Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

Greenhouse Gas

Nearly 200 nations agree binding deal to cut greenhouse gases

Nearly 200 nations have agreed a legally binding deal to cut back on greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners, a major step against climate change that prompted loud cheers when it was announced on Saturday.

The deal, which includes the world’s two biggest economies, the United States and China, divides countries into three groups with different deadlines to reduce the use of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases, which can be 10,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases.

“It’s a monumental step forward,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said as he left the talks in the Rwandan capital of Kigali late on Friday.

Under the pact, developed nations, including much of Europe and the United States, commit to reducing their use of the gases incrementally, starting with a 10 percent cut by 2019 and reaching 85 percent by 2036.

Many wealthier nations have already begun to reduce their use of HFCs.

Two groups of developing countries will freeze their use of the gases by either 2024 or 2028, and then gradually reduce their use. India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the Gulf countries will meet the later deadline.

They refused the earlier date because they have fast-expanding middle classes who want air conditioning in their hot climates, and because India feared damaging its growing industries.

“Last year in Paris, we promised to keep the world safe from the worst effects of climate change. Today, we are following through on that promise,” said U.N. environment chief Erik Solheim in a statement, referring to 2015’s Paris climate talks.


The deal binding 197 nations crowns a wave of measures to help fight climate change this month. Last week, the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb climate-warming emissions passed its required threshold to enter into force after India, Canada and the European Parliament ratified it.

But unlike the Paris agreement, the Kigali deal is legally binding, has very specific timetables and has an agreement by rich countries to help poor countries adapt their technology.

A quick reduction of HFCs could be a major contribution to slowing climate change, avoiding perhaps 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 Fahrenheit) of a projected rise in average temperatures by 2100, scientists say.

Environmental groups had called for an ambitious agreement on cutting HFCs to limit the damage from the roughly 1.6 billion new air conditioning units expected to come on stream by 2050, reflecting increased demand from an expanding middle class in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Benson Ireri, a senior policy adviser at aid group Christian Aid, said that all African countries had volunteered for the earlier deadline because they worried about global warming pushing more of their citizens into poverty.

“It was a shame that India and a handful of other countries chose a slower time frame for phasing down HFCs but the bulk of nations, including China, have seen the benefits of going for a quicker reduction. It’s also been encouraging to see small island states and African countries a part of this higher ambition group,” he said in a statement.

A scientific panel advising the signatories to the deal said phasing out HFCs will cost between $4 billion and $6 billion, said Manoj Kumar Singh, India’s joint secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

“The implementation starts from 2024 onwards so there is enough time to plan and mobilise finance,” he told Reuters.

Donors had already put $80 million in a fund to start implementing the agreement, said Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But Sergey Vasiliev, the head of the Russian delegation, said Russia’s estimates of the costs were higher and argued countries’ contributions to a multilateral fund to help poor countries adapt their technology should be voluntary.

The details of the funding will be finalised at a later meeting.

“We think it is more than $10 billion and some experts estimated up to $20 billion,” he told Reuters.

The HFC talks build on the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which succeeded in phasing out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), widely used at that time in refrigeration and aerosols.

The protocol contains provisions for noncompliance, ranging from the provision of technical and financial assistance to trade sanctions in ozone depleting substances, which will be widened to include HFCs.

The original aim of the Montreal Protocol was to stop the depletion of the ozone layer, which shields the planet from ultraviolet rays linked to skin cancer and other conditions.

That effort cost $3.5 billion over 25 years, said Stephen Olivier Andersen, the director of research at Washington-based think tank Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. Scientists say it prevented 2 million cases of skin cancer. (Additional reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

Methane Pollution Is About To See A Serious Cut From This Stinky Source

Last Friday, the EPA announced new rules that will cut landfills’ methane emissions by one third.

The latest regulation is an update to rules last updated over 20 years ago. They are expected to reduce methane emissions by around 334,000 tons a year in 2025. That is equivalent to reducing 8.2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Methane is a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential over 25 times that of carbon dioxide, according to the EPA. But over a 20 year period, it can be 86 times more potent. Methane is the second-most common greenhouse gas emitted by human activities, and nearly 20 percent of those emissions come from landfills.

The methane regulations update the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and, in a separate action, revise the Emissions Guidelines from 1996. These actions further implement President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and its “Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.”

