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June 6th, 2008:

130pc Rise In Carbon Emissions

IEA urges US$45tr ‘energy revolution’

Global power body warns of 130pc rise in carbon emissions

Reuters in Tokyo – Updated on Jun 06, 2008

World governments had to quickly start a US$45 trillion “energy technology revolution” or risk a 130 per cent surge in carbon emissions by 2050, the International Energy Agency warned on Friday.

In a report commissioned by Group of Eight top industrialised nations leaders three years ago, the IEA also said that a goal of halving emissions by 2050 would require that the cost of carbon rise to US$200 a tonne and possibly as high as US$500 a tonne. Carbon emissions credits rights now trade in Europe at only about US$30 a tonne.

Japan is urging G8 leaders to set a global target to halve greenhouse gases by 2050, when they meet at a G8 summit in Toyako, northern Japan, next month. The group’s energy ministers meet this weekend in Japan.

The report also said that oil demand would rise 70 per cent if governments continued with current policies – an increase it said was equivalent to five times Saudi Arabia’s production.

“We are very far from sustainable development, despite the widespread recognition of the long-term problem. In fact, CO2 emissions growth has accelerated considerably in recent years,” said Nobuo Tanaka, Executive Director of the IEA, the energy watchdog for industrialised nations.

Scientists say the world must brake and reverse annual increases in greenhouse gas emissions to avoid catastrophic climate change including rising seas and more extreme weather.

Environment ministers from the G8 urged their leaders last month to set a global target to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

A massive research and development effort would be needed in the next 15 years costing about US$10 billion to US$100 billion per year to develop technology to cut CO2 emissions, the IEA said in its Energy Technology Perspectives report.

“Emissions halving implies that all options up to a cost of US$200 per tonne CO2 will be needed. This is based on a set of optimistic assumptions for technology development. Under less optimistic assumptions, options that would cost up to US$500 per tonne CO2 may be needed,” Mr Tanaka said.

The report said the power sector would need to be “decarbonised” by installing CO2 capture and storage on 35 coal- and 20 gas-fired power plants a year between 2010 and 2050, each with a cost of US$1.5 billion. The sector would also need to build 32 new nuclear plants and install 17,500 wind turbines each year.

The IEA, established during the world’s last major energy crisis in the 1970s, also stressed the energy security benefits of halving emissions, which would effectively reduce total oil demand in 2050 to 27 per cent below 2005 levels.

“A global energy technology revolution is both necessary and achievable; but it will be a tough challenge,” Mr Tanaka said. “We need to act now.”

The report comes ahead of a meeting of Group of Eight energy ministers – plus their peers from China, India and South Korea – in the northern Japanese city of Aomori this weekend, where they will face the daunting task of agreeing on the role of consumer nations in stemming oil’s five-year price rally.

Record oil prices have triggered protests across Europe, pushed airlines into the red and forced Asian nations into unwanted fuel price rises, intensifying inflationary pressures. Coal and natural gas costs have also surged, adding pressure to household and industrial power prices as well.

We Must Kick Carbon Addiction

We must kick carbon addiction, warns Ban

UN chief marks World Environment Day with sobering reflection on climate change

Reuters in Wellington – Updated on Jun 06, 2008

The United Nations chief urged the world yesterday to wean itself off carbon dioxide, saying everyone must take steps to fight climate change.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said global warming was becoming the defining issue of the era and would hurt rich and poor alike.

“Our world is in the grip of a dangerous carbon habit,” Mr Ban said on World Environment Day, which was marked by events around the globe.

The main ceremony was hosted by the New Zealand city of Wellington.

“Addiction is a terrible thing. It consumes and controls us, makes us deny important truths and blinds us to the consequences of our actions,” he said, reinforcing this year’s World Environment Day theme of “CO2 – Kick the Habit”.

“Whether you are an individual, an organisation, a business or a government, there are many steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. It is a message we all must take to heart.”

World Environment Day, conceived in 1972, is the United Nations’ principal day to mark green issues and give a human face to problems and solutions.

New Zealand, which boasts snow-capped mountains, untouched forests and pristine fjords used as the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, has pledged to become carbon neutral.

“We take pride in our clean, green identity as a nation and we are determined to take action to protect it,” New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said.

