Five things we learned about climate change this week

By John Parnell

The slow start to the year is well and truly over as events on both sides of the Atlantic grabbed the headlines. RTCC looks at five conclusions to draw from a busy week of climate change news.

John Kerry is serious about tackling it

The Secretary of State-elect faced a Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a nomination hearing and confirmed the strength of his resolve to address climate change.

“I will be a passionate advocate based not on ideology, but on facts and science,” he said.

Echoing the call of President Obama during his inaugural address on Monday, Kerry presented the fight as an opportunity as well as a challenge.

“This is a six trillion dollar clean energy market – and we better go after it,” said Kerry.

Less is more

Unilever announced it had cut its waste to landfill volume by 50% during 2012. A staggering 178 factories sent nothing to landfill at all saving €70m in the process.

Unilever were also named as a sector leader in the latest Sustainability Handbook along with Pepsi, Adidas, Air France and BMW.

Businesses are not only concerned about the threat to their operations, they’re doing something about it

The Perito Moreno glacier in the Andes, where melting has hit a 300 year record high (Source: Flickr/doug88888)

Melting glaciers have a human impact

Glaciers in the Andes are melting at the fastest rate in 300 years according to new research.

The glaciers represent 99% of all those in the tropics making them a critical indicator of climate change.

More than that, their demise is also a potential disaster for those that rely on their seasonal melt to stock up freshwater supplies. The Bolivian capital La Paz depends on glaciers for 27% of its water during the dry season.

Ignore Europe, carbon trading has a future

The recent troubles with the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and the collapse of the carbon price to less than €3 at one point will inevitably lead to criticism and doom-mongering.

But the ETS was an early mover and its ability to fix its shortcomings is restricted by process.

Elsewhere, lessons are being learned from the ETS experience. China’s seven carbon trading trials are using the ETS as the base model.

Meanwhile there is plenty of interest in establishing new schemes with Russia the latest to explore its options.

Carbon bomb projects are a global problem

The Greenpeace report into 14 of the largest fossil fuel exploration projects in the world picked many controversial ventures that have been criticised for their local impacts such as the Canada tar sands and Arctic drilling.

The greater problem could in fact be their massive potential contribution to atmospheric CO2 levels should they all be exploited fully.

The report claims this scenario would fast track us toward the dangerous scenario of 6°C of warming.

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