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Fw: Climate News - 1 May 2001


Gioia Thompson <[log in to unmask]>


Burlington Climate Protection Task Force <[log in to unmask]>


Thu, 3 May 2001 18:02:15 -0400





text/plain (3727 lines)

Here's a long message--do people on this list want me to forward these
Climate News bulletins? A quick scan of the headlines gives a good idea of
what's happening, depressing as that might be. But please let me know if
you're getting too much mail from me.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chad Carpenter <[log in to unmask]>
To: Climate Change Info Mailing List <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wednesday, May 02, 2001 5:36 AM
Subject: Climate News - 1 May 2001

39) BUSHWHACKED (Guardian-UK)
40) NUCLEAR'S COMEBACK (Economist)
New York Times
May 1, 2001

WASHINGTON, April 30 - Vice President Dick Cheney said today that
oil, coal and natural gas would remain the United States' primary
energy resources for "years down the road" and that the Bush
administration's energy strategy would aim mainly to increase
supply of fossil fuels, rather than limit demand. In his most
comprehensive comments to date on the energy task force he is
heading on behalf of President Bush, Mr. Cheney dismissed as
1970's-era thinking the notion that "we could simply conserve or
ration our way out" of what he called an energy crisis.

The only solution, he said, is a government-backed push to find
new domestic sources of oil and gas, including in protected areas
of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and an all-out drive to
build power plants - a need that he says will require one new
electricity-generating plant a week for 20 years. "America's
reliance on energy, and fossil fuels in particular, has lately
taken on an urgency not felt since the late 1970's," Mr. Cheney
said. "Without a clear, coherent energy strategy, all Americans
could one day go through what Californians are experiencing now,
or worse."

Mr. Cheney, who ran the oil-services company Halliburton Inc.
before becoming vice president, offered a supply-oriented energy
philosophy that seems likely to dominate the report the cabinet-
level task force is expected to issue as early as mid- May. The
report is expected to recommend legislation, executive actions and
incentives for the private sector. The vice president's comments,
delivered to the annual meeting of The Associated Press in
Toronto, seemed partly a combative response to Democrats and
environmentalists who argue that the Bush administration has used
California's electricity shortages as a pretext to enact energy
policies that have been favored by industry executives for many

In discussing their energy plans recently, administration
officials have put the most emphasis on opening protected lands to
oil and gas exploration, while rolling back environmental rules
that inhibit the burning of coal and the construction of pipelines
and refineries. They have also strongly advocated the use of
nuclear power.

Critics have faulted the administration for moving quickly to
abandon a treaty on global warming and rejecting controls on
carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, steps Mr. Bush said
were vital because of energy shortages. The administration has
also come under withering criticism for delaying stricter
standards on arsenic in drinking water.

Mr. Cheney said today that environmentalists had taken things too
far. He said a recent television advertisement showing a child
asking for more arsenic in her water was a "cheap shot." Drastic
measures to increase energy supplies are justified, he said,
because the geometry of supply and demand curves are so alarming.
He estimated that the country needed 38,000 miles of new pipelines
to carry natural gas, covering the distance of Maine to California
more than 12 times over.

Coal, Mr. Cheney said, has been neglected. It is the United
States' "most plentiful source of affordable energy." He said
people who sought to phase out its use, largely because they
considered it a major source of air pollution, "deny reality." He
said the most environmentally friendly way to increase energy
supplies was to extend the life of existing nuclear plants and
grant permits to build new ones, because they had no emissions of
greenhouse gases. "We can safeguard the environment by making
greater use of the cleanest methods of power generation we know,"
he said, speaking of nuclear power. "If we are serious about
environmental protection, then we must seriously question the
wisdom of backing away from what is, as a matter of record, a
safe, clean and very plentiful energy source."

Utility industry executives have applauded the administration's
support of nuclear power, but questioned the economic viability of
building new nuclear power plants anytime soon. Environmentalists
dispute Mr. Cheney's contention that nuclear power is the cleanest
source of energy because they say the mining and enriching of
uranium and the storage of nuclear waste are hazards. Mr. Cheney
indicated that the administration would put some emphasis on
energy efficiency. New technology - like computer screens that use
far less power and energy-efficient light bulbs - have an
important role because they can save energy without reducing
living standards, he said. But he said he would oppose any measure
based on the premise that Americans now "live too well" or that
people should "do more with less."

"The aim here is efficiency, not austerity," he said.
"Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a
sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy." Some
people who have talked with administration officials about the
energy plan expect that the policy will include some tax-related
measures to promote efficiency. Among those considered most likely
are tax credits for people who buy fuel-efficient automobiles and
for power companies that produce electricity using renewable
energy sources.

But the budget Mr. Bush submitted to Congress in early April
sharply reduced spending by the Department of Energy on research
and development for energy efficiency and renewable energy
technologies. "They give lip service to efficiency, but their
whole emphasis is on supply," said Senator Jeff Bingaman, a New
Mexico Democrat who has introduced energy legislation that he says
strikes a finer balance between increasing supply and controlling
demand. In a report to be released later this week, the American
Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimates that raising the
fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks by what it calls a modest
amount could do far more to reduce reliance on imported oil than
drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Fuel economy standards reached their peak in 1988, when the
average passenger vehicle covered 26 miles on a gallon of gas. The
average fell to 24 miles per gallon last year, because more
Americans drive light trucks, which have lower mandated efficiency
standards than cars. Raising average fuel use by cars and light
trucks to 35 miles per gallon by 2010 would result in oil savings
of 1.5 million barrels a day by that time, the report says. The
United States Geological Survey estimates that the Alaskan refuge
would probably produce 580,000 barrels a day later this decade.

Mr. Cheney did not discuss the merits of raising government-
mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards in his address
today. But he strongly defended the administration's proposal to
allow drilling for oil and gas in the Alaskan refuge. The
administration has sent mixed signals recently on how hard it
intends to push to open the refuge. Christie Whitman, the
Environmental Protection Agency administrator, said earlier this
month that the energy plan would not emphasize drilling in the
Alaskan wilderness, but other officials contradicted her.

Mr. Cheney left little doubt of his support. He said new oil-
drilling technologies meant that exploration could take place in
the 19-million- acre refuge without disturbing wildlife. The
affected area totals no more than 2,000 acres, he said, "one-fifth
the size of Dulles Airport."

See also--
National Post:
Boston Globe:
Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

New York Times
April 28, 2001

In the wake of its rejection of an international treaty to curtail
global warming, the Bush administration is seeking advice from a
wide array of scientists, economists, business representatives and
policy experts as it tries to forge a new approach to the
contentious issue. Most of those consulted, senior government
officials said, are asserting that the science pointing to a
serious problem is sound, and that there is need for concrete
action to stem rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-
trapping greenhouse gases emitted by smokestacks and tailpipes.
Although the new effort is mainly taking the form of cabinet
briefings behind closed doors, it is widely seen as a substantial
broadening of a process that until recently was so tightly
controlled by a small circle of advisers that cabinet members
themselves often gave conflicting accounts of President Bush's

The broadening has elicited expressions of cautious relief from
environmental campaigners and frustration by conservatives and
skeptics about warming's dangers. But both sides said they could
not predict how the review would influence the Bush
administration, which is under pressure to devise an alternative
to the rejected climate treaty. "This group is reaching out for a
diversity of views on climate issues," said Ken Lisaius, a White
House spokesman. "This is a very serious matter that the president
takes very seriously."

At the briefings, held about once a week over the last month, half
a dozen members of Mr. Bush's cabinet and, most of the time, Vice
President Dick Cheney have spent a couple of hours in what amounts
to Climate 101. The list of speakers has been dominated by
scientists and policy experts who believe that a recent global
warming trend is at least partly caused by humans, poses serious
risks and requires a significant response to stem the buildup of
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The presenters have included
Dr. James E. Hansen, a government climate expert who in 1988
testified about the problem before the Senate at the invitation of
Al Gore, then a senator from Tennessee, and Dr. Daniel L.
Albritton, the head of a federal climate laboratory and a lead
author of an international report pointing to serious risks from
global warming for coming decades. The report, by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group,
was widely criticized by conservative groups as biased but has
been held up by many others as strong new evidence justifying

The participants all declined to discuss the substance of the
meetings at the request of the White House. But some said they saw
the meetings as a sign of new openness on the issue. "It is
encouraging that they are spending serious time gathering
information and facts in the development of their policy," said
Kevin Fay, a business official who was a presenter at the most
recent briefing, on Tuesday. Mr. Fay is the executive director of
the International Climate Change Partnership, an organization
representing what he calls "the progressive cowering middle of
industry," businesses that seek to be environmental stewards, but
with the bottom line in mind.

Another sign of the administration's new tack in recent days is
its recruitment of seasoned experts in climate issues from the
ranks of various agencies as it assembles a team to come up with
policy options, which officials plan to present to Mr. Bush by the
end of May. Particularly urgent is an effort to come up with an
alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, the treaty that was negotiated
and signed by the Clinton administration and summarily rejected by
Mr. Bush last month. Mr. Bush said that its binding limits on
greenhouse gases could harm the economy and that it unfairly
excluded fast-growing economic powers like China and India.

That decision came shortly after Mr. Bush renounced a campaign
pledge he had made to include mandatory carbon dioxide cuts in a
cleanup of power plants. Both announcements came after a flurry of
lobbying by conservatives who have long opposed restrictions on
carbon dioxide, which is, at least for now, a byproduct of almost
every activity in modern industrial society. But the announcements
produced a flood of bad press and the first bruises for Mr. Bush
in some public opinion polls. With the dust settling, there is a
growing realization at the White House that the blunt rejection of
the treaty may have caused more problems than it solved.

"The decisions six weeks ago were made in an appalling vacuum of
information," said a senior government official involved in the
climate policy review, who spoke only on the condition of
anonymity. "A substantial portion of the people involved wish they
had it to do over again," the official said. "They might still
have rejected Kyoto, but probably in a different way. Now you're
seeing a genuine effort to get a balanced perspective."

The briefings have been intimate affairs, officials said,
including only a handful of White House staff members and a
varying roster of cabinet members and government executives -
generally from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy,
Interior, State and Treasury, as well as the Environmental
Protection Agency. The first two sessions, held at Commerce
Department headquarters and then the headquarters of the
Environmental Protection Agency, were strictly science. Dr.
Albritton defended the international report he helped create. Dr.
Ronald J. Stouffer, a designer of computer climate models at the
Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, a government research
center in Princeton, N.J., talked about the difficulties posed by
clouds, which as yet cannot be modeled accurately and so hamper
predictions of the local consequences of a general climate

There were props. Dr. Hansen used a one-watt Christmas-tree bulb
to represent the extra energy beating down on each half-square-
yard of the earth's surface as a result of the growing blanket of
greenhouse gases. Dr. Hansen has been of particular interest to
the White House because last year he proposed that the best short-
term attack on warming might come by focusing not on carbon
dioxide but on methane, a less common but more potent greenhouse
gas, and soot, which is not mentioned in the Kyoto Protocol but is
increasingly thought to contribute both to warming and to serious
health problems. Dr. Hansen was invited back to the second
session, where he was joined by a prominent skeptic, Dr. Richard
S. Lindzen, a meteorology professor at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology who has long held that any climate influence from
human activities is inconsequential.

In the third session, focusing on economics, the administration
stayed close to home, listening to Dr. Richard L. Schmalensee, the
dean of the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and a member of the Council of Economic
Advisers in the administration of Mr. Bush's father. Dr.
Schmalensee and other M.I.T. economists have repeatedly asserted
that the Kyoto pact is an overly costly insurance policy. On
Tuesday, the pendulum swung to experts who support the general
goals of the Kyoto treaty but who concede that the existing
language is rife with problems. They included Mr. Fay, from the
business group, and another former official from the first Bush
administration, William K. Reilly, who is the president of the
World Wildlife Fund and was administrator of the E.P.A.

Now the ball is in Mr. Bush's court, many observers say. The key
question is whether he will choose some new way to get governments
to agree to binding cuts in greenhouse gases or revert to the
approach sought by his father, who at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio
signed the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the treaty that
preceded the Kyoto document but that called only for voluntary
reductions in the gases. Some business groups that opposed the
Kyoto treaty have greeted the chance for a fresh approach to the
problem. But they also say there is danger in starting from

"We're not talking about totally erasing the blackboard," said
Norine Kennedy, the vice president for environmental affairs of
the United States Council for International Business, which
represents several hundred companies. "There's a lot in the
protocol that should be retained."

Japan Times
May 1, 2001

Climate change negotiations are steadily progressing behind the
scenes and some subtle changes could portend breakthroughs,
reappointed Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said. Talks
focusing on the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate change
accord, will likely dominate Kawaguchi's time for the next few
months, as Japan and other countries prepare to resume climate
change talks in Germany in July. Since the United States said in
March it would abandon the agreement and put together its own
proposal, Japan and other countries have been struggling to entice
it back to mainstream negotiations.

"We need to continue to work on the United States and persuade it"
to return to the Kyoto process, Kawaguchi said in an interview,
adding that this will not be easy. There have been some subtle,
but potentially positive, changes in Washington in response to the
global backlash at U.S. President George W. Bush's remarks against
the protocol, she said.

"Bush and the U.S. government are reviewing their environmental
policies and trying to figure out what their positions will be. I
think they are taking the review seriously. When President Bush
made those comments (in March), I really wonder how far along that
review was." This is Kawaguchi's third consecutive term as chief
of environment policy, since she was first appointed in July, when
the ministry was still an agency. It is the second time a
nonpolitician -- and the first time a woman -- has been appointed
to the Cabinet for a third term.

Asked what she expects of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi,
Kawaguchi said she wants him to talk climate change when he meets
with Bush. "Somewhere along the line I expect the prime minister
and President Bush will hold talks and I hope he broaches the
topic (of the Kyoto Protocol)," she said. On issues at home,
Kawaguchi said she wants to get more input from nongovernment
organizations, inject an environmental perspective into public
works projects, and increase recycling. Kawaguchi said she hopes
to lay the groundwork for NGOs to be able to present their
relevant environment policy proposals and that she plans to
continue holding citizens' meetings around the nation.

"I want to try to further dialogue with citizens. I hope to create
a mechanism through which NGOs' policy proposals can somehow be
reflected in real policy." The minister will on Wednesday visit
Nagasaki Prefecture's Isahaya Bay, where water quality and seaweed
crops have suffered following the construction of a 7-km dike for
a controversial reclamation project. Kawaguchi hopes to come away
with a "balanced impression" of the project. "There are (some
public works projects) in which the environment is not
satisfactorily taken into account, and it is important to make
sure that these, too, incorporate an environmental perspective."

BBC News
26 April 2001

The Council of Europe has added its voice to the condemnation of
the American decision to reject the Kyoto treaty on global
warming. In a resolution adopted unanimously, the council's
parliamentary assembly said the American decision casts doubt on
Washington's reliability as a global partner.

It said the United States move undermined the Kyoto programme,
which aims to get countries to reduce their levels of carbon
dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, and called on the American
government to reconsider its decision.

See also-

New York Times
April 24, 2001

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's top environment official
affirmed her determination to push ahead with the troubled Kyoto
accord on climate change on Tuesday by cutting a ''birthday cake''
marking the EU's signing of the deal. EU Environment Commissioner
Margot Wallstrom blew out three candles designed to look like
smokestacks on a cake presented to her by the environmental group
Greenpeace which is pushing the EU to stick with the deal that the
United States rejected last month.

The United Nations-sponsored agreement which compels developed
countries to reduce their ``greenhouse gas'' emissions was struck
in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 and was formally signed by the EU and its
15 member countries three years ago this week. The future of the
deal, which many politicians and green activists consider the
world's most ambitious environmental agreement, hangs in the
balance following the U.S. refusal to ratify it on the grounds it
would cause economic harm. ``We have said that we will go ahead
and ratify the Kyoto Protocol with or without the United States,''
Wallstrom told reporters before cutting the cake decorated with
icing models of oil tankers, factories and cars, representing the
sources of the emissions blamed for causing global warming.
At a meeting of some 40 environment ministers from around the
world in New York last weekend, the United States confirmed it
would not be bound by the agreement which would require it to cut
emissions to seven percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

President Bush's administration has said it will come forward with
alternativesto the Kyoto deal in the coming weeks, but the EU has
declared itself opposed to anything outside Kyoto which took years
to negotiate.
The Swedish government said it was considering hosting further
climate talks in Stockholm next month on the sidelines of a
ceremony where countries will sign a U.N. deal to curb a range of
toxic chemicals.
Wallstrom was presented with the cake on her way to open ''Green
Week'', a series of seminars and exhibitions on the key
environmental issues the EU is facing. Chemicals, waste and
genetically modified foods join climate change on the list of key
issues to be discussed during the week.

Kyodo News
24 April 2001

BRUSSELS April 24 Kyodo - A cabinet minister-level preparatory
meeting will be held in Stockholm on May 22-23 to follow up
Saturday's U.N.-sponsored informal talks in New York on climate
change, the Swedish government said Monday. Sweden, which
currently holds the European Union (EU) presidency, said the
preparatory meeting will be held prior to the sixth Conference of
the Parties (COP6) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate
Change, scheduled to resume in Bonn on July 16-27. Environment
ministers and representatives from about 40 countries participated
in the New York talks, which made little progress on reaching an
agreement on rules for implementing targets set by the 1997 Kyoto
Protocol to curb global warming. The United States said March 28
it was quitting the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol, adopted in December 1997, requires the world's
industrialized countries to impose binding limits on emissions of
carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases -- to below 1990 levels
-- from 2008 to 2012. The protocol will enter into force if
ratified by at least 55 countries. The 55 must include
industrialized countries whose combined carbon dioxide emissions
account for 55% of the industrialized world's total emissions in
1990. The U.S. accounts for 40% of such emissions.

