Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Arctic Sea Ice Continues Dramatic Decline

"“Considering the record low amounts of sea ice this year leading up to the month of September, 2005 will almost certainly surpass 2002 as the lowest amount of ice cover in more than a century,” said Julienne Stroeve of NSIDC. If current rates of decline in sea ice continue, the summertime Arctic could be completely ice-free well before the end of this century."

Download full article as PDF

Read rest of Article

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Carbon capture and storage build momentum.

Yesterday (Sep 26th) the IPCC held a live webcast to launch the release of the summary for policy makers from there latest 'special report' on Carbon Capture and Storage.

The summary is as a PDF can be downloaded here

Another look at coal plants with combined cycle carbon capture and storage can be found here

The key finding is that for a relatively modest price incentive, 25-30$ per tone of carbon dioxide, the industry could be encouraged and savings of 15-55% of our total carbon dioxide reductions could be made, depending on which scenario of reductions you consider necessary.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Attorney General Reilly: Govornment must act on Climate Change

Climate Change (Global Warming)

Attorney General Reilly is a leading advocate in the nationwide fight to push the federal government to seriously address the real and growing problem of global warming. In July of 2002, Attorney General Reilly led a coalition of 11 states that called on President Bush to adopt a federal policy to regulate so called “greenhouse gases.” The burning of fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, into the air. The build up of these gases traps heat in the atmosphere and, as a result, is increasing the Earth’s surface air temperature and altering weather patterns worldwide. If greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced, the magnitude of the impacts of climate change to our citizen’s health and welfare, our beaches and other precious coastal resources, our forests and wildlife, our agricultural activities, and our state and local economies will become greater and more dire. The longer we wait to act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the worse the problem will become and the harder it will be to mitigate.

Read the July 2002 Letter to President Bush by AG Reilly and Attorneys General from 10 other States (PDF file; RTF file).

In June 2003, Attorney General Reilly filed a lawsuit (PDF file, HTML file), joined by Connecticut and Maine, which argued that by failing to regulate carbon dioxide – the dominant cause of global warming – EPA was violating its mandatory duty under Section 108 of the Clean Air Act. This “Section 108” lawsuit relied on EPA’s own prior official statements that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

Read AG Reilly’s June 4, 2003 press release on the global warming suit brought against the EPA for failure to regulate CO2: Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine Sue EPA on Global Warming

In August, 2003, shortly after Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine brought the Section 108 lawsuit, EPA withdrew and reversed its earlier position that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act. In contrast to its prior position, EPA concluded that it lacks legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

On the same day, EPA also denied a petition for a rulemaking that environmental groups filed in 1999 – on which EPA had not acted in 4 years. The petition requested that EPA regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted from new motor vehicles, concluding that it had a duty to do so under Section 202 of the Clean Air Act. EPA based its denial of this "202 Petition" primarily upon its newly-issued position that it lacked legal authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

Read AG Reilly’s August 28, 2003 press release: AG Reilly to Challenge EPA Ruling that Refuses to Regulate Greenhouse Gases From Cars

In October 2003, a coalition of 12 states, led by Massachusetts, along with three major cities and many environmental groups, filed appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia challenging both of EPA’s August 2003 rulings: that it lacks authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act (PDF version (162 KB), HTML version) and the denial of the 1999 Section 202 Petition (PDF version (164 KB), HTML version). A number of industry groups and states have intervened in these appeals to support EPA’s position. All of these appeals have been consolidated and are currently pending before the US Court of Appeals in DC as Commonwealth of Massachusetts, et al . v. EPA. The parties’ briefs for these consolidated appeals will be filed with the Court in June 2004.

Read AG Reilly’s October 23, 2003 press release: States, Cities, Environmental Groups Sue on Global Warming, Challenge EPA's Refusal to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Pollution

Because EPA’s legal authority to regulate carbon dioxide was a threshold question in the Section 108 lawsuit, discussed above, we voluntarily dismissed that case in order to first challenge EPA’s about-face on this issue.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Aluminum smelter gets into renewables.