“The final NSPS and emission guidelines continue to cover MSW Landfill emissions (commonly known as landfill gas) as the regulated or designated pollutant,” the EPA told ThinkProgress in an email. “Non-methane organic compounds (NMOC) are measured as a surrogate for the listed pollutant.”

The EPA finalized details dealing with landfill gas treatment, owner and operator compliance, startup, shutdown, and malfunction issues.

Under the NSPS rule, new landfills — after July 17, 2014 — will have to install a gas collection control system if NMOCs exceed 34 metric tons per year. That number is one third less than the previous threshold of 50.

The control system may either route it to a non-enclosed flare, an enclosed combustion device, or a treatment system which can ultimately sell the methane as a source of energy. An estimated 128 landfills will be subjected to this rule, and of these, 115 will be required to install the controls in 2025. The remaining 13 will report their emissions.

The threshold also applies to landfills existing prior to July 17, 2014. An estimated 1,014 active existing landfills will be affected, with 731 controlling landfill gas in 2025. However, this is only 93 more than under the previous rules. Another 77 will be required to report their emissions, and over 200 landfills are either closed or expected to close within 13 months after the rule is published in the Federal Register.

The net cost of the emission guidelines — or the costs after subtracting the benefits — will be around $54 million in 2025. The climate benefits outweigh the total costs by a factor of eight. For every dollar spent to comply with guidelines, the expected benefit is over eight dollars. That adds up to $444 million in 2025.

The benefits from the rule that affects new landfills will be over 10 dollars for every dollar spent to comply. The costs are an estimated $6 million in 2025, while the benefits are $68.3 million.

Between both new rules, the EPA expects a total benefit of $512 million.

The climate benefits that were included in the calculations include human health impacts, property damages from flood risk, and the value of ecosystem services, and others, according to the final rules fact sheet.

The Obama administration has been ramping up its efforts to reduce methane emissions. In May, the EPA finalized new methane regulations for the oil and gas industry. Since then, North Dakota filed a lawsuit against the EPA over the rule.

Food waste is partly to blame for the methane pollution from landfills. The EPA’s rule noted that there is not enough information on how the regulations would affect how much waste is diverted to recycling, waste-to-energy facilities, or composting. While lowering methane emissions has clear climate benefits, avoiding wasted food and other organics would also contribute to reducing methane emissions. Around 40 percent of food grown in the United States ends up wasted.

“EPA acknowledged alternative approaches (such as diversion, composting, recycling, and waste-to-energy) at proposal and in its final rules as well as the Regulatory Impact Analysis (and other supplemental documents) for these actions,” the EPA added in an email to ThinkProgress. “EPA does not believe that its final actions preclude these activities.”

“Further the final rules specifically acknowledge that the use of alternative approaches, such as diversion, may increase as a result of the agency’s allowance of a site-specific approach to determining gas collection and control system installation.”

In addition to efforts to decrease methane emissions, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and EPA announced last September a goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent by 2030.

Sydney Pereira is an intern with ThinkProgress.

Hong Kong greenhouse gas emissions rise for a third year

Government figures for 2013 put total carbon dioxide emissions at 44.4 million tonnes – the bulk coming from electricity generation

The city’s greenhouse gas emissions are continuing to rise, reaching 44.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2013, the latest government figures show.

Each Hongkonger produced about 6.2 tonnes in that year, the latest for which data is available. It is up from six tonnes in the year before, according to the Environmental Protection Department’s latest greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

Total emissions rose for the third year in a row since 2010, when emissions totalled 40.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The city saw a 1.2-million-tonne increase in 2013 from the year before, which is equivalent to 135 million gallons of gasoline or emissions from 126,700 homes’ energy use in a year, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s calculator.

Electricity generation remained the major source of emissions in 2013, amounting to 30.3 million tonnes, 68.3 per cent of the total.This is up from 29.4 million tonnes in the previous year.

Emissions from transport and other uses of fuel totalled 9.8 million tonnes, or 22 per cent of the total.

Prentice Koo Wai-muk, senior energy campaigner for World Wildlife Fund Hong Kong, said the city’s two electricity suppliers – CLP Power and HK Electric – used more coal instead of cleaner natural gas to generate electricity in 2013, contributing to higher emissions.

“We expect the amount of emissions to drop after 2015 because the government started to limit power companies’ air pollutant emissions,” said Koo. “To reduce such emissions, the most obvious way for power companies is to use less coal.”

