Posts tagged ‘U.S.’

U.S. needs fresh look at nuclear waste issue

“The president has made it very clear that we are going to go beyond Yucca mountain. You should go beyond Yucca mountain,” Chu said. “But instead of wringing my hands, let’s go forward and do something better.”

The Obama administration, in January, announced it was stopping the license application for a long-planned multi-billion dollar nuclear waste storage site at Yucca Mountain near Las Vegas, which is opposed by environmental groups.

The Energy Department formally asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission this week to withdraw the application.

Chu said when the waste site was first started, there were conditions put in the requirements for the repository that didn’t really mesh with what scientists knew even back then.

“Long, long ago, it began looking less and less ideal,” he said. “As time wore on, it’s got to be one of those things: ‘oops this might have happen, oops the Supreme Court says this…’,”

“Wouldn’t it be nice to step back and take a fresh look?” he asked.

The energy secretary said he would like to have the new blue ribbon panel of experts the administration recently created study the issue of managing nuclear waste on a long-term basis rather than spend money building a waste storage facility.

“Yucca mountain was designed at a time when we didn’t think we would start the nuclear industry again,” Chu said.

The Yucca mountain storage site, planned about 90 miles from Las Vegas, has endured years of bureaucratic delays and scientific foul-ups.

Yucca Mountain was designed to store millions of pounds of radioactive waste from 104 U.S. nuclear power reactors along with tons of leftovers from the country’s nuclear weapons program.

Currently, spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste are stored at 121 temporary locations in 39 states across the country.

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March 8, 2010 at 9:36 AM Leave a comment

China outpaces EU and U.S. with new wind turbines

China nearly doubled its wind capacity in 2009 with 13 gigawatts of new generating capacity, compared to 10.5 gigawatts in Europe and 9.9 gigawatts in the United States.

Overall, the global industry employed around half a million people as it boosted capacity by 31 percent to 158 gigawatts.

“The continued rapid growth of wind power, despite the financial crisis and economic downturn, is testament to the inherent attractiveness of the technology,” GWEC secretary general Steve Sawyer said.

China has been criticized in many countries for its cautious stance at unsuccessful U.N. climate talks in Copenhagen in December, but it has not slowed its development of green power at home.

“The Chinese government is taking very seriously its responsibility to limit carbon dioxide emissions while providing energy for its growing economy,” said Li Junfeng, secretary general of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association.

The prospect of fossil fuel prices soaring as industry hauls itself out of the current economic crisis has bolstered the investment case for wind energy, said Christian Kjaer, chief executive of the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA).

“Oil at around $75 in the middle of an economic crisis is unprecedented,” he told reporters. “If I were an investor, I’d want to limit my exposure to uncertain fuel prices.”

In a normal year, European wind farms will meet around 4.8 percent of total power demand, EWEA said. Spain installed the most new turbines in 2009, with 2.5 gigawatts, followed by Germany, Italy, France and Britain.

Spain’s lead may be eroded in 2010, when it reviews its system of subsidies, but Kjaer said subsidies were not the main force driving growth.

He said with oil in the $70-80 range, new onshore wind power was roughly cost-competitive with new gas-fired power stations, and just marginally more costly than new coal.

But from 2013 onwards, the EU’s carbon market will force all power producers to buy permits for each tonne of carbon they emit — giving green energy a further competitive advantage.

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February 3, 2010 at 10:27 AM Leave a comment

U.S. offers climate carrot — with strings

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to put new life into flagging U.N. climate talks Thursday by announcing the U.S. would join others in raising $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations cope with global warming.

But the $100 billion figure, the first offered by Washington in discussions here over long-term climate aid financing, is far less than what some nations suggest will be needed. Yvo de Boer, U.N. climate chief, said talks would focus on the “adequacy” of that target.

Moreover, Clinton made the offer contingent on the 193-nation conference reaching a broader agreement, including on the issue of “transparency” — demanding a Chinese commitment to allow some kind of oversight to verify its actions to control emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Without that, Clinton told reporters, “there will not be the kind of concerted global action that we so desperately need.”

