Archive | Pollution & Toxins

Poland Reluctant to Meet European Union's Emissions Reduction Targets

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 11 (UPI) — Poland says meeting European Union emissions reduction targets would cost $135 billion and hamper Polish aspirations to reach Western living standards.

The EU climate change summit, meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, is considering a pledge to reduce CO2 emissions 30 percent by 2020, reported Friday.

The Polish Environment Ministry commissioned a report that concludes the cost to comply would equal 1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product for the next 20 years.

Poland, along with seven other former Communist EU states, says CO2 targets should not be set until such economic assessments are made and discussed.

The country is considered one of the worst polluters in Europe, as 95 percent of its energy comes from coal-fired plants, EUobserver said.

Environmental groups such as Climate Action Network say Poland has a poor track record on emissions.

In that spirit, the group announced a “Fossil of the Day” award to Poland in Copenhagen Thursday to try and goad the country into action on emissions.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Other, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

CCTV Tower Shrouded in Fog in Beijing

CCTV Tower Shrouded in Fog in Beijing

Traffic and pedestrians pass the new China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters on a day of no sun due to a thick fog blanketing Beijing on December 09, 2009. China, the world’s largest overall emitter of greenhouse gases, says any deal struck at climate change talks in Copenhagen would amount to little if developed nations fail to fulfill vows to cut gas emissions. UPI/Stephen Shaver

Date Taken: December 9, 2009

Posted in Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

Thick Fog Covers Beijing

Thick Fog Covers Beijing

Traffic flows past Tiananmen Square midday as a thick fog covers Beijing on December 09, 2009. China, the world’s largest overall emitter of greenhouse gases, says any deal struck at climate change talks in Copenhagen would amount to little if developed nations fail to fulfill vows to cut gas emissions. UPI/Stephen Shaver

Date Taken: December 9, 2009

Posted in Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

New York City Tracks Pollution on Internet

NEW YORK, Dec. 8 (UPI) — People in New York can now monitor the city’s environmental conditions and certain health conditions via their computers, officials said.

The city health department’s new Environmental Public Health Tracking Portal — at — provides continually updated information on everything from air quality and housing quality to pest levels and pesticide use.

“Until now, it has been hard to compare environmental health conditions across the city’s many neighborhoods,” Daniel Kass, the city health department’s acting deputy commissioner for environmental health, said in a statement.

“Now anyone can track issues of concern — for a neighborhood, a borough or the whole of New York City.”

The portal offers various ways to explore environmental health data. For example, users can see pesticide use by neighborhood, or view how closely related childhood asthma hospitalizations are with exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke in the home, Kass said.

The portal can also highlight citywide trends, such as the number of days on which air-quality advisories have been issued for general or special populations.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in People, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

China's Emissions Cut Pledge Unverifiable

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 7 (UPI) — China’s efforts to reduce its carbon emissions aren’t binding and won’t be subject to international verification, Chinese officials said.

Climate change specialists said a key to success at the two-week U.N.-sponsored climate change summit that began Monday in Copenhagen, Denmark, would be whether China, the United States, India and the European Union could strike an accord to reduce their combined carbon emissions, The Washington Times reported Monday.

Observers said they expect negotiations would lead to individual countries pledging to lower carbon emissions and an agreement to keep discussions open in 2010.

China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, will be responsible for about 29 percent of total global emissions by 2030, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

China announced Nov. 26 it would cut carbon emissions per unit of its gross domestic product by between 40 percent and 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

Xie Zhenhua, vice director of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top planning body, said the country’s carbon-intensity goals would be subject to an as-yet unspecified domestic accountability systems, and wouldn’t be internationally binding or subject to foreign international scrutiny, the Times said.

China will “reduce the speed of our emissions rise,” but still needs to balance environmental and economic factors, Xie said.

India announced last week a goal of reducing emissions by 20 percent to 25 percent from 2005 to 2020, which also would be tied to the country’s gross domestic product.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers report released Dec. 1 indicated the United States, the European Union, China and India would account for 63 percent of global carbon emissions between 2000 and 2050.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

China Discusses Carbon Emissions and Greenhouse Gases Targets

COPENHAGEN, Denmark, Dec. 7 (UPI) — As world leaders gathered for the Monday opening of the U.N. climate-change conference in Copenhagen, a Chinese minister said his country’s carbon emissions would peak between 2030 and 2040.