Emissions from waste totalled 2.5 million tonnes, up from 2.3 million tonnes in 2012. Industrial processes and product use generated 1.7 million tonnes, also higher than the 1.6 million in 2012.

Carbon intensity remained steady from 2010 to 2013 at 0.021kg per Hong Kong dollar unit of gross domestic product.
Source URL:

How much do we need to cut emissions?

A few years ago, while evaluating the environmental improvements that are expected to result from the revised Gothenburg Protocol by 2020, scientists at the CCE made a rough estimate of what additional reductions in acidifying and eutrophying emissions are needed to achieve levels of depositions that no longer exceed the critical load limits.

This was done using the very simplified approach of assuming uniform (same percentage) gradual emission reductions for all European countries and for international shipping. The starting point was the emission levels projected for 2020, assuming full implementation of the revised Gothenburg Protocol.

For eutrophication it was shown that an additional 70 per cent reduction in total nitrogen emissions (nitrogen oxides and ammonia) would bring the exceedance of the critical loads for nutrient nitrogen close to zero. The total area at risk of eutrophication in Europe would still cover about two per cent, but the magnitude of exceedance in these areas would be quite low.

As regards acidification, exceedance of the critical loads approached zero at an additional 60 per cent combined reduction in emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and ammonia. The remaining area at risk in Europe would come down to less than one per cent.

No detailed analysis was made regarding the locations of the remaining areas at risk (e.g. their spread between countries) or what types of ecosystems (e.g. nature  protection areas) would still be exposed to excess deposition.

Source: CCE Status Report 2012, link:

Land is a crucially important sector to keep global warming below 1.5°C

A quarter of human induced greenhouse gas emissions comes from agriculture, forestry and other land use.

Climate Action Network (CAN) argues that land is a crucially important sector for ambitious action to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere below dangerous levels, in order to keep global warming below 1.5°C.

About one quarter of all human-induced emissions come from agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU), mainly from land use change, fertilizer use, livestock and  peatland degradation. The potential for both sequestration and emissions reductions in the AFOLU sector is thus large, but it must be ensured that AFOLU mitigation does not compromise adaptation, food security or other social and environmental safeguards.

Reducing emissions (for example, by reducing deforestation) and enhancing removals (for example, by afforestation or reforestation) are already important components of some countries’ emission reduction pledges and will no doubt continue to be so. It is therefore vital that all countries both report on and account for emissions and removals from AFOLU in a comparable and transparent way, especially those countries which intend to include emission reductions or increased removals from the sector as part of their emission reduction target.

Given the unique nature of this sector, its relation to food security, ecological integrity, and cultural identity must be recognized in climate agreements. CAN says that a process for developing principles and guidelines to ensure these values are protected and maintained must be mandated.

Principles and guidelines should ensure social protections; food security; security of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ land tenure; gender equity; ecological integrity; and animal welfare.

Actions in the land sector, in addition to actions in other sectors, should prioritize the protection, maintenance and restoration of natural ecosystems, while respecting customary and sustainable land use systems and existing agricultural ecosystems.

Common accounting rules for the land sector are essential for assessing comparability of effort. Accounting should be both comprehensive and complete, so that nations “account for what the atmosphere sees” in terms of emissions and removals.

The basic principles should according to CAN be a land-based reporting system and that the base year should be historical, not projected. To ensure that climate policies affecting agriculture can include consideration of small-scale farmers, food security and indigenous peoples should be recognized.

CAN summarizes the main demands as follows: Comprehensiveness and completeness Parties should comprehensively report on and account for their emissions and removals from all sectors, including land use. All human-induced emissions contribute to climate change and removals help to mitigate it. Nations should account for “what the atmosphere sees” in terms of emissions and removals, when they occur. Parties’ reporting and accounting should be complete, meaning that it covers all significant sources and sinks, as well as all significant pools and gases for which methodologies are provided in the 2006 IPCC Guidelines or for which supplementary methodologies have been agreed by the UN. Completeness also means the full geographical coverage of the sources and sinks of a country.

Base year or period

The base year or period used for reporting and accounting for AFOLU should be consistent with a Party’s overall ADP contributions to facilitate comparability within a contribution, i.e., baseline periods should be the same for the AFOLU sector as others and be historical, not projected. Furthermore, the AFOLU base year/period should be measured using agreed methodologies to estimate the emissions, removals, and stocks of the sector. It may be advisable to use a base period rather than a base year, as studies conducted by CAN indicate that this would be more reliable for forestry and other land types.


