Bridging the divide between developed and developing nations

Bridging the divide between developed and developing nations

Cross-posted from the Great Beyond The world’s biggest greenhouse gas polluters are poised to adjourn a series of meetings in Italy without any significant breakthroughs between developed and developing nations. Though hardly surprising, the news certainly reaffirms fears that it could be a long slog to Copenhagen. In this week’s issue of Nature, we take a look at some of the positions and ideas being put on the table by developing nations. The upshot is that many developing countries, recognizing the threats posed by climate change, are doing quite a bit to clean up their economies. Nonetheless, they remain understandably  … Read more

A better pathway for biomass?

Most of the biofuels debate as of late has been about the merits and trade-offs of various fuels, be they corn ethanol, sugarcane ethanol, biodiesel or more advanced second and third generation fuels. But a new study suggests we need to take a step back and consider an alternate pathway for biomass: Electricity.  Read more

White House sidesteps shift on HFC regulation

The White House this week stepped back from a proposal to shift regulation of hydrofluorocarbons from the United Nations climate convention into the Montreal Protocol, which has been successful in phasing down chemicals that damage the ozone layer (NYT’s dot.earth, Reuters).  Read more

Bad news: Aerosols are good for plants

The aerosol story just keeps getting more interesting. In addition to ongoing research about the direct impact of various aerosols on climate and temperature (see here and here, for example), there’s also the indirect impact on photosynthesis and carbon uptake. A study in this week’s Nature explores the latter phenomenon with regard to sulphur dioxide and comes up with some startling results.  Read more

Curbing emissions, the old-fashioned way

Massive economic collapse is by no means the preferred method for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but there’s no denying that shuttering plants, halting shipments and laying off workers gets the job done. Indeed, the crisis is poised to provide a reprieve, however temporary, from the alarmingly rapid growth in emissions witnessed in recent years.  Read more

McKinsey: options for a low-carbon economy

McKinsey & Company has mapped out a couple of conceivable scenarios that would put humanity on a pathway to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations well below 550 parts per million, an oft-cited and somewhat arbitrary target that increases the odds of avoiding a temperature increase of more than 2 degrees Celsius. Whether or not such action would actually guarantee said result is a different matter, but McKinsey suggests it’s possible to come in at 480 ppm, which leaves a little room for error.  Read more

Ramping up the Montreal Protocol

The argument for using a cap-and-trade system, or a carbon tax for that matter, to control greenhouse gases comes down to marshaling the troops. Everybody needs to play this game, and the surest way to make everybody play is to make winning profitable – and conversely to make losing costly. In other words, make the market work for you instead of against you. It’s a noble and likely necessary goal, but it’s not necessarily fast, nor perfect.  Read more