Wednesday, 22 April 2009


1. How to ride in an SUV on aid work

2. How to outsource your own job

Friday, 17 April 2009

Workshop in Bonn on climate, agriculture and trade

Presentations from meeting on climate change, agriculture and trade organized by ICTSD

Black carbon

Black carbon : New rival to carbon dioxide as cause of global warming

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Selling a carbon tax to the electorate

Tom Friedman of the NY Times argues for a carbon tax over cap and trade

"People get that — and simplicity matters. Americans will be willing to pay a tax for their children to be less threatened, breathe cleaner air and live in a more sustainable world with a stronger America. They are much less likely to support a firm in London trading offsets from an electric bill in Boston with a derivatives firm in New York in order to help fund an aluminum smelter in Beijing, which is what cap-and-trade is all about. People won’t support what they can’t explain".

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Biofuels impact on water quality

The environmental impact of ethanol production, from University of Cornell

"The current focus on ethanol production is
centered on the food versus fuel debate.
While this is understandable, there are
serious environmental consequences from
the implementation of current ethanol
policies, throughout the world. Much of the
current environmental concern focuses
either on habitat loss or GHG emission
during land clearing and tillage operation.

We conclude that continuing the current
direction in ethanol production, particularly
with the focus remaining on grain and sugar
crops as primary feedstocks, has serious
implications for coastal water quality and
will almost certainly worsen, already serious
hypoxic conditions in many locations around
the world".

Killing fish with corn and cows

How does a US govt requirement to grow ethanol end up killing fish?

Put down that Quarter Pounder the fish get it, via WSJ

That’s a conclusion of a new scientific paper that looks at what it would take to produce the amount of ethanol required by the federal government in coming years.

To hit the 2015 ethanol mandate, a lot of land currently set aside in conservation programs and other land used for soybean cultivation would need to be converted to corn. Growing all that corn means more fertilizer, which will feed into the Mississippi River and end up in the Gulf of Mexico.

The increased use of nutrient-enriched crop production is a key cause of “harmful algal blooms … oxygen depletion … and overall fisheries habitat decline,” the authors point out. In other words, to grow enough corn to meet renewable fuel standards will mean increasing the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico.

UK climate policy destined to fail

From the Tyndale Centre

"The CCC Report (UK Government Policy on climate change) is not in line with the level of global emissions cuts required to prevent breaching the 2°C threshold between ‘acceptable’ and ‘dangerous’ climate change".

Dealing with carbon leakage - rebates

US proposal to deal with competitiveness under a cap and trade programme

As part of the cap-and-trade program, the U.S. government would distribute rebates to manufacturing industries affected by foreign competition that doesn’t have to pay for emitting carbon. These rebates would be limited to U.S.-based manufacturing industries with globally traded products, including iron, steel, pulp, paper, cement, rubber, basic chemicals, glass, and aluminum, which meet specific eligibility criteria. In the event that an international agreement cannot be reached soon, the rebates are designed to compensate those industries that will incur additional compliance costs for direct and indirect carbon emissions under a U.S. cap-and-trade regime and face competition from overseas manufacturers located in countries without similar greenhouse gas-reduction requirements....

in the unlikely event that the rebate provisions are determined to be ineffective, then the proposed legislation authorizes the president to implement a so-called “border adjustment” program...

while the rebate provisions are not beyond WTO scrutiny, they are less likely than the border adjustments to raise trade or WTO issues as they do not involve potentially discriminatory treatment against imports.

via Climate Progress

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Comparing cap and trade versus tax


1. Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

2. From an academic viewpoint Environmental Economics blog

Bringing agriculture in climate negotiations

Agriculture for the first time discussed last Saturday in the UNFCCC climate change negotiations

Friday, 3 April 2009

Organic and food safety - II

According to an organic newsletter from Biofach

Conventionally grown food in Europe is still heavily contaminated with
pesticide residues
. Of the 17,039 samples from monitoring programmes and
official food safety measures in Germany in 2007, only 39 % were not
contaminated. 57 % of all samples were contaminated up to the
permissible limit. 4.5 % of products from Germany, 5 % from other EU
member states and 9.5 % of fruit and vegetable samples from non-EU
countries were above the legally permitted limit. Right at the top of
the list in the “National Report on Pesticide Residues 2007” is paprika
powder, of which up to 80 % is contaminated with a cocktail of as many
as 30 different chemical residues.
Organic food contained pesticide residues much less frequently and in
smaller amounts than conventionally grown food, but as many as 0.9 % of
these products were also contaminated above the legal limits.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Carbon labels OpEd

My OpEd on carbon labels in the BBC Green Room today