The data sources, assumptions and methodologies used should be clearly explained, in order to facilitate the replication and assessment of information. The transparency of inventories and accounts is fundamental to the success of the process for the communication and consideration of information.


An inventory should be internally consistent for all reported years in all its elements across sectors, categories, pools and gases.

The same methodologies should be used for the base year or period and all subsequent years, and consistent data sets should be used to estimate emissions or removals.


Emission and removal estimates should be accurate in the sense that they are systematically neither over nor under true emissions or removals, and that uncertainties are reduced as far as practicable.

Appropriate methodologies should be used, in accordance with the 2006 IPCC Guidelines, to promote accuracy in inventories and accounts.

Compiled by Reinhold Pape. Source: CAN submissions to the UN. Link:

Delta blamed for ozone rise

Vehicle, factory and power plant emissions in the Pearl River Delta have pushed up the ozone level in Hong Kong, although general air quality continued to improve last year compared with 2014, the Environmental Protection Department says.

While preliminary data showed concentrations of all major pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and respirable suspended particulates, dropped in 2015 compared with 2014, the level of ambient ozone dropped slightly by 2 percent but was still 32 percent higher than in 1999.

The assistant director of environmental protection, Mok Wai- chuen, said ozone pollution produced from local emissions showed a decreasing trend over the past year.

“But the increase in the regional background, mainly due to PRD-originating emissions, has led to an overall increase in ambient ozone level,” he said.

Mok stressed that collaboration with the mainland is a must when tackling the increasing level of ozone.

But he did not say what actual measures have been or would be taken.

“The two sides of the government will prepare for a mid-term review on the emission reduction results for 2015 so as to finalize the emission reduction targets for 2020 in order to further improve regional air quality,” he said.

Data showed that Tuen Mun had the worst air quality last year, with 416 hours of the Air Quality Health Index at high or above, followed by Tung Chung with 346 hours.

Principal Environmental Protection Officer Shermann Fong Che-ping said the two areas were mainly affected by ozone.

Asked if the smog in China would possibly affect the SAR air quality, Mok said: “The air quality will be worse if the wind is from mainland because it will bring the pollutants from the land and human activities.”

Mok said the government aims to phase out 82,000 pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles by the end of 2019.

Three low emission zones have been set up at busy corridors in Central, Causeway Bay and Mong Kok for franchised buses whose emission performances meet Euro IV or above.

He believed that Hong Kong will reduce carbon intensity by 50 to 60 percent by 2020 compared with the 2005 level by committing to its control measures

Paris agreement marks “turning point” in history

Governments around the world have for the first time in history committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to tackle climate change, signalling an end to the fossil fuel era. Heads of businesses and organisations give their reactions to this landmark deal.

After 20 years of fraught meetings, including the past two weeks spent in an exhibition hall on the outskirts of Paris, negotiators from nearly 200 countries signed on to a historic deal on Saturday evening that outlined firm goals to limit temperature rise and to scrutinise government targets to get there.

Addressing delegates in the final closing session of the United Nations climate change conference, UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon congratulated negotiators for achieving what was a daunting task.

“History will remember this day the Paris agreement on climate change is a monumental success for the planet and its people,” he said.

In noting that the world has now entered the “low carbon age”, French President Francois Hollande said of the new agreement: “This is a powerful movement and this goes beond governments. This will revolutionise the world, but this agreement is only the beginning.”

(Read the Eco-Business live blog of events as they unfolded on the final day of COP21.)

Some key elements in the Paris Agreement included a target to limit global warming below 2 deg C, with further efforts to limit it below 1.5 deg C, a financing mechanism that will raise at least US$100 billion a year to help developing countries tackle climate change, and review and monitoring process that will track the transparency of pledges and raise its ambition in five-yearly cycles.

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan echoed Hollande’s view. Speaking at the final plenary, he described the agreement as not “perfect”, but a “good and necessary agreement” which “sets us on a collective journey for climate safety”.

Acknowledging that differentiation was a key hurdle during the negotiations in the run up to the final agreement, he noted that the challenge had always been how to create a fair system “that recognises the inequalities of the past, the diversity of the present, and the uncertainties of the future”.

Differentiation is a term used to describe the different level of responsibilities for countries, taking into account their history and unique national circumstances.

