State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Climate News Roundup – Week of 11/21 and 11/28

Siberia’s Climate Bomb: Thawing Permafrost Could Spell Disaster: Associate Press, Nov. 21

Methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent per molecule than carbon dioxide, is seeping from Sibera’s frozen soil and lakes at an accelerated rate due to global warming. While the 1.5 trillion tons of carbon trapped under the permafrost may be a “ticking time bomb”, much more study is needed to discern if the carbon released will tip the Earth’s global warming trajectory to the point of no return.

Cancun Climate Summit Garners Hope for Balanced Outcome The Economic Times, Nov. 22

India is hoping to play a major role in the upcoming Cancun climate summit. In the recently concluded Major Economies Forum, India’s Environment Minister proposed a framework of “international consultation and analysis” arguing that industrialized nations should follow stricter emission reduction agreements in exchange for developing countries signing up to a global monitoring of their climate change efforts. This framework found wide acceptance among the participants with developing nations exhorting industrialized nations, including the US, to agree to a second commitment period following the Kyoto Protocol.

China Says Compromise Needed at Cancun Yahoo News, Nov. 23

China’s climate negotiation envoy, Xie Zhenhua, said at a press conference that the key to a post-Kyoto global climate deal between industrialized and developing nations is an agreement for financial and technology transfer. At last year’s Copenhagen Summit, rich nations pledged to give developing countries $30 billion over the next three years to strengthen their climate change adaptation efforts. China has voluntarily committed to cuttings its energy intensity (a measure of energy use per unit of GDP) by 20% from 2006 levels by the end of this year.

Don’t Look to South Africa for Climate Leadership at Cancun The Guardian, Nov. 29

As Africa’s largest economy, South Africa currently accounts for 50% of greenhouse gas emissions from the continent, with  per capita emissions on par with the U.K. It’s likely that South Africa will align itself with industrialized nations at the Cancun conference, offering a priority to poverty alleviation rather than drastic measures to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

Republicans Eliminate Climate Change Panel CBS News, Dec 2

House speaker-elect John Boehner announced on Wednesday that the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming will be eliminated, with the Science Committee taking over climate change issues. The committee was formed in 2007 by Nancy Pelosi, and held 75 hearings in the past three years.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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