2013 SkS Weekly News Roundup #25A

Antarctic melting from underneath

Ice experts have long known that Antarctica is losing ice at the margins of its vast ice sheets, where the frozen continent meets the sea — presumably, they thought, from icebergs breaking off and floating away.

According to a report published in Science, however, more than half the ice loss is coming from warming ocean waters, which are melting the ice from underneath.

"This has profound implications for our understanding of interactions between Antarctica and climate change,” said lead author Eric Rignot, of the University of California, Irvine, in a press release.

Look Out Below: Antarctic Melting From Underneath by Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central, June 17, 2013

China launches first market to cap emissions

China will mark a climate change policy milestone on Tuesday when the city of Shenzhen launches the nation’s first trading scheme to reduce growth in greenhouse gas emissions, although analysts expect carbon markets to initially have only a modest impact.

China launches first market to cap emissions by Stian Reklev, Reuters Point Carbon, June 17, 2013

China takes cautious step towards carbon emissions trading

China launched its first pilot carbon emissions exchange on Tuesday, though plans for a nationwide roll out and efforts to apply the scheme to some polluting heavy industries could be undermined by a slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy

High-emission industries such as aluminium and steel are likely to resist higher costs as they are already battling weak prices due to tepid demand and a persistent supply gut.

"It is a very big concern for Beijing and for local governments - how to strike a balance between controlling emissions and maintaining economic growth especially amid a general slowdown in the economy," said Shawn He, lawyer and carbon specialist at the Hualian legal practice in Beijing.

China takes cautious step towards carbon emissions trading by David Stanway, Reuters, June 18, 2013

Global warming appears to have slowed lately

So what should we make of this recent “slowdown” in global warming? Is it just a random blip — the sort of natural variation we’ve seen before and will likely see again? Or does it tell us anything interesting about climate change?

Global warming appears to have slowed lately. That’s no reason to celebrate. by Brad Plumer, Wonkblog, Washington Post, June 14, 2013

Obama considers sweeping climate plan

WASHINGTON The Obama administration is considering a sweeping initiative to address climate change, including the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide from power plants, the country's biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The White House has yet to settle on specific measures, but "we're hearing that existing power plants are definitely in the mix," said a person with knowledge of the deliberations, who, like others, asked not to be identified to talk about White House discussions. An announcement could come by mid-July.

Obama considers sweeping climate plan by Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau, Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2012

Obama fails to use National Environmental Policy Act 

President Barack Obama has vowed to tackle climate change in his second term, but so far has not acted to strengthen a tool that does not require backing from Congress – the National Environmental Policy Act.

NEPA, a statute that dates to the Nixon administration, calls on officials to weigh whether projects such as highways, dams or oil drilling could harm the environment.

While it does not have the power to block development, NEPA forces officials to consider the environment before approving federal projects, and the White House has proposed that climate change should rank high among those concerns.

Obama fails to use National Environmental Policy Act despite calls for climate change action by Reuters, The Raw Story, June 16, 2013

UN global warming talks blocked by Russia

The United Nations global warming talks have been set back by six months after Russia and its allies blocked progress at a group charged with implementing decisions of the 190 nations involved in the discussions.

The Subsidiary Body for Implementation at the UN talks failed to complete any work at two weeks of meetings in Bonn that finished today because Russia, Ukraine and Belarus objected to the group’s agenda.

UN Global Warming Talks Blocked by Russia Set Back Six Months by Alessandro Vitelli and Stefan Nicola, Bloomberg News, June 14, 2013

U.S. airports face increasing threat from rising seas

When Hurricane Sandy struck New York City on October 29, 2012, the dark waters of Flushing Bay poured over the edges of LaGuardia Airport, flooding parts of the facility’s 7,000-foot long east-west runway, and damaging lighting and navigation systems. The floodwaters created an eerie image of jetways ending in water, as if they had been converted into boat ramps.

This was not the first time that LaGuardia suffered major flooding during a storm, nor will it be the last. Due to climate change-related sea level rise, LaGuardia and other coastal hubs throughout the U.S. face a growing risk of flooding during even modest storms.

draft federal assessment of climate change impacts, which was released on Jan. 11, named a dozen major U.S. airports as being particularly vulnerable to sea level rise-related flooding risks, including all three of the major New York-area airports. And just last week, a new report found that the New York metropolitan area may face a greater amount of sea level rise during the next several decades than was anticipated just a few years ago.

U.S. Airports Face Increasing Threat From Rising Seas by Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, June 18, 2013

Vulnerable states decry slow progress at Bonn climate talks

Two weeks of U.N.-led climate talks in Bonn ended on Friday in an atmosphere of frustration, with participants bemoaning insufficient progress on everything from securing financial support for vulnerable poor countries to protecting forests.

The meeting was the last before the year’s major climate negotiations in Warsaw in November. Action there could be held back by the weak outcomes from Bonn, negotiators and observers said – a worry as extreme weather appears to be on the rise, causing widespread flooding in Europe and serious wildfires in the United States in recent days.

Vulnerable states decry slow progress at Bonn climate talks by Laurie Goering, Thomson Reuters Foundation, June 17, 2013

What to do about climate change

THE INTERNATIONAL Energy Agency (IEA) last week warned that global carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 were the highest ever. Yet international climate negotiations have floundered. Many Americans and their representatives in Congress still doubt climate change is a problem worth addressing. And as the developing world advances, its peoples are polluting more to obtain higher standards of living.

Forget for a moment the ideal or rational response; what’s the bare minimum global leaders could do? The IEA had some useful, if modest, suggestions.

What to do about climate change, Editorial Board, Washington Post, June 16, 2013

Posted by John Hartz on Wednesday, 19 June, 2013

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