The current agreement, he said, “strikes the right balance between the developed countries and the developing Parties, the right balance between mitigation and adaptation, the right balance between means of implementation and ambition.”

Balakrishnan told Eco-Business in an interview shortly after the plenary ended that the agreement also sends a much-needed signal to the global business community.

Many businesses want “to do the right thing,” he said, “but they were hoping for a clear signal at a multilateral level”.

“So it’s very important for us to join the dots between businesses, and the environment. This agreement helps to join those dots,” he said.

United Nations Environment Programme executive director Achim Steiner noted that now the negotiations have concluded, the work continues.

“We must focus on implementing the solutions that drive an inclusive green economy, including renewable energy, green finance initiatives, and sustainability in transport, construction and other sectors.”

Here are some further reactions from the global business community and organisations on the Paris agreement.

Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group: “This is undoubtedly a momentous result and a watershed moment for mankind: it will enable us to unleash the trillions of investment that will spearhead a low carbon economy. Business, state and regional leaders have had a transformational role in the run up to Paris. They were committed to a deal being done because they are convinced that the low-carbon future is the only option for them. This agreement will allow them to go further and faster in their own ambitious plans and policies, and ensure that the transition to the new, smart economy is a swift one.”

Kumi Naidoo, executive director, Greenpeace International: “It sometimes seems that the countries of the United Nations can unite on nothing, but nearly two hundred countries have come together and agreed a deal. Today the human race has joined in a common cause, but it’s what happens after this conference that really matters. The Paris Agreement is only one step on long a road, and there are parts of it that frustrate and disappoint me, but it is progress. This deal alone won’t dig us out the hole we’re in, but it makes the sides less steep.”

Paul Simpson, CEO, CDP: “This monumental agreement by the world’s governments in Paris marks a critical ‎turning point for the global economy. The deal is an unequivocal signal to investors to shift trillions of dollars of capital to low-carbon solutions and to companies, in their turn, to invest in developing and scaling up clean technologies. Those that do will surely be the winners in the now inevitable transition to a low-carbon economy. At CDP, we will unreservedly support governments in implementing the agreement, keeping track of progress through transparency and helping companies to set targets in line with the science for a well-below 2 degree world.”

Sir Richard Branson, B Team Co-founder and Founder, Virgin Group: “Today, the course of history has shifted. Paris will be remembered for generations as a watershed moment when the people of the world came together and set us on a pathway to net-zero emissions, economic justice and shared prosperity. We have an opportunity to build a new economy, and business is poised to help make it happen. The “Paris effect” will ensure the economy of the future is driven by clean energy.”

Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General: “The Paris Agreement at COP21 marks a decisive turning point in our response to climate change. I strongly applaud this historic commitment and the robustness of a deal that includes an ambitious target for limiting the global temperature rise, a five-year review cycle, clear rules on transparency, a global goal for resilience and reducing vulnerability and a framework for supporting developing countries.”

Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever:“The consequences of this agreement go far beyond the actions of governments. They will be felt in banks, stock exchanges, board rooms and research centres as the world absorbs the fact that we are embarking on an unprecedented project to decarbonise the global economy. This realisation will unlock trillions of dollars and the immense creativity and innovation of the private sector who will rise to the challenge in a way that will avert the worst effects of climate change.”

Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder, President & Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post: “This is truly a turning point in human history. We now have the chance to advance the wellbeing of people everywhere, while creating millions of new jobs and ending our reliance on fossil fuels. This will help us build a safer, more peaceful world for all. This is exactly what business needs in order to thrive in the long run.”

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC: “The Paris deal gets us part of the way and ups the ante for climate action with a 1.5 degree Celsius goal. The race to stabilise the climate is now on in earnest. The industrial transformation required is bigger and more rapid than at any time in our history: it must be a just transition and it will take all of us.”

David Crane, B Team Leader: “The strong outcome in Paris sends a clear signal to the energy industry that clean energy is the future of their business. With the new global framework providing the guideposts, the time is now for energy consumers every where to demand clean energy in every aspect of their lives.”

Peter Agnefjäll, President and CEO, IKEA Group: “The Paris Agreement marks the start of a new journey in the fight against climate change. Over the last two weeks we have seen countries working together and businesses and civil society raising their voices for positive change. We are pleased to see that a solid commitment has been made. We will continue to invest in renewable energy and to transform our business with the confidence that governments are also committed to building a low-carbon economy. Only together can we build a better future.“

Peter Bakker, CEO, World Business Council for Sustainable Development: “2015 is a historic year and the news coming out of Paris is a major step forward by all governments of the world to safeguard the future of all life on our planet. I am so pleased that science and the many commitments from business, cities and citizens were heard. COP21 has resulted in the agreement of a tangible and ambitious global trajectory to reduce emissions during the century, making the transition to a low-carbon economy inevitable.

