The world is getting hotter, with 2011 one of the warmest years on record, and humans are to blame, the World Meteorological Organisation said. In a statement released to coincide with UN climate talks under way in Durban, South Africa, the WMO said the warmest 13 years of average global temperatures have all occurred since 1997, contributing to extreme weather conditions across the world.
Asian cities are increasingly at risk from rising sea levels and severe droughts, a climate-change expert with the Asian Development Bank told Reuters. There is clear evidence, WooChong Um said, that storms and typhoons are becoming “more intense and more frequent”. Integrated urban planning is needed, he noted, while cities can act to minimise risks in the short term.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions sees virtually no prospect that the 192 countries meeting in Durban will reach an agreement to keep the Kyoto protocol intact beyond 2012, The Guardian said. The future of the world’s only legal climate-change treaty – which commits countries to reducing global warming pollution – is a main item on the agenda.
Japan, Russia and Canada have all said within the last year that they would not re-commit to the pact unless the big polluters sign up to it, The Guardian reported. Calling Kyoto “the past”, Canadian environment minister Peter Kent would not confirm reports that the country was planning to formally withdraw, Reuters said. In a commentary, Xinhua accused Canada of “setting a bad example” for other developed nations, undermining global efforts and damaging its own reputation.
The world shipping industry could accept a global levy on carbon emissions from merchant ships under a deal that would also channel proceeds to poor countries, according to a joint statement by the International Chamber of Shipping, WWF and Oxfam, Agence France-Presse reported.
A proposed crude-oil pipeline from Canada’s Alberta province to British Columbia poses numerous environmental risks, according to a new report signalling that Enbridge Inc’s Northern Gateway project will become the next battleground over Canadian oil sands, according to Reuters. The study, by three environmental groups, said the project would threaten native communities, the salmon fishery and wildlife habitats.
Under the pipeline proposal, 525,000 barrels of crude would be moved daily to the port of Kitimat, then shipped to Pacific Rim refiners, Reuters said. The Canadian government is intensifying its emphasis on exporting oil-sands crude to Asia following a US decision to delay action on TransCanada Corp’s Alberta-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline by more than a year.
An ambitious US carbon-capture and storage project has begun a three-year trial to pump one million tonnes of CO2 underground, according to the Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium. Carbon dioxide is being injected into the Mount Simon Sandstone, deep beneath the surface in the state of Illinois. The test aims to confirm the viability of permanent geologic storage as a climate-change mitigation option.
Fear of the distant horrors of climate change isn't enough to drive anything more than just political talk and hand-wringing