U.S. wants poor and rich countries alike to cut emissions under next climate treaty

If the U.S. gets its way, developing countries will need to roll up their sleeves and do more to slow down global warming.

The Obama administration is taking the position that poor and rich countries alike should be legally obligated to reduce the amount of climate-changing pollution that they produce after 2020, when a new climate treaty is expected to take effect. The Kytoto Protocol approach, which saw rich countries but not poor ones compelled to rein in greenhouse gas pollution, is “clearly not rational or workable” any more, U.S. officials argue in a new submission to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The next big U.N. climate meeting will be held in Lima, Peru, this December, and then Paris will host a bigger one in December 2015, at which world leaders hope to finalize the new climate treaty.

“[T]he United States supports a Paris agreement that reflects the seriousness and magnitude of what science demands,” Obama administration officials wrote in their 11-page U.N. submission, which was published on Wednesday. “As such, it should be designed to promote ambitious efforts by a broad range of Parties.”

Continue reading at Grist — http://grist.org/news/u-s-wants-poor-and-rich-countries-alike-to-cut-emissions-under-next-climate-treaty/

U.S. whacks India with WTO complaint over its local solar program

India is going gangbusters for solar. Over the past four years, the country has boosted its grid-connected solar capacity from 18 megawatts to 2,200 MW. The prime minister’s pet renewables project, the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, aims to increase that figure to 20,000 MW by 2022. And, as we told you yesterday, India has plans to build the world’s biggest solar array.

Such ambitions are helping the country slow the growth of its carbon emissions and are providing reliable electricity supplies to historically electricity-poor communities. And because the national solar program requires developers to use domestically made panels, it’s generating green jobs in a country where poverty is rampant.

Which all sounds great — unless you’re the U.S. government.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman says India’s rules requiring use of domestically produced solar panels unfairly discriminate against American panel manufacturers. He has been trying to smash open trade barriers around the world on environmental goods like solar panels and wind turbine components. On Monday, he announced that the U.S. would file a case with the World Trade Organization in a bid to abolish India’s rules on use of domestic panels. “Domestic content requirements detract from successful cooperation on clean energy and actually impede India’s deployment of solar energy by raising its cost,” Froman argued.

Continue reading at Grist … http://grist.org/news/u-s-whacks-india-with-wto-complaint-over-its-local-solar-program/

Which is more likely to drive people from their homes — floods or heat waves?

Floods get a lot of attention in our warming world. They can kill people and livestock, inundate crops, destroy infrastructure and homes — and they make great photo ops. Less attention — and less international aid — is directed to victims of intense heat waves that are also linked to climate change.

But it is these heat waves that are most responsible when Pakistanis leave their villages, new research suggests.

Continue reading at Grist … http://grist.org/news/which-is-more-likely-to-drive-people-from-their-homes-floods-or-heat-waves/

Indian bummer: Is Delhi the smoggiest city in Asia?

I cough a lot.

It’s a pervasive pulmonary curse here in Delhi where I live, courtesy of the city’s soupy winter smog.

The air pollution in India’s capital during the wind-deprived cold season is abominable. The sources are numerous and perpetual: It’s caused by soot spewed out of coal-burning power plants and from vehicles idling on congested roads. It’s caused by fires — large ones used to remove crop residue from surrounding farms, and small ones used for cooking and warmth by city dwellers.

Sometimes data shows that the air in Delhi is worse than it is in Beijing, that presumed global capital of vaporized carbon. Sometimes data shows the opposite. So which of these two polluted Asian megacities has dirtier air overall?

An unusual international brouhaha has just erupted over that very question, fueled by media coverage of Delhi’s pea-soup smog.

Continue reading at Grist: http://grist.org/news/indian-bummer-is-delhi-the-smoggiest-city-in-asia/

Get ready for more “extreme” El Niños

Batten down the worldwide hatches. Scientists say baby Jesus’ meteorological namesake will become a thundering hulk more often as the climate changes.

The latest scientific projections for how global warming will influence El Niño events suggest that wild weather is ahead. El Niño starts with the arrival of warm water in the eastern Pacific Ocean, and it can culminate with destructive weather around the world. It was named by Peruvian fishermen after the infant Jesus because the warm waters reached them around Christmas.

Continue reading at Grist

The India Problem

A powerful but unpredictable force is rising in the battle over the future of the climate. It’s the type of powerful force that’s felt when 1.2 billion people clamor for more electricity—many of them trying to light, heat, and refrigerate their ways out of poverty; others throwing rupees at excessive air conditioning and other newfound luxuries. And it’s the type of unpredictable force that’s felt when the government of those 1.2 billion is in election mode, clamoring for votes by brazenly blocking progress at international climate talks.

Hundreds of millions of Indians live in poverty, wielding a tiny per-person carbon footprint when compared with residents of the West and coming out on top of environmental sustainability surveys. But the country is home to so many people that steady economic growth is turning it into a climate-changing powerhouse. It has developed a gluttonous appetite for coal, one of the most climate-changing fuels and the source of nearly two-thirds of the country’s power. India recently overtook Russia to become the world’s third-biggest greenhouse gas polluter, behind China and the United States. (If you count the European Union as a single carbon-belching bloc, then India comes in fourth).

Continue reading at Slate … http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/energy_around_the_world/2013/11/india_blocking_climate_talks_warsaw_bangkok_and_kyoto_negotiations.html?wpisrc=burger_bar

U.N.: Hurry up on climate action or we’re screwed!

World, don’t lose heart, but you really need to hustle.

That’s the message from the United Nations as international climate delegates prepare to launch into a new round of negotiations next week aimed at cutting global greenhouse gas emissions.

The world agreed in 2009 to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.7 Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. But a report released Tuesday by the U.N. Environment Program reminds us that we’re not on track to meet that goal — not even close.

Even if all the pledges made to date by various governments to reduce their emissions are fulfilled, the report warns that temperature rise would still overshoot the 2-degree goal. That’s not to say it would be impossible to meet the goal, but a serious sense of urgency would be required.

Continue reading at Grist: http://grist.org/news/u-n-hurray-up-on-climate-action-or-were-screwed/

Leaked IPCC report: Humans are adapting — but hunger, homelessness, and violence lie ahead

If you are anything like us, you’re waiting for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to publish the next installment of its epically important assessment report with bated breath. Rejoice: The waiting is over, thanks to an intrepid sneak who leaked the doc ahead of schedule.

The latest leak gives us a peek at the second quarter of the most recent assessment (it’s the fifth assessment report since 1990 by the world’s leading climate change authority). The document, scheduled to be unveiled in March, deals with the severity of climate impacts and worldwide efforts to adapt to it.

Now, technically we’re supposed to wait until the final draft is officially published before sharing its contents with you climate-news-hungry readers. But we just can’t resist: Here is our summary of some of the upcoming report’s key findings, accompanied by a boilerplate warning: Despite being marked “final draft,” these conclusions could change between now and the official release in March.

Continue reading on Grist … http://grist.org/news/leaked-ipcc-report-humans-are-adapting-but-hunger-homelessness-and-violence-lie-ahead/