Global warming and climate change news headlines for December 2007

December 30 - Shanghai heats up - record temperatures
Shanghai has experienced the hottest year in 2007 since the city began to record weather in 1873. The year's average in 2007 was 2.2 Celsius degrees above the long-term average and meteorologists are predicting continued higher average temperatures in early 2008. Read more

December 29 - 350ppm - the new carbon dioxide red line
Given the rapid changes to our climate and already visible and at times disastrous consequences of such; NASA climate expert James Hansen has suggested a new red line for carbon dioxide levels; 350 parts per million. The major challenge is - we've already well and truly exceeded that. Read more

December 27 - Critical food shortages looming: UN.
Dozens of countries are facing dangerous food shortages as prices for food reach record levels, according to the United Nations. The world's food supplies are in jeopardy from global warming, natural disasters, wars and the diversion of food crops to producing biofuels and grain to feed cattle. Read more

December 26 - Scientists warn on nuclear power
The Union of Concerned Scientists, an alliance of more than 200,000 citizens and scientists, has recently released a report stating that while nuclear power generates relatively little global warming pollution, the construction of new facilities represents significant threats to public safety and national security. Read more

December 25 - The carbon cost of Christmas dinner
A group of UK researchers has studied the carbon cost of the traditional Christmas dinner and found that it would generate an equivalent of around 5 pounds of carbon dioxide per person. This translates to approximately 51,000 tons of CO2 on a national level. The major contributor in the fixings is the turkey. Read more.

December 24 - Tropical disease spreads to a warming Italy
Through mosquitos assisted by global warming, Castiglione di Cervia in Italy has experienced the first outbreak in modern Europe of chikungunya, a relative of dengue fever, which has only ever been seen previously in tropical countries. Read more.

December 23 - Indonesian climate change action plan
The Indonesian government has released an action plan covering mitigation and adaptation efforts for climate change. Among the courses of action being proposed is a mandatory program whereby each Indonesian would need to plant a tree every year as a means of storing carbon. This equates to approximately 234 million trees annually. Other proposed laws include the planting of two trees for every tree cut down and a special permit being required for the cutting down of trees with a diameter of more than 10cm (approx. 4 inches). Read more

December 21 - USA phasing out incandescent bulbs
An energy bill signed into law yesterday means the beginning of the end for incandescent light globes. The new laws will require lighting to use up to 30 percent less energy which will decrease greenhouse gas emissions associated with domestic lighting. The majority of the energy used by an incandescent globe is wasted as heat. Alternatives such as Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL), while costing more, use far less energy and last many times longer than incandescents. 100-watt incandescent bulbs will be phased out beginning in 2012, followed by the 75-watt bulb twelve months later, with 40 and 60-watt bulbs removed from sale in 2014. The switch to energy efficient bulbs is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 100 million tons a year. Read more

December 20 - US congress approves fuel efficiency bill
US congress has approved a bill requiring auto makers to boost fleet average mileage by 40 percent to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The auto mileage requirement has not changed since 1975 and will reduce U.S. oil demand by 4 million barrels a day by 2030. The bill also requires a six-fold increase in ethanol use 2022. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation today. Read more

December 19 - BP accused of biggest environmental crime
BP is currently investing billions of dollars on a controversial Canadian oil exploration project. The extraction of oil from Canada's oil sands generates up to four times more carbon dioxide than conventional drilling and has the the potential to damage a vast forest wilderness greater than the size of England and Wales according to Greenpeace.  The organization states that by involving itself in tar sands extraction, BP is taking part in the biggest global warming crime ever seen. Read more

December 18 - Bali, climate and geopolitical change
While Bali did not deliver what many had hoped; it may one day be recognized as a critical point where the world's geopolitical landscape began to rapidly change, probably best exemplified by these two quotes:

James Connaughton, head of the President's Council on Environmental Quality, told reporters during the conference that "the US will lead" on global climate change, "but leadership requires that others fall in line and follow."

Kevin Conrad, head of Papua-New Guinea's delegation later stated the following in reference to the USA to the entire conference:

"We seek your leadership," he said. "But if for some reason you are not willing to lead, leave it to the rest of us. Please get out of the way."

Read more

December 17 - Climatologist: tipping points reached
Climatologist James Hansen , who heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University, has stated a number of climate change "tipping points" have already been crossed that will cause additional substantial and rapid changes. Read more

December 16 - Bali climate conference outcome
After tense negotiations that went into overtime and saw a high ranking UN official nearly break down in tears from frustration, the 190 delegates Bali climate conference have arrived at an agreement of sorts. 

The document that evolved recognizes major cuts in greenhouse emissions must be made (but no short term targets set), that negotiations for the new climate accord must be completed within 2 years, binding targets should be considered for industrialized countries, developing countries should make moves to reduce emissions, rich countries should help poorer countries with reduction technology and ways to deal with the effects of climate change and that positive incentives should be introduced to reduce deforestation. Read more 

December 15 - Double digit renewable energy growth
Electricity generation capacity via renewable means and excluding large hydropower projects reached 237 gigawatts globally during 2007. Wind power continues to experience good investment with growth pegged at 25-30% over the last year. Electricity generation from grid tied solar power continues to grow at 50-60% annual rates. Read more

December 13 - EU issues US ultimatum at climate talks
European nations, frustrated by the lack of cooperation from the USA at the Bali climate conference, have said they will boycott U.S.-led climate talks scheduled for next month unless the USA accepts language in draft documents proposing interim targets for drastically cutting global-warming emissions. Portugal, who currently holds the UN Presidency has said "words are not enough. We need action". Read more 

December 12 - UN chief:  climate agreement or oblivion
In possibly one of his most strongly worded statements yet, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave a dire warning yesterday at the UN climate conference in Bali. He told delegates: ""We are at a crossroad, one path leads to a comprehensive climate change agreement, the other to oblivion. The choice is clear."  Read more.

