Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Savage Cuts

The Republicans in the US are wielding the financial axe with gusto and determination. 

They plan to deny all funding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and are also proposing to heavily cut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s budget.  They are targeting the EPA's recent move to regulate greenhouse gases by denying $8.4 million to its greenhouse gas registry, and by preventing it, through spending vetoes, from regulating emissions from power stations and cement factories.  The ability of the EPA to enforce regulations covering mountaintop removal coal mining will also be curtailed by targeted funding cuts. 

Montana State Representative Joe Read (Republican), demonstrates blatant, if short-sighted, economic self interest in a bill he introduced to the Montana State Legislature (HB 549).

Part of the bill reads....
The legislature finds:
a) global warming is beneficial to the welfare to the and business climate of Montana;
b) reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable effects on the environment; and
c) global warming is a natural occurence and human activity has not accelerated it.   

Denial, denial, denial.   

Greenhouse gases do not respect national borders.  The gutting of the EPA and the IPCC will likely severely affect their ability to research, regulate and inform. 

As the US struggles to economically outcompete China, its emissions will increase adding more to the atmospheric burden.  With less regulation and less internationally disseminated research,  the rate of this addition is likely to increase. 

This will impact on us all.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Oncoming train

The Wikileaks US Diplomatic cable reported recently by the Guardian makes for very scary reading.  The idea that Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter may have overstated its reserves by nearly 40% is actually very worrying, when you consider the consequences. 

With the price of crude oil at (on average) nearly $100 US a barrel and the huge input of oil into our industrialised food industry, it is no wonder that the UN FAO is reporting that the FAO Food Price Index (FFPI) rose last month, for the seventh consecutive month and is the highest since 1990. 

At home, the Guardian reports that two thirds of British pig farms are facing collapse within two years and that the price of pork is going to rise due to the increased cost of feeding

We must wake up and take drastic action to avoid the worst consequences of being hit by this oncoming train.  We are running out of time.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Save UK forests

The parliamentary vote on the UK Government proposal to sell off publicly owned forests in the UK is tomorrow.  Opposition to the proposal is growing.  If you have not already done so, you can email your MP and/or sign the petition here 

Our forests are vital as carbon sinks, wildlife habitats, for recreation and education.  Let's keep them in public ownership.

Filthy Money

The Canadian Energy Minister, Ron Liepert, has been visiting the UK to promote the Alberta Tar Sands as a "leading source of secure energy."

This has to do with the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) being negotiated between the EU and Canada (for the last 2 years), which is due to be finalised in 2012.

Of particular concern is the clause (reported by the Guardian), allowing corporations to sue states for compensation if they feel that their profits have been unfairly compromised. This is outrageous! What is more worrying is that this type of clause is not unusual. For example, Uruguay, folding under pressure from big tobacco or Dow Chemicals' legal action over Quebec's ban of 2, 4-D.

If CETA goes ahead, it may have an impact on the review of the EU Fuel Quality Directive, which is looking at whether to discriminate against carbon intensive fuels. This is certainly the concern of the UK Tar Sands Network, and a not unreasonable concern, looking at history.

Will we as taxpayers be forced in future to pay for compensation to Tar Sands investors?

A related, subsidiary point connected with this issue is the UK Government stake in The Royal Bank of Scotland, which has been investing in the Alberta Tar Sands.

What signal does this send to developing countries facing restrictions in order to be greener?