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Climate Corner – From Hopenhagen to Nopenhagen

COP 15
For two weeks in December, nearly 200 world leaders convened in Copenhagen for the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP 15). Just days before the summit, hopes of a binding International Treaty coming out of the talks were squashed when a few key players announced they would not agree to sign one, citing the insurmountable chasm between rich and poor nations as a major obstacle. What came out of the summit instead was the “Copenhagen Accord”, weaker than the legally binding treaty and weaker still than the ‘political’ deal many had hoped would be struck in lieu of a treaty.

The accord left scientists and NGOs reeling in response to the target of limiting global warming to a maximum of just 2 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial times, falling well short of what the public expected, and what many say simply is not enough to keep temperatures on track.

What’s more, the accord fails to spell out how to go about keeping temperatures in the 2 degree range, or how to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions below the critical level of 450 parts per billion. Under the Copenhagen Accord, the countries that sign on will need to declare their national emissions targets. Their measures will be subject to international consultations, but if a country falls short this will have no consequences as the accord isn’t legally binding.

Many are calling the accord a weak ‘letter of intent’ that does not reflect the reality or urgency of the current state of the environment. Furthermore, it leaves world leaders with a lot of work left to do before the next summit planned for Mexico City in November 2010. Negotiators are hoping to secure something more concrete than they did in Copenhagen; a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol would be ideal, but there are no guarantees.

Looking to the skies, the summit also failed to deliver a much-anticipated agreement on international aviation emissions. Negotiations unravelled during the last few days, resulting in a no-deal finale. Regardless, many aviation industry leaders were publicly optimistic, agreeing that no deal was better than a bad deal. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) talked of “forging ahead” with its own aggressive plan of action on combating climate change, and the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) acknowledged the Copenhagen Accord an “important step in the right direction”.

Sustainable Fuels and Renewables
On the bright side, there have been so many technological advances in the quest for sustainable fuels and renewable energy lately, it’s hard to know where to start. Here are a few of the headlines:

Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner took to the skies in mid-December. The new aircraft will use 20% less fuel than other jets of comparable size, largely due to these factors: new engines, increased use of lightweight composite materials and electric systems that lighten the plane, more efficient systems applications and modern aerodynamics. Half of the 787’s weight is made up of composites compared with 12% of the 777. At the end of the service life of a 787, the materials are recyclable. More than 55 customers have already ordered 840 Dreamliners, slated for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Major airlines sign groundbreaking agreement with two producers on the purchase of alternative jet fuel. A group of 15 major airlines, led by the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), has signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with AltAir Fuels and Rentech for future supplies of alternative aviation jet fuel. Under the agreement with Seattle-based AltAir Fuels, 14 airlines from the United States, Mexico, Canada and Germany will negotiate a future purchase of up to 750 million gallons of camelina-derived renewable jet fuel and diesel. The fuel will be produced in Washington State, starting in 2012. The renewable fuel to be produced by AltAir Fuels from camelina is predicted to replace about 10% of the petroleum fuel consumed annually at Seattle-Tacoma International, reducing carbon emissions by about 14 billion pounds (6.35 million tonnes) over 10 years.

Burn the fat. An Iowa company is looking to convert the more than 1.4 billion pounds of the fat produced annually by the poultry industry into diesel fuel, jet fuel and other specialty chemicals to replace petroleum products. The project is funded in part by the US Department of Energy, and could get the green light as early as the end of January.

This article is quoted from the Responsible Travel Report The Sustainable Tourism e-Newsletter Vol. 8 No. 1, January 2010 published by STI.

This article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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Posted in Best practice, Cooperation and network, Development, Education and qualification, Performance and management, Sustainability, World.

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