CBS News
April 24, 2001

(Reuters) British politicians attacked the environmental
credentials of President George W. Bush Tuesday, calling him a
polluter and a fool. Fielding questions in parliament, Deputy
Prime Minister John Prescott heard one member of his ruling Labor
Party label Mr. Bush the "Toxic Texan" and was urged by another to
make "The fool on Capitol Hill" mend his ways. Prescott, normally
a blunt speaker, would not be drawn. Mr. Bush has come under fire
around the globe from environmentalists for withdrawing U.S.
support for the Kyoto global warming treaty, signed in 1997. The
United States is the world's biggest polluter. Additional inter-
governmental talks are to be held in Bonn in July but U.S.
officials said last week the Bush administration sees little
chance of agreement on the treaty.

"For our part we think the Kyoto protocol is the right way
forward," Prescott told parliament. "My cabinet colleagues and I
will continue to raise climate change in discussions with our
United States counterparts." He said he was encouraged by
"measured statements" coming from Bush's aides in recent days. The
pact reached in Kyoto, Japan, would require industrialized nations
to cut carbon dioxide emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below
1990 levels by 2012. Mr. Bush argues that would seriously harm the
U.S. economy and unfairly exempt developing countries.

New York Times
April 26, 2001

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil's Foreign Affairs Minister Celso Lafer
criticized the United States on Thursday for abandoning the
international accord on global warming. ``Brazil views the United
States' decision not to ratify the Kyoto protocol with concern,''
Lafer said as he set up a commission responsible for defining
Brazil's stance ahead of the world summit on sustainable
development set for September, 2002, in South Africa. The Kyoto
protocol of 1997 calls for industrialized countries to reduce
their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by
2012. The build up of the gasses like carbon dioxide in the
atmosphere are believed to cause global warming and wide spread
climatic changes.

But the Bush administration's recent decision to reject the
measures has darkened the outlook for world negotiations to put
the reduction plan into practice. ``The magnitude of the impact of
climatic change does not permit countries to adopt different
positions that would jeopardize the enforcement (of the plan) to
efficiently arrest the build up of greenhouse gases,'' said Lafer.
The minister was one of the organizers of the Earth Summit in Rio
de Janeiro in 1992, where the seeds of the Kyoto accord were sown.

``The Kyoto protocol, in its innovative form, links environmental
protection with the affirmation of the priority of countries'
sustainable development,'' said the minister. The U.S. rejection
of the accord has spurred international criticisms of the Bush
government which argues that the accord's application would have
negative economic consequences for North America. The United
States is responsible for 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gas

See also-
People's Daily:

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand has given the United States a strong message of
concern about its step away from the Kyoto Protocol, Pete Hodgson
said after an international meeting on climate change in New York.
Mr Hodgson, convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change,
represented New Zealand at the talks in New York City last week.
The informal meeting of about 35 nations was called by Jan Pronk,
the Netherlands Environment Minister and president of the World
Conference on Climate Change (COP6) that broke up without
resolution last November. Mr Pronk asked selected ministers to New
York to work through outstanding issues in preparation for the
COP6 meeting in Bonn, Germany, in July.

Mr Hodgson said the meeting confirmed that the rest of the
developed world is unimpressed by the United States' unilateral
refusal to support the Kyoto Protocol. Mr Hodgson said it was
clear from the meeting that the US Cabinet-level review of climate
change policy would not be completed until shortly before the COP6
meeting in Bonn. The prospects for international agreement on the
Kyoto Protocol remained uncertain in the meantime.

See also-
Dow Jones:

April 23, 2001

UNITED NATIONS - African environment ministers scolded the United
States on Friday for spurning the Kyoto treaty on climate change,
saying the move left Africa vulnerable and helpless in the face of
global warming. "Their withdrawal condemns us in the developing
world, with the least capacity to adapt, to the dire consequences
of climate change," the African Ministerial Conference on the
Environment, representing 53 nations, said in a statement. African
countries were among the must vulnerable to global warming because
of their heavy dependence on agriculture and their coastal areas,
which could face heavy damage in case melting polar ice caps
raised sea level, the statement said.

At the same time, because Africa produced so small a share of the
world's greenhouse gases, any reductions in its emissions would
have an insignificant impact on warming, said the statement, read
to reporters by Nigerian Environment Minister Mohammed Kabir Said.
The ministers group spoke on the sidelines of a meeting of the
U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development, a panel created to
follow up on the 1992 Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro,

Countries have been lining up to criticize Washington since its
shock March announcement that it was turning its back on the 1997
Kyoto accord. The United States produces about a quarter of the
world's greenhouse gases, and the pact reached in Kyoto, Japan,
would require industrialized nations to cut their carbon dioxide
emissions an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
Carbon dioxide, a byproduct of manufacturing and automobile use,
is the most common of the greenhouse gases blamed by scientists
for steadily pushing up global temperatures.

In rejecting the pact, the administration of U.S. President George
W. Bush said it might harm the U.S. economy at a time of energy
shortages and was unfair because it did not require reductions by
developing nations like China, whose emissions are growing the
fastest. The Kyoto accord was negotiated by the administration of
former U.S. President Bill Clinton but never ratified by the
Senate. The Bush administration has pledged to come up with new
ideas on how to address the problem but has made nothing public

Because of the heavy criticism of Washington, many countries hope
it will soon reverse course and return to the Kyoto process in
time for the resumption of key U.N.-sponsored talks on the pact
scheduled for Bonn at the end of July. Environment Ministers from
some 40 countries were meeting on Saturday in New York for
informal talks on the way forward in Bonn. While the Kyoto accord
was reached in 1997, negotiations are continuing because many of
the operational details still need to be nailed down.

To take effect, the pact must be ratified by at least 55 countries
representing at least 55 percent of total 1990 greenhouse gas
emissions. While some capitals have pronounced the pact dead
following Washington's decision, others have vowed to continue
with negotiations in hopes of achieving ratification even without
U.S. participation.

Asia Times
25 January 2001

UNITED NATIONS - The 37-member Alliance of Small Island States
(Aosis) has called for strong and credible action to tackle the
international threat of climate change. "We are least responsible
for, but most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and so
we find ourselves at the forefront in the fight against global
warming," says Aosis chairman Ambassador Tuiloma Neroni Slade of
Samoa. The Alliance says it is "profoundly concerned and
disappointed" by the recent US decision to reject the 1997 Kyoto
Protocol which requires the global reduction of greenhouse gas
emissions to prevent dangerous human interference with the earth's
climate system. "While all regions are likely to suffer, the
scientific evidence has singled out small island communities as
being the most vulnerable to climate change," it notes.

Ministers and delegates from half a dozen small island states -
St. Lucia, Grenada, the Maldives, Jamaica, Kiribati and the Cook
Islands - announced their commitments to renewable energy as a
means to control greenhouse emissions that contribute to global
warming, at a ceremony on Friday commemorating Earth Day 2001. The
United Nations celebrated Earth Day on Sunday. The event was part
of the ninth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development,
taking place at the United Nations from April 16-27. Energy and
the atmosphere are key themes of the talks.

"Clean energy is central to the global efforts to save the
environment and also is a tool for economic and social
development," said Tom Roper, a representative of the Climate
Institute. The Institute, along with Winrock International,
Counterpart International, the Organization of American States,
and the Forum for Energy and Development (FED) co-hosted the
event. With the exception of FED, which is based in Denmark, the
rest of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are
international in character with branches worldwide.

The consortium launched the Global Sustainable Energy Islands
Initiative (GSEII) last November at the Climate Change Conference
in The Hague, and is assisting island nations in their energy
transformation efforts. The consortium says that small island
states are struggling with expensive fossil import costs and an
inability to supply electricity in rural areas. However, these
states are especially suited to utilize combinations of modern
renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency due to the
availability of renewable energy resources and current energy
consumption patterns, according to the consortium.

Bishnu Tulsie, a senior official from the Ministry of Planning in
St Lucia, outlined his country's ambitious plan, which he says
should result in a 35 percent reduction in greenhouse gas
emissions by 2010. The government will encourage the exploitation
of new and renewable energy technologies, including wind farms and
solar heating units. St Lucia also advocates the aggressive
pursuit of efficiency and conservation measures to reduce demand
by 15 percent over the next decade. Suggested demand-side control
measures include promotion of public transportation and a move
toward alternative-fuel vehicles.

Tulsie said his government will encourage private sector
development by providing tax incentives for the use of renewable
energy and full waivers of customs charges on imported sustainable
energy technology. "The issue for us is not one of economics, it
is of survival," he added. Countries at or just above sea level
are among the most threatened by the effects of climate change. In
many cases, much of their land area rarely exceeds three to four
meters above sea level. If current projections are correct, the
estimated 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Centigrade rise in temperature over
the next century could create sea levels and storm surges that
could send significant portions of these nations to the bottom of
the ocean.

In addition to rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions,
damage to fishing stocks, salinization of agricultural land, and
contamination of water supplies are all potentially devastating
consequences of global warming. A recent report issued by the
United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) estimated that worldwide
damage resulting from climate change could cost over US$300
billion, and some low-lying countries could see losses exceeding
10 percent of their Gross Domestic Product by 2050.

The Earth Day announcement comes on the heels of criticism of the
United States' rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, in which
industrialized nations agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas
emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012. Earlier this
week, the Group of 77, the 133-member coalition of developing
nations - as well as some of the United States' closest allies -
expressed concern that the world's largest producer of greenhouse
gases had chosen to abandon the Kyoto agreement. The United States
accounts for approximately 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Aosis said it "believes the United States has a solemn
responsibility, indeed a moral duty at the very least, to lead the
world community in the struggle against global warming". A number
of delegates at the Earth Day event reiterated similar sentiments.
"The Kyoto Protocol is central to global efforts to address human-
induced climate change, but the lack of support from the United
States, to whom we look for principled leadership in many
respects, makes those steps very difficult for us," warned Tangata
Vavia, Minister of Energy in the Cook Islands. In the meantime,
nations represented at the ceremony said they will continue to
pursue the goals outlined in the Kyoto Protocol. "We will do
whatever we can, because this is the issue of our very existence,"
Tulsie said.

Japan Times
May 1, 2001

In its first environmental strategy to be adopted later this
month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
is expected to embrace a five-point plan calling for members to
slash subsidies that hurt the environment and introduce incentives
to stem environmental damage. The "OECD Environmental Strategy for
the First Decade of the 21st Century" is designed, as the name
suggests, to set the direction for environmental policy for the
OECD's 30 members for the next 10 years. It is a daunting task, as
the plan, which includes cuts to energy, farm and other subsidies
so prices more accurately reflect environmental impacts, aims to
steer members toward a more sound pattern of development.

Although OECD members have given preliminary approval to the
document, final agreement on the section dealing with climate
change has been stalled by objections from the United States,
according to OECD and Japanese government sources. Many observers
say that how the final version reads could affect another key
environmental pact, the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, from
which the U.S. has indicated it will pull out.

The U.S. says it cannot endorse the OECD strategy because it calls
for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, an international
accord adopted at U.N. climate change negotiations in December
1997. Washington is currently reviewing its position on climate
change negotiations. The Kyoto agreement commits developed
countries to collectively cut greenhouse gas emissions by roughly
5 percent of 1990 levels by between 2008 and 2012. Japan and other
countries hope to complete the accord in talks in Germany
scheduled for July.

But OECD officials fear a negative impact on climate change
discussions if the OECD strategy -- set to be approved by OECD
environment ministers at a gathering in Paris on May 16 -- does
not end up endorsing the Kyoto Protocol. Also drawing fire from
the U.S. -- along with Japan -- is the inclusion in the OECD
strategy of a specific figure for carbon dioxide stabilization.
Scientists and governments generally agree on the goal of the U.N.
Framework Convention on Climate Change that carbon dioxide and
other greenhouse gases must be stabilized, but they have been
unable to settle on a specific figure.

Environment Ministry officials question setting a concrete
objective at this point, as experts on the U.N. Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change have yet to do so. But despite these
obstacles, many experts remain optimistic that the ground-breaking
OECD strategy will not fall apart, given the widespread
understanding for the need for sustainable development.

The strategy outlines five objectives for member nations to meet
by 2010 in order to achieve more sustainable economic development.
They include protecting ecosystems through the wise use of
resources, divorcing environmental degradation from economic
growth, and improving information for decision making. The
strategy specifically addresses climate change, fresh water and
biodiversity and the threats of agriculture, transport and energy.
"OECD countries will need to remove or reform subsidies and other
policies that encourage unsustainable use of natural resources,
beginning with the agriculture, transport and energy sectors, and
ensure the internalization of the full external costs of natural
resource use," the draft says.

Recently published OECD data indicate that scrapping subsidies and
establishing an energy tax could dramatically reduce carbon
dioxide and sulfur oxide emissions, and reduce fresh water
pollution from pesticides by 2020 at a cost of less than one
percent of the gross domestic product of OECD countries. "It will
be necessary in the next decade to not only decouple environmental
degradation from continued economic growth, but to ensure that
pressures on the environment are at a level compatible with
environmentally sustainable development," it says.

Washington Post
April 29, 2001; Page A02

In the face of an angry reaction from environmental leaders,
Senate Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) backed off
yesterday from an earlier statement that he would support dramatic
changes in a global warming treaty, including a possible shift
from mandatory to voluntary compliance with the requirements to
reduce the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
Daschle and Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said last week that
in light of President Bush's abandonment of the global warming
treaty, they would support a whole new approach provided Bush
takes the lead in reviving the international talks this summer.

"I'm not averse to looking at voluntary approaches," Daschle said
in an interview last week. "But if you do, there has to be some
kind of incentive program that would cause a change in practice or
approach." Yesterday, after protests from prominent environmental
groups, Daschle issued a clarification, saying that, while it
makes sense to seek voluntary emissions controls in the short
term, they "are not a substitute for binding measures to reduce
carbon dioxide to meet the commitments we have made to our
international partners."

The administration is reviewing alternatives to the treaty
negotiated by the United States and its allies in Kyoto, Japan, in
1997, including industry proposals for an incentive-based approach
and new technologies that would scrap the tough emissions caps and
deadlines contained in the agreement. U.S. allies in Europe and
Asia have said they would oppose any dramatic departure from the
current global warming treaty, and environmentalists say that
previous experiments with voluntary emissions reductions dating to
1992 have largely failed.

"Without clear mandates to meet specified emissions cap targets,
[terms such as] voluntary, incentive and new technology are
nothing but the fuzzy grammar of the special interests who want to
avoid serious solutions to the critical global environmental
problem of the 21st century," said Joseph Goffman of Environmental
Defense. Goffman and leaders of two other environmental groups
said they were dismayed by Daschle's and Schumer's comments,
fearing that they would provide Bush with additional leverage to
ignore the concerns of the U.S. allies while charting a course
more in tune with the concerns of industrial polluters and
conservatives on Capitol Hill.

Philip Clapp, president of the National Environmental Trust, said
earlier in the day: "If Democrats only want to take voluntary
steps on global warming, they should stop criticizing President
Bush, because they aren't any more serious about the issue than he
is." "Unfortunately, the large corporate emitters of CO2 pollution
interpret calls for voluntary action as a signal that the
government does not regard global warming as a serious problem,"
added David Hawkins of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Daschle's comments to The Washington Post last week caught many in
the environmental movement and even some on his own staff by
surprise. According to senior aides, the Senate minority leader
has been reassessing his views on global warming since Bush
announced last month that he was disavowing the treaty because the
emissions standards would harm the economy, and because China,
India and other developing countries would not be bound by it. One
aide said that Daschle had been thinking out loud during his
interview with The Post and that some of his ideas were still in
the formative stages.

"He was candid enough to say what he was thinking," the aide said,
adding that, regardless of the confusion, Daschle continues to
favor mandatory targets for the long-term reduction of the
emissions of gases that trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere. The
Kyoto accord would commit the United States and 36 other
industrial nations to the first binding limits on heat-trapping
gases that many scientists believe threaten to unleash
catastrophic changes in the planet's climate.

As part of the accord, the United States would have to reduce its
emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants by 7 percent from
the 1990 levels by 2012 -- a huge cutback after years of
unprecedented economic expansion. The accord has not been ratified
by the Senate, nor by most other industrial nations. However,
environmental ministers from around the world plan to resume
negotiations in Bonn in July in hopes of breaking the deadlock.
Bush has ordered a Cabinet-level task force to prepare alternative
proposals that might be offered at this summer's meeting.
Officials said last week that the use of new technologies will be
a major part of the recommendations.

Chicago Tribune:,2669,SAV-0104290295
Washington Post:

April 24, 2001

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Sen. Sam Brownback released on
Tuesday a plan to combat global warming through voluntary, pro-
market means in legislation designed to replace U.S. involvement
in the Kyoto climate change treaty. The Kansas lawmaker said his
bills demonstrate "a better way to deal with important
environmental concerns" than by pitting pro-environment measures
against "hard-working small business and state interests."

Kyoto seeks to force major industrialized nations to curb
emissions of greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 percent below
1990 levels by 2012. In March, President Bush angered European
allies and environmentalists when he declared the U.S. would not
participate in a final Kyoto treaty, saying emission cuts
contained in the framework were harmful to the economy. Brownback
did not specifically mention Kyoto, but his statement clearly
presents a different approach to curbing dangerous carbon dioxide
emissions, which many scientists blame for global warming.

"The bills establish an implementing panel made up of carbon
researchers and energy policy experts in government and non-
governmental organizations which will decide whether a project is
eligible for tax credits and insure that actual carbon
conservation gains take place," Brownback said. The legislation is
in two parts: "The International Carbon Conservation Act," and the
"International Carbon Conservation Tax Credit Act." The tax credit
act would establish a framework for international cooperation to
create more international carbon sequestration projects by
providing tax credits for U.S. businesses who invest.