“This agreement is a resounding call to action to all businesses around the world to collaboratively scale up the implementation of solutions to reduce the emissions and lead the acceleration of the transition to a low carbon world. This will change everything.”

The costs of melting permafrost

Researchers have for the first time modelled the economic impact caused by melting permafrost in the Arctic up to the end of the twenty-second century.

The effects of melting permafrost in the Arctic could cost $43 trillion in extra economic damage by the end of the next century. This is in addition to the $300 trillion of economic damage already predicted according to researchers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Colorado in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change. This roughly corresponds to the combined gross domestic product last year of the US, China, Japan, Germany, the UK, France and Brazil.

The Arctic is warming at a rate that is twice the global average, due to anthropogenic, or human-caused, greenhouse gas emissions. If emissions continue to rise at their current rates, Arctic warming will lead to the widespread thawing of permafrost and the release of hundreds of billions of tonnes of methane and CO₂ – about 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon are held in permafrost soils in the form of frozen organic matter.

Rising emissions will result in both economic and non-economic impacts, as well as a higher chance of catastrophic events, such as the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets, increased flooding and extreme weather. Economic impacts directly affect a country’s gross domestic product (GDP), such as the loss of agricultural output and the additional cost of air conditioning, while non-economic impacts include effects on human health and ecosystems.

The scientists report that if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to rise as they are doing now, the thawing of the permafrost and the loss of the ice caps could release 1,700 billion metric tons of carbon now locked in as frozen organic matter.

The scientists used a computer model to simulate the impacts of what is now known as the business-as-usual-scenario, in which the world goes on burning more and more fossil fuels, until the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reaches 700 parts per million.

The researchers’ models predict $43 trillion in economic damage could be caused by the release of these greenhouse gases, an amount equivalent to more than half the current annual output of the global economy. This brings the total predicted impact of climate change by 2200 to $369 trillion, up from $326 trillion – an increase of 13 percent.

Their conclusion for expensive inaction: an extra $43 trillion bill. An aggressive strategy to limit thawing of the permafrost, on the other hand, could save the world $37 trillion.

Reinhold Pape
Source: Science Daily and Climate News Network
Journal Reference: 1. Chris Hope, Kevin Schaefer. Economic impacts of carbon dioxide and methane released from thawing permafrost. Nature Climate Change, 2015; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2807

Carbon emissions from aircraft endanger human health, says US EPA

Finding is first step to regulating emissions from industry, allowing US to implement global carbon dioxide emissions standard

The US Environmental Protection Agency has said greenhouse gases from aircraft endanger human health, taking the first step toward regulating emissions from the domestic aviation industry.

The EPA’s finding kicks off a process to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation industry, the latest sector to be regulated under the Clean Air Act after cars, trucks and large stationary sources like power plants.

The finding allows the EPA to implement domestically a global carbon dioxide emissions standard being developed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The UN agency is due to release its CO2 standard for comment in February 2016 and adopt it later that year.

US move to curb airplane emissions ‘may amount to greenwashing’

The EPA had been under pressure from environmental groups who first petitioned it to regulate aircraft emissions under the Clean Air Act in 2007 and sued it in 2010. A federal court ruled in favor of those green groups in 2012.

Aviation accounted for 11% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from the transportation sector in 2010 in the United States, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

The airline industry has favoured a global standard over individual national standards since airlines operate all over the world and want to avoid a patchwork of rules and measures, such as taxes, charges and emissions trading programs.

“If you’re a big airline and you’re flying to 100 countries a day, then complying with all those different regimes is an administrative nightmare,” said Paul Steele, the senior vice president at the International Air Transport Association, the main global airline industry group.

EU freezes airlines carbon emissions law

But some environmental groups are concerned that the standard being discussed at ICAO will do little to change the status quo since it would only apply to new and newly designed aircraft that will not be in operation for several years.

“The stringency being discussed at ICAO is such that existing aircraft are already meeting the standard they are weighing,” said Sarah Burt, an attorney at Earthjustice, one of several groups that sued the EPA to regulate aircraft.