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Archive for December, 2009

Happy Vegan New Year 2010

The new year is just days away and it’s time to sit down and seriously think about those resolutions. Want to lose a few pounds? Maybe incorporate some more green practices into your life? Then keep on reading!

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So what are you waiting for? It’s 2010 and time to say goodbye to the dirty factory farming industry. To learn how you can sign up for this free, life-changing program and be part of the pollution solution, visit!


World leaders welcome the Copenhagen Accord


World leaders welcome the Copenhagen Accord

Despite its lack of targets to curb emissions, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders agree to defend the new climate deal.

Rie Jerichow 21/12/2009

The rich-poor disputes in Copenhagen that dominated the two-week climate conference and almost blocked any deal at all have almost disappeared after the summit. “This breakthrough lays the foundation for international action in the years to come,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. “Copenhagen is a first step toward a new world climate order, nothing more but also nothing less. Those who are only putting Copenhagen down are helping those who want to blockade rather than move forward,” the chancellor added. According to AFP, both China and the US, the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, lauded the outcome of the historic UN climate conference. “With the efforts of all parties, the summit yielded significant and positive results,” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in a statement, and US President Barack Obama said that this breakthrough laid “the foundation for international action in the years to come”. Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh called it a “good deal” and told Hindustan Times that India had “upheld the interests of developing nations” and their “national sovereignty”. (Photo: Scanpix/AFP)

U.N. Chief “Stop pointing fingers”

US-China showdown looms over climate talks


COPENHAGEN — A showdown between the world’s two largest polluters loomed over the U.N. climate talks Tuesday as China accused the United States and other rich nations of backsliding on their commitments to fight global warming.

Trying to ease the tension, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said rich and poor countries must “stop pointing fingers” and should increase their pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions to salvage the faltering talks on a climate pact.

Ban’s warning in an interview with The Associated Press came as world leaders started arriving in Copenhagen, kicking the two-week conference into high gear in its quest to deliver a deal to curb emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Key issues remain, however, and the conference so far has been marked by sharp disagreements between China and the United States and deep divisions between rich and poor nations.

China and other developing countries are resisting U.S.-led attempts to make their cuts in emissions growth binding and open to international scrutiny rather than voluntary.

China, the world’s largest polluter, is grouped with developing nations at the talks. But the U.S. doesn’t consider China a nation in need of climate change aid.

In Beijing, China accused developed countries Tuesday of trying to escape their obligations to help poor nations fight climate change.

“We still maintain that developed countries have the obligation to provide financial support,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, adding that was “the key condition for the success of the Copenhagen conference.”

President Barack Obama and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao are among more than 110 world leaders expected in Copenhagen this week.

Ban said he remains cautiously optimistic about a successful outcome at Copenhagen, but warned that negotiators must work out their differences and not leave major problems for world leaders to resolve.

“This is a time where they should exercise the leadership,” Ban said. “And this is a time to stop pointing fingers, and this is a time to start looking in the mirror and offering what they can do more, both the developed and the developing countries.”

He said all nations “must do more” to keep carbon emissions below dangerous levels and rich countries should step up commitments to provide a steady flow of money for poor countries to combat climate-linked economic disruptions such as rising seas, drought and floods.

Speaking to The AP at a hotel in Copenhagen, Ban said if negotiators cannot resolve those problems before the world leaders arrive “the outcome will be either a weak one, or there will be no agreement.”

“This will be a serious mistake on the part of the negotiators and the leaders if they go back empty-handed,” he said.

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe was among the first heads of state to touch down in the Danish capital, avoiding a travel ban imposed by Western nations because he was attending to a U.N. conference. Mugabe was to address the conference on Wednesday.

“The meeting may be taking place on Danish soil but we’re playing by U.N. rules and these rules mean that all the world leaders can meet,” Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen told reporters.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was also expected later Tuesday — a day earlier than planned to help push the talks forward.

The U.N. conference’s working groups were finishing up two years of work Tuesday and drawing up their final recommendations on such issues as deforestation, technology transfers and the registration of plans by developing countries to control their emissions.