This story links in nicely a previous post about Lafarge cemet company who are doing the same thing. It seems like an obvious step for energy intensive business. Most of these companies have large unsightly buildings in industrial areas so planning permission for wind turbines is unlikely to be an issue. The European emissions trading scheme also means that they can make money from reductions in carbon emissions, this is ontop of the incentive created by high gas and oil prices.

Alcan gets in on wind power
Sep 22 2005
By The Journal

An aluminium company which employs 670 people has become the latest player in the region's drive to generate green energy from wind power.
Alcan is joining forces with Scottish Power on a project to develop a 15-turbine wind farm next to its smelter at Lynemouth in Northumberland.
The giant turbines - up to 120m in height - will be about 20m taller than the existing chimneys at the smelting and power complex.
If the scheme gets the green light from planners it will create a 30-megawatt wind farm producing power for the national grid.
It is a global first for Alcan and the company says it has devised the project to boost income, utilise its extensive landholdings at Lynemouth and support the Government's renewable energy drive.
The proposed site, about 200m west of the smelter, has been chosen following wind speed tests.
Alcan bosses hope that its proximity to an existing industrial complex will make the plan less controversial than other wind farm proposals at more isolated and rural locations.
A decision will be taken by either Wansbeck District or Castle Morpeth Borough Council as the site straddles their boundary.
Yesterday Jon Storr Lynemouth-based finance and planning director with Alcan Smelting and Power UK, said: "Energy is critical to our business and, while we use hydro-power in Scotland, wind power is new to us."

Cement company moves to renewables for power.

The world's first cement plant to be powered by wind energy has been built by Lafarge in Morocco.
The plant at Tetouan, costing about €10m ($12.2m) to build, has 12 wind turbines delivering more than 10MW of electricity, about half of the cement plant's requirements.
Bertrand Collomb, chairman of Lafarge, said: "It's important to figure out how to go about using existing technologies, to use some renewable energy where possible, to reduce our energy use and reduce our [greenhouse gas] emissions."
Cement-making is highly energy-intensive, and the industry has come under pressure to reduce its energy usage as a result of the high oil price, and action by various governments to tackle climate change. The environmental problems of cement-making are compounded by the fact that the chemical process of making cement, which requires limestone, emits carbon dioxide as a by-product.
The industry is one of the handful of sectors covered by the European Union's mandatory greenhouse gas trading scheme, which started on January 1. Under the scheme, companies are issued with permits to produce a certain amount of carbon dioxide, and businesses needing to emit more must purchase extra credits from other companies or face fines of €40 a tonne. This gives companies an incentive to save energy and reduce greenhouse gases, as they can benefit both from reduced fuel costs and by selling their excess credits on the market. Permits to produce carbon dioxide are currently changing hands for just under €22 per tonne, according to carbon analysts Point Carbon.
Mr Collomb said Lafarge was on track to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent between 1990 and 2010, largely through the more efficient use of energy.
Lafarge's Moroccan plant also qualifies for special credits under the United Nations-brokered Kyoto protocol on climate change, which requires developed countries to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. One of the provisions of the treaty specifies a "clean development mechanism" by which companies and governments in developed countries can set up projects to bring renewable energy to poorer nations, and the greenhouse gas emissions thus avoided count towards the reductions the richer country must make under the treaty.
This means Lafarge should be able to offset the emissions of 30,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases that it saves in Morocco against its emissions in EU states.
To date very few such projects have been approved by the UN's clean development board. Lafarge has other projects in the pipeline which it hopes will also be accepted under the clean development mechanism rules.
Mr Collomb said Lafarge was also working on new ways of making cement and concrete that would emit less carbon dioxide.

Copyright 2005 Financial Times

Wind power in demand.