April 27, 2001

Greenpeace environmental activists protested on Friday at the
French offices of U.S. oil major Exxon Mobil against the firm's
support of President George W. Bush's rejection of the Kyoto
treaty on global warming. Activists scaled the Exxon Mobil
building in the Paris suburb of Reuil Malmaison during the morning
rush hour and unfurled a banner reading "S.O.S Climate in danger"
as their colleagues distributed leaflets to employees arriving for

Greenpeace, whose activists have twice occupied U.S.-owned oil
rigs in the North Sea in recent weeks, announced on Thursday that
it would target five U.S. oil companies to try to hurt their
markets outside the United States until they withdrew support for
Bush's decision to abandon the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. "Greenpeace is
going to give warnings in the entire world to companies who
support this decision," said Helene Gassin, head of Greenpeace's
energy campaign.

The Kyoto Protocol calls for industrialized nations to cut carbon
dioxide emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels by 2012. Bush
triggered international outrage last month after the United States
- the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter - rejected the
treaty, saying it threatened to harm the U.S. economy. Greenpeace
has said its protests would also target Chevron, Texaco, Conoco
and Phillips, mainly to embarrass them in the eyes of consumers.

Financial Times
April 26 2001

Greenpeace, the environmental pressure group, on Thursday
threatened to damage the business interests of several US oil
companies until they agree to back the Kyoto agreement on global
warming. Its campaign will focus on Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Texaco,
Conoco and Phillips, "seeking to hurt their markets outside the
United States". Although Greenpeace has stopped short of calling
for a consumer boycott, it aims to reduce sales by damaging the
companies' reputations in the eyes of consumers. In addition,
activists will lobby the companies and harry their facilities and

"Our aim is to put pressure initially on the main drivers of
Bush's anti- climate policy - the US oil industry, and those who
stand with them," said Greenpeace. Greenpeace said it was part of
a growing worldwide movement which opposes the position of the US
administration on climate change. Last month, President George W.
Bush said the US would reject the treaty, because it did not
require emission cuts by developing nations and it would hurt the
US economy.

Greenpeace wrote to the top 100 companies on the US Fortune 500
list asking them to declare their position on climate change. In
the few responses received so far, companies have mostly been
reluctant to specify their views. Exxon Mobil, which has been a
strong critic of the Kyoto Protocol, has attempted to tone down
its image as a hardline opponent of action against climate change.

Financial Post
25 April 2001

Canada's largest integrated oil and gas company posted a 42%
increase in first-quarter profit yesterday as soaring natural gas
prices and improved refining margins continue to propel the
domestic petroleum business into an era of unparalleled
prosperity. Imperial Oil Ltd. reported net earnings of $382-
million (96˘ a share) for the three months ended March 31,
compared with $269-million (63˘) for the same period a year ago.
Revenue at Toronto-based Imperial, which is 70% owned by oil giant
Exxon Mobile Corp., jumped 16% to $4.72-billion, from $4.07-
billion in the first quarter of 2000.

Bob Peterson, chairman and chief executive of Imperial Oil,
described the results as excellent, though he cautioned the
company's financial performance for the balance of the year
depends largely on market conditions that are beyond its control.
"If you think about the market's perception -- the market has
relatively high prices of natural gas, the market's view is that
oil prices are going to go down, the market's view is that product
prices are going to stay strong -- and, you know, that may come to
pass and it may not," he told reporters after the company's annual
meeting of shareholders in downtown Toronto. "But we had a good
first quarter and I would hope it continues: But I have been in
this business long enough to know I've never got that right."

Despite the strong financial showing, Mr. Peterson spent more time
fending off detractors of the company's environmental record than
he did discussing the balance sheet. A handful of dissenters,
including shareholders and a group of students backed by Canadian
churches, exhorted Imperial Oil to commit to the Kyoto Protocol to
reduce greenhouse gases and challenged the company to explore
production of alternative fuel sources.

"I find your remarks concerning global warming to be appallingly
irresponsible and if everybody has this attitude then this
country's doomed," fumed one proxy holder to mild applause.
Although the company sought to present itself as an
environmentally conscious corporate citizen -- right down to the
row of potted greenery skirting the front of the podium -- Mr.
Peterson refused to concede climate change was a certainty and
denounced the Kyoto Protocol as an "unworkable and inappropriate
public policy response" that would hamstring Canada's economy.

Evacuation procedures were even outlined prior to the meeting in
anticipation of demonstrations, though only about a dozen
protesters, including a group of elderly women dubbed the Raging
Grannies, wielded placards outside the Metro Toronto Convention
Centre. "This is the first time that I've seen them come with
students, but that's all right," Mr. Peterson said, who parried
politely with students. "I mean, I think it's delightful that
people get involved in our business and are interested in what is
going on in the economy, and so we welcome that." But the majority
of investors were no doubt satisfied with Imperial's fiscal
performance. The company's profit from natural resources climbed
$60-million to $282-million for the first quarter, stoked by
higher natural gas prices and increased production.

Some of these gains, however, were offset by lower prices for
bitumen and higher costs associated with purchased fuels. Net
earnings from petroleum products for the first quarter were $120-
million, up from $51-million for the same period last year, while
net income from chemical operations dwindled to just $1-million,
down from $18-million for the first three months of 2000. Shares
in Imperial Oil lost $1.30 yesterday to close at $40.15 in trading
on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

See also-
Financial Times:

LA Times
April 30, 2001

Americans are growing increasingly concerned about the environment
and believe that protecting it should take precedence over
economic development, according to a Los Angeles Times poll. The
nationwide survey found strong sentiment that pollution is getting
worse and that President Bush is on the wrong track on issues
ranging from global warming to wilderness protection to allowable
levels of arsenic in drinking water. The poll also found a broadly
held affinity for nature. More than seven out of 10 people said
they have visited a national park at some point in their lives and
nine in 10 said it is important that wilderness and open spaces be

Four in 10 claimed to be environmentally active in some fashion,
either donating time or money to environmental groups or getting
politically involved in environmental causes. The Times poll,
completed last week, compared a sampling of opinions nationwide
with environmental views in the Western states, where most of the
nation's public land and wilderness are located. There were few
policy disagreements, although people in the West tended to favor
more development and greater local control. Overall, the survey
found a broad green streak running the length of America, from the
California coast to the woods of Vermont. A 58%-34% majority said
that protecting plants and animals should take priority over
preserving personal property rights--a sentiment that held true
even in Alaska and the mountain West, places with a traditional
aversion to government control.

Somewhat surprisingly, given signs of a weakening economy, most
people tended to put a premium on preserving nature even if it
means creating fewer jobs. By 50% to 36%, those surveyed said
improving the environment should take priority even when it
conflicts with economic growth. The attitude cut across most
regional lines and even income levels, although support for the
environment tended to be stronger among the more affluent.

"I don't think the environment or natural things should be
destroyed just to get ahead," said Frank Sawyer, 46, of rural
Shermandale, Pa., one of several people contacted in follow-up
interviews. "There's plenty of think tanks out there that can come
up with an alternative solution other than destroying the natural
habitat, because once that's destroyed, it's never going to come

Distrust of Business' Motives
The survey also found a deep-seated suspicion of business and
doubts that corporations can be trusted to take good care of the
environment. In an era marked by distrust of government, by a
margin of more than 2 to 1 Americans said they believe businesses
will cut corners on environmental protection unless government
reins them in. That sentiment may explain why Bush, who generally
favors less regulation, received poor marks for his handling of
environmental issues. "It's in [businesses'] benefit to self-
police to the degree that they don't want to make themselves look
bad," said Rob Humphreys, 31, of Woodbridge, Va. "But to the
extent they can save money wherever possible I think they're going
to, which probably means cutting corners and not doing things to
the degree they should."

Overall, the survey suggests that Americans are more concerned
about the environment than they have been in years. A Times poll
in January 1998, for instance, found that just 2% of Americans
mentioned environmental issues as the most important problem
facing the nation. In the latest survey, 13% cited the environment
as their most pressing concern. Most people still ranked the
environment behind concerns about the economy, social issues,
crime and education.

Fifty-one percent said the county's environmental problems have
worsened over the last 10 years; 20% said things have gotten
better, and 25% said things have stayed about the same. Since
taking office, Bush has moved to review, weaken or undo a host of
President Clinton's environmental protection policies dealing with
global warming, air and water pollution, national forests and
national monuments. That may be working to Bush's detriment. While
the president enjoyed an overall 57% approval rating after his
first 100 days in office, the country was much less enthusiastic
over his handling of environmental issues: 41% approved and 38%

Opinions were harsher on a number of Bush's specific decisions.
The most controversial may be a move overturning a Clinton
administration ruling that would have reduced the level of arsenic
allowed in drinking water by 80%. Bush said the regulation was too
costly and vowed to find a less expensive way to deal with the
problem. However, by 56% to 34%, respondents opposed Bush's move.
Several people interviewed said they placed a priority on
protecting human health. "I'm 50 years old. I want to live at
least another 50," said Gerald Baca, a maintenance employee in
Duarte and a father of eight. "I've got kids. I want them to be

Americans also disagreed with Bush's decision to withdraw from the
Kyoto global warming treaty, by a substantial 59% to 21%.
Opponents of the treaty said the international effort to fight the
"greenhouse effect" could hurt the U.S. economy. Even though some
scientists dispute the severity and the causes of global warming,
68% of Americans deemed it a "serious" problem, with 60% blaming
it on human activities. Just 20% blamed it on natural climate
changes. The president also received poor marks for reversing a
campaign pledge to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power
plants, which many experts believe contribute to global warming.
Americans disagreed with that decision 54% to 34%.

Forty-five percent of those surveyed ascribed Bush's move to his
ties to the energy industry, which opposes the regulations. Bush
and Vice President Dick Cheney are both former oil industry
executives. Thirty-six percent supported Bush's action, taking the
position that he made the move for cost reasons and because of
insufficient evidence that carbon dioxide emissions cause global
warming. Strong majorities also supported greater protection of
public lands and wildlife. The Bush administration is calling for
new approaches that would weaken protection in both areas.

By 53% to 36%, Americans said they would like to see wolves and
grizzly bears restored to their natural Western habitat--a policy
initiated by the Clinton administration that has been called into
question by Bush. The Clinton plan was supported by 56% in the
Mountain West and 51% in Alaska. There was also strong support
both nationally (69%) and in the Mountain West (75%) for limiting
commercial activities in places where wolves and grizzly bears are
still living.

On another contentious issue, Clinton set aside millions of acres
of federal land as national monuments, declaring them off limits
to commercial uses such as mining, logging and off-road vehicles.
By 65% to 24%, a majority opposed rolling back those regulations.
The sentiment held firm even in the more conservative Western
states, with the exception of Alaska. Residents there opposed
Clinton's move 51% to 40%. A 58% majority supported Clinton's
decision to extend a ban on logging and road building to nearly 60
million acres of national forest; again, the sentiment was shared
in all regions, save for Alaska. Alaska also differed with the
rest of the country on perhaps the most contentious environmental
issue today: the president's proposal to drill for oil in the
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. A 65% to 34% majority of Alaskans
supported the proposal; nationally, sentiments are 55% to 34%
against. (Each Alaska resident receives an annual stipend derived
from oil revenues and mineral development.)

The Bush administration has also advocated oil and gas drilling in
the northern Rocky Mountains as a means of boosting the nation's
energy supply and reducing reliance on foreign sources. By 57% to
32% most Americans opposed that proposal, a sentiment shared in
the Western states that would be most directly affected.

New Supplies and Conservation Needed
But Americans were not unalterably opposed to drilling, mining or
logging anywhere on public lands: Only 4% favored an outright ban.
Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they support development
on a case-by-case basis. Similarly, while one in three doubt that
drilling can ever be done in an environmentally sensitive manner,
52% said they believed that drilling can be done with controls
that prevent harm. When it comes to the nation's energy needs, 15%
called for greater conservation efforts, 17% supported development
of new supplies and 61% said they favored both steps in equal

The survey showed that Americans feel a sense of ownership over
the nation's public lands: 61% said the federal government should
consider "the views of all Americans" when setting environmental
policies, while 34% said more attention should be paid to the
feelings of those living nearby. In Alaska and the Mountain West,
views differed somewhat. By a much narrower majority, 51% to 46%,
residents of the Mountain West said "all Americans" should have a
say in public land policies. In Alaska, however, a 54% to 40%
majority of residents said local people should have greater input.

Overall, by 56% to 31%, Americans said the federal government can
do a better job than private business in managing the national
parks. By 55% to 38% the public believes the government should
concentrate resources on upgrading parks rather than expansion.
The Bush administration has said that improving park roads and
buildings would be a priority. To help preserve the parks, 82%
backed a system requiring motorists to park their vehicles and use
public transportation to get around. And to better care for
national forests, 51% supported user fees. "The whole purpose of
being in a national park is to be present and one with nature,"
Rosemary Lloyd, a 21-year-old archeology student at Sonoma State
in Northern California. "Having a car separates you from nature."

The Times poll, under the supervision of Director Susan Pinkus,
interviewed 813 adults nationwide April 21-26. In addition, 512
Californians, 332 Oregonians, 322 Alaskans and 317 Washingtonians
were contacted, as were 553 residents in seven states of the
Mountain West: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, New
Mexico and Nevada. The margin of error for the national sample is
plus or minus 3.5 percentage points; for California and the
Mountain West it is 4 points and for Alaska, Oregon and Washington
it is 5.5 percentage points.

Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts will become the first state to limit
carbon dioxide emissions from power plants under clean-air rules
set to go into effect in June. The new standards unveiled Monday
by acting Gov. Jane Swift also will limit mercury emissions and
require deep cuts in emissions of sulfur dioxide, which causes
acid rain, and smog-causing nitrogen oxide. The regulations will
apply to the state's six dirtiest power plants, which produce 40
percent of the electricity used in Massachusetts.

"This sets the bar for any other state that is doing power plant
clean ups," said Conrad Schneider, a spokesman for Clean Air Task
Force, a national environmental advocacy group that monitors power
plant emissions. "And it sets the bar for the national debate for
what the level of reduction should be in federal legislation."

Proposals to limit carbon dioxide emissions surged onto the
national scene last month when Swift's fellow Republican,
President Bush, reversed a campaign pledge to push for carbon
dioxide power plant limits. "He and I, in this case, came to a
different conclusion," Swift said as she announced the new
Massachusetts regulations. Power plants would be required to cut
average carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent under the new
regulations. Many scientists believe such emissions are causing
the Earth to warm significantly.

Efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions have often presented a
political challenge for state officials because the reductions
have little direct impact locally. "I know that climate change is
a global problem -- but that does not mean we should sit around
and wait for global solutions," said state Environmental Affairs
Secretary Bob Durand. A spokesman for the Competitive Power
Coalition of New England, an industry group, said the strict rules
would lead to higher electric rates and increase the risk of
outages. Swift dismissed that prediction, noting that several new
power plants were planned for the region.

ABC News
April 26

The market for clean power is getting a kick-start from 10 large
companies that aim to buy enough renewable energy to power a mid-
sized city. Higher energy prices stemming from OPEC cutbacks in
crude oil output or California's disastrous experiment with energy
deregulation could have one positive result - they could hasten
the day that clean, renewable energy is commercially competitive.
And that day could come within the next decade, say renewable
energy advocates, as the declining price of electricity from
"green" sources intersects with rising prices from conventional
power plants.

Meanwhile, the market for clean power is getting a kick-start from
10 large companies, including IBM , General Motors , Kinko's and
DuPont . The companies have joined an effort called the Green
Power Market Development group to buy 1,000 megawatts of renewable
energy, enough to power a mid-sized city. The companies account
for 8 percent of all electricity consumption in the United States.

A Hedge Against Higher Prices
"That creates a significant demand for new sources of renewable
energy, considering it's just 10 companies," said Ben Paulos of
the Energy Foundation, a San Franciso-based partnership of major
foundations with an interest in sustainable energy. The 1,000
megawatt goal represents 7 percent of their current demand, said
Jennifer Finlay of the World Resources Institute. The Washington-
based nonprofit is organizing the green power initiative in tandem
with Business for Social Responsibility in San Francisco. The goal
is doable, but ambitious, Finlay said, given where the companies
are with their energy planning.

A reason for her optimism is that corporations no longer make
energy decisions solely on the basis of price. Big businesses see
diversification of their energy supplies as a hedge against
skyrocketing prices and scarce supplies, she said. And the 10
companies in the network want to be seen as proactive on issues
like climate change and energy use, she added, because
shareholders and advocacy groups increasingly demand corporate
practices that accommodate the environment. "They want to on the
cutting edge and push [green power] over the edge and into
competitiveness," she said. "Renewables have public relations
value, as well as clean air and climate benefits. So we're trying
to come up with a model to monetize these benefits" to make it
easier for the companies to justify purchases of energy powered by
windmills, solar cells and other earth-friendly technologies.

Letting Consumers Shop Around
The technologies are proved but commercial development involves
more than just harnessing the wind or tapping the sun. There are
policy-makers to influence, regulators to satisfy and consumers to
educate. Ultimately, the green power group's success in meeting
its goal depends on whether renewable energy is available at a
competitive price. The trends are auspicious, supporters say.
Natural gas prices have more than doubled in the past year while
the cost of green power continues to come down as new sources are
brought on line. Deregulation is the most powerful trend working
in green power's favor, said Paulos.