Drafts on those issues showed some narrowing of gaps but left many disputes to be decided by environment ministers, which ultimately may go up to the heads of state and leaders.

Conference President Connie Hedegaard said environment ministers already in Copenhagen had been working late into the night Monday to resolve outstanding issues.

“Ministers have to be very clear and focused over the next 48 hours if we are to make it,” she said.

Talks on a global climate deal hit a snag Monday when developing countries walked away temporarily from the negotiations, fearing industrial countries were backpedaling in their promises to cut greenhouse gases.

The issues concern the details of a final treaty to be negotiated over the next six to 12 months and may not even be included in the political deal reached in Copenhagen.

“The options take us closer to the final agreement, not just the political declaration,” said Gustavo Silva-Chavez of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who was having lunch Tuesday with the U.N. chief, told the conference on Monday that new data suggests a 75 percent chance the entire Arctic polar ice cap may disappear in the summer as soon as five to seven years from now.

Scientists say global warming will create rising sea levels, increasing drought, more extreme weather and the extinction of some species.


Associated Press Writer Cara Anna contributed from Beijing.

EDITOR’S NOTE _ Find behind-the-scenes information, blog posts and discussion about the Copenhagen climate conference at, a Facebook page run by AP and an array of international news agencies. Follow coverage and blogging of the event on Twitter at:

Livestock and Climate Change

Livestock and Climate Change


by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang

Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are…cows, pigs, and chickens?

The environmental impact of the lifecycle and supply chain of animals raised for food has been vastly underestimated, and in fact accounts for at least half of all human-caused greenhouse gases (GHGs), according to Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, co-authors of “Livestock and Climate Change”.

A widely cited 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, Livestock’s Long Shadow, estimates that 18 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions are attributable to cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, camels, pigs, and poultry. But recent analysis by Goodland and Anhang finds that livestock and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51 percent of annual worldwide GHG emissions.

Read “Livestock and Climate Change,” World Watch Magazine [FREE PDF]

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Join the Discussion! Read and post comments on the article at our Dateline Copenhagen blog.

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Soros unveils $150bn climate plan

Soros unveils $150bn climate plan

By Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News, Copenhagen

George Soros speaking at the Copenhagen summit (Getty Images)

George Soros says the proposal only needs political support to succeed

Billionaire investor George Soros has unveiled a proposal to provide up to $150bn of cash for poor countries to get clean technology.

He says it will help developing nations halt deforestation, adapt to climate change and have low-carbon energy.

Underpinned by gold reserves, the plan would more than double the amount of money on the negotiating table from rich countries to poor nations.

Mr Soros presented the proposal at the UN climate summit in Copenhagen.

He said his plan received a sympathetic hearing from key Western governments, but warned it would need a great act of political will to overcome obstacles.

“This overcomes part of the problems of financing,” he observed.

“It could be very important because climate change is a very real and existential problem for the world.”

Laptop keyboard (Image: PA)
Politicians cannot be distracted by the stolen emails row, Mr Soros says

Commenting on the “ClimateGate” scandal, in which emails and documents were stolen from a UK climate research centre’s computers, Mr Soros told BBC News that politicians should ignore the fallout and focus their attention on tackling climate change because the risks were so huge.

“If the choice is between cooking alive and wasting money unnecessarily I would rather waste some money, because long before we cook we are going to kill each other if we don’t deal with climate change,” he said.

“So the risk is that we won’t do enough because there are all kinds of delays that are already built into the system so we become aware of the danger too late.”

‘Paper gold’

Mr Soros’s climate financial plan proposes to tap into the hidden vast reserves of cash that lie ready to keep rich nations’ economies afloat in time of crisis.

Industrial site, Germany (Image: AP)
Poor nations want rich countries to provide more financial help

The cash is in the notional form of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), also known as “paper gold”, issued by the IMF.

SDRs do not incur interest unless the money is released into circulation, and Mr Soros says the rich countries did not even use it at the every depths of the recent financial crisis.

He proposed that the rich countries hand their $150bn (£92bn) of SDRs to poor countries for immediate use to combat climate change.

