Tuesday, June 21, 2011

World's oceans in 'shocking' decline

The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists.

In a new report, they warn that ocean life is "at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history".

They conclude that issues such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are acting together in ways that have not previously been recognised.

The impacts, they say, are already affecting humanity.

The panel was convened by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), and brought together experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists.

Its report will be formally released later this week.

"The findings are shocking," said Alex Rogers, IPSO's scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.

"As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised.

"We've sat in one forum and spoken to each other about what we're seeing, and we've ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we're seeing changes that are happening faster than we'd thought, or in ways that we didn't expect to see for hundreds of years."

These "accelerated" changes include melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, sea level rise, and release of methane trapped in the sea bed.

Fast changes

"The rate of change is vastly exceeding what we were expecting