Climate Live: Brazilian dam cancelled, Bill Gates’ solar powered toilet, mummification and climate change

By John Parnell

– The day’s top climate change stories as chosen by RTCC
– Tweet @RTCCnewswire and use #RTCCLive hashtag
– Send your thoughts to [email protected]
– Updated from 0900-1700 BST (GMT+1)

Latest news – Wednesday 15 August

1700 The US State Department has come under fire over its climate change finance. An audit by the department’s Office of the Inspector General found that funds were not adequately supervised and in some instances 20% of pledged funds were siphoned out on overheads leaving less in the pot for climate projects.

1605 The Australian opposition has said it would back the country’s involvement in a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol. The Government has been more cautious about committing to the UN programme of binding carbon cuts. The first phase expires at the end of this year with a new period to be agreed at the UNFCCC climate talks in Doha this November.

1450 The energy crisis in Zimbabwe has left 90% of the population relying on firewood. The result is deforestation on a massive scale, an estimated 330,000 hectares a year.

1350 After doubts over US biofuel production during the drought (see Big question below), there are now growing calls for the EU to review its policies. The drought has limited harvests and raised food prices. Biofuel critics have asked for annual targets on ethanol production to be set aside this year in order to ease demand.

1250 Drilling has begun on potential geothermal energy sites in East Africa. The region sits at a junction of several tectonic plates creating ample opportunity to tap into geothermal energy. The area’s viability has been under examination for a long time but the drilling at three sites represents a breakthrough.

1130 As China prepares to ramp-up its own domestic coal production, Greenpeace warns that the expansion could put a serious strain in the country’s water supplies.

1030 A survey in Canada has found that just two percent of Canadians don’t believe in climate change. The country is under a lot of pressure from environmental groups for its record on tar sands exploration and for exiting the Kyoto Protocol.

0900 A study by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture has found that Africa could well be too hot for chocolate. Around half the world’s cocoa is grown in West Africa but researchers say a drought resistant crop must be bred to if the region is to be able to match global demand.

0840 Work has been halted on a massive hydropower project in Brazil after a judge ruled that indigenous people had not been consulted during the planning phase rendering some its permits null and void. Once completed the 11.2 GW dam Belo Monte dam would have been the third largest hydropower installation in the world behind the Three Gorges dam in China and Itaipu dam on the border between Brazil and Paraguay.

0835 While headlines about Bill Gates’ solar powered toilet may raise sniggers, there’s a more serious message here. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded $100,000 in start-up finance to a project that is developing a solar powered toilet that can recycle water and break waste down into a storable form of energy. Safe sanitation could save 1.5m children from death each year.

0830 A few surprising stories around this morning, this is the best. Natural climatic variations in South America may have kick-started a trend for mummification. As wetter conditions emerged along the coast of the Atacama desert, the Chinchorro people’s society flourished and part of this new found complexity was…mummification. Gory details and pictures here.

Top tweet

Reading list

This is very interesting…how the cap and trade of sulphur dioxide cut emissions by 43%, so why is it so much harder with carbon?

Why young environmentalists still have hope, from The Atlantic.

Big question…

Should the US ditch its biofuel production in the wake of the drought? The country has mandatory ethanol production targets but with crops struggling, should they be set aside this year?

Read more on: RTCC General News |