Deregulation generally opens the nation's electrical power grids
to additional suppliers. This gives a jolt to a new breed of
energy retailers that make their living off the ability of energy
consumers to shop around. Deregulation of energy markets has been
embraced by a number of states, starting with California in 1996.
The idea is to foster competition, or, as Paulos said, "get the
Sprints of the energy world to come in an compete with the AT and
Ts." Green Mountain Energy Co. of Austin, Texas, for instance, is
the nation's largest retailer of electricity from generated from
the wind and the sun, with residential customers in Connecticut,
California, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

'Wind Is the Star'
"Wind power is the star," said Paulos. Wind contributes 5,000
megawatts of electricity in the United States, only about 1
percent of all power production, according to the American Wind
Energy Association. But wind is the fastest-growing source of
electricity in the Great Plains, the Pacific Northwest and
California. The association says 5 percent of the nation's
electricity could be generated by wind turbines in 2020. Abetting
the development of wind power is a federal tax credit for owners
of wind stations. With the credit, the wind has become another
cash crop for farmers in windy Great Plains states willing to host
turbines on a relatively small portion of their land. "Wind power
is growing at a rate of 30 percent a year," Paulos said. "It's
suddenly a viable industry."

Supporters of green power worry the loss of the tax credit or a
loss of faith in deregulation following California's debacle will
derail clean energy development. But deregulation has shown that,
given the option, some consumers will choose clean energy, even
when it's not the cheapest alternative. With major corporations
gravitating toward that choice, green power supporters may have
reason to be optimistic.

April 26, 2001

BRUSSELS - New buildings throughout the European Union would have
to comply with minimum EU energy efficiency standards, under draft
legislation proposed by the European Commission yesterday. The
draft rules, which will now be discussed by the 15 EU governments
and the European Parliament, would oblige builders to respect the
standards when constructing new buildings and when renovating
existing ones of over 1,500 square metres, the Commission said.
The law would require all houses, flats and offices to have
certificates explaining their energy efficiency to potential
buyers or renters, and heating and cooling equipment would be
subject to regular inspections to ensure they are maintaining
their efficiency standards.

The law is aimed at reducing the EU's emissions of carbon dioxide,
the main "greenhouse gas" blamed for causing global warming, and
would impact on builders' choices of insulation, ventilation,
lighting and heating, the Commission said. Tougher energy
standards could achieve a 22 percent energy saving by the building
sector by 2010, the Commission estimates. The final text of the
draft law will be made public in the coming weeks after internal
wranglings in the Commission - the EU's executive - prevented its
publication yesterday, EU sources said.

A minority of the board of 20 EU Commissioners thought the draft
impinged too much on the right of individual countries to set
their own policies in the field so parts of the draft will be
subject to minor amendment, a Commission source said.

See also-
European Commission Web Site:

New York Times
April 24, 2001

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., April 20 - Some regions of the country are short
of electric power, and the price of natural gas, the most popular
fuel for new power plants, has doubled. Windmills look promising
but still produce only a tiny amount of power; solar power is even
less significant. Nuclear reactors are now so desirable that when
old ones go on sale, bidding wars have broken out. And the Bush
administration's energy plan, scheduled for release soon, is
expected to include strong support for new reactor construction.

Does that mean it is time to order new ones?
Not quite, according to a number of experts gathered at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology here to talk about the role
of technology in a time of growing electric demand and increased
concern about pollution. But after a 30-year hiatus, the time may
be drawing closer. "There's some change in the wind," said Charles
M. Vest, president of M.I.T., helping to open a two-day
International Symposium on the Role of Nuclear Energy in a
Sustainable Environment, sponsored by the university's Center for
Advanced Nuclear Systems. Experts from France, Japan, Russia and
the United States discussed designs that might be feasible in 30
years, or in 3 years. The group acknowledged obvious problems,
like the fact that this country has still not decided what to do
with reactor waste, but presumed that either a burial spot would
be found or plants would be built to break down the waste or reuse

The industry's trade association, the Nuclear Energy Institute,
has assembled a task force on new nuclear deployment, which has
met four times to draw up a business plan for new reactors.
Participants include five companies that either operate or have
recently bought plants - Dominion Resources of Virginia, Entergy
of New Orleans, Exelon of Chicago, Constellation Energy of
Maryland and the Southern Company of Georgia. Industry executives
say that the first new order for a reactor, if it comes, is likely
to be at a site where other plants are already operating and the
neighbors are used to a nuclear installation. As for what a new
plant might look like, a great deal has changed since 1973, when
the last plant that was not later canceled was ordered, and even
since 1996, when the last one was finished. Experts say the
designs or construction techniques of the 1970's are no more
likely to return than other wonders of that era, like the Boeing
727 or the Saturn V rocket.

One possibility is the "pebble bed" design, which circulates
uranium fuel pellets shaped like billiard balls through the
reactor and generates only about one-tenth as much heat per square
foot as a conventional reactor. As a result, supporters assert
that it cannot have a meltdown. The fuel balls in the pebble bed
design are replaced as needed, but the reactor never has to shut
down for refueling. The Exelon Corporation, which owns 17 reactors
in this country, joined a partnership with a South African
utility, Eskom, another South African company and BNFL, formerly
known as British Nuclear Fuels, to build one in South Africa.
Exelon has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to look at this
design, but has not announced plans to build one in the United

Other possible new designs range from simplified, refined versions
of the Westinghouse and General Electric models in service today
to the pebble bed. The regulatory commission approved new
Westinghouse and General Electric designs in the late 1990's, and
that, in itself, is a change; designs for the current generation
of plants were not approved until the plants were built, sometimes
leading to licensing delays.

The nuclear division of Westinghouse, now owned by BNFL, says that
its design has 60 percent fewer moving parts - with fewer pumps,
wires and pipes - and that there is less to build and less to go
wrong. It also has stairs in places where older designs had
ladders, to accommodate an aging nuclear power plant work force. A
new General Electric design is also meant to be simpler and safer.
In 1996 a utility in Japan completed a reactor that resembled the
design approved by American regulators. But other changes since
the 1970's do not bode well for new reactor construction. In those
days, the utilities that built generating stations were regulated
monopolies that could take on large projects with the assurance
that their customers would pay the price almost no matter what it

"Somebody else was paying for your mistakes," said David Lochbaum,
a nuclear reactor expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a
nonprofit safety group, who did not attend the meeting here. Now,
most power plants are built by unregulated suppliers that could be
bankrupted by the cost overruns that were common when the last of
the 103 reactors still running were completed.
The unregulated companies prefer plants that can be put up
quickly, with less financial risk.

Nuclear waste is a more pressing problem than when the first
plants were built. California, for example, has made it illegal to
begin new reactors until the waste problem is solved. In every
state, that will be an argument. The Energy Department was
supposed to begin accepting spent fuel from reactors in 1998, but
work on its proposed permanent repository, Yucca Mountain, near
Las Vegas, has been slow. So far scientists have not ruled on its
suitability. In addition, there are promising competitors,
including windmills and fuel cells. Even though President Bush's
budget proposes cuts in money available to research alternative
forms of energy, many researchers are pursuing new technologies.
And energy planners have been wrong for decades in prematurely
predicting the end of oil, gas and coal.

"When everybody in this room dies, fossil fuels are going to be
abundant and inexpensive," said Michael W. Golay, a nuclear
engineering professor here, to a gathering of about 40 nuclear
experts. Supporters say that with improved reliability and design,
the new generation of reactors will be less expensive to operate
than the competing sources of electricity, coal and natural gas.
But the numbers remain somewhat speculative. Still, the industry
is getting a second look, for some of the same reasons nuclear
power seemed attractive in the 1960's and 70's. Supporters argue
that fossil fuel supplies are limited, that the United States
should be developing technology to help the world electrify, and
that pollution, especially emissions linked to global climate
change, is a concern.

Still, the industry was not helped by Mr. Bush's decision to drop
the Kyoto accord on limiting carbon dioxide emissions. But another
recent development has helped: the rise in the price of natural
gas. About 90 percent of the plants built in the last 10 years use
natural gas, but in California last winter, the price of that fuel
reached $60 per million British thermal units, equivalent to oil
at about $350 a barrel, or about seven times the current price,
and some analysts expect it to stay in the range of $4 to $6 per
million B.T.U., up from $2 to $3 a year ago.

In response, some companies have announced plans to build coal-
burning plants, but these require costly pollution controls, and
even then, they will emit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides,
which cause acid rain and smog. The plants also produce carbon
dioxide, which may eventually be regulated as a contributor to
global climate change.

Environmental advocates call for investments in efficiency, and in
"renewable" sources like wind and solar, but so far those sources
are tiny compared with demand. The Chernobyl nuclear accident in
Ukraine was 15 years ago, and Three Mile Island was 22 years ago;
meanwhile, American reactors are operating with a record low level
of minor incidents, and producing more power than ever. Plants are
having their 40-year licenses extended for 20 years. The result,
said Paul Jaskow, a former chairman of the economics department at
M.I.T. and an expert on regulated industries, is that "there has
not been a better time for nuclear power in the last 25 years."
But Mr. Jaskow, analyzing the recent power plant sales and
separating the components, like long-term power purchase
agreements, trust funds for reactor decommissioning, and sale of
nuclear fuel, concluded, that "none of these deals even comes
close to covering the book costs."

"You couldn't justify paying $2,000 or $3,000 per kilowatt for
those plants," he said, referring to the price per unit capacity.
Supporters say they could build plants for about $1,000 per
kilowatt of capacity, but similar claims in the 1960's and 70's
were way off, and nearly bankrupted some utilities. The regulatory
commission has simplified the licensing procedure, to reduce the
possibility of lengthy delays, but industry experts are skeptical
because the new procedure has not been used. Investors would have
to expect a huge competitive benefit from nuclear plants to risk
putting money in a new one, Mr. Jaskow said, "because of the
significant possibility of coming up with a dry hole."

23 April 2001

The Surrey council got the sustainable development honour for a
setting up a series of small-scale local green energy systems.
Woking is trying to do its bit to tackle global warming. The
initiative saves the borough's council taxpayers £700,000 a year
or £20 per household. Woking has six generating sites so far,
which supply their localities with heat and electricity. It has
established a "private-wire" network, a mini distribution system
through which locally produced electricity can be sold direct to
customers  without having to go through the national grid.

The energy is generated through "combined heat and power" plants,
which run on natural gas. These recover heat as well as generating
electricity, providing efficiencies of up to 90 per cent  compared
with the national grid system which can be as low as 25 per cent
at the point of use. By using waste heat and small networks, which
reduce distribution loses, the energy is also cheaper.

Woking plans to introduce "fuel cell" technology, which works
without burning any fuel. The first fuel cell project, due for
completion next year, will support the heating and power for
Woking's park and its swimming pool complex. Councillor Rosemary
Johnson, chairman of the borough council, said: "We have worked
hard over many years to improve the environmental conditions for
the residents of the borough and make our contribution to the
government's international commitment to reduce harmful emissions.
For us efficiency makes economic sense."

To further these initiatives, Woking has formed a public-private
joint venture with a Danish company. It will finance, build and
operate the small-scale power stations, around Woking. The venture
is even considering taking the initiative to other parts of the
country. The council operates an innovative energy efficiency
fund, where financial savings achieved by energy and water
efficiency projects are ploughed back into a capital fund,
creating an ongoing recycled capital fund. This has led to total
investment of £2.2m in 85 projects in the last nine years from the
original capital fund of £250,000.

27 April 2001

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Canada, April 27, 2001 (ENS) - A plan
to build a natural gas pipeline to connect Vancouver Island in
Canada with Sumas power plant in Washington State has angered
environmental groups who say it will cause greenhouse gas
emissions to soar. The plan is known as the Georgia Strait
Crossing (GSX) Project, after the stretch of water separating
Vancouver Island and the North American mainland. It involves
Canada's third largest electric utility BC Hydro and Houston,
Texas based Williams, one of America's largest-volume transporters
of natural gas.

Earlier this week, both companies made the plan official by filing
applications with their respective countries' regulatory bodies.
In Canada, this is the National Energy Board, in the United
States, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If approved, the
US$159 million (C$240 million) GSX project would see a 20 inch
pipe extend roughly 52 kilometers (33 miles) from Sumas, near the
Canadian border, passing near the communities of Lynden, Ferndale,
and Birch Bay. From the U.S. shoreline, a 16 inch pipeline would
travel about 66 kilometers (41 miles) underwater across the Strait
of Georgia, through Boundary Pass and the Satellite Channel, in
water depths of up to 320 meters (1050 feet), to a landfall near
Hatch Point on Vancouver Island. The pipeline would then travel 16
kilometers (10 miles) inland to interconnect with an existing
natural gas transmission system northwest of Shawnigan Lake.

In the U.S., the pipeline would provide an additional source of
natural gas to meet future industrial and residential needs in
Washington state. North of the border, B.C. Hydro says it needs
the pipeline for several reasons. Vancouver Island is remote from
mainland hydroelectric resources and B.C. Hydro's facilities on
the Island meet only 20 percent of Island customers' needs. The
other 80 percent of electricity is transported from the mainland
via submarine cable transmission systems crossing the Georgia
Strait. Demand for electricity on Vancouver Island is forecast to
grow by about 1.8 percent per year over the next 15 years.

One of the submarine cable transmission systems now carrying
electricity to Vancouver Island is nearing the end of its service
life and an older low capacity cable system to Vancouver Island
has been relegated to standby status because it can no longer be
relied upon to provide firm capacity. The company says natural
gas-fired, combined-cycle gas turbine facilities are the most
reliable, cost effective way of meeting Vancouver island's
electricity needs. The Island Cogeneration Project in Campbell
River and the proposed Port Alberni Generation Project will
replace the lost transmission capacity and meet Vancouver Island's
growing need for electricity, says the company.

The combined natural gas requirements of these two projects is the
reason behind the GSX project. "We recognize that natural gas is
not a perfect energy solution, but it is the best option we have
at this time," reads a company statement. "In fact, we view
natural gas as a bridge to the future, where green energy
technologies will be added to the province's energy mix." B.C.
Hydro claims its research and development team is examining the
potential of using wind, small hydro and woodwaste to power part
of the province's and Vancouver Island's future.

At least two environmental groups want the GSX project scrapped.
"B.C. Hydro's natural gas strategy makes a mockery of the
province's claims to be managing greenhouse gas emissions," said
Sierra Club of B.C. executive director, Bill Wareham. "Our
provincial leaders - of any party - cannot hide behind the federal
review process," said Tom Hackney, GSX campaigner for Sierra Club
of B.C. "Let's not allow them to hide behind B.C. Hydro. The B.C.
government is responsible for Hydro and for Hydro's energy
strategy. The B.C. government could cancel GSX tomorrow. GSX means
bringing on climate change faster. This needs to be stopped."

Gerry Scott, director of the Vancouver based David Suzuki
Foundation's climate change campaign, said B.C. Hydro should be
investing in renewable energy, conservation and energy efficiency
to help save consumers money, while addressing climate change
caused by burning natural gas. "This is a misguided plan that will
cause more air pollution, more global warming and will expose
consumers to volatile natural gas prices," said Scott. "B.C. Hydro
must instead focus on alternative energy projects that make more
sense environmentally and are cheaper than gas."

The groups claim that if the GSX project and its associated gas
power projects are approved, B.C. Hydro's greenhouse gas emissions
would rise from present levels of about 2.7 million metric tonnes
of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per year to about 7 million
metric tonnes per year by 2010. CO2 equivalent measures the global
warming effects of all greenhouse gases in the terms of the
estimated amounts of CO2 that would have an equivalent effect.
This, the groups say, would increase greenhouse gas emissions for
the province of B.C. by seven per cent, all but wiping out
emission reductions committed to under the B.C. government's
Climate Change Action Plan announced last year.

Compared to other commonly used fossil fuels, such as coal,
natural gas produces half the greenhouse gas and even fewer local
air emissions, argues B.C. Hydro. When natural gas is used to fuel
combined cycle turbines, it is the most efficient way to produce
electricity using fossil fuels. Combined cycle turbines will be
used to meet the majority of Vancouver Island's and the province's
future electricity demands over the next decade, it says. Subject
to regulatory and environmental reviews and subsequent approval on
both sides of the border, work on the pipeline could begin by the
fall of 2002 with service beginning a year later. To find out more
about the GSX Project, see

BBC News
26 April, 2001

UK scientists say a thousand years' climate records show the last
three decades were the millennium's warmest. They also conclude
that natural phenomena like El Nino are unlikely to have caused
the unprecedented recent warming. Their findings strengthen the
argument that climate change is not produced by natural causes
alone. The scientists are Professor Phil Jones, Dr Tim Osborn, and
Dr Keith Briffa, all from the Climatic Research Unit at the
University of East Anglia. They report their work in the journal
Science. Their analysis included instrumental and documentary
records, and also other "proxies" of past climate variability -
evidence from tree rings, corals and ice cores.

Warmest century
For the northern hemisphere, their temperature reconstructions
show that "the recent 30-year period is likely to have been the
warmest (about 0.2 degrees Celsius above the 1961 to 1990 average)
of the millennium, with the warmest century (by about 0.1 degrees
C) likely to have been the 20th". The authors say the first half
of the millennium was milder than the 1500 to 1900 period. The
coolest century was the 17th., followed by the 19th., with a
milder interval between. They add that their work provides some
support for the idea that there were two epochs in the last
millennium, the medieval warm period, spanning roughly 900 to
1200, and the little ice age from about 1550 to 1900.

The authors say: "The southern hemisphere temperature
reconstructions are shorter and less reliable; they do indicate
cooler conditions before 1900, but not the same inter-centennial
variation evident in the north. "The average shows greater recent
warming than earlier in the 20th century, and there is no evidence
of the slight 1945 to 1975 cooling seen over many northern
hemisphere land areas. "Instrumental data from Antarctica show a
temperature rise until the early 1970s, with little change since

Greatest warming
Professor Jones said: "The accuracy of records for the first half
of the millennium is sometimes queried. We have calculated errors,
and the picture is clearer. All records show that the 20th century
experienced the greatest warming of the millennium. "Examining
this broad span of records from all parts of the world, we see
that the North Atlantic Oscillation, which is responsible for the
UK's recent milder, wetter winters, has behaved in this unusual
way before, notably in the 1730s, the mid-19th century, and the
early 1900s. "Similarly, we find elevated activity of El Nino
events in some earlier periods. Some people have attributed global
warming to these two phenomena. But the records show that their
past activity did not result in significant warming."