Wan Gang, minister of science and technology, told the Guardian he hoped the maximum output of Chinese greenhouse gases would come as soon as possible within that range.

While Wan’s comments to the newspaper are not official policy, it is the nearest China has ventured in setting a target for when emissions will begin to decrease. Various experts, research groups and academics in China have estimated that emissions could peak between 2020 or 2050, although the government has yet to officially announce a target.

Determining a peak date for developing countries, which are experiencing quickly rising emissions, is a crucial issue for some 192 world leaders meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, Dec. 7-18 to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Under Kyoto, China was exempt from any requirement to control emissions.

“There are some uncertainties here, so it is difficult to say whether it will be in the beginning, the end or the middle, but I can say for sure it will be within that range,” Wan said in predicting the emissions peak occurring between 2030 and 2040. “As the minister of science and technology I would say the sooner the better.”

Wan said unpredictable factors such as the pace of China’s economic growth, increases in urbanization, and the level of scientific strides would affect the timing of the emissions peak. Attaining the earlier date in the range, he added, would be possible if China continued to invest in renewable energy efficiency, implemented carbon capture technology and promoted changes in consumer behavior.

China, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon, will account for approximately 29 percent of total global emissions by 2030, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration,

Beijing announced its first carbon intensity target Nov. 26, saying it would cut carbon emissions per unit of its gross domestic product by between 40 percent and 45 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. Even with this cut, the country’s output of carbon dioxide is expected to increase by about 90 percent if the economy grows by 8 percent.

China’s Nov. 26 announcement “has assisted in triggering fresh momentum” in the days running up to the Copenhagen talks, Nick Nuttall, spokesman for the office of the U.N. Environment Program executive director, told state news agency Xinhua Saturday. “It underscores China’s determination to continue and accelerate the decoupling of CO2 emissions from economic growth,” he said.

Nuttall noted that China’s announcement, alongside commitments and pledges by other countries or blocs like the European Union, Brazil, Mexico and the Republic of Korea, is bringing the opportunity of a decisive agreement in Copenhagen much closer than perhaps was the case only a few months ago.

Xinhua predicts tough negotiations at the Copenhagen meeting.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy Efficiency, Office, Other, Pollution & Toxins, Science, Space, & Technology, Urbanization0 Comments

Australia's Carbon Emissions Trading Bill Fails to Pass Through Senate

CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 2 (UPI) — The Australian government’s carbon emissions trading scheme failed to win passage Wednesday through the Senate, landing a blow to a key policy of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Rudd had hoped to take his carbon pollution reduction plan in hand to next week’s climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, where world leaders will seek a new agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

A number of business groups said the second defeat of the legislation provides an opportunity to get the design right, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

The Minerals Council of Australia said the government should now be looking at a scheme that reduces emissions, supports new technologies and protects the competitiveness of Australia’s export sectors.

Mitchell Hooke, chief of the Minerals Council of Australia, noted that “not a single cent” of the $120 billion to be raised by the emissions trading scheme was earmarked for developing new low-emission technologies. The scheme, he said, would have cost thousands of jobs and billions of investment while failing to materially reduce global greenhouse gas levels.

The ruling party led by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said they would try for a second vote next February.

But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, elected Tuesday, said he expects the coalition’s position to harden during Australia’s soon-to-begin legislative summer break, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“The right time for an emissions trading scheme is when the rest of the world is signed up for one and that way all the economies will labor under the same emissions constraints,” Abbott told ABC Wednesday before the Senate’s vote.

Acting Prime Minister Julia Gillard, speaking in Rudd’s absence, urged decisive action to tackle global warming.

“My message is a simple one. This is a scheme that is in the national interest. We live on the hottest and driest continent on Earth. We’re going to be hit by climate change hardest. That is why we designed the carbon pollution reduction scheme,” Gillard said.

Australia’s emission trading program would have been the biggest of its kind outside Europe, covering 75 percent of Australian emissions. It was due to start in July 2011.