Cathy Procto-Denver Buisness Journal

Pinned between a negotiated contract, the high price of steel and the scarcity of wind-power turbines, five landowners in southeastern Colorado have had to cancel their contract with Xcel Energy Inc. to supply about 69 megawatts of electricity by the end of the year.
"There are so few turbines out there right now that they demand a premium. We've been unable to secure equipment at a price that would make it work economically," said Chris Rundell, spokesman for Prairie Wind Energy, the private company formed by the landowners to build a wind farm on 7,000 acres they own.
Turbines that convert wind into electricity were going for about $1.4 million last fall. Since then they've jumped to about $1.65 million, making the project too expensive to continue under the contract with Xcel, Rundell said. The group, which already has the necessary permits for the wind farm, needed 46 turbines to generate the agreed-upon 69 megawatts of power for Xcel.
Xcel (NYSE: XEL) is based in Minneapolis. It is Colorado's largest utility, serving about 1.3 million customers.
"It's disappointing for us," said Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz. But not surprising, he said.
"Given what we've seen in the wind power industry, we've known for some time that turbines are scarce, steel is scarce and securing turbines is very difficult for any wind developer in the U.S. unless they already have them in stock or in supply."
Rundell said the group has submitted another bid to generate wind power for Xcel under the utility's larger "least-cost resource" request for proposals to generate a total of about 2,500 megawatts of power. Xcel has received bids for 80 projects capable of generating 16,000 megawatts of power.
Xcel is seeking about 750 megawatts of wind power through the least-cost bidding process. It has received bids for about 4,570 megawatts of wind power. The utility hasn't announced which projects have made the initial cut.
One megawatt of power from a conventional power generator, which relies on coal or natural gas, can supply power to about 1,000 people. Wind-generated power, which relies on the strength of the wind, is generally considered capable of supplying one-third to one-half that amount of power.
Xcel has about 222 megawatts of wind-generated power on its system in Colorado.
Although the Prairie Wind contract has been terminated, another wind farm in northeastern Colorado near Peetz is under construction and expected to be online by the end of the year. That farm is capable of generating 60 megawatts of wind power, Stutz said.

© 2005 American City Business Journals Inc

Saturday, September 10, 2005

New Ceres Report Warns of Rising Threat to U.S. Insurers and their Customers from Climate Change

I thought this was worth posting, perticularly as it has a very interesting associated audio file.

Listen to the report here

BOSTON - Hurricane Katrina is a most poignant reminder that U.S. insurers, government and consumers are at enormous risk from escalating losses from hurricanes and other weather-related events. While no individual hurricane can be attributed to global warming, rising global temperatures in the coming decades are likely to cause significant increases in severe weather events, such as hurricanes, floods, hailstorms, wildfires, droughts and heat waves. Unless insurers and their regulators take steps to address this growing challenge, particularly in an era of escalating climate change impacts, companies, governments and the public will suffer even greater financial losses in the future, according to a new report released today by the Ceres investor coalition.

The report, authored by three industry experts, documents the precipitous rise in insured and uninsured weather-related losses in the U.S. and how climate change will likely magnify these losses in the years ahead, whether in homeowner losses due to hurricanes, crop losses due to drought or business interruptions due to lightning strikes. The report cites a 15-fold increase in insured losses from catastrophic weather events (those with over $1 billion of damages) in the past three decades - losses that have far out-stripped premium increases, inflation and population growth over the same time period.

Even before Hurricane Katrina, consumers and businesses in many parts of the U.S. were seeing higher premiums, lowered limits and increased restrictions in coverage due to rising weather-related losses in Florida, Texas, California and elsewhere. If climate change trends and insurance trends continue, the report warns, availability and affordability of insurance will be at even greater risk for homeowners and businesses. State and federal governments can also expect more financial liability as they increasingly become "insurers of last resort" in response to private insurers further restricting coverage and withdrawing from more markets.