No freeze
The scientists say it is important to recognise the dangers of
taking documentary sources at face value. They say accounts of the
Thames freezing over in the past are often cited as proof that
winters were colder then. But they say a significant factor in the
freezing of the river was the way the old London Bridge was built
with a number of piers, encouraging a process known as "ponding".
In the winter of 1962/63, the third coldest since 1659, the river
did not freeze at all. There has been no complete freezing since
the bridge was rebuilt to a different pattern between 1825 and

Professor Jones told BBC News Online: "Our work is part of the
jigsaw, narrowing down the range of possible past climates. It
shows that it is more likely that the underlying trend in global
warming is the result of human influence."

Science Daily

April 24, 2001 -- Scientists know that atmospheric concentrations
of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide have risen sharply in
recent years, but a study released today in Paris reports a
surprising and dramatic increase in the most important greenhouse
gas - water vapor - during the last half-century. The buildup of
other greenhouse gases (those usually linked with climate change)
is directly attributable to human activity, and the study
indicates the water vapor increase also can be traced in part to
human influences, such as the buildup of atmospheric methane.
However, other causes not directly related to humans must also be
at work, said Philip Mote, a University of Washington research
scientist who is one of seven lead authors on the report.

"Half the increase in the stratosphere can be traced to human-
induced increases in methane, which turns into water vapor at high
altitudes, but the other half is a mystery," said Mote. "Part of
the increase must have occurred as a result of changes in the
tropical tropopause, a region about 10 miles above the equator,
that acts as a valve that allows air into the stratosphere."
Readings of water vapor increases 3 to 10 miles up are more
ambiguous, Mote said. The international study, produced by 68
scientists in seven countries as part of the World Climate
Research Programme, examined only the changes at higher altitudes,
3 to 30 miles above sea level.

Although carbon dioxide has been relatively easy to monitor and
increases have been observed since the 1950s, water vapor has
proven much more difficult to monitor. The new effort for the
first time was able to draw conclusions about the behavior of
water vapor based on a large number of measurements during a long
period of time. The report covered both the upper troposphere (3
to 10 miles high), where trends are harder to detect, and the
stratosphere (10 to 30 miles high). "A wetter and colder
stratosphere means more polar stratospheric clouds, which
contribute to the seasonal appearance of the ozone hole," said
James Holton, UW atmospheric sciences chairman and expert on
stratospheric water vapor. "These trends, if they continue, would
extend the period when we have to be concerned about rapid ozone

Atmospheric heating happens when the Earth's atmosphere and
surface absorb solar radiation, while cooling occurs when thermal
infrared radiation escapes the atmosphere and goes into space. If
certain key gases that absorb and emit infrared radiation, the
most important being water vapor and carbon dioxide, were not
present in the atmosphere, Earth's temperature would cool to minus
19 degrees celsius, or minus 2 degrees Fahrenheit. The global
annual mean temperature is 14 degrees celsius.

Key findings of the water vapor assessment are: * Ground-based,
balloon, aircraft and satellite measurements show a global
stratospheric water vapor increase of as much as 2 parts per
million by volume in the last 45 years, a 75 percent jump. *
Modelling studies by the University of Reading in England show
that since 1980 the stratospheric water vapor increase has
produced a surface temperature rise about half of that
attributable to increased carbon dioxide alone. * Methane, which
has been increasing in the atmosphere since the 1950s, could be
contributing to the water vapor increase. Chemical conversion of
methane to water vapor occurs in the stratosphere but can only
account for at most half of the water vapor increase.

A satellite record of relative humidity data for the upper
troposphere shows a 2 percent increase during the last 20 years in
the equatorial region. However, the uncertainty in this
determination is too large to allow a clear conclusion as to
whether this is part of a long-term trend. Among other things, the
report recommends continuing to launch balloons monthly from
Boulder, Colo., as a means to measure water vapor, a low-cost
effort that nevertheless faces possible discontinuation. The
balloon measurements, dating from 1981, are the only continuous
record of water vapor. Holton said the report is significant
because, by careful comparison, it largely has resolved
contradictions in measurements among a number of instruments.

See also--

April 27, 2001

OTTAWA, Canada (Reuters) -- A team of Canadian scientists will
launch an international expedition next week to extract a long
needle of ice from a giant haystack of a mountain that will reveal
the secrets of 10,000 years of climate change. The Geological
Survey of Canada said on Thursday its ice-core expedition will see
scientists climb Mount Logan -- Canada's highest peak at 5,959
meters (19,550 feet) and the second highest in North America -- in
the isolated St. Elias ice fields that straddle the border of the
Yukon Territory and Alaska.

"What we're going for on this expedition is the big story, the
long story, the 10,000-year record," said Don Lemmen, chief of
environmental geology at Natural Resources Canada. Two Canadian
scientists will battle snow storms and bone-chilling temperatures
to scale the snow-covered peak -- also the world's largest massif
-- in May and June. They will drill into it sideways near its top
until they reach bedrock to pull out a tube of ice measuring 225
meters (738 ft) -- the longest sample yet taken from Logan and the
first time such an extensive study will be conducted on a
geographical feature located so near the Pacific Ocean.

"The real issue that we're trying to address is: how does the
climate vary naturally, and what influence human beings have now
and into the future?" Lemmen said. The tube will be cut into one-
meter slices that will be cached on the frozen mountain until next
spring, when they will be brought down and carried by refrigerated
trucks and airplanes to laboratories in Ottawa. Scientists from
the United States, Japan and Sweden are participating in the study
and will look at snow samples as well as pollen, aerosols and
volcanic ash deposited onto the massif from the atmosphere over
thousands of years.

Climate change, in particular global warming, has fast become a
huge environmental issue as worries grow over the effects of
chemicals used by humans on the earth's atmosphere. Mount Logan
constitutes the perfect ice museum because its distance from human
habitation has saved it from exposure to civilization, save for
the handful of climbers who try to reach its summit each summer.
"Glaciers are a really unique archive," Lemmen said.

But even in summertime the conditions are inhospitable to say the
least, with frequent storms and nighttime temperatures dropping to
-30 C (-22 F). The base camp at 2,800 meters (9,186 ft), and two
camps for scientists at higher elevations, will be far from where
weary mountain climbers have trudged to reach the peak of the
mountain -- so deep in the ice field they can be seen only from an
airplane of reached by expert mountaineers.

Scientists have previously taken ice cores from Greenland and
Canada's eastern Arctic, but have yet to study climate change on
the Pacific Ocean side of North America -- from where many North
American weather influences emerge. The last time an ice core was
taken from Logan was in 1980, but technology has improved to allow
scientists to extract as large a sample as the one planned.
"Logan's a pretty Pacific creature," said David Fisher, principal
investigator on the expedition. "It's the only place that will see
a good Pacific record."

The possibility exists that volcanic ash could be found from
eruptions in 4000 BC in Alaska's Aleutian range, or that airborne
pollen from Siberia, China or Japan may also be detected,
scientists said. Summit leader Mike Dumuth, who has scaled Mount
Logan several times, said the expedition will provide many
challenges -- thin high-altitude air, low temperatures and
increased ultraviolet radiation at the higher elevation. "You're
freezing your feet but you're getting sunburned at the same time,"
Dumuth said. Mount Logan became the center of controversy when the
ruling Liberal party announced it would change the name of the
peak, named after geologist Sir William Logan, to Pierre Trudeau
after the Liberal prime minister who died last October. The
Liberals quietly dropped the plan because of public opposition to
the name-change.

Science Daily

Livermore, Calif. - Researchers in Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory's Atmospheric Science Division have demonstrated a
cooling of up to 2-degree Fahrenheit over land between 1000 and
1900 AD as a result of changes from natural vegetation, such as
forests, to agriculture. Through climate model simulations, the
LLNL research team made up of Bala Govindasamy, Ken Caldeira and
Philip Duffy, determined that a previously recognized cooling
trend up to the last century could, in part, be attributed to the
land-use change.

Previous studies had attributed cooling to natural climate
variations. The Livermore research, however, suggests that much of
this cooling could have been the result of human activity. Forests
tend to look dark from the sky, but agricultural lands, with their
amber waves of grain, tend to look much lighter. Dark colors tend
to absorb sunlight, and light colors tend to reflect sunlight back
out to space. Changing from forests to crops results in more
sunlight reflected back to space. This reflection of solar energy
to space tends to cool the Earth, especially in regions such as
the eastern and mid-western United States, where huge tracts of
land have been converted to crops. In the 20th century, some of
this cropland has been reverting back to forest, especially in the
eastern United States.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the 20th century likely overcame any
cooling trends that took place up to that time. Growing more trees
has been suggested as a way to soak up carbon dioxide, a
greenhouse gas, from the atmosphere. However, earlier studies
demonstrate that growing dark forests could actually heat the
earth's surface more because dark colors tend to absorb more
sunlight, despite the uptake of carbon dioxide.

"The Earth land surface has cooled by about 0.41 K (= by about 3/4
of a degree Fahrenheit) due to the replacement of dark forests by
lighter farms growing wheat, corn, etc.," said Caldeira, a climate
model researcher who also is co-director for the Department of
Energy's Center for Research on ocean carbon sequestration. "This
is an example of inadvertent geoengineering -- we changed the
reflectivity of the Earth and have probably caused a global
cooling in the past. This is now probably being overwhelmed by our
greenhouse gas emissions."

The research, published in the Geophysical Research Letters, also
shows a slight increase in the annual means of global and Northern
Hemisphere sea ice volumes in association with the cooling. The
simulated annual average cooling due to land-use change during
this period is almost a half a degree Fahrenheit globally, 0.66 °F
for the Northern Hemisphere and .74 °F over land.

In the simulations, land use data for 1000 AD uses potential
natural vegetation, made up mainly of forests, while data for the
1900 AD period uses standard current vegetation data, which is a
mix of forest and croplands, taken from the Community Climate
Model developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
The greenhouse gas levels in both simulations are in
concentrations taken at pre-industrial levels. "The estimated
temperature change in the continental United States as a result of
change from forests to agriculture is up to a 2-degree Fahrenheit
cooling," Caldeira said. "So, when we talk about global warming,
we can no longer take for granted that this global warming is
starting from some natural climate state, undisturbed by human

Founded in 1952, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is a
national nuclear security laboratory, with a mission to ensure
national security and apply science and technology to the
important issues of our time. The National Nuclear Security
Administration's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is managed
by the University of California.


Greenhouse gases are the main reason why the northern hemisphere
is warming quicker during wintertime months than the rest of the
world, according to new computer climate model results by NASA
scientists. Climatologists consider volcanic aerosols, polar ozone
depletion, solar radiation and greenhouse gases to be important
factors in climate warming. NASA scientists input all of these
factors in a climate model and concluded that greenhouse gases are
the primary factor driving warmer winter climates in North
America, Europe and Asia over the last 30 years. They found that
greenhouse gases, more than any of the other factors, increase the
strength of the polar winds that regulate northern hemisphere
climate in winter.

Using a computer model that simulates climate through interactions
of ocean and atmosphere, scientists input current and past levels
of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor
and nitrous oxide. They found that greenhouse gases such as those
increase the strength of polar wind circulation around the North
Pole. The polar winds play a large role in the wintertime climate
of the northern hemisphere. The winds blow from high up in the
stratosphere down to the troposphere and eventually the Earth's

When they strengthen, as they do from increases in greenhouse
gases, they blow stronger over the warm, moist oceans picking up
and transporting warmer air to the continents. Thus, warm air from
the Pacific Ocean warms western North America, and the Atlantic
Ocean warmth is shared with Eurasia. When winds are stronger,
winters are warmer because air picks up heat as the winds blow
over the oceans. When winds become weak, winters become colder.
The findings by Drew Shindell, Gavin Schmidt, and other
atmospheric scientists from NASA's Goddard Institute for Space
Studies and Columbia University appeared in the April 16 issue of
the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres.

Shindell noted that increases in greenhouse gases make the
stronger polar winds last longer into the springtime and
contribute to a warmer early spring climate in the northern
hemisphere. The stronger wind circulation around the North Pole
creates a large temperature difference between the pole and the
mid-latitudes. Shindell noted that the Southern Hemisphere isn't
affected by increasing greenhouse gases the same way, because it's
colder and the polar wind circulation over the Antarctic is
already very strong.

"Surface temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere have warmed
during winter months up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit over the last
three decades, over 10 times more than the global annual average
0.7 degree Fahrenheit," says Shindell. "Warmer winters will also
include more wet weather in Europe and western North America, with
parts of western Europe the worst hit by storms coming off the
Atlantic." Year-to-year changes in the polar winds are quite
large, according to Shindell. But over the past 30 years, we have
tended to see stronger winds and warming, indicative of
continually increasing greenhouse gases.

Shindell looked at volcanic activity from 1959 to 2000 and
identified volcanically active and non-active years. The
researchers concluded that because volcanic forcing is
intermittent and decays rapidly, it seems unlikely to have
contributed greatly to the long-term observed warming trend. Large
volcanic eruptions such as Mount Pinatubo in 1991 inject aerosols
into the atmosphere and have a global cooling effect during the
years following an eruption.

Also included in the model were the 11-year solar cycle and the
effects of solar radiation on stratospheric ozone. Schmidt noted
that long-term changes in solar irradiance have influenced the
upper atmosphere. "However, it is unlikely that solar variability
has been responsible for much of the observed trend in increasing
the polar winds," Schmidt said. Because the upper polar atmosphere
becomes colder when ozone is depleted, the winds circling the pole
are slightly enhanced.

"However," Shindell noted, "greenhouse gases have the biggest
impact on the strengthening of the polar winds, and in turn, the
warming of the northern hemisphere during winter months." Shindell
said that the warming trend would likely continue over the next 30
years as greenhouse gases continue to increase in the atmosphere.
- By Cynthia O'Carroll

The Independent
May 1, 2001

Krill are minute crustaceans on which the "food web" supporting
life in the Antarctic seas depends. Scientists are concerned about
the effects of global warming on krill populations, as a decline
in krill would have a knock-on effect on the whales, seals and
Arctic ice fish which feed on them. But how is it possible to
monitor the numbers of tiny creatures which live under the
Antarctic ice? Enter the autosub, a remote-controlled mini-
submarine which runs on U2 batteries. OU science lecturer Mark
Brandon is one of a team of nine scientists who have just spent a
month using the autosub, which belongs to the Government- funded
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), to survey the
Antarctic seabed.

"Autosub is an amazing tool," said Mark. "You just programme it,
deploy it from a ship and then try to look relaxed while you hope
it comes back. Of course it always did, and every time carrying a
unique data set. "When you go in with ships to investigate the
environment you stir everything up and don't really find out what
the environment is like." The sub is fitted with an echosounder
emitting pulses of sound. Equipment records reflections from the
sound which gives data on both the ice thickness and the type and
quantity of krill feeding off the underside of icebergs.

The autosub is autonomous and usually navigated by regular
resurfacing to take readings from the Global Positioning
Satellite. This was not possible on this expedition and scientists
were glad to see it get back in one piece, having tested it under
thin sea ice on the ten short missions carried out while Mark was
there. The team devised a system of calculating where the sub
should surface by taking into account sea and air currents which
affected the sub's speed and also the movement of the icebergs.
Sophisticated systems used by submarines and aeroplanes cost
pounds 700,000 each to install, so they had to find a cheaper
method. The sub only had one mini-bump with an iceberg, which was
soon rectified by the attending team of design engineers.

Currently the krill are being fished by Russians and others for
food and fertiliser uses. The data Mark and the team discover will
help governments to set a total allowable catch quota to ensure
there are enough krill left to maintain the ecosystem. Mark and
his team are excited by the date they have collected. "The bottom
line is we were very, very successful. Over the duration of the
expedition we collected 480 kilometres of under-ice data and,
along the way, we also made what we believe are the first
measurements of the bottom topography of Antarctic icebergs. In
realistic terms though we have basically just kissed the edge of
the ice."

The ultimate aim is to explore beneath the polar ice shelves which
can be several hundred metres thick. The ice can reach 20 million
square kilometres in winter. Mark says: "There is so little we
know about the Antarctic and it is also changing so quickly, which
is a really scary thing."

April 23, 2001

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) -- In an early warning to the rest of
the world, Australia's snowy alpine regions are shrinking and
could disappear in 70 years because of global warming, Australian
scientists say. "In Australia we could have the complete loss of
the alpine ecosystems within the next 70 years," said botanist
John Morgan in La Trobe University's latest campus magazine. A La
Trobe study found that sub-alpine trees in the Snowy Mountains
have started growing 40 meters (130 feet) higher than they had in
the past 25 years as a result of global warming.

"Australia's mountains are just at the limit of alpine, so changes
could happen very dramatically here. We may be any early warning
system for the rest of the world," said Morgan. Australia's
mountains are low by world standards, with only 100 to 200 meters
(328-656 feet) separating the tree-line from the top of some
mountains. Yet there are more than 250 species of alpine plants
growing in the restricted habitat. Morgan said the amount and
duration of snow was crucial for the survival of alpine
vegetation, with some plants dependent on banks of snow not
melting until late in the spring.

La Trobe scientists say Australia's Snowy Mountains sub-alpine
forest are 300 to 500 years old, suggesting the forest had been
stable for centuries. "We are now starting to see movement in the
trees. They are now establishing and growing 30 and 40 meters from
the existing tree-line. Every year since 1975 new snow gums have
established where they were previously absent," Morgan said.

Morgan said the movement of sub-alpine trees higher up the
mountains supported evidence that global warming was changing the
pattern of vegetation in the world's alpine regions. The demise of
Australia's alpine ecosystem would mean the end of a small but
thriving ski industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars a
year. Australia's highest peak is the 2,228-meter (7,310 feet)
Mount Kosciuszko.