Australians have the highest per capita carbon emissions of any major developed country due to a heavy reliance on coal. According to figures submitted by Australia to the United Nations, the country’s emissions from burning fossil fuels have risen by 30 percent from 1990 to 2007.

The Climate Institute, an independent research group, said the legislation’s defeat foreshadowed another year of political squabbling.

“It’s a sad irony that while the U.S. and China are investing billions in renewable energy and battling over who will lead the clean energy economy, Australian politicians are squabbling in the ‘domestic playground’ of party politics,” said John Connor, chief executive of the institute.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Energy, Pollution & Toxins1 Comment

U.S. Emissions Cuts No Shock to Corporate Executives

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26 (UPI) — Corporate America has been thinking about how to comply with a U.S. commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for years, executives and analysts say.

So business leaders weren’t surprised when the White House said Wednesday U.S. President Barack Obama would tell a U.N.-sponsored climate-change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark, next month the United States intended to cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and by 83 percent by 2050, The New York Times reported.

“Industry needs certainty, and without a very strong role played by the administration, they are not likely to get it,” Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, told the newspaper.

“Real leadership from the White House is the only way to get a bill through the Senate, and a bill is how we will get certainty,” she said.

Major corporations, including General Electric Co., Ford Motor Co. and PepsiCo Inc., are working with environmental groups at the United States Climate Action Partnership to find ways to cut emissions throughout the economy.

Emissions cuts “will create more economic opportunities than risks for the U.S. economy,” the partnership says on its Web site.

No. 1 U.S. retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has outlined strict goals to cut energy use at its stores and told hundreds of thousands of suppliers to report their energy use and carbon dioxide emissions, the Times said.

Until now, the United States had been the only industrialized economy to shun hard targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Times noted.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Pollution & Toxins0 Comments

President Barack Obama Reveals Emission Reduction Targets

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 (UPI) — President Barack Obama will seek a U.S. emissions reduction target of about 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020, the White House said Wednesday.

“This provisional target is in line with current legislation in both chambers of Congress and demonstrates a significant contribution to a problem that the U.S. has neglected for too long,” the White House said in a statement Wednesday.

Given Obama’s goal to reduce emissions 83 percent by 2050, the expected targets in the legislation would mean a 30 percent reduction below 2005 levels in 2025 and a 42 percent reduction below 2005 levels in 2030, the statement said.

Obama will participate in the U.N.-sponsored Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Dec. 9, the White House confirmed Wednesday. His attendance had been in doubt for several weeks.

“With less than two weeks to go until the beginning of the Copenhagen conference, it is essential that the countries of the world, led by the major economies, do what it takes to produce a strong, operational agreement that will both launch us on a concerted effort to combat climate change and serve as a stepping stone to a legally binding treaty,” the statement said.

Obama is working with Congress to pass energy and climate legislation quickly, the White House said.

He will be in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 10 to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.

The U.S. contingent for the climate change conference includes Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Office, Pollution & Toxins, Science, Space, & Technology0 Comments

Reducing Greenhouse Gases Proven to Save Lives in Low Income Countries

BERKELEY, Calif., Nov. 25 (UPI) — Reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will have direct health benefits especially in low-income countries, U.S. researchers said.

In a series of studies, Kirk R. Smith, professor of global environmental health, and Michael Jerrett, associate professor of environmental health sciences, both of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues used case studies to demonstrate the co-benefits of tackling climate change in four sectors — electricity generation, household energy use, transportation and food and agriculture.

“Policymakers need to know that if they exert their efforts in certain directions, they can obtain important public health benefits as well as climate benefits,” Smith said in a statement.

Combustion-related air pollution is estimated to be responsible for nearly 2.5 million premature deaths annually around the world and also for a significant portion of greenhouse warming.

One case study, led by Smith, said the 150-million-stove program in India from 2010-2020 could prevent 2 million premature deaths in India in addition to reducing greenhouse pollution.

A paper co-authored by Jerrett contains analysis of 18 years of data on of black carbon that tracked 352,000 people in 66 U.S. cities. Black carbon is a short-lived greenhouse pollutant, but exert significant direct impacts on health.

The case studies are published in the journal The Lancet.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Air Pollution, Electricity, Energy, Other, Pollution & Toxins, Transportation0 Comments

No Posts in Category