"Insurance as we know it is threatened by a perfect storm of rising weather losses, rising global temperatures and more Americans than ever living in harm's way," said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, which commissioned the study. "Insurers and regulators have failed to adequately plan for these escalating weather events that scientists predict will intensify in the years ahead due to warming global temperatures."

The evidence, the report details, is spread throughout the U.S., including:

  • In Texas, homeowners saw their premiums double after skyrocketing water-related mold claims - $3 billion in 2002 - caused dozens of insurers to stop writing or renewing homeowners policies. Mold exclusions are now commonplace in many U.S. states.
  • In Florida, last year's wave of hurricanes prompted seven private insurers to stop writing new homeowners policies this year or to exit the market completely, even after they'd won substantial rate increases. Meanwhile, a new state-run insurance company has become Florida's second largest insurance provider, and last year it incurred about $2.5 billion of losses from the hurricanes.
  • In the Midwest, crop insurance losses have grown 10-fold in recent decades and many states are currently facing a prolonged drought that has many counties being declared agricultural disaster areas.
  • In the West, the average wildfire is twice as damaging compared to the 1970s, and a new study projects that wildfire damage in parts of California will quadruple in the coming years due to warmer temperatures and stronger winds as a result of climate change.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) was scheduled to discuss the implications of climate change on the insurance industry at its fall meeting scheduled for Sept. 10-13 in New Orleans. The meeting was subsequently cancelled due to Hurricane Katrina and the climate change discussion is now slated for the NAIC's winter meeting in December.

"After New Orleans, it's becoming clearer that we are experiencing more frequent and more powerful weather events that pose huge challenges for the insurance industry," said Tim Wagner, director of the Nebraska Department of Insurance, noting that warmer-than-usual water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico may have added to Hurricane Katrina's strength. "This is both a coastal issue and a heartland issue. We're seeing all kinds of extreme weather in the Great Plains, including drought, tornadoes, brushfires and severe hailstorms."

Today's report comes as the number of weather-related events, the variability of total losses and the economic impacts and demographic drivers are all on the rise. Insured and total property losses ($45 billion and $107 billion globally in 2004, respectively) are rising faster than premiums, population or economic growth both globally and in the U.S. Even after correcting for inflation, weather-related catastrophe losses in the U.S. property/casualty sector have grown from a few billion dollars a year in the 1970s to an average of $15 billion a year in the past decade, punctuated by three peaks of over $25 billion a year and a record high in 2004 that included $30 billion in hurricane losses alone. Hurricane Katrina's impacts could far exceed those losses.

These rising losses are having a visible effect on U.S. insurers' profitability. U.S. catastrophic losses have grown 10 times faster than premiums since 1971 and that's not even counting the thousands of small weather events not considered catastrophic. (U.S. insurers regard 'small' events as those with under $25 million in insured losses.)

Weather losses are also becoming more unpredictable, especially as insurers from the U.S. and other industrialized countries are moving aggressively into rapidly emerging markets such as China and India, which pose additional weather risks. With growth rates triple those in industrialized countries, premium volume from the developing world will represent half of the global total in the next few decades. Lack of building codes and other factors make these markets vastly more vulnerable to the costs and other impacts of climate change.

The report cites numerous studies predicting that rising global temperatures from higher emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) will create additional financial burdens for insurers globally and in the U.S. A recent report by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and two of the "big-three" U.S. catastrophe modelers stated that under a high GHG emissions scenario (where carbon dioxide levels double from today's levels, as predicted by many leading climate models), wind-related insured losses from extreme U.S. hurricanes could jump to $100-$150 billion, an increase equivalent to two to three Hurricane Andrews in a single season in 2004 dollars. Such losses would require insurers to boost their capital requirements by 90 percent, resulting in substantially higher premiums and other adverse consumer impacts. Losses under a low-emissions scenario (carbon dioxide levels 40 percent above today's levels) were only one-fifth those of the high emissions scenario.