“We appreciate that protecting the climate means behaviour change by each and every one of us.”

New Zealand, like many countries, staged art and street festivals to spread the message on how people can reduce carbon usage.

New Zealand Post has asked staff to bring a magazine or book to work and swap it to reduce their carbon footprint.

In Australia, Adelaide Zoo staged a wild breakfast for corporate leaders to focus on how carbon emissions threaten animal habitats.

In Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, people were cleaning up badly polluted Gulshan-Baridhara Lake, and in Kathmandu, the Bagmati River Festival focused on cleaning up the waterway.

Many Asian cities, such as Bangalore and Mumbai, planned tree-planting campaigns, while the Indian city of Pune opened a “Temple of Environment” to help spread green awareness.

Global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are rising quickly and scientists say the world faces rising seas, melting glaciers and more intense storms, droughts and floods as the planet warms.

A summit of the Group of Eight nations on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido next month is due to formalise a goal agreed a year ago that global carbon emissions should be reduced by 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

But some nations think the cuts should be deeper, leading to a reduction of 80 per cent of carbon emissions by 2050 to stabilise carbon dioxide concentrations in the air to limit global warming.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said climate change was already a reality.

“We have been experiencing the worst drought in living memory and our inland rivers are running dry,” he said.

“We are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050.

“We will implement emissions trading as the primary mechanism for achieving this target.”

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said the greening of the world’s economy would cost as little as a few 10ths of global GDP over 30 years and would be a driving force for innovation, new businesses and employment.

The UNEP urged greater energy efficiency in buildings and appliances and a switch towards cleaner and renewable forms of electricity generation and transport.

It said more than 20 per cent of new investment in renewable energy was in developing countries, with China, India and Brazil taking the lion’s share.

Renewables now provide about 5 per cent of global power generation and 18 per cent of new investment in power. But the UN body said an estimated 20 per cent of carbon emissions came from deforestation and urged developing nations to save their forests as carbon sinks.

Mong Kok Development Plan

What do you think of the Mong Kok development plan?

Updated on Jun 06, 2008 – SCMP

Another day and another letter from the Urban Renewal Authority assuring us that their latest plan, this time to erect a wall of concrete over public recreational facilities at Macpherson Stadium in Mong Kok, the only open space in the vicinity, is not only going to have no negative effect on the heavily polluted district, but will actually improve ventilation (Talkback, June 2).

As every project proposed by the URA is accompanied by a declaration on the lines of “the URA has commissioned an environmental consultant to carry out an air ventilation assessment”, and all the reports are unanimously in favour of the projects, one has to be sceptical of these assessments.

Who is this consultant and where can we read the full report?

The URA is a juggernaut out of control.

It will stop at nothing in its drive to turn every plot in urban areas into a high-rise behemoth, regardless of the disastrous effect this will have on the local community.

No public facility is safe, so what next? Mega towers on Victoria Park with the park facilities placed on podiums, a multi-storey tower on the roof of the Tin Hau Temple in Yau Ma Tei? Anything is possible.

It is no wonder that all the richest men in the city are property developers and that, excluding the mainland, Hong Kong now has a reputation as one of the most polluted cities in Asia.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui

Yau Wrong On Emission Caps

Updated on Jun 06, 2008 – SCMP

I refer to the report (“Audrey Eu throws down gauntlet over environment chief’s carbon dioxide stance”, June 3).

The challenge by Ms Eu was made at the bills committee meeting discussing the Air Pollution Control (Amendment Bill).

Ms Eu wants a “public debate on why carbon dioxide could not be included” in the bill.

Secretary for the Environment Edward Yau Tang-wah told the meeting: “There is no country, as far as we know, where a similar emissions cap is devised for carbon dioxide.”

I was stunned by this comment. With more than 25 countries involved, covering more than 10,000 installations, the European Union Emission Trading Scheme provides more than enough examples to choose from.

Emissions trading is an expanding financial market allowing those with emission caps placed upon them to achieve reductions in the most cost-effective manner.

The degree of importance that this government places on air quality for its citizens is highlighted by a recent conference on emissions trading held by Civic Exchange which was oversubscribed by business, commercial and interested community leaders but which only a single government representative signed up for.

It is still to be confirmed if in fact the representative did turn up.

Shane Spurway, Mid-Levels