China followed by saying it is willing to provide explanations and clarification on its actions to control carbon emissions, going some way to meeting the U.S. demands.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said Beijing is ready for “dialogue and cooperation that is not intrusive that does not infringe on China’s sovereignty.”

Clinton’s arrival and announcement in snowy Copenhagen ratcheted up the U.S.-Chinese diplomatic dueling that has marked the two weeks of talks. The negotiations end Friday with a summit gathering of President Barack Obama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and more than 110 other national leaders.

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December 17, 2009 at 10:12 AM 1 comment

Europe: U.S., China too weak on climate

As delegates worked long hours in search of a climate compromise by Thursday, the European Union on Tuesday added fuel to the diplomatic fire between China and the United States — saying that neither country’s climate targets are aggressive enough.

“We expect them both to raise ambition level,” EU environment spokesman Andreas Carlgren said of the U.S. and China. “Otherwise we won’t be able to reach the 2 degree target.”

The U.S., for one, signaled that would not be happening. It was, however, dispatching Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a State Department source said Tuesday. She is expected to arrive Thursday shortly before President Barack Obama.

Many scientists have warned that the commitments so far fall short of what is needed to keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees C (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels and head off the worst of global warming.

The Obama administration has set as its target a 17 percent reduction from 2005 emissions levels by 2020. That amounts to a 3 percent to 4 percent cut from 1990 levels — the baseline year used by many other countries.

China has pledged to cut “carbon intensity” — a measure of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of production — by 40 percent to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

Since China’s economy is expected to double in size in coming years, that pledge means China’s emissions will still increase, but instead of doubling they’d be checked at a nearly 50 percent increase.

The European Union, on the other hand, has promised to reduce its emissions by at least 20 percent of 1990 levels by 2020 — and go up to 30 percent if others make comparable commitments. Japan and Russia have already promised 25 percent cuts.

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U.N. chief should stop pointing fingers and the

U.S. vs. China

December 15, 2009 at 2:46 PM Leave a comment

Obama calls for climate deal, U.S. target under fire

In a move that could boost Obama’s position when world leaders join the U.N. talks next week, three U.S. senators outlined a compromise climate bill on Thursday that aims to win the votes needed for passage next year.

Accepting his Nobel Peace Prize in neighbouring Norway, Obama warned of dire consequences if the world did nothing to curb rising carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels and deforestation which scientists say are heating up the atmosphere.

“The world must come together to confront climate change,” Obama said in his acceptance speech. “There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades,” he added.

Obama will propose cuts in U.S. emissions in Copenhagen but has yet to get the backing of Congress. While a climate bill passed narrowly in the House of Representatives in June, the Senate has yet to approve legislation.

In Washington the senators did not offer details of their compromise but said a target to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 was “achievable and reasonable.

The December 7-18 Copenhagen talks are meant to agree on the outlines of a tougher climate pact to expand or replace the existing Kyoto Protocol from 2013. But they have become bogged down over who should curb their emissions, who is most responsible and who should pay.

The talks are expected to deliver agreement on an initial fund of around $10 billion a year until 2012 to help poor nations to fight climate change and make their economies greener. But developing countries believe emissions cuts promised by rich nations, especially the United States, are far too low.

Tiny Tuvalu, a cluster of low-lying Pacific islands, brought part of the talks to a standstill on Thursday. The main plenary sessions were suspended for consultations, although delegates continued holding side-meetings.

RISING SEAS

Tuvalu, which fears being washed off the map by rising seas, insisted the conference must consider its proposal for a legally binding treaty on far deeper cuts in greenhouse gas emissions than the United States and other rich nations are offering,

Tuvalu’s stance exposed rifts between developing nations, many of which would be required to do much more under its proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Nations including India and China spoke out against Tuvalu’s plan.

Most other nations reckon Copenhagen can agree only a political text with legal texts to be worked out next year.

Rich nations’ emissions cuts targets remain a major sticking point in the talks. Poorer nations blame industrialised countries for most of the greenhouse gas pollution in the air and say they must make deep cuts.