Yet, despite these rising insurance risks, climate change has received little attention to date from U.S. insurers, regulators and governments. Among the problem areas highlighted in the report:

  • Only a small fraction of U.S. insurance companies have seriously examined the business implications of climate change and fewer still work closely with climate scientists or present their analyses publicly.
  • Insurers and regulators currently do not have a comprehensive capacity to assess the cumulative weather-related risks from both catastrophic events and the growing number of small-scale events.
  • The U.S. government's full financial exposure from insurance programs (flood, multi-crop insurance etc), disaster relief and other forms of weather-related assistance has never been assessed.

The report recommends the following actions, among others:

Insurers need to: collect more complete data on weather-related losses; incorporate climate modeling into their risk analyses; analyze the implications of climate change on their business and investments and share the results with shareholders; and encourage policy action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Regulators need to: include climate risks in company solvency and consumer-impact analysis; review the "standards of insurability" to identify new challenges, including climate-related hazards in the US and abroad; encourage insurers to collect more comprehensive data on losses; elevate standards for catastrophe modeling; and assess exposure of insurer investments and adequacy of capital and surplus to extreme weather events.

Government needs to: foster and participate in public-private partnership for insurance risk spreading; comprehensively assess the government's overall financial exposure to weather disasters; reduce vulnerability to disaster losses through improved early warning systems, land use planning and other measures; and take policy action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Joel Ario, Oregon Insurance Administrator and Vice President of the NAIC, said the report makes clear that insurers need to do more to assess their growing risks and financial exposure from climate change. "The insurance industry plays a vital role in identifying and quantifying catastrophic risks so that appropriate loss prevention and risk-spreading measures can be put into place," Ario said. "Reinsurers who provide a backstop on large losses are engaged on the climate issue, but much more work needs to be done by the primary insurers who consumers rely on when catastrophes hit."

Jack Ehnes, chief executive officer at the California State Teacher's Retirement System (CalSTRS), one of the country's largest pension funds, said a growing number of institutional investors are pushing insurance companies to focus more attention on climate change. "Investors are increasingly more concerned about the financial risks posed by climate change and our interest is especially strong for an industry that is so directly exposed to the physical impacts of global warming," Ehnes said, "Insurers must take active steps to understand and assess these daunting tasks."

The report was written by Dr. Evan Mills, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Richard Roth Jr., former chief property and casualty actuary and assistant commissioner at the California Department of Insurance who now works with a leading U.S. actuarial consulting firm; and Eugene Lecomte, president emeritus at the Institute for Business and Home Safety in Boston and 50-year veteran in the insurance industry.

Ceres is a national coalition of institutional investors and environmental organizations working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as climate change. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of more than 50 institutional investors in the U.S. and Europe, which collectively manage over $2.7 trillion of assets.

Climate change: it’s more real than we thought

Joint study by UK, Indian institutes raises drought, malaria alarm


NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 8 The first study on the impact of climate change shows that rainfall and drought will increase by the end of the century, wheat and rice yields will fall, demand for energy will go up and more places in India will be vulnerable to malaria.

The study, conducted in collaboration with the UK Government and many Indian institutes, has taken three years and estimates that temperatures will rise by six degrees by the turn of the century. These are its main findings:

Water: increase in rainfall, drought

Higher annual rainfall and increased drought likely, says Institute of Tropical Meteorology.

Rain in Godavari basin to increase; number of rainy days over Ganga basin to dip, especially in the west.

Plan and design of hydrological structures, river basin management and even urban planning to be impacted.

Agriculture: grain yield to be hit

Indian Institute of Agricultural Research study finds 2 degree Celsius rise reduces potential grain yield.

Areas with low productivity to be affected more than higher productivity regions.

Climate change to result in boundary changes in areas suited for growing certain crops. Warmer areas will have higher crop loss.