December 12 - Countries balking at 2020 emissions targets
Australia, the US, Canada, Japan and some developing countries are continuing to oppose the mention of interim 2020 targets of 25-40 per cent greenhouse gas emission cuts in a draft document being developed at the Bali climate conference. The paragraph in question would also recognize the need for cuts of more than 50 per cent by 2050. Read more

December 11- Record melting of Greenland ice sheet
Climate scientist Konrad Steffen, one of the leaders in his field, states the Greenland ice sheet melted at a record rate this year, the highest ever since satellite measurements commenced 29 years ago. The melt area was 10 per cent larger than the last highest figure in 2005. Read more.

December 11 - Report: UK greenhouse emissions rising
Contrary to the UK government's claims of emissions dropping, a report from researchers at New College, Oxford, state that Britain's greenhouse gas generation has risen by 20% over the last two decades when aviation, shipping and carbon content of imports is taken into account. Read more.

December 10 - Britain plans for 7,000 wind turbines
The British government is planning for the commissioning of 7,000 new wind turbines in order to to power all UK homes with renewable energy by 2020. The turbines would be placed offshore and while they would change the coastline of Britain substantially, the government realizes the issue of climate change is not going to go away and that Britain needs to gain independence in renewable energy generation. Read more

December 9 - California sets greenhouse gas targets
While climate change may not be given the attention it needs at a federal level in the USA, some states are plowing ahead under their own direction to face the global warming challenge. California has now set emissions targets and will also require heavy industry to report their greenhouse gas emissions; which will be independently verified by 2010. The targets seek emissions to return to 1990 levels by 2020, a cut of nearly 30 percent of projected carbon dioxide emissions under a business as usual scenario. Read more

December 8 - Australia: Birds in a changing climate
According to a recent report by Birds Australia, should temperatures increase by 2C to 5C higher than what they were in 1990 - the prognosis for Australian birds is extinction for many species, following the progressive collapse of regional populations. Already many species are displaying signs of stress through the average increased of 1C in recent decades. Read more.

December 7 - Amazon destruction faster than predicted
Climate change and deforestation could destroy or severely damage nearly 60% of the Amazon forest by 2030, according to the WWF. The conservation organization also stated that between now and 2030, Amazon deforestation has the potential to release between 55.5 and 96.9 billion tons of carbon dioxide. At the high end of the scale, this equates to more than two years of global greenhouse gas emission. Read more.

December 6 - Global warming pushing up food prices
Global warming could decrease worldwide income from agriculture by 16 percent by 2020, while increasing the cost of food for end consumers due to the increased risk of droughts and floods due to rising temperatures. A new report from the International Food Policy Research Institute also states  undernourished people in Sub-Saharan Africa may triple in numbers from the 1990 level by 2080. Read more

December 5 - Bali climate conference update
"A marriage contract is not something to discuss on a first date", said Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat of the Bali meeting on climate change consisting of some 10,000 participants. Some industrialized nations are calling on China and India to do more towards emissions reductions and those countries are calling on industrialized nations to do the same. Also on shaky ground is the topic of mandatory emission caps. Still, the meeting is only in its early stages and this gathering isn't designed to hammer out a deal to follow Kyoto, merely to lay the groundwork for further talks. Read more

December 4 - Australia signs Kyoto Protocol ratification
Australia's new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, signed the paperwork Monday to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, fulfilling an election promise to reverse Australia's decade-long resistance to fully participating in the international global warming pact. Ratification will become official 90 days after the documents are received by the United Nations, and Rudd believes Australia will become a full member of the Kyoto Protocol before the end of March 2008; leaving the United States as the only industrialized nation not fully participating. Read more

December 3 - Crucial climate summit in Bali
A UN climate summit to negotiate an agreement on what should replace the Kyoto Protocol, which ends in 2012, will commence in Bali today. The most contentious points will likely be the prospect of binding emissions targets - something that the USA in particular is most resistant to. The increased participation of countries such China and India in reducing emissions will also be a hot topic. Australia goes into the talks with increased credibility after recent elections saw the ouster of a conservative anti-Kyoto government. Read more

December 2 - Auto air conditioning and climate change
From 2011, air-conditioners for all new European-made vehicles must start switching to an alternative to the current R134a refrigerant. R134a has been in wide use for over a decade after having replaced refrigerants known to damage the ozone layer, but R134a has the global warming potential 1,410 times that of carbon dioxide. Read more

December 1 - Emissions growing faster than predicted
The head of the new Australian government's climate change review ,Professor Ross Garnaut, has warned that greenhouse gas levels have bypassed the 450 ppm danger level when methane and nitrous oxides are included. The professor states that emissions are growing by 3.1% annually, much faster than projected by the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change. Read more

December 1 - Bush digs in his anti-Kyoto heels
USA President, George W. Bush has shown no change in his stance on the Kyoto protocol even though the USA is now the only signator to have not ratified it or indicated a preparedness to. Recent Australian elections saw the ouster of the only other Kyoto recalcitrant government of a developed nation. Bush maintains that Kyoto would cripple the US economy. Read more

December 1 - Asia to remain dependent on coal
New research from the World Wide Fund for Nature states that between 2001 and 2006, coal use around the world grew by an incredible 30 percent and 88 percent of that consumption was in Asia. The WWF believes coal will continue to be a dominant fossil fuel in the Asian region for many years to come due to it's availability and low cost. Read more

December 1 - Climate change battle costing Australians 
Australians resident in the state of Victoria will experience a substantial increase in electricity and gas bills from January 1,  - as much as 17.6 per cent. This is the first rise related to  Australia ratifying the Kyoto protocol and the push to reach renewable energy targets. Read more