Five things we learned about climate change this week

By John Parnell

The Keystone XL pipeline attracted the largest civil disobedience action in the US for a generation. (Source: Wiki/Ekabhishek)

President Obama, Ban Ki-moon and NASA all had something to say in a hectic week of climate change news. RTCC runs through five ideas to takeaway from the week.

Keystone XL got ditched, but verdict doesn’t represent a green revolution in the Whitehouse

The Keystone XL oil pipeline was blocked by President Obama after the Republicans hastened the decision making process. Green groups celebrated, but the company behind the project to pump tar sands oil from Canada to the US Gulf Coast has already said it will reapply with a new route.

Obama’s statement on the verdict did not carry any environmental message or rallying cry against big oil, it simply said that there wasn’t time to force it through and ensure the correct protections are in place. Expect round two soon.

The Fukishima effect is over

Support for new Nuclear energy is growing in the UK, according to stats released by pollsters Ipsos MORI. The chief economist of the IEA warned that sidelining nuclear energy would have a negative impact on our attempts to reduce CO2 levels.

Saudi Arabia and China signed a nuclear cooperation deal. The BP Energy Outlook 2030predicts no decline in nuclear power. Like it or not, nuclear energy would appear to be here to stay.

Somerset should have its own time zone/UK democracy is flawed

A bill in the UK calling for the country to permanently wind the clocks forward an hour was unsuccessful after MPs made outlandish amendments, quoted the bible and hid in the toilets in order to waste time. The session ended before a vote could be held.

The Lighter for Later campaign, organised by UK climate action group 10:10 claimed that the move could save the country 447,000 tons of CO2. MPs were split.

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg tabled an amendment to the bill that would have seen the county of Somerset return to its own time, as each region in the country did before the railways standardised time in 1840. The filibuster tactics were widely condemned.

Sustainable energy has gone from buzzword to big business

The World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi highlighted just how big clean energy has become. If the agenda there doesn’t convince you, Bloomberg New Energy Finance were kind enough to put a figure on it – $260 billion worth of investment in renewable energy in 2011.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said there was no reason why sustainable energy couldn’t spread throughout the developing world.

Climate change is not just about carbon and we shouldn’t forget it

Carbon trading, carbon taxes, carbon footprints, it is easy to understand why CO2 dominates the argument, but anthropogenic climate change is far more complex.

A NASA study highlighted the short term gains of a focus on cutting soot and methane. Meanwhile a nitrogen oxide cloud was found over India and China linked to their burgeoning economies.

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