Rice yield likely to fall in east. Potential reductions in yield to be offset by higher radiation in the north.

Forests: fear of biodiversity loss

Indian Institute of Science study finds nearly 90 per cent of forests will change character — for instance, a moist Savanna could turn into a tropical dry forest. This could lead to loss in forest biodiversity.

Those dependent on forest produce will have increased timber and fuelwood initially but this will not be sustainable.

Health: malaria on the rise

The National Physical Laboratory finds malaria will rise.

Temperature change will make states like Madhya Pradesh and UP vulnerable.

Energy and transport: demand to rise 9-fold

The Indian Institute of Management took Konkan Railway as a case study. The Konkan Railway Corporation Limited says 20 per cent of repair and maintenance expenses are due to climactic factors like heavy rain.

Frequent disruptions likely as south-west coast will be very sensitive to climactic changes.

Energy demand to increase from 96GW to 912GW between 1995 and 2100. Fifteen per cent more power generation capacity will be required.

These changes have tremendous policy implications. The climate change scenario needs to be integrated into decision-making at local, regional and national levels.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Tide turns to new power sources

New measures to encourage electricity suppliers to use wave and tidal power have been unveiled by the Scottish Executive.

Enterprise Minister Nicol Stephen said renewable wave and tidal energy could provide up to 10% of Scotland's electricity production.

About 7,000 jobs could be created by such projects.

Mr Stephen said the changes he was making would "unlock Scotland's marine powerhouse".

Fossil fuel

The minister told Offshore Europe delegates in Aberdeen that he would take action to award additional Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) to wave and tidal output, with the aim of putting Scotland at the global forefront of marine energy.

The executive's target is that 18% of electricity generated in Scotland should come from renewable sources by 2010, rising to 40% by 2020.

"Tens of millions of pounds of support will be available - with the potential for hundreds of millions to be invested in new wind and wave projects around Scotland's shores," Mr Stephen said.

"Our aim is to generate up to 10% of Scotland's electricity from the sea around us. That is equivalent to completely replacing one of Scotland's huge fossil fuelled power stations.

To date, we have seen no significant commercial projects for wave or tidal power in Scotland. That has to change.
Nicol Stephen
Enterprise Minister

"Already we have the technology to become the global capital for the development and generation of energy from world's oceans. Marine power could become one of our biggest industries of the future.

"We have already done much to support the sector, particularly at the world class testing centre on Orkney," he said.

"Yet to date, in contrast to wind power, we have seen no significant commercial projects for wave or tidal power in Scotland. That has to change.

Business opportunities

"To deliver, we need to do more. Development on a large scale will drive down costs and make it possible for these devices to power the engine of a sustainable Scotland."

He said the plans would bridge the funding gap and mean that while wind schemes would continue to get support, wave and tidal projects would get an even greater boost.

A group of industry experts said the potential exists to install over one gigawatt of wave and tidal capacity in Scottish waters - about one-tenth of the country's total electricity production.

This could help reduce our reliance on polluting fossil fuel and hazardous nuclear plants
Duncan McLaren
Friends of the Earth Scotland

"These developments will not only boost our renewable energy output, but we can expect to see many new jobs created in the design, manufacture, installation and export of these technologies," Mr Stephen added.

"The opportunity for Scottish business is truly worldwide. If we can establish a lead in marine energy, the global potential for our companies is massive.

"Wave and tidal energy is one of Scotland's biggest opportunities. We must take action today to produce the clean energy of tomorrow."

Skilled employment

Green energy group, Scottish Renewables, welcomed the measures.

Chief Executive Maf Smith said: "This major announcement shows that the executive is not going to stand idly by and watch our early lead in marine industry drift away and their leadership is very welcome.

"Wave and tidal energy has vast potential and if properly supported could join hydro and onshore wind projects as a means of delivering our future electricity needs, tackling climate change and bringing skilled employment to Scotland."

Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: "The UK's coastline has huge potential for wave and tidal power, which could help reduce our reliance on polluting fossil fuel and hazardous nuclear plants.

"We know the public backs renewables and many would jump at the chance to have their home powered by a combination of electricity generated from the waves and tides."

The Scottish National Party's energy spokesman Richard Lochhead said: "At long last ministers have woken up to the power of Scotland's seas and the potential for marine renewables.

"For decades, the marine renewables community have been crying out for action and now we find ourselves playing catch-up with other countries when we should have been leading the pack."

Shiona Baird, the Green Party's enterprise spokeswoman, said: "It remains to be seen whether this will truly capture the market potential for Scotland but it is a step in the right direction."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

EU and China agree climate change partnership

I thought this was an interesting , due to the immense growth in Chinese coal power that seems innevitable in the comming years. It is vital that Europe helps China to take a clean path to development. If things go well then this technology at an economically realistic price might be exported to the US which is also largely reliant on coal.

Mike Shanahan 6 September 2005 Source: SciDev.Net

The European Union (EU) will give China the technology to make coal-fired power stations that produce 'near-zero' emissions of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change.

The announcement was made in Belgium yesterday (5 September) during the 8th EU-China Summit. It is part of a wider partnership agreed this week to find ways to mitigate climate change, and to research its potential effects and ways of adapting to them.

The agreement contains two major goals to be met by 2020.

The first aim is to develop, in both China and the EU, advanced power stations whose emissions of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, can be captured and stored underground.

The second is to "reduce significantly the cost of key energy technologies and promote their deployment and dissemination".

According to the joint declaration that China and the EU issued on 2 September, the partners will also undertake other research and development activities related to climate change.

These include cooperating on renewable energy, hydrogen fuel cells, and recovering and using emissions of methane, another greenhouse gas.

International environmental groups, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Friends of the Earth, welcomed the partnership.

"With EU help, China is in a prime position to develop a low-carbon economy and set a model for future development for the rest of the world," said Friends of the Earth's executive director Tony Juniper in a statement.

He added that although "China's growing energy use and heavy reliance on coal mean that clean coal technology may be a necessary short-term solution", developing renewable energy technologies would be essential in the long-term.

For more on energy policy and climate change issues check out "Climate Change Action"

Monday, September 05, 2005

Climate change to hit UK insurance premiums

Climate skeptics? The insurance industry don't take any crap, its their money they are playing with! They seem convinced about climate change.

Published in the Independent: 05 September 2005

The cost of home insurance in Britain could soar in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, insurance companies are warning. The Association of British Insurers said its members were concerned that the hurricane was part of a pattern of global climate change in which incidents of severe weather would become more common, both at home and abroad.

Malcolm Tarling, an ABI spokesman, said: "We're not expecting an immediate premium increase directly as a result of Katrina, but the wider issue of climate change is beginning to have a very serious impact on insurers."

Katrina could cause some British home insurers difficulties. Although none of Britain's large general insurers have direct exposure to the Katrina disaster, they almost all insure themselves with the world's largest reinsurers, which will pick up part of the bill for the damage cause by the hurricane. These companies are expected to pass on their higher costs to customers.

However, Mr Tarling said the threat posed by climate change was much more serious. ABI research conducted on the basis of advice from climate experts suggests the global bill for property damage caused by incidents such as Hurricane Katrina could increase by two-thirds over the next 10 years unless immediate environmental action is taken.

In Britain, the value of weather-related claims reached £6bn between 1998 and 2003, twice the total in the previous five years.

Separately, the Lloyd's of London insurance market yesterday dismissed rumours that it has priced the cost of Hurricane Katrina to the insurance industry at $40bn.

A spokeswoman said: "It is far too early to say what this will cost - risk analysts have suggested the cost could be between $9bn and $50bn and the picture is very unclear."

Lloyd's has asked its members to give a preliminary estimate of their liabilities by 12 September.

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