Costa Rican to become new UN climate chief

Cross-posted from Quirin Schiermeier on The Great Beyond Christiana Figueres, a Costa Rican climate diplomacy expert, is to become the new head of the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention of Climate Change. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to confirm her appointment later in the week, the BBC reports. Figueres, daughter of former Costa Rican president Jose Figueres Ferrer, has been involved in the international climate negotiation process since 1995. The UN’s outgoing climate chief, Yvo de Boer of the Netherlands, announced in February to step down on July 1 after nearly four years in office. The run-off has been  … Read more

IPCC apologises for Himalayan glacier melt error

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has conceded an error when stating in its last report, released 2007, that Himalayan glaciers are likely to melt by 2035. The claim has been criticized by numerous glaciologists for being highly unplausible (see Glacier estimate is on thin ice)  … Read more

The real holes in climate science

When I started working last month on a news feature about gaps in climate science I was expecting a tough reporting job. Too fresh, so I thought, were the scars the field and many leading scientists had received from the hacking affair at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) in Norwich to readily discuss with a reporter the ‘dirty laundry’ (my phrase) of climate science.  Read more

Warming speeds carbon release from peat

Warming speeds carbon release from peat

Northern peatlands, typical for subarctic Scandinavia and Russia, contain one third of the world’s soil organic carbon. How much extra carbon these soils will release to the atmosphere, through accelerated respiration in a warmer climate, has been pretty much guesswork. Data from an eight-year in situ experiment carried out in Sweden now suggest that even modest warming will release enough extra carbon to effectively equalize the European Union’s emissions reductions achieved under the Kyoto Protocol.  Read more

What the G8 target means

The G8 meeting last week – the last get-together of the leaders of the world’s major industrialized nations before the United Nations climate summit in December – was loaded with expectations as to what Obama & Co might give climate negotiators to take with them to Copenhagen.  Read more

Plant power

Why carbon dioxide concentrations over the past 24 million years or so have never dropped below 200 parts per million, despite environmental conditions that have been favourable for CO2 drawdown by rock weathering and sedimentation, has always been a bit of a mystery.  Read more

Europe looks to draw power from the Sahara

Cross-posted from The Great Beyond A gargantuan plan of supplying European consumers with electricity generated in the Saharan desert could see the light of day earlier than even the most optimistic solar energy aficionados had expected. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, a group of 20 large German companies, led by the reinsurance giant Munich Re, and also including Siemens, Deutsche Bank and RWE, is determined to go ahead with an €400 billion project known as Desertec. If fully realized, the envisaged network of huge solar thermal power plants across North Africa could provide up to 15 % of Europe’s overall  … Read more

Perestroika and permafrost

Perestroika and permafrost

Russia has been a rather puzzling actor in the complicated diplomatic game which resulted in the Kyoto protocol, and which will be played out again in Copenhagen in December. Climate warming doesn’t make headlines, and has so far not been a big concern, between Moscow and Vladivostok. What prompted Russian leaders to ratify Kyoto was the prospect of making good money from emissions trading, rather than conviction that man-made climate change is a real phenomenon and a threat to society.  Read more