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World is getting warmer, says global climate report
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) July 17, 2014

Australia blasted for decision to abolish carbon tax scheme
Canberra, Australia (UPI) Jul 17, 2013 -Thursday's vote by the Australian Senate to repeal a carbon tax is a "historic act of irresponsibility," the director of a top climate advocacy group said.

The Australian Senate voted 39-31 to repeal a 2012 law that charged the nation's top polluters around $22 for every ton of greenhouse gases they produce.

John Connor, chief executive officer at The Climate Institute, said the repeal was a monumental step backward from one of the biggest emerging economies in the world.

"Today's repeal of laws that price and limit carbon pollution is an historic act of irresponsibility and recklessness," he said in a statement Thursday.

Connor's organization said there are few alternative polices in place in Canberra that can reduce emissions by their target 5 percent of their 2000 levels by 2020. The government's own economic data show emissions will increase by 30 percent over the next 15 years without a credible mechanism to curb pollution, he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott vowed to repeal the measure when his Liberal-National coalition took power last year.

His government said the carbon measure caused energy prices to go up and cost the economy jobs because companies were forced to pay more in taxes. He said he favored a policy that would use taxpayer money to pay industries to cut emissions and use more renewable energy resources.

"Scrapping the carbon tax is a foundation of the government's economic action strategy," he said.

NRDC: Obama has wide-reaching solutions on climate issues
Washington (UPI) Jul 17, 2013 - The Natural Resource Defense Council said decisions from the White House highlight the willingness to find bold solutions to fight climate change.

"Climate change poses a direct threat to the infrastructure of America that we need to stay competitive in this 21st-century economy," President Barack Obama said in an address Wednesday.

The president outlined a series of initiatives on climate issues, including a Centers for Disease Control report on the health hazards of climate change, a $236 million investment on rural energy infrastructure from the Department of Agriculture and a call from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for state responses to climate variability.

Frances Beinecke, president of the NRDC, said the president's message shows the fight against climate change extends beyond pollution abatement efforts.

"Climate change is here and now," she said in a statement. "We are running out of time, but not out of solutions."

Obama, for his part, said climate change isn't just a U.S. problem, but one that has impacts across the globe.

The world is getting warmer, as greenhouse gases reach historic highs and Arctic sea ice melts, making 2013 one of the hottest years on record, international scientists said Thursday.

The annual State of the Climate report 2013 is a review of scientific data and weather events over the past year, compiled by 425 scientists from 57 countries.

The report looks at essential climate variables, much like a doctor checks a person's vital signs at an annual checkup, said Tom Karl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center.

While Karl declined to give a diagnosis for the planet, he said the report shows some surprises but an ongoing trend that continues the warming pattern seen in recent decades.

"If we want to do an analogy to human health, if we are looking at our weight gain and we are trying to maintain an ideal weight, we are continuing to see ourselves put on more weight from year to year," Karl told reporters.

"The planet -- its state of the climate -- is changing more rapidly in today's world than in any time in modern civilization."

Global temperatures were among the warmest on record worldwide, with four major datasets showing 2013 ranked between second and sixth for all-time heat, the report found.

"Australia observed its warmest year on record, while Argentina had its second warmest and New Zealand its third warmest," said the report.

Sea surface temperatures also rose, making last year among the 10 warmest on record.

- The Arctic-Antarctic conundrum -

The Arctic marked its seventh warmest year since records began in the early 1900s.

Arctic sea ice cover was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979.

Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice has been increasing -- particularly at the end of winter when it is at its maximum -- about one to two percent growth per decade.

"This is a conundrum as to why the Arctic ice cover is behaving differently than the Antarctic," said James Renwick, associate professor in the school of geography at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

"We love questions like this because it creates more important research questions that need to be addressed."

Renwick said the growth relates to sea ice in Antarctica, not the glacial ice mass on the continent, which was the subject of recent studies finding that the loss of ice in the Western Antarctic may be unstoppable.

- New records -

Meanwhile, methane, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that come from burning fossils fuels "continued to rise during 2013, once again reaching historic high values," said the report.

For the first time, the daily concentration of C02 in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm), as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, a year after observational sites in the Arctic observed C02 at 400 ppm in spring 2012.

On average, global sea levels also rose, keeping pace with a trend of adding about three millimeters per year over the past two decades, it said.

"In 2013, global average sea level reached a new record high," said Jessica Blunden, climatologist at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

"It was one and a half inches (3.81 centimeters) higher than the 1993 to 2010 average."

The report is published in the peer-reviewed Bulletin of the American Meterological Society.


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China to roll out climate policy by early 2015
Berlin (UPI) Jul 16, 2013
A climate protection plan from Beijing should be finalized by early next year, a director at the National Development and Reform Commission said from Berlin. China is the world leader in emissions. Beijing says it's readjusted its economic structure in a way that promotes green energy and a low-carbon economy in an effort to combat climate change. Zie Zhenhua, vice chairman of th ... read more

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