahead and the
Government may well find that the slowing of economic activity may provide some
help. However, despite the introduction of a so-called
"Carbon Budget" last December, there is no clarity on how the Government
would enact deep cuts and their related impact.
Also in December, Green
Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley,
did not respond to serious questions raised by ESRI researcher
Richard Tol on the economic impact of steep emission cuts.
the Financial Times reports that
Europe’s plans to cut greenhouse gas
emissions, risk working
against the environment and could destroy
the competitive position of European
industry, according to the region’s leading
The warning comes in a
letter to Gunter Verheugen, European
Union commissioner for enterprise and
industry, from Jeroen van der Veer, chief
executive of Royal Dutch Shell and chairman
of the energy and climate change working
group of the European Roundtable of
Industrialists. ERT is a group of about 50
of Europe’s biggest industrial companies
representing sales of about €1,600bn
The letter warns against the EU’s plans
to introduce an auction system for carbon
certificates to replace the current free
allocation of permits on a
The ERT says the plan could both
encourage undesirable protectionist
measures, such as import taxes on goods from
countries without similar schemes, and
severely damage the competitiveness of
European industry by imposing costs that
cannot be passed on to consumers. This, in
turn, could threaten investment in carbon
capture and other environmental initiatives.
European Union countries fighting over share-out for cutting
greenhouse gas emissions; Environment Commissioner now says some
biofuels do more harm than good
Climate Change Reports
Increasing amounts of ice mass have been lost from West
Antarctica and the Antarctic peninsula over the past ten
years, according to research from the University of
Bristol and published online this week in
Meanwhile the ice mass in East Antarctica has been
roughly stable, with neither loss nor accumulation over
the past decade.
Professor Jonathan Bamber at
the University of Bristol and colleagues
estimated the flux of ice from the ice sheet into the
ocean from satellite data that cover 85% of Antarctica's
coastline, which they compared with simulations of snow
accumulation over the same period, obtained using a
regional climate model.
They arrived at a best estimate of a loss of 132
billion tonnes of ice in 2006 from West Antarctica – up
from about 83 billion tonnes in 1996 – and a loss of
about 60 billion tonnes in 2006 from the Antarctic
Professor Bamber said: “To put these figures into
perspective, four billion tons of ice is enough to
provide drinking water for the whole of the UK
population for one year."
The authors conclude that the Antarctic ice sheet
mass budget is more complex than indicated by the
evolution of its surface mass balance or climate-driven
predictions. Changes in glacier dynamics are significant
and may in fact dominate the ice sheet mass budget. This
conclusion is contrary to model simulations of the
response of the ice sheet to future climate change,
which conclude that it will grow due to increased
The ice loss is concentrated at narrow glacier
outlets with accelerating ice flow, which suggests that
glacier flow has altered the mass balance of the entire
Over the 10 year time period of the survey, the ice
sheet as a whole was certainly losing mass, and the mass
loss increased by 75% during this time. Most of the mass
loss is from the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica
and the northern tip of the Peninsula where it is driven
by ongoing, pronounced glacier acceleration. In East
Antarctica, the mass balance is near zero, but the
thinning of its potentially vulnerable marine sectors
suggests this may change in the near future.