See also--
The Age:

Japan Times
Apr. 27, 2001

The effects of global warming have become visible in ecosystems
around the country, according to the latest research released
Thursday by an advisory group to the Environment Ministry. From
plants in Hokkaido to dragonflies, butterflies and other insects
around the nation, subtle changes in the distribution and behavior
of plants and animals are manifestations of a warming climate,
according to the report. The 10-chapter report elaborates on the
known and predicted effects of global warming for Japan. It is the
first time the domestic impact of global warming has been
officially documented and the most comprehensive assessment of the
effects of rising temperatures, officials said.

The report forecasts an average temperature rise of 4 degrees for
southern Japan, and 5 degrees for the nation's northern half,
compared with a world average jump of 3.6 degrees. A rise of
between 1 degree and 2.5 degrees was predicted five years ago.
These increases are expected to threaten the existence of flora
and fauna inhabiting high elevations and to alter the planting
times for farmers -- earlier in the north and later in the south.
The decrease of snow cover is also expected to alter ecosystems.

The report also addresses the effect of pests, predicting they
will gradually move north and reproduce more often, while typhoons
are likely to bring more rain and stronger winds. "It looks like
global warming is starting to affect the more fragile ecosystems,"
said Hideo Harasawa, editor of the report and a scientist at the
National Institute for Environmental Studies. "We are seeing
things now that we thought would happen in the future."

30 April 2001

For the last 4,500 years, the windswept landscape of the Shetland
Islands has been devoid of woods and forests. Over scores of
centuries, due to a deterioration in climate and human
interference, the once-rich woodland has declined and only a few
trees remain. Now, thanks to readers of The Independent on Sunday,
planting is about to begin on a new forest, the first since the
Ice Age. Our 6,000 trees will be on the outskirts of the capital,
Lerwick. The site, which is open moorland, is on the edge of a
loch to the south. When the forest is fully grown, the trees will
form a carefully crafted backdrop to the nearby prehistoric fort
and broch  a round stone tower. The planting is the culmination of
a year's planning, and the result of our successful Future Forests

The drive was launched in February last year, when we bought 750
trees, the number we needed to offset the amount of carbon dioxide
The Independent on Sunday produces in one year, thereby making us
"carbon neutral". The theory is simple: trees convert carbon
dioxide, one of the greenhouse gases associated with global
warming, into harmless carbon and oxygen. Fifteen trees are enough
to neutralise the amount of carbon dioxide the average person
produces in a year. The campaign proved so successful that our
planting partner, the environmental task force Future Forests,
received more than £17,000 in donations from our readers, enough
to establish two woods. Over last year, the first of these two
areas of woodland was planted at the St Paul's interchange in
Bristol, where 60,000 cars rush past on the M32 corridor towards
the M4 every day. The 3,500 trees are flourishing. Now, its sister
forest is about to be planted in an area which could hardly be
more different.

On the remote islands, the new forest will be largely of downy
birch, but will include aspen, alder, rowan, willow, hazel, ash,
oak and elm. The saplings have been imported from places where the
environment and soil are compatible with those of the island,
including Iceland, Orkney and Caithness. The aspens, which are
native to the islands and were once in abundance there, have been
grown via a process of micro-propagation at a laboratory in
Leicester, after samples were taken from the few still standing on
the island. They are part of a larger initiative to reintroduce
native species to Shetland.

Future Forests has now planted almost a million trees across the
country since Dan Morrell founded the initiative in 1995. A number
of large companies, including EMI records, Mazda, Avis and the
RAC, have invested in the scheme, as have a collection of
celebrity supporters including the Pet Shop Boys, Lenny Kravitz
and Atomic Kitten. But as Mr Morrell points out, the policy of
going carbon neutral is not in itself a solution to the problem of
global warming. "We are simply heightening people's awareness of
sustainability," he said. "Planting trees isn't the ultimate
answer  it is just the most effective way of soaking up emissions
that already exist.

"A forest is a tangible thing. We want to use it as an icon to get
people to look seriously at other ways to reduce pollution. Global
warming is the most significant thing that has threatened

* Readers can still buy trees in the first 'Independent on Sunday'
Forest at Bristol. Contact Future Forests on 0870 2411932 or at

April 30, 2001

AMIENS, France -- Three giant water pumps have been drafted in to
help deal with floods that first hit northern France a month ago.
Almost 3,000 households have been affected by the floods which are
the most severe to hit the Picardie region since 1920. In
Abbeville, where three-quarters of homes have been hit by
flooding, high tides and daily rain are keeping the swirling
waters up to shoulder level in some places. The pumps, which can
each move about 15,000 cubic metres (530,000 cubic feet) of water
per hour, began operation on Monday.

But with many experts warning it could take several months for
water levels to subside, some residents say action is being taken
too late. Financed by the local council, the pumps will keep water
flowing out of the river even when the sluice gates have to be
closed at high tide. About 270 soldiers and scores of local
volunteers have been mobilised in and around Amiens to build and
shore up dykes. Others are being used to ferry around by boat
those residents who are refusing to leave the area and take meals
to homes left without electricity and hot water.

Frustrated locals lashed out at Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
during his visit earlier this month to Abbeville. They accused the
authorities of diverting floodwaters from the Paris basin to
preserve the capital's bid to hold the 2008 Olympic Games. Jospin
denied the allegations, saying the cause of the flooding was "the
exceptional rainfall." "Who do you imagine has the possibility, in
Paris, to decide to flood a region?" Jospin pointed out that the
Somme River was not physically connected to the Seine and so
closing Paris's floodgates to divert the water would not have
helped, he said.

April 30

LA CROSSE, Wis. (Reuters) - The Mississippi River, out if its
banks in a three-week flood across parts of four upper Midwestern
states, bedeviled waterlogged river cities on Monday as another
surge of water coursed downstream. The National Weather Service
(news - web sites) said the swollen river reached a second crest
at La Crosse on Monday slightly lower than an earlier high mark
set last week. Heavy rains at the northern end of the watershed a
week ago caused the latest rise. The new crest was expected to
hold through about Wednesday, after which the river will fall
slowly, forecaster said.

``It's kind of status quo right now,'' said Tony Huchins of the La
Crosse Public Works Department. ``Our problem is that the longer
the river stays up the more the ground water reacts to it. So
we're getting more basements with seepage and that puts an
additional burden on our sanitary system.'' The flood stage at La
Crosse is 12 feet, a mark the river passed at the city on April
12. Monday's crest was nearly 4 feet over flood stage.

Downstream at Davenport, Iowa, the river was falling slowly and
forecasters said there would be no second crest -- just a slowdown
in the rate at which the river falls from the high point reached
last week. ``We're ready for the clean-up,'' said Jennifer Nara in
the mayor's office. ``We're getting ready to reopen some streets
and we've got crews ready to go.'' For many communities in
Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois the flooding was the
second highest ever recorded.

Apr 23 2001

IQALUIT - Scientists attending a climate change summit in Canada's
Arctic say most people don't know how the region affects them,
even though the effects of rapid climate change there will be felt
all over the globe. Many of the 200 delegates to the International
Arctic Sciences Summit Week currently under way in Iqaluit,
Nunavut, say research on climate change in the Arctic has to move
quickly. "We just have to get out there faster," said Peter
Rhines, a professor of oceanography at the University of

Rhines says the state of the Canadian Arctic is critical for the
rest of the world, and delays in setting research up in the far
north would be a mistake. "What I'm afraid is that by the time we
get our Arctic Canadian array set out that that system is going to
be hopelessly changed," he said. But getting the support required
to get scientific research under way in the Arctic is a problem,
partly because many don't understand how important it is, says
David Malcolm, a special adviser with the Department of Indian and
Northern Affairs.

"The people of Canada generally don't know what's going on in the
Arctic and don't realize how much it affects their daily lives,"
said Malcolm. "For example, the weather systems that cause extreme
events in Eastern Canada originate in the Arctic." Getting
northern issues on the agenda is difficult, he says, because the
small number of voters in the Arctic have little political clout.
Scientists representing 17 countries are spending the week
discussing a range of topics, including the impact of climate

A research team composed of health scientists from academia,
government, and private industry has released its assessment on
climate change health impacts in the US. The report makes clear
that if the US is to be prepared to meet the increased health
challenges posed by global climate change, it must improve the
nation's public health infrastructure, better protect vulnerable
populations, and increase research efforts to fill crucial
knowledge gaps about the connections between climate and health.
The assessment, mandated by Congress and sponsored by the USEPA,
was led jointly by scientists at the Johns Hopkins University
Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC). For more information see:

Climate Change Central announces a request for proposals for the
delivery of an Emissions Trading Simulation that will allow
Alberta organizations the opportunity to gain hands-on experience
in trading greenhouse gases in a virtual trading environment.
Alberta will host Canada's first greenhouse-gas-emissions trading
simulation event. Participants will be able to assess the impact
of different greenhouse gas policies on Alberta organizations
operating within the North American and global marketplace.
Interested parties should refer to Climate Change Central's
website at For more
information see:

April 25, 2001

By John Lanchbery

Not only has President George Bush distorted science and reneged
on commitments made by his father, but his refusal to tackle
climate change is a counsel of despair. Bush has given three main
reasons for repudiating the Kyoto protocol - all of which lack
substance. He maintains that: the science of climate change is
uncertain; that the US should not reduce emissions unless
developing countries are obliged to limit their emissions too; and
that cutting emissions would set back the US economy at a time
when things look set to get rocky, especially in the energy
sector. Athough there is a grain of truth in all of these, they
are substantially incorrect.

The contention that the US cannot afford to reduce emissions, and
that it might lose competitiveness if it does, is bizarre. The US
would certainly have to make a big effort to meet its Kyoto target
of reducing its emissions by 7% from 1990 levels during 2008 to
2012. This is because, for all of his talk about tackling climate
change, Bill Clinton did not actually do much about it and US
emissions have risen since 1990. The fact that a big effort is
needed does not necessarily mean that cutting emissions will be
costly. Most energy efficiency measures can be achieved at a net
benefit, not a net cost, and there is huge scope for energy
savings in the US. It is, after all, the world's most profligate
user of energy. The US has a huge potential for renewable forms of
energy generation.

The next shaky plank in the Bush platform on climate change is
that developing countries should take on obligations to limit
their emissions. To insist that developing countries took on a
legally binding commitment to cut emissions would have gone
against everything the US had already agreed to in ratifying the
UN framework convention on climate change. The convention, signed
by President George Bush (senior) and ratified by a predominantly
Republican US senate, repeatedly stresses the need for developed
countries to take the lead in tackling climate change and the need
for developing country emissions to increase. Its first principle
states "the developed country parties should take the lead in
combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof." It is
difficult to see how this wording can be interpreted as meaning
that developing countries should be legally obliged to cut their
emissions before developed countries cut theirs, which the US most
certainly has not. It is even more difficult to see how Bush
junior can completely repudiate the Kyoto protocol which basically
just puts flesh on the bones of the original framework convention.
For Bush to wish to renegotiate some aspects of the protocol might
be understandable. To reject it out of hand when negotiations on
its details are still under way smacks of very bad faith.

Looking at the science, it is true that there are uncertainties in
climate science. There are uncertainties in all science. That is
the nature of the beast. But the underlying basis of the science
of climate change is about as certain as science gets. The
greenhouse effect exists; it is what stops the Earth from
freezing. The effect is caused by a set of well-established
physical phenomena. There is no serious doubt that adding
greenhouse gases to the atmosphere increases the temperature. The
uncertainties on the temperature increases mentioned in the recent
report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),
frequently referred to by Bush supporters, are not so much due to
wobbly science, but to different scenarios that underlie
temperature forecasts.

Because future human activity could take many different courses,
the IPCC used many behavioural scenarios, which resulted in a wide
spread of possible temperature increases: between 1.4C (34F) and
5.8C (42F) by 2100. It is this figure most often quoted in the
"uncertainty" argument of Bush supporters. In fact, what the IPCC
scenarios actually say is that if human beings adopt future
courses of action that result in low greenhouse gas emissions,
then there will be little global warming. If they take actions
that result in a lot of emissions then there will be a lot of
global warming.

So, if we adopt the Bush option of doing nothing about climate
change, then we will head straight up the IPCC's maximum 5.8C

John Lanchbery, is the climate change policy officer at the RSPB.

The Economist
Apr 25th 2001

Fifteen years after Chernobyl, rising energy prices, worries about
global warming and improved technology are combining to revive
interest in the once-vilified nuclear industry

APRIL 26th 1986 was the day when nuclear power seemed to die. Once
considered the energy of the future, promising virtually unlimited
amounts of clean power at low cost, nuclear's attraction was
seriously tarnished by a well-publicised, though relatively minor,
accident at the Three Mile Island plant on America's east coast in
1979. After that scare, public opposition grew, but it never quite
stopped the building of new plants. But then when a reactor at the
nuclear power plant at Chernobyl in the southern Ukraine blew up
seven years after Three Mile Island, exposing millions of people
across Europe to radiation, the nuclear dream seemed well and
truly over. Plans for new nuclear reactors were shelved all over
the world.

Now fifteen years after the Chernobyl disaster, attitudes toward
nuclear energy are shifting again. This is happening for a variety
of reasons. Prices for natural gas are going up even while demand
for energy keeps rising. According to estimates by the United
Nations, energy consumption worldwide could double in the next
fifty years. Nuclear energy is coming to seem, once again, as
relatively cheap, although the initial costs of setting up a
nuclear plant are very high and it can take years until a plant is
operational. The nuclear industry itself-which has continued to
operate although new plant construction has virtually stopped-has
improved its case by showing that it can operate more safely and
efficiently. And, perhaps most important of all, the growing
concern about global warming has made nuclear seem much more
attractive. Unlike fossil fuels-oil, gas and coal-nuclear energy
does not produce any greenhouse-gas emissions.

The greatest shift in attitudes towards nuclear may be occurring
in the United States. The celebrity-studded anti-nuclear movement
is still going strong, but Jane Fonda and her comrades are less
combative than their peers in, say, Germany. Only last month
Germans staged one of the biggest nuclear protests in years in an
attempt to stop a cargo of reprocessed waste going from France to
Gorleben, a town in southern Germany. This week German activists
tried to stop a lorry carrying nuclear waste from southern Germany
to Sellafield in England.

Three Mile Island's unloved towers
America had been one of the earliest and most enthusiastic
supporters of nuclear power, but also one of the first to react to
public fears about the safety of nuclear plants. Today home to
about a quarter of some 440 nuclear plants worldwide, the US
stopped building new nuclear plants altogether after Three Mile
Island. Many of its existing plants' 40-year operating licenses
are now beginning to expire. Until recently few expected these
licenses to be renewed. This now looks much more likely.

One big factor behind the change is California's current energy
crisis, which has highlighted America's ever-increasing demand for
electricity. America's consumption of electricity has increased by
more than 50% over the past two decades. So far most of the
increased demand has been met with natural gas and coal. But
California's recent blackouts have persuaded many people that
other sorts of energies need to be tapped as well. Partly due to a
botched deregulation of the power sector, the state has endured a
series of blackouts since last December that have already cost
businesses vast sums of money and humiliated a state which sees
itself as the high-tech centre of the world.

California brought energy policy back into the headlines, but Mr
Bush's administration has been busily remaking that policy in any
case. Mr Bush controversially abandoned restrictions on carbon-
dioxide emissions, which he had pledged to maintain during the
presidential campaign, soon after coming into office, and he has
turned his back on the Kyoto Protocol, a United Nations treaty
that obliges industrialised countries to curb their emissions of
greenhouse gases. He has also announced an intensified
exploitation in America of oil and natural gas, the principal
sources of such emissions, and slashed the budget for research
into renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal and biomass).
Finally, he put Dick Cheney, the vice president, in charge of a
cabinet-task force to work out a "comprehensive energy policy" to
be presented in May.

These moves were perhaps not too surprising coming from an
administration led by two former oil-industry executives (Mr Bush
and Mr Cheney have both worked for oil companies). And they have
just as predictably enraged environmentalists, who may mount a
stiff rearguard battle against them. But the one surprising move
by the administration, given its oil-industry background, is its
newfound interest in nuclear, once seen as the rival to oil and
natural gas. With energy shortages looming, such rivalry no longer
seems to matter much. Mr Cheney recently came out in favour of
building new nuclear reactors, and nuclear energy is likely to
play a role in any recommendations his task force makes in May.

America is not the only place where interest in nuclear has
revived. Like the US, Russia is plagued by energy shortages but
when it comes to nuclear it has always suffered from fewer
scruples. Now it too wants to expand nuclear energy output
dramatically. Bulat Nigmatulin, Russia's deputy minister of atomic
energy, recently warned that Russia would face severe energy
shortages if it did not complete five nuclear reactors that have
been under construction for more than a decade by 2005 and did not
build 25 new ones over the next 20 years. Dwindling coal and gas
reserves and rising demand for electricity in Russia's western
regions gave the government no choice but to increase its reliance
on nuclear energy, claimed Mr Nigmutalin. Russia already operates
29 reactors, with nuclear power providing 12% of the country's
Is a revival of nuclear energy wise? Catastrophes can be
cathartic. After the shock of Chernobyl, international
organisations and the nuclear industry bent over backwards to
improve safety and efficiency. The World Association of Nuclear
Operators, national nuclear regulators and the International
Atomic Energy Agency started to co-operate more closely to improve
international safety-standards. In particular, American owners of
nuclear plants have raised standards. And American nuclear plants
have increased their output by a quarter over the past decade by
raising their operating efficiency. Almost all nuclear plants that
are today operational in 31 countries have similarly improved with
the exception of some Chernobyl-type reactors in the former Soviet
Union. These remain dangerous, and should be shut down as soon as
alternative sources of energy can be supplied, or even before. One
big reactor accident could yet wipe out nuclear's new credibility.
Most of the public remains wary.

