Climate News Roundup – Week of 11/22
Industrialized Nations Unveil Plans to Rein in Emissions, The New York Times
A succession of countries in the U.N. makes national pledges to reduce emissions in a hopeful precursor to climate negotiations in December. Mr. de Boer, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary, identified targets from every major developed country except the United States. He said that he was looking to the United States for a midterm target and a commitment of financial support for developing countries struggling to adapt. Although China also hasn’t offered a specific emissions reduction goal, as a developing country it is not required to do so under the current framework outlined by proposals. Representatives from the United States said that the current legislation being considered by Congress outlines a 17% reduction by 2020 and steeper reductions by 2030 and beyond; however, this bill will most likely not be addressed in the Senate until 2010, preventing the United States from making any substantive participation in upcoming international negotiations this December.
Norway and Guyana Sign Rainforest Deal, The Independent
Norway and Guyana sign one of the biggest forest conservation deals in international history. Norway has agreed to invest $250 million over the next five years to help preserve Guyana’s enormous rainforest (the preserve is larger than Great Britain) and help the country adapt to the effects of climate change. Rainforests function as potent carbon sinks and their destruction is considered a contributing factor in rising greenhouse gas levels. This deal is a landmark case in climate negotiations and will hopefully set a precedent for rich, developed nations to subsidize environmental preservation and climate change mitigation in poorer and less developed countries.
NASA’s Ames Research Center licenses a patent to Algae Systems LLC to produce a pilot algae bioreactor in Carson City, Nevada. This bioreactor is unique in that it uses wastewater, not fresh water, to supply algae with the nutrients necessary for growth. The technology uses forward-osmosis membranes to grow algae in wastewater through photosynthesis. In addition to fuel, oxygen, biomass, and cleansed water are byproducts of the process. NASA says that the technology is scalable and inexpensive enough to deploy on large-scales and meet our energy needs in a renewable fashion and can also help restore heavily polluted coastal areas by converting waste particles into algae.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham urges American lawmakers to ramp up nuclear development programs to meet our growing power needs in a carbon-free manner. Senator Graham pointed to France as an example – they meet 80% of their energy needs through nuclear sources – and talked about Generation IV reactors and their waste-recycling capabilities. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has also expressed support for nuclear development and in particular the European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), a Generation IV model that has generated interest in France, Britain, India, and Dubai. For more information on the ongoing nuclear “renaissance”, check out an earlier blog post.