Green Mandate Sparks E.U. Lawsuit

Latvia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Estonia are suing the European Union after it tightened carbon quotas in response to complaints that it was too generous in permitting emissions. To meet the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol, the multinational body has committed to cutting carbons emissions by 20 percent by the end of the next decade. But E.U. officials have avoided discussing burden-sharing among poorer states, who insist that meeting the targets will reduce their competitiveness. Sources:
“Latvia becomes sixth country to fight EU emissions caps”
EUObserver, August 1, 2007

Carbon Trading Beset by Fraud and Doubt

A new report finds the most common system for trading carbon emissions, which allows rich European countries to continue polluting while also investing in environmental projects in developing countries, has major flaws. The report finds that as many as a third of the “green” projects approved in India are actually regular commercial ventures, wrongly approved by fraudulent middlemen. Those concerns led British airline Easyjet to cut out the middleman entirely, buying U.N.-backed carbon credits on the open market and selling them directly to passengers. The Guardian reports that scientists have doubts about how effective carbon credits actually are. Widely-used carbon offset schemes, such as tree planting, may ironically increase global warming by trapping heat, the newspaper reports.

The Glaciers Melt

Martin Leatherman,
The melting of the world’s glaciers is bringing new attention to the threat of global climate change. One recent study published in the journal Science found that 87 percent of the 244 marine glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula have retreated over the last 50 years. As atmospheric temperatures rose along the peninsula, glaciers moved south toward mainland Antarctica. Now, scientists may have the valuable ocean temperature data — or “smoking gun” — they say will help them predict climate change. According to the Associated Press, the study showed that the Earth is absorbing more energy than it is releasing.

FOCUS: Peak Oil

Martin Leatherman,
Are the days of cheap oil over? With prices soaring above $50 a barrel, the world is beginning to take the peak oil theory seriously. The Hubbert Peak Theory, developed in 1956 by geophysicist M. King Hubbert, is casually called the peak oil theory. It says oil and fossil-fuel production will soon reach a peak and then rapidly decline, driving prices up. In 1956 Hubbert predicted that production would peak in the United States in the late 1970s, which it did.