And there are still real difficulties. It is still not clear how
most nuclear plants will be decommissioned when they can no longer
be operated. Parts of them remain radioactive virtually forever.
And yet a solution for even this may be within sight. Nuclear
wastes can be turned into inert glass and disposed permanently in
salt deposits that have been stable for millions of years. Mr Bush
is expected to approve later this year, over stiff local
opposition, a plan to store radioactive waste in an underground
site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

Yet the nuclear industry's best friend is global warming. Most
climate scientists agree now that global warming, principally
caused by carbon-dioxide emissions, is real and that global
warming could have serious, if not catastrophic, climatic
consequences. So far, nuclear power is the only alternative to
fossil fuels that could produce enough energy to make a difference
in the level of emissions. Ironically, if Mr Bush is to support
his vice president in his advocacy of nuclear power, he may end up
doing what crusaders for Kyoto wanted him to do, namely to reduce
considerably America's emissions. But don't expect the
environmentalists to be pleased. Despite their concern about
climate change, they remain among the most fervent opponents of
nuclear energy.

Budapest Sun
April 26, 2001

By László Perneczky

In recent years in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the
phenomenon of climate change may have played a role in deadly
floods or mudslides that have hit the Czech Republic, Hungary,
Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Still, we got off lightly
in comparison to Mozambique where floods earlier in 2000 left
1,000 people dead and thousands more homeless.

Around the world the story is the same. Some 40 tornadoes hit the
UK and northwest Europe by the end of October 2000, compared to an
average 35. The UK has the highest number of tornadoes per square
mile in the world. Europe's average temperature has increased by
0.8°C. Rainfall in northern Europe increased by 40%, while average
rainfall fell by 20% in some areas of southern Europe.

Icebergs have melted and glaciers retreated. Antarctica is 2.5°C
warmer than in 1940 and an iceberg the size of Cyprus had recently
broken away from the pack ice. Penguin numbers are declining and
plants are growing. Alpine plants are moving up, birds and mammals
are moving north in the US and Canada to find colder temperatures.
Changes in bird migration - and possibly a reduction in fish
population - in the Baltics are already foreseen.

There is a lot to be concerned about.
"Southern Europe and the European Arctic are more vulnerable than
other parts of Europe," according to the IPCC research, which
represents the most comprehensive analysis of climate change to
date. "Water availability and soil moisture are likely to decrease
in southern Europe, and would widen the difference between the
north and drought-prone south ... Productivity (in agriculture)
will decrease in southern and eastern Europe."

The research further predicted that "river flood hazards will
increase across most of Europe." The IPCC research, sponsored by
the United Nations Environment Program and the World
Meteorological Organization, was prepared by scientists from more
than 100 countries and presented in three reports of about 1,000
pages each. One report covers the existence and causes of climate
change, another is about the expected impacts and the third report
covers means of mitigating the problem.

Because the problem is global, the solution must come from all
parts of the world. Must... or should have?! How about Central and
Eastern Europe?!

In most of the CEE countries the climate issue is still not a
priority. It might take some time for the decision-makers to
recognize that coping with climate change will solve other
problems and it is a part of action toward sustainable

On the other hand, it will also be important for countries of the
region that want to join the European Union to harmonize their
climate change policies with those of the EU. Already, CEE
negotiators tend to follow the EU's lead during climate change
talks. Some reason to hope for more progress can be found in the
IPCC report on mitigating the problem of climate change. The
report suggests that the reforestation approach - creating forests
to act as "carbon sinks" - is an effective way to combat climate
change, at least in the short term. Another strategy suggested by
the IPCC report is "emissions trading".

Emissions trading is not just important for the big polluters, it
is also of particular interest to the countries of CEE, who could
benefit financially. Emissions trading lets countries that are
producing less greenhouse gas than the limit allowed them under
the Kyoto Protocol to effectively sell their surplus clean air to
countries which want to exceed their allowed limits. The sudden
drop in economic activity in the early 1990s means that most of
the countries of this region are producing less air pollution than
before, so CEE governments could get money from more industrially
active, highly polluting countries in exchange for keeping their
factories shut. This source of income may be short-lived, however,
as the economies of the region begin to get more competitive.

Nice, but does this still make sense after President George W
Bush? The Kyoto Protocol is dead. Apparently there is no
compelling case for global warming. At least not for now, or not
in this form. The President has put economy, economy, economy - at
the top of his political agenda and the environmental consequences
have been banished to the future, a future where he won't be in
power or have to take responsibility. This is an environmental
catastrophe. When the leader of the US, source of 25% of the
world's emissions from only 4% of the global population, says that
carbon dioxide is not a pollutant things look bleak.

The defense is the decline of the American economy. The "Toxic
Texan" - as several environmental activists call him - doesn't
want anything to harm the US economy or its workforce. He doesn't
see that his country's pollution has its cost, as do the effects
of global warming that US carbon dioxide emissions are helping to
fuel. Mopping up after increasing floods, hurricanes and other
forces of nature is an expensive business.

Life and nature tries to stand up and continue even after the
worst crashes and shocks. The countries involved in climate talks
will continue without the US. Joint Implementations are going on -
the Netherlands just signed an emission trading agreement with
several Central European countries, including Hungary. But will it
work without the US.

Climate change happens in decades rather than years. The new hope
is that without the US, the EU, Central Europe, Japan and the rest
of the world can follow the Kyoto path, work out and implement
policies and mechanisms and, in a few years, force the US to adopt
the protocols.

The answer is simple and we can all do something. While the news
seems bad, we can do something now to slow the trend and turn the
corner. It is not a difficult solution - we are producing too many
greenhouse gases, and we can cut down. So rather than wait for our
governments to lead, we can all show the way.

László Perneczky is the Project Manager for the Regional
Environmental Center in Szentendre.

Boston Globe

By David Warsh

If the grand bargain of the hurry-up Kyoto Protocol of 1997 wasn't
the right strategy for the problem of global warming, what might
constitute a more promising approach? If you look to the history
of successful environmental cleanups, two lessons quickly emerge.
The first is the importance of new knowledge and technology. The
very corporations that lead the way into the problem usually are
the ones that lead the way out. The second is the importance, as a
precondition to successful action, of rough consensus among
experts, politicians, business executives, labor leaders, and
everyday citizens about the nature of the problem.

One thing for sure: There are crucial differences between today's
carbon dioxide problem and the targets-and-timetable approach to
chlorofluorocarbons that was the basis for the 1987 Montreal
Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Kyoto
agreement was mechanically based on Montreal.

In a new book, ''The Collapse of the Kyoto Protocol and the
Struggle to Slow Global Warming,'' David Victor argues that the
Kyoto accords were almost certainly doomed to fail if they had
been tried. (President Bush announced last month that he intended
to back away.) Not only did the Kyoto negotiators side-step the
all-important problem of allocating emission permits among fully
industrialized nations and catchup candidates such as India,
China, and Brazil - a far more complicated problem with CO2 than
with the chlorofluorocarbons that were addressed in Montreal -
they glossed over problems of monitoring compliance and
enforcement as well. They lumped six widely differing greenhouse
gases in a single straitjacketed ''basket.'' And they failed to
craft the kind of ''escape clause'' that permitted the Montreal
treaty to work in the first place, by keeping its costs from
spiraling out of control in any one place.

A senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, Victor is no
Pollyanna. He thinks public awareness of the problem is
widespread. The lack of a ''viable architecture'' for
international cooperation is the main impediment to action, he
says. If not Montreal, then how about Pittsburgh? By the 1930s,
the steel city was the most famously polluted in America. Its
rivers were foul, its air filthy: It wasn't uncommon for its
streetlights to remain on at noon, so dark was its smog. Then in
the 1950s, a Democratic mayor (David Lawrence, later governor of
Pennsylvania) and the Republican establishment (led by Richard K.
Mellon) reached a series of agreements to slash pollution of all

The Pittsburgh cleanup became a template for action elsewhere,
and, in 1970, an inspiration for the US Clean Air and Water Acts.
Pittsburgh native Senator John Heinz, a Pennsylvania Republican,
in the 1980s laid the groundwork for a second round of
environmental legislation. Not surprisingly, new thought and
research issues bubble up more vigorously than ever from Carnegie
Mellon University, the city's premier research institution.

In ''Managing Carbon from the Bottom Up,'' an editorial that
appeared in Science magazine last fall, the head of Carnegie
Mellon's department of Engineering and Public Policy called for an
evolutionary bottom-up approach to global warming. ''The history
of international environmental protection shows that effective
regimes start slowly,'' wrote M. Granger Morgan. Initiatives by
individual states and regions can point the way to progressively
more coordinated efforts. Adaptive learning about new technologies
now only in their infancy is particularly important.

A case in point: Energy scientists have been learning how to
separate the hydrogen from hydrocarbon fuels and burn it by
itself, streaming off carbon dioxide as a byproduct and
sequestering it with pipelines deep inside the earth or beneath
the sea. Such techniques already are being used in secondary oil
recovery in Canada and Norway. They may cost as little as 20
percent or 30 percent more than a conventional coal plant -
compared to solar power, which currently costs 10 times as much -
and still bring CO2 emissions to zero.

The techniques of carbon separation and sequestration are at one
end of the spectrum of new possibilities for coping with global
warming. At the other are such seemingly exotic measures as iron
fertilization of ocean ecosystems designed to fix atmospheric
carbon in phytoplankton (and so cultivate a marine food chain from
shrimp to whales); and space-based mirrors designed to scatter
solar radiation. In a forthcoming article on the history and
prospect for ''geoengineering'' the climate, Carnegie Mellon
assistant professor David Keith surveys the possibilities and
counsels great caution. (The article can be found on his Web page

Keith concludes: ''Humanity may inevitably grow into planetary
management, yet we would be wise to begin with a renewed
commitment to reduce our interference in natural systems rather
than to act by balancing one interference with another.''

David Warsh can be reached by e-mail at [log in to unmask]
This story ran on page 2 of the Boston Globe on 4/22/2001.

April 30, 2001

By Patrick Barkham

Australia's economy depends on the health of its large
agricultural industry, which in turn is precariously reliant on
the country's hostile, semi-arid climate not serving up droughts
and floods. It boasts the largest living organism in the world,
the Great Barrier Reef, which brings the country $A1bn (£360m) a
year from tourism, and which will die if sea temperatures rise by
a couple of degrees. The reef is already "bleaching", turning
white and dying, in several spots. So the fact that Australia is
the highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases in the world
appears particularly reckless, as does the Australian government's
tacit support for George Bush's dismantling of the Kyoto treaty on
global warming.

Agriculture minister Warren Truss crowed that the US had "done the
world a favour" when it signalled that it would not sign the Kyoto
treaty. The official government line on Kyoto has painted itself
in softer, more pragmatic hues. The minister for the environment,
Robert Hill, said that he would prefer the US to support Kyoto,
but has made it clear that Australia will not back a treaty the
Americans do not sign up to.

"I don't think you can have a consensus agreement to address
global warming if you're not including the party that makes up 25%
of global emissions," Mr Hill said in a meeting in New York last
week, where he was hailed as virtually America's only remaining
ally in the world on the issue.

Australia is waiting for the US government to finish its review of
climate change policy - due in about five weeks - before it
commits itself more clearly to the anti-Kyoto camp. But in
reality, it is far closer to the US position than it is in
understanding the outraged sentiments of most European ministers.
The Australian government shares Bush's scepticism about the
science of global warming, his suspicion of the treaty's adverse
effect on industry, and desire to bind developing countries to any
emission control agreement as well.

In the short term at least, the Australian government probably
believes it has nothing to lose. If a form of Kyoto goes ahead it
is sitting pretty. It got one of the best deals out of the
original Kyoto treaty, which allowed it to increase its emissions
by 8% from 1990 levels by 2008-2012 (although figures released
earlier this month revealed that Australia's greenhouse gas
emissions were 17.4% above 1990 levels in 1999). An entirely new
international agreement on climate change, which enjoyed US
support, would in all probability be more generous in its
permission for Australia to carry on polluting.
In the long term Australia might have rather more to lose. As well
as devastating the nation's agricultural sector - much of it
currently farming on fairly marginal arid land - much native flora
and fauna will disappear as the world warms up.

Last week, a study found that Australia's alpine region is
threatened by global warming, with the treeline at Victoria's
Mount Hotham moving 40m further uphill in the past 25 years. The
signs of Australia's careless attitude towards its greenhouse gas
emissions are everywhere. Land-clearing, which leads to the mass
burning of "waste" vegetation and the wood-chipping of logs for
fires - remarkably classed as renewable energy in recent
government legislation - continues at unsustainable levels.

Australia is the sixth highest clearer of native forest in the
world. Only developing countries, such as Brazil, are ahead.
States with anti-clearing legislation, such as New South Wales,
have yet to seriously crack down on illegal felling. Despite the
huge capacity for the development of solar and wind energy offered
by its climate, the country continues to lean on traditional
sources of energy, such as coal. It has a passion for large,
petrol-guzzling cars and cheap fuel matched only by America. The
chairman of the UN's climate change panel has appealed to
Australia to bring the US back to the negotiating table. But it
appears to be wishful thinking to hope that a future accord on
global warming can be forged by the US's traditional allies, also
including Canada and Japan, by bridging the gap between Europe and

Gareth Walton, Greenpeace Australia's climate change spokesperson,
has criticised the disingenuity of Australian politicians, who
style themselves as the pragmatic "good guys" with the ear of the
US on Kyoto. Australia's rhetorical stance is softer simply
because they are smaller country. "They know full well that the US
is not going to come on board," Mr Walton said. And the Australian
government doesn't appear that bothered if they don't.

The Nation-Nairobi
April 28, 2001

By Grace Akumu

American President George Bush recently said that his government
would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol to the Climate Change
Convention because of economic reasons. Yet, apart from being
economically and technologically the most powerful country today,
the United States is the single largest emitter of greenhouse
gases causing global warming on a per capita basis. Historically
and currently, The U.S. has spewed into the atmosphere nearly two
thirds of dangerous gases. They are carbon dioxide, methane,
nitrous oxide and cholorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. Meanwhile, it has
signed and ratified the Climate Change Convention, whereby it
agreed along with other industrialised countries to take the lead
in combating climate change.

Reneging on this commitment is dangerous to the world because the
severity and frequency of impacts of climate change are on the
increase and the social and economic costs to developing countries
are becoming unbearable. A number of developing countries are
currently experiencing either severe droughts or flooding as a
result of the La-Nina and El-Nino phenomena, the frequency and
intensity of which has challenged even some viable economies.

It is still fresh in our memories the energy crisis that Kenya
went through last year, occasioned, among others, by prolonged and
severe drought. Eighty per cent of Kenya's energy is hydro-
generated. There also were the El-Nino induced floods of 1997/98,
which had devastating impacts on the country's infrastructure,
health, agriculture and food security. Climate change will
increase the country's vulnerability to these natural phenomena
yet it does not have adequate resources for adaptation. Kenyans
shall experience more frequent and severe famines, dislocation and
migration of rural populations, of rivers and coastal zones.

Climate change will also enhance sea-level rise, threatening the
livelihood and infrastructure along the coastal regions. Political
disputes such as civil strife may increase as a result of
conflicts over scarce shared water resources, especially for
livestock grazing. Diseases such as malaria, cholera, typhoid,
dysentery, pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, menigitis and
conjuctivitis - associated with dust and drought conditions - will

As climate change increases, so will desertification and,
consequently, rise of poverty in continents such as Africa. These
are just but a few examples of how the world will be affected by
climate change. The biggest challenge for African governments will
be adaptation to these impacts. Do we have the financial, human
and technological resources? The Climate Change Convention is
clear on implementation of commitments. It states that developed
countries "shall assist developing ones that are vulnerable to
adverse effects of climate change in meeting costs of adaptation
to those adverse effects".

It also states that developed countries shall "provide new and
additional financial and technological resources to developing
countries to implement the Convention". Developing countries will
still have to emit dangerous compounds in order to develop.
Industrialised countries have reached their current levels of
development by emitting greenhouse gases. What the U.S. government
should know is that damages associated with climate change are on
the increase. Soon, these may become a security issue. It is
therefore prudent for the U.S. to act now by joining the rest of
the world in solving the climate change problem.

Opting out of the Kyoto Protocol, which it helped to negotiate, is
not going to help. It will only aggravate the problem. The U.S.
should turn around and affirm commitment to the Protocol. The
Convention does state that developing countries are allowed to
emit dangerous gases in order to develop and that poverty
eradication, economic and social development are the first and
overriding priorities of developing countries.

It also states that industrialised countries should "stabilise
their greenhouse emissions at a level that will prevent dangerous
interference with the climate. Such levels should be "achieved
with a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt
naturally to the change, to ensure food production is not
threatened and to enable economic development to
proceed".Threatening to walk out of the Kyoto Protocol - under the
pretext that it will hurt the U.S. economy - smacks of a
superpower wanting to walk away from its leadership
responsibilities and role-model positions.

The U.S. should take the lead in combating climate change as the
biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. It has the wherewithal to do
so. It is endowed with financial, human and technological
resources - all what it takes to combat climate change. The only
thing America lacks is political will to take action. However, we
hope the U.S. will realise that it is cheaper to take action now
than later as even some of the biggest insurance companies such as
Suisse-re, Munich-re and Llyods, have predicted that damage costs
related to climate change will soon exceed the world's GDP. They
say the risks will also rise beyond the capacity of the insurance
industry, and even governments, to absorb. The US government
should re-engage itself immediately in climate negotiations as the
survival of cultures and civilisations, especially those in small
islands, is threatened with extinction.

The writer is the Executive Director, Climate Network, Africa.

