When people think of climate change, they think of carbon dioxide. But while CO2 represents 77 percent of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, its relative contribution may be declining. According to two studies published late last year, atmospheric levels of other, more potent gases that also affect climate are on the rise. One such gas is nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), which is used to make retail items like microchips and flat-screen TVs. Atmospheric NF3 seems to be growing by 11 percent each year across the globe. NF3 lingers in the air for 550 years, on average, and is 17,000 times better at trapping heat than CO2 on a molecule-per-molecule basis. A more immediate problem for climate change is methane, which is released by landfills and melting permafrost and through farming practices. Levels of this gas are increasing today after eight years of stasis. Methane remains in the atmosphere one-tenth as long as CO2—about a decade—but traps 20 times as much heat.
Posts Tagged ‘greenhouse gas emissions’
Japan has ruled out cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 — the most ambitious possible action according to a reference target set by a U.N. panel of climate scientists. Agreeing a 2020 target to curb greenhouse gases is one of the most contentious aspects for rich countries of U.N. climate talks meant to end with a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol in December this year. Japan is expected to announce its 2020 goal by June. The country argues that because it is so energy efficient already, it will be more expensive to meet the same emissions-cutting target of other rich countries.
Analysis Discloses the Amount of Ecological Damage Caused to Developing Countries by World’s Richest CountriesMonday, January 5th, 2009
The environmental damage caused to developing nations by the world’s richest countries amounts to more than the entire third world debt of $1.8 trillion, according to the first systematic global analysis of the ecological damage imposed by rich countries. There are huge disparities in the ecological footprint inflicted by rich and poor countries on the rest of the world because of differences in consumption. The researchers examined so-called “environmental externalities” or costs that are not included in the prices paid for goods but which cover ecological damage linked to their consumption. They focused on six areas: greenhouse gas emissions, ozone layer depletion, agriculture, deforestation, overfishing and converting mangrove swamps into shrimp farms. The team confined its calculations to areas in which the costs of environmental damage are well understood.
Congressional Democrats, led by Senator Barbara Boxer, called for the head of the US Environmental Protection Agency, Stephen Johnson, to resign, saying they lost all confidence in his ability to follow the law. Johnson is the agency chief who went against his scientific staff’s recommendations to allow California to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions in advance of any potential federal regulations. An agency deputy head has in recent weeks claimed that Johnson was actually leaning toward granting California its waiver until the White House pressured him otherwise. Other emails that the White House didn’t like – notably the one saying that greenhouse gases endanger the public – it simply refused to open.
House Representative John Dingell, a democrat, submitted a climate draft legislation that could be the foundation for the global warming debate in the House of Representatives next year. The bill would create a cap-and-trade system to reduce covered US greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 80 percent by mid-century (representing an overall reduction of more than 70 percent). Advocates of climate regulation were cautiously optimistic. They credited the committee with deploying a strong long-term strategy, but criticized the short-term reductions as well as proposals to preempt state regulations and curtail EPA regulatory authority.