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CLIMATE SCIENCE
UNEP chief urges China to do more on climate
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Aug 9, 2017


Orlando makes ambitious low-carbon pledge
(UPI) Aug 9, 2017 - The city of Orlando said it was the next in line to take a ground-up approach to addressing the impact of climate change by setting ambitious low-carbon goals.

The city commission approved a measure that sets the goal of relying entirely on renewable energy by 2050. Orlando becomes the largest city in Florida to adopt a clean-energy stance and the resolution follows the lead of several U.S. cities and states that adopted a stance that lines up with the general themes of the international Paris climate accord.

"All across our state and our nation, cities are committing to a future powered by 100 percent clean and renewable energy for all," Phil Compton, an organizer with the Sierra Club, said in a statement. "Orlando joins this growing movement of cities that are ready for 100 percent clean, renewable energy."

In June, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed bills that made his state the first one in the country to enact legislation that implements parts of the Paris climate deal.

The U.S. State Department told the United Nations it was ready to start the process of withdrawing from the Paris climate treaty. Before the announcement, twelve state governors, including those rich in shale natural resources, signed a letter to President Donald Trump requesting continued alignment with the global climate agreement. In the letter, they remind the president that, because it's a multilateral accord, other developing economies like China and India will capitalize on the economic benefits of renewable technology if the United States leaves.

"Renewable energy represents an enormous economic opportunity for the city of Orlando to create jobs in an emerging industry, increase economic security and expand prosperity for local residents, reduce air pollution and associated public health risks, reduce the strain on limited water resources, and save the city and consumers money," the measure read.

The city already committed to cutting air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the Paris climate treaty.

The world's biggest polluter China has a "big job" ahead of it in the global fight against climate change, the UN's environment chief said Wednesday.

Since US President Donald Trump's decision in June to quit the Paris agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Beijing has proclaimed its willingness to stick to the pact.

Analysts say the US move gives China an opportunity to establish its credibility and strengthen its diplomatic clout ahead of future negotiations.

Beijing has repeatedly pledged to reduce its reliance on carbon-belching coal as it seeks to clear the toxic smog from its cities.

But it has also invested heavily in coal projects abroad as part of its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, prompting accusations it is exporting its pollution to poorer and less developed countries.

Erik Solheim, head of the UN Environment Programme, told AFP the world was in a "transformative phase" from coal to renewable energy and Beijing had a vital role to play.

As well as its number one position as a source of pollution, China is also the world's biggest investor in renewable energy such as solar and wind power.

Its coal consumption has fallen for the past three years, and earlier this year it reportedly cancelled more than 100 carbon-belching coal power projects.

But China still relies on the fuel for 62 percent of its primary energy mix.

"China has a very big job ahead of it to transform fundamentally from coal into these very promising new technologies," said Solheim.

German environmental group Urgewald estimates that around 250 Chinese companies are involved in nearly half the 1,600 new coal power projects planned or being built worldwide, including in countries such as Pakistan and Egypt which currently burn almost no coal.

Solheim warned that "locking yourself into this old-fashioned technology is very dangerous", as it would make them heavily dependent on fossil fuel for decades with serious environmental and health risks.

Trump "clearly made a mistake" in withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, said Solheim, who was in Seoul for meetings with South Korean officials and businesses.

But the consequences of Trump's decision were "limited", Solheim insisted, adding it had only "energised the entire environment community" including America's big businesses such as Apple, Google and Microsoft.

"They do that for their customers and for the environment. They don't do it for the White House," he said.

The Paris climate accord was signed last year by 175 countries and went into effect in November, just days before Trump was elected -- having vowed on the campaign trail to back out of it.

The Paris accord aims to limit global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels.

CLIMATE SCIENCE
Can poor air quality mask global warming's effects
Pasadena CA (JPL) Aug 09, 2017
During the 20th century, the average temperature of the continental United States rose by almost 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.5 degree Celsius) - everywhere, that is, except in the Southeast. There, until the 1980s, the temperature actually decreased slightly. Climate scientists dubbed this peculiar phenomenon the "warming hole," and it was the cause of much speculation. But beginning in the 1990s, te ... read more

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