May 2001


For years, seasoned state and local pollution-control
administrators have been yearning to prove they're ready to
rethink how governments go about cleaning up the environment.
They'll have the chance to do that in the next couple of years -
provided they can attend to the touchy issue of global warming.
The scientific and policy debates are far from settled, of course,
over just how much the worldwide climate is affected by industry's
fossil-fuel emissions. And, amidst much media coverage this
spring, President Bush backed away from a climate-change treaty.
Nonetheless, it's clear to many state pollution-control chiefs
that, sooner or later, the United States needs to start cutting
back on greenhouse-gas emissions, primarily the carbon dioxide
emitted by fossil-fuel combustion at electric power plants. A
number of states have already begun putting together comprehensive
strategies to cut back CO2, an emission that many scientists
contend is a culprit in raising atmospheric temperatures. In the
process, they're pioneering new multi-pollutant regulatory
strategies that just might accomplish the elusive objective of
protecting the environment as efficiently as possible.

If nothing else, governments should have learned by now that
pollutant-by-pollutant regulation practiced over the past 30 years
has forced American industry, small businesses and their customers
to pay more than they should for environmental quality. The
public's health is undeniably better because industrial and
vehicle discharges to the air have been lowered to more tolerable
levels. But uncertainty over the direction regulation was taking
has driven the economic cost higher than was necessary.

Governments now have a chance to tackle the global problem with a
comprehensive regulatory approach that deals with all the major
and closely related pollutants that threaten air quality: carbon
dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury. Coal- and
oil-burning utilities are the prime contributors of these
pollutants that have long been regulated by federal and state air-
quality laws. Two years ago, the professional associations
representing state and local air-quality regulators proposed "a
menu of harmonized options" that agencies could use to blend new
greenhouse-gas controls with ongoing efforts to wring even more of
the three other contaminants out of the nation's air. Figuring out
how to manage multiple pollutants simultaneously would create "a
win-win situation for both the regulator and the regulated," says
S. William Becker, the executive director for both the State and
Territorial Air Pollution Control Administrators and the
Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials.

New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen has proposed a multi-
pollutant clean-energy program that gives the state's three
fossil-fuel power plants five years to cut their discharges of
sulfur dioxide by 75 percent, nitrogen oxide 70 percent, mercury
75 percent, and carbon dioxide by 10 percent. That would take the
state's CO2 emissions back to 1990 levels.

If it's done right, multi-pollutant regulation would set rules out
in advance so industry could choose the most efficient ways to
comply. For their part, governments could protect their
constituents against immediate harm from smog, acid rain and
health-threatening metals while also taking credible steps toward
solving what's clearly a worldwide environmental problem. "There
are major cost savings that come with dealing with the four
pollutants in an integrated fashion," notes Robert Varney, New
Hampshire's environmental protection commissioner.

State regulators are convinced that electric utilities would
gladly accept greenhouse gas cutbacks in return for predictable
regulatory guidelines. Like New Hampshire, Oregon, Wisconsin and
New Jersey have inventoried greenhouse gas emissions and begun
working on incentives to encourage industries to cut them. But
Americans in most parts of the country aren't yet worried enough
about global warming's consequences to accept CO2 controls that,
no matter how designed, would most likely force energy prices
upward. That's all the more true now that California's electric
power woes make meaningful political debate over balancing energy
and environmental imperatives all the more difficult.

President Bush endorsed CO2 controls during last year's campaign
as part of a multi-pollutant strategy. This year, of course, the
administration cited potential energy costs in backing away from
that and the international Kyoto Protocol that the Clinton
administration signed. In light of Bush's reversal, the New
Hampshire legislature was expected to eliminate mandatory CO2
regulations from the governor's energy plan.

No state can afford to risk its industrial health by moving too
fast on CO2 control in the absence of a common national policy.
But with the controversy over the Kyoto treaty off the table,
regulators might actually have a better shot over the next few
years at designing effective global-warming programs. A multi-
pollutant strategy makes both economic and environmental sense. As
Varney notes, "the more we can do early on, the less painful it
will be later."

Financial Times
Apr 30, 2001


Nuclear energy has been controversial since it was conceived half
a century ago but in the last few years public opinion in the
industrialised world has swung further than ever against it. A
series of incidents has undermined confidence in the safety of
atomic plants and in nuclear operators' ability to forecast the
extent of the financial liabilities for decommissioning old plants
and storing spent fuel. In September 1999, Japan was hit by its
worst atomic accident at an experimental fuel processing plant in
Tokaimura. Two workers died after being exposed to more than
10,000 times the safe dose of radiation and more than 400 people
were subjected to higher than normal radiation levels.

At around the same time British Nuclear Fuels admitted it had
falsified quality control records for mixed-oxide fuel shipped to
Japan, leading to a damning investigation that found BNFL guilty
of "systematic management failures". This was compounded by
revelations that BNFL had underestimated its own clean-up costs in
the UK by around Pounds 9bn, leaving a gaping hole in the amount
of money it had set aside for the task. These setbacks have helped
to convince a number of countries that they should make a definite
shift away from nuclear energy. Germany, one of the world's main
nuclear power producers, has announced plans to phase out atomic
generation over the next two decades and to cease reprocessing
spent fuel by mid-2005.

Sweden has outlined similar proposals, while Japan, which
generates 20 per cent of its electricity in nuclear plants, has
decelerated its new-build programme from 20 schemes over the next
decade to between 10 and 14. Despite this, a growing number of
energy experts say nuclear power will have to be seriously
considered if the world is to meet the doubling in demand for
energy that the United Nations forecasts over the next 35 years.
Most developed countries now accept that carbon dioxide emissions
must be reduced as a precaution against global warming, setting a
limit on the amount of new power that can be generated through
fossil fuels, such as coal and oil.

Environmental groups say the shortfall can be met by renewable and
green energy sources, such as wind power, solar cells and bio-mass
schemes or new technologies, such as hydrogen fuel cells. However,
the UK's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution has warned
that Britain will not be able to meet its carbon dioxide targets
in the future without the construction of dozens of new nuclear
power plants. A similar study for the French government concludes
that renewables could only ever account for 10 per cent of the
country's electricity needs. As a result it recommends that the
operating lives of existing plants should be extended.

Liberalisation of energy markets in the US, Europe and Australia
has added an extra hurdle for nuclear plants, which are capital
intensive to build and inflexible to run. Merchant power producers
moving into these markets favour combined-cycle gas turbine
plants, which are a quarter of the price, fast to build, cleaner
than coal-fired plants and can be turned on and off rapidly to
take advantage of more volatile free market prices. Nuclear
operators argue that this will lead to many countries becoming
over-exposed to swings in natural gas prices and point out that
improvements in technology are making nuclear power more

Westinghouse, BNFL's US-based subsidiary, has designed a reactor
with claimed generation costs of less than 3 cents a kilowatt-
hour, making it competitive with coal (3.5-4.5 cents/kWh) and gas
(2-4 cents/kWh). TVO, the Finnish energy group, has applied to
build a new Euros 2.5bn atomic plant in Finland, which it also
says would be competitive with gas and up to 60 per cent cheaper,
if a 50 per cent rise in the price of gas was factored in. Nuclear
generators are also broadening their generating portfolios to
allow them to cope more effectively with free markets. British
Energy, which operates plants in the UK and North America, has
bought some coal-fired generation capacity in Britain and also has
plans to build a number of large wind power projects.

Finland is currently the only western country considering building
a new nuclear power plant, although there is demand for atomic
energy in some of the more rapidly developing power markets.
Turkey, South Africa and China are drawing up plans for new
reactors, while 10 units are currently under construction in the
Czech Republic, Japan and Korea.

Analysts believe any western revival of the nuclear energy
industry is likely to start in the US, which is facing the most
severe and immediate energy problems. Gas prices have more than
trebled, owing to falling indigenous supplies. This, combined with
a flawed attempt at liberalisation in California, has led to a
surge in electricity prices which is beginning to harm the
economy. The new Bush administration is expected to place
increasing emphasis on nuclear power, with officials hinting that
the share of electricity produced by atomic energy could be
increased from the current level of around 20 per cent.

Last month Dick Cheney, US vice-president, who is heading a review
of energy policy, said the US must build 65 new power plants
annually, some of which "ought to be nuclear". However, with
nuclear power's undeniable problem that it produces waste that
remains radioactive for thousands of years, such plans are likely
to continue to attract protests from environmentalists.

Bangladesh Daily Star (excerpt)
April 23, 2001

Quamrul Islam Chowdhury

We are not sure of the participation of Bangladesh delegation at
the forthcoming Stockholm informal talks or developing countries'
meeting next month but those will be very vital round of
negotiations for Bangladesh. This negotiation is so important for
the survival of the people of Bangladesh as they will be the worst
victims of any probable degrees of climate changes or sea-level
rises or global warming.

THE indomitable Dutch Environment Minister and Chairman of the
international negotiations on climate change Jan Pronk has been
quite successful by inviting some 40 ministers and senior
officials to informal talks in New York on April 21, 2001 to take
stock of the political situation since the suspension of
negotiations in The Hague last November and the USA appeared to
soften its hard-line stance amid world-wide criticism for its
anti- Kyoto Protocol move. Pronk has been successful in bringing
back USA in the climate negotiation table after US President
George W Bush's public declaration against Kyoto treaty hurting
the rest of the world.

Pronk who chairs the resumed sixth session of the Conference of
the Parties in Bonn from July 16-27, 2001, informs newsmen that
USA will join the next round of talks on battling global warming
even as it reaffirmed its opposition to the Kyoto treaty. " The US
decision to attend talks meant that Kyoto was still alive despite
Washington's surprise announcement last month that it was bowing
out of the treaty. It is alive. It is not completely healthy. I
would say it is recovering," Pronk briefs newsmen after a day-long
closed-door hectic informal strategic talks on global warming with
representatives of some 50 countries including 15 environment
ministers. State Department's Kenneth Brill representing the USA
on Saturday in place of US Environmental Protection Agency chief
Christine Todd Whitman, also nodded that the USA would be
represented at Bonn. Pronk says all countries including USA agreed
that nations should curb greenhouse gases to counter global
warming during the closed-door talks.

At the informal talks, all nations urged USA to return to the
negotiation table of the Kyoto process but vowed to press on with
it regardless of US participation. "The position was not 'Let's
sit on our hands and wait for the USA.' The position was 'Let's go
ahead," says UNFCCC Executive Secretary Michael Zammit Cutajar who
is still optimistic about the prospect of its resolution. Pronk
has already circulated his "New Proposals by the President of COP
6" among all environment ministers. And that proposal will also be
at the centre of another round of informal talks in Stockholm in
next month providing additional preparations for the Bonn talks.
Developing countries will also hold another informal meeting of
their own to chalk-out their strategy.

Regrettably, Bangladesh an important player of this negotiation
and one of the worst victim of global warming and sea-level rises,
could not been represented by the Environment Minister or her
Secretary though both of them were invited by Pronk. What is the
Bangladesh position about Pronk proposal? What is in that package?
Is that package biased towards US position? Is that played the
whole trick to bring back the USA in the Kyoto negotiation
process? Will Pronk package safeguard the interests of developing
countries including Bangladesh? Certainly, we have to look at the
negotiating text circulated by Pronk.

The aim of resuming COP 6 in July 2001 is to complete work on a
set of negotiating texts that address all issues covered by the
Buenos Aires Plan of Action and to adopt a comprehensive and
balanced package of decisions on these issues.

At the suspension of COP 6 last November, substantial advances had
been made on all these negotiating texts, on the basis of the work
of the subsidiary bodies and under the responsibility of their
Chairmen. However, the consideration of the total package of
political "crunch" issues contained in those texts was
insufficient to permit agreement on the texts at that time.

"It is my judgement as the President of COP 6, taking account of
advice received, that the initial focus of resumed negotiations
should continue to be on the package of political issues.
Consensus on its components will open the way to the further
consideration and adoption of the separate draft decisions on the
table," Pronk says. The purpose of his new proposals, according to
Pronk, is to maintain the required political focus and to propose
a balanced set of solutions to the selected "crunch" issues that
can provide the basis for the development of revised negotiating
text. These new proposals have been developed following in-depth
consideration of the comments received from Parties on his
informal note of November 23, 2000 and extensive bilateral
consultations. In preparation for the resumption of COP 6, Pronk
seeks advice on the package of proposals, which should be
evaluated as a whole. Some of the critics have already described
Pronk's proposal biased towards US and little bit hard on the
developing countries.

Taipei Times
April 28, 2001

By Hua Jian µĜ°·

For many countries and NGOs strongly in favor of environmental
protection, the recent Earth Day did not give much cause for
celebration. This is because President George W. Bush announced in
March that the US would not sign the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 UN
accord designed to curb global warming. Despite its high-sounding
rationale, the US' main reason for not signing the protocol was
that it believed that its strict targets for reduction of
greenhouse gases would take too great a toll on the US economy.
The decision was a reflection of the true character of the US
president -- heavy on industrial development, light on
conservation. `... it is only a matter of time before we will have
to assume responsibility for the consequences of global warming
and climatic change. Therefore, shouldn't our head of state make
some policy statements?'

Even though Bush, on the eve of Earth Day, proposed legislation to
protect US wetlands, to create a warning system for lead
contamination and to phase out 12 kinds of persistent organic
pollutants (POPs), it is predicted that these will do little to
quieten the voices of opposition among domestic conservationists.
On top of that, the common condemnation from countries worldwide
of the US, which is responsible for 25 percent of the world's
total CO2 emissions, seems to have strengthened Bush's image as an
"environmentally unfriendly" president.

At present, even though a group of 15 EU countries is still
engaged in a last-ditch effort to convince the US to change its
position, none appear optimistic that they will succeed. Sweden's
minister of the environment stated: "No country has the right to
evade this kind of multi-lateral environmental issue." It is
predicted, however, that the EU will continue to do its utmost to
convince the US to return to the fold and sign the protocol. The
EU will also try to persuade other countries (it has already won
the support of Russia and developing countries in Asia) as a
preparatory measure, in case the US fails to join the alliance.

In discussions about global warming in Taiwan, the Fourth Nuclear
Power Plant -- and energy policy in general -- are probably the
first things that spring to mind. One very convincing argument has
always been that, because of international pressure to reduce
greenhouse gases, the only choice left for Taiwan is to replace
high-pollution thermal power (the burning of fossil fuels) with
"clean" nuclear energy. But when we consider the example of Japan
-- which Taiwan's pro-nuclear lobby has cited so frequently in the
past -- it becomes apparent that recent developments in that
country deserve our concern.

The government of Japan is one of a small number of governments
around the world that continues ardently to support the use of
nuclear energy. The main reason it does so is the same as Taiwan's
rationale -- if it did not it would be almost wholly dependent on
imported energy sources. Japan accepted the requirement of the
Kyoto Protocol that between 2008 and 2012, it would reduce
greenhouse gas emissions to 94 percent of 1990 levels, and
accordingly implemented a law to help prevent global warming in
April 1994. Based on the policy guidelines contained in that law,
Japan will continue to build 20 nuclear plants -- to satisfy
future demand for energy, while still striving to achieve its
target of 6 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Japanese people, how-ever, are in favor of moving in a
different direction. In the past seven years alone, more than 100
local governments have initiated the development of renewable
energy sources such as wind and solar power.

During this period, the grassroots organization Green Energy
Network also proposed legislation guaranteeing that electricity
generated from renewable energy sources would be supported to the
extent that it will be able to survive in competition with cheaper
thermal power. Another change in Japan has been its transformation
into a low-consumption society. In 1994 Japan had already
implemented an amendment outlining the "reasonable use of energy,"
in order to spur the public into pursuing a low-consumption
lifestyle. Moreover, even though Japan has endured the hardships
of economic recession for a long time already, environmental
issues have consistently held a significant position in political
debates. For those reasons -- public support for renewable energy
sources and the trend towards becoming a low-consumption society -
- Japan's government established a committee in June 1999 to
revise its long-term nuclear planning. It is expected that the
public will not be willing to accept the original plan to
construct 20 nuclear power plants.

Admittedly, Taiwan and Japan's situations are not identical. There
are, however, aspects in common. Both have faced the difficult
decision of choosing between traditional energy and nuclear energy
sources. Taiwan, however, has ignored renewable energy sources and
the option of adopting a low-consumption lifestyle.

Many examples of renewable energy sources already exist. In the
past, perhaps because of the the inordinately high costs, these
resources were ignored. But, along with increasing demand, costs
have since been reduced by a wide margin. It is estimated that, in
a few years, taking safety costs into consideration, renewable
energy sources will be more competitive than nuclear energy.
Furthermore, if an appropriate appraisal of the impact of climatic
change is figured into the cost equation, renewable energy sources
will be even more competitive than fossil fuels.

On the other hand, judging from the current mood in Taiwan, it
would not be easy to promote a low-consumption lifestyle. From an
economic perspective, a plan whereby a society with low energy
costs invests in improving energy efficiency would not seem
destined to be effective. But today, these scenarios should be
reconsidered. First, when other countries would rather choose
energy-efficient products, products that are not energy-efficient
enough will cease to be competitive in the international
marketplace. Second, even without taking the exodus of Taiwanese
industry into consideration, examples of reductions in energy
consumption -- both at the grass roots and in government agencies
-- are everywhere in Taiwan.

After the Earth Day celebrations and discussions of the US' future
course of action, perhaps we can rejoice because we're not a
member of the UN and -- at least for the time being -- do not have
to concern ourselves with this issue. But then again it is only a
matter of time before we will have to assume responsibility for
the consequences of global warming and climatic change. Therefore,
shouldn't our head of state make some policy statements? What
should our future course of action be given the US' rejection of
the Kyoto Protocol? Even if we are unwilling to make formal
announcements about these issues, there should at least be a
contingency plan ready. The government should also be seriously
considering a win-win strategy that would reduce Taiwan's reliance
on nuclear power, while lowering CO2 emissions.

Hua Jian is an associate professor in the department of marine
engineering and technology at National Taiwan Ocean University.
Chad Carpenter
International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
New York, NY
Tel: + 1 (212) 673-1818
Fax: + 1 (309) 419-8814
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