The United States has offered a provisional target of 17 percent below 2005 levels — equal to a 3 percent cut from 1990 levels while the European Union has pledged a cut of 20 percent below 1990 levels that could be raised to 30 percent if others also act.

China, Brazil and small island states all say the pledge is far too modest.

The U.N.’s top climate change official, Yvo de Boer, said developed countries would have to deepen planned emission cuts to a range of 25 to 40 percent below 1990 levels, as outlined by a U.N. climate panel.

“That for me is the goal,” de Boer told Reuters. Offers so far from rich nations total about 14 to 18 percent below 1990 levels.

“Many countries have come here with initial offers for targets indicating there is flexibility in the numbers,” he said. “Whether that is achieved or not depends first of all on a discussion within the group of major developed countries.”

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December 11, 2009 at 2:45 PM Leave a comment

China calls for more emissions cuts from U.S.

China’s top climate envoy called on President Barack Obama to increase a U.S. offer to cut greenhouse gases, and said it would discuss a 2050 emissions goal only if rich nations offered more cash and carbon cuts.

Xie Zhenhua said developed nations must commit to cuts of “at least 40 percent” by 2020 from 1990 levels. He said Beijing was aiming for a legally binding treaty from the December 7-18 talks, although hosts Denmark have said that will be impossible. A successful outcome from the summit largely depends on agreement between the United States and China, which together generate 40 percent of global carbon emissions.

But negotiations have been bogged down for months by rifts between developed and developing nations over who should cut emissions, by how much, and who should pay. “I do hope that President Obama can bring a concrete contribution to Copenhagen,” Xie said in a rare interview. Asked if he meant something more than Obama has proposed so far, a 3 percent cut from 1990 levels by 2020, Xie said: “Yes.” “The whole world is watching the United States, and as long as they take on a good leadership role, then I think that we can make a large step forward in combating climate change.”

The head of China’s delegation, who is deputy chairman of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), called for stronger action from rich nations a day after a senior member of his delegation slammed their existing commitments as unambitious and deceptive. Xie initially told Reuters rich countries should make emissions cuts of 25-40 percent versus 1990 levels by 2020, but clarified later that China was sticking to its past insistence of cuts of “at least 40 percent.”

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December 10, 2009 at 10:18 AM Leave a comment

IEA puts $500bn a year cost on Copenhagen failure

Each year of delay in cementing a global post-2012 climate deal will add $500 billion to the cost of the low-carbon energy revolution, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned.

As international negotiators seek to manage expectations that the UN climate talks this December will result in a finalised Copenhagen protocol or treaty, the IEA said in its World Energy Outlook 2009 that the $10.5 trillion energy investment needed between 2010 and 2030 will increase by $500 billion for each year of delay “before moving to a more sustainable emissions path”.

A delay of “just a few years” would make it impossible to reach the IEA’s scenario for stabilising carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere at 450 parts per million. Keeping greenhouse gas concentrations at this level will produce a 50% chance the global temperature rise can be kept below the crucial 2°C threshold.

Speakers at the Environment 09 conference in London on Monday were doubtful a comprehensive legally-binding deal would be reached in the Danish capital, however. Japan’s head negotiator Kuni Shimada said that the “most probable” outcome now is that Copenhagen will “agree on the elements for key issues which must be within the outcome. We can still negotiate the nitty gritty details next year.” A final protocol or treaty could be hashed out in 2010 or even 2011, he added.

“[Copenhagen] won’t solve all the issues,” agreed Chris Smith, chairman of the UK’s Environment Agency. “Some of the most significant emitting countries aren’t yet ready to conclude a deal – not least the US, where the Senate won’t have made its decisions until the New Year.”

“What we have to aim for, though, is a number of clear ‘in principle’ decisions, agreed by the participating nations, with a commitment to agree actions arising from those principles in the course of the following nine months,” he added.

But José Maria Figueres, former president of Costa Rica, told delegates: “I’m absolutely certain we can still achieve a high quality agreement at Copenhagen.”

“If we can’t get the [key] elements by the end of this year, we can’t get these kind of elements ever,” Shimada said.

Article from http://www.carbon-financeonline.com

November 12, 2009 at 12:16 PM Leave a comment

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