As soon as the cash is released, it will incur interest from the IMF – currently at around 0.5%.

But this should be paid by the IMF gold reserve, which is currently worth more than $100bn.

This would mean developing countries were not saddled by debt payments, he explained.

Soros’s proposal shows exactly the kind of ambition and urgency we need to see from rich country governments themselves
Robert Bailey,
Oxfam International

He envisages that developing countries could make money from their low-carbon investments from the SDR fund by selling carbon credits on the carbon markets.

The gold could also guarantee loan repayments for climate projects if the carbon markets failed to take off as envisaged.

“All that is lacking is the political will to fight global warming by using SDRs,” he said.

The US government was supportive in principle, he claimed, but was reluctant to pursue the proposal because it would require approval in the Senate.

But even without US support, other rich countries could go ahead and provide $100bn of funding.

The current proposed funding under debate in Copenhagen is $10bn (£6bn) a year for three years.

There is no long-term funding on the table so far, because rich countries do not see a way of contributing more from their current balance sheets.

“The beauty of this is that it is off-balance sheet,” Mr Soros said. “This is a win-win for developed and developing countries.”

// <![CDATA[// Mr Soros said that nations might say the scheme could not be done, but added that France and the UK recently used the SDRs to give $2bn to the poorest countries.

The plan was generally welcomed by environmental groups.

“We need the money,” a Greenpeace spokesman said.

Oxfam International’s senior climate adviser Robert Bailey said: “Finally someone is showing the kind of innovative thinking needed to make this deal worth its salt.

“Soros’s proposal shows exactly the kind of ambition and urgency we need to see from rich country governments themselves.”

But Friends of the Earth was much more cautious, partly because it feared that the Soros scheme might take pressure off rich nations and partly because it involved carbon markets, which it described as a “scam”.

‘Eat less meat’ says carbon footprint burger chain

The BBC’s Tom Burridge dines out at a Swedish fast-food chain that is trying to discourage people from eating too much meat by publishing the carbon footprint of each item on its menu.

As soon as I am through the door of the brightly lit Max Burger restaurant in central Stockholm, spokesman Par Larshans insists I eat not one, but two of their fast-food snacks.

CO2 label on burger menu

Max Burgers’ carbon labels are getting them a lot of publicity

The first is a falafel burger. The second is a half beef/half soya burger. They’re tasty… but I’m a carnivore who is not planning to go vegetarian any time soon.

I watch as burgers are assembled behind the counter by a line of workers and wrapped at an incredible speed.

It’s the illuminated menu, above their heads, that is the real reason for my visit. Max Burger claims to be the first restaurant chain in the world to publish CO2 emissions on its menu.

From the methane produced by the cows, to the machinery used on the farm, through to the emissions produced by the abattoir and the lorries which move the meat around – the weight of CO2 represents the carbon footprint of that meal.

‘Less-meat’ products

Beef production emits high levels of carbon dioxide when compared to other foods. So why on Earth does a restaurant chain that sells mainly beef want to advertise how bad its products are for the planet?

Par Larshans insists they are not “shooting themselves in the foot” and is quick to remind me of the “less-meat products” on the menu.


“We think you need to be honest with the customer. We hope to change the whole of the fast-food industry by this,” he said.

“We want people to eat less meat.”

Max Burgers’ carbon labels are getting them a lot of publicity, which no doubt does them no harm.

They do however also seem to epitomise the country’s enthusiasm for environmental food labelling. A recent survey in Sweden found that 92% of people wanted more information about the “green credentials” of the food they were buying.

Simple benchmark

Customers seem generally positive.

“It’s a very interesting concept,” says one. “We have to start somewhere… I think it will affect what people will order.”

Another questions how accurate the figures are, but she likes the idea that you can “see the impact of what you’re eating, on the environment.”

Her companion is also keen to find out his “energy consumption,” as he puts it, but then asks: “How much is a gram of CO2?”

Carbon label on detergent bottle in the UK

Carbon labelling on products began four years ago in Britain

This is one of the main problems for the increasing number of food manufacturers who put a carbon footprint on their products.

The figures on the label do not mean a huge amount to most people.

This – and the fact that calculating carbon footprints is a complex and costly process – is why two food organisations in Sweden are now working on a simpler label which they hope people will find easier to understand.

The labels will be called climate labels – not carbon labels – and are designed to set a simple environmental benchmark for food production in Sweden.

Any product reaching certain standards in terms of farming, production, packaging and transportation will carry the new label.

The secret, according to Swedish author Jessica Cederberg Wodmar, who has written a book on the subject, is coming up with a labelling system that is easy to understand and credible.

“The problem is that no-one has come-up with a label that sets a standard that everyone else wants to use,” she said.

If the new Swedish labels are a success, however, she fully expects to see them copied in other countries around the world.

The full report can be seen on World News America on Tuesday 8th December at 7pm ET / 4pm PT and again at 10pm ET/ 7pm PT; BBC WORLD NEWS – Wednesday 9th December at 0000 GMT; BBC NEWS CHANNEL (in the UK) – Wednesday 9th December at 12.30am

Emissions higher than reported

Emissions ‘higher than reported’

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website, Copenhagen

Industrial site, Germany (Image: AP)
The study asks whether emissions are being underestimated

Emissions of some greenhouse gases are substantially higher than companies and countries report, say scientists.

The gases in question are much more powerful warming agents than CO2, but make a small contribution to climate change as concentrations are low.

US researchers found that levels of some of them in the air are five times more than indicated by emissions data.

They say it calls into question whether all companies receiving UN funds to curb production are in fact doing so.

However, the UN climate convention says it has no doubt these companies are doing what they say they are doing, because the monitoring system is robust.

Under the UN Kyoto Protocol, rich countries and companies can gain “carbon credits” by paying companies in the developing world to reduce emissions of these gases, most of which are used in industry.

But Ray Weiss from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California, said the data suggested not all companies were doing what they claimed.

“When we compare what’s reported with what we see in the atmosphere, it’s easy to see discrepancies,” he told BBC News.

Although he sees most companies as scrupulous, he said: “There could be a few ‘bad actors’, (and) it’s possible there’s a black market in some of these gases.”

Professor Weiss was presenting details of his research at the UN climate convention (UNFCCC) meeting here. The convention is the Kyoto Protocol’s parent body.

Dirty development?

Industrial gases such as sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and carbon tetrafluoride (CF4) are the most potent greenhouse gases in the air.

// <![CDATA[//


SF6 is 23,000 times more potent, weight for weight, than CO2, whereas CF4 endures in the atmosphere for about 50,000 years.

SF6 is primarily used in the electrical industry, while CF4 is related to electronics and aluminium manufacture.

Yet according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), these industrial gases contribute only about 1% of the man-made greenhouse effect.

Professor Weiss’s research – and that from other groups – suggests their contribution may have been underestimated.

In almost every case, atmospheric concentrations are higher than suggested from emissions data, which suggests there is a pattern of under-reporting, he said.

Most of the instruments monitoring the air are based in isolated regions in order that measurements accurately reflect the global background level rather than local sources.

But regional monitoring is starting to locate problem areas, Professor Weiss related.

“There are [scientific] papers submitted for publication measuring HFC23, a byproduct of making a number of other gases including refrigerants,” he said.

“People have modified their factories to burn the gases rather than release them; we’re making measurements of HFC23 in Asian areas and we’re seeing results that are inconsistent with people burning as much as they say they’re burning.”

Money for that burning is channelled through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

This is intended to provide western companies with a cheap way of reducing emissions by paying for it to happen in the developing world.

This should result in money being channelled into poorer countries, assisting their development.

However, most of the money so far has gone to China, where companies have the resources to make the most of the system.

Lex de Jonge, chairman of the CDM’s Executive Board, told BBC News he “had no doubt” that CDM projects were creating the reductions they were designed to.

“I can assure you that the reductions under the CDM are real, because they are checked and cross-checked and monitored,” he said.

“But another issue is whether there are other sources of HFC23 that are putting this material into the atmosphere.”

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