2010 a Top-Three Warmest Year

A press release by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) yesterday, December 2nd, announced that 2010 will rank in the top three of the warmest years on record. The announcement was made as part of COP 16. The press release states that the average global surface temperature for 2010 (Jan to October) is estimated to be almost 1 degree Fahrenheit above the 1961–1990 annual average.  This is higher than the average surface temperature for 1998 and 2005, the two hottest years on record.  However, the finalized value won’t be known until early 2011 when the Nov. and Dec. averages are known.  The release also goes on to state that 2001-2010 is the hottest decade on record and discusses some of the major climate events that occurred this year.

Hopefully, this will be more fuel for the fire (no pun intended) for the ongoing climate negotiations at COP 16.  The full press release can be found here.

Written by KEVIN REED.

UNEP on Ocean Acidification

Today in Cancun the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report titled “Environmental Consequences of Ocean Acidification: A Threat to Food Security.” The report investigates the impacts of increasing carbon dioxide emissions on the world’s oceans. As the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rises, the amount of carbon dioxide that dissolves in the ocean rises as well. As a result, the pH of the oceans falls and the oceans become more acidic. This process is referred to as ocean acidification and it is now thought to have a significant impact on the world’s oceans.

The report sheds light on the consequences of ocean acidification on marine organisms, which may alter species and force damaging changes to marine ecosystems. These consequences may ultimately alter human activities related to the world’s oceans, including fishing and tourism. It is expected that increases in ocean acidification in the future, due to increased carbon dioxide emissions, would impact the food chain of billions of people that rely on world’s oceans for food. It is certainly a growing issue.

The press release and report can be found here.

Written by KEVIN REED.

IPCC Activites Update

Yesterday, members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including Chairman Pachauri, gave an update on IPCC activities and the progress of AR5 to the attendees of COP 16.  The first part of the report, “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis”, is due to be released in 2013.   Chairman Pachauri states that the outline of the synthesis report is already complete.  In addition, great strides have been made to improve AR5, including the strengthening of the processes and procedures of the IPCC.

There are also two special reports that are in preparation by the IPCC.  The first special report, “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation”, will detail what are the observed and projected changes in climate extremes and disasters.  The second special report, “Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation”, is focused on all aspects of alternative energy sources, including bioenergy, solar, geothermal, hydro, ocean and wind.  The report will also consist of a chapter on mitigation potential and costs for the individual renewable energy sources.

Overall, it seems that the IPCC is making an increased effort in communication, and this AR5 and special report update at the COP is evidence of that.  More information on the IPCC and the upcoming reports can be found here.

Written by KEVIN REED.

U.S. and India pave way for White Roofs, smarter appliances

The U.S. and India have teamed up through the University of California Berkeley-India Joint Leadership on Energy and the Environment (BIJLEE) to develop new energy-saving appliances, market strategies, and cost-effective energy reduction techniques. Of their various programs, I really found the white roof concept fascinating.

Per Jayant Sathaye, Co-Director of the  US-India Joint International Program with Berkeley University, the use of white roofs has proven to substantially lower building temperatures and their associated  costs and CO2 output through associated energy consumption reduction. Dr. Sathaye indicated that “If you have 100 sq meters of gray roof and transfer to white, you offset the emission of 10 tons of CO2. If we convert all possible rooftops to white roofs, we would save 24 Gigatonnes of CO2 emissions, the equivalent of pulling 300 million cars off the streets.”

For those of you studying green buildings, energy efficiency, or energy policy, this might be something to look at, as companies such as Walmart are already beginning to implement this strategy and saving a great deal.

Additionally, the organization is looking into creating the market and supply chain necessary to develop the next wave of smart appliances. The industry is moving towards minimal emission and post-life use appliance development, and India has even implemented a much more comprehensive Energy Star rating system to help consumers of both appliances and office space make more conscious purchasing decisions. Perhaps this would be a good thing for SNRE BEC students to look into.

A great session overall, and I would be glad to discuss more upon my return for those interested in these projects.

Written by MIGUEL SOSSA.

Ratification of Kyoto Protocol Extension unlikely this week

Photo: Courtesy of Juan Cespedes, The University of Michigan COP 16 Envoy’s guest photographer

From inside the UN Delegation Hall:

Only 132 countries of the expected 190 delegations are present in today’s meetings. Only a few delegations – less than 25 by my count – have offered any indication that they will ratify an extension of the Kyoto Protocol during the next two weeks of meetings. With commitment and delegation attendance lower than expected, there is concern amongst attendees that the Kyoto Protocol extension will remain in jeopardy of its 2012 expiration date.

Thus far, there appears to be more talk than action from UN delegations. Also, I am trying to figure out why every delegation has the same colored name placard except the United States. Maybe because they are one of the few Kyoto holdouts? More on that to come.

Written by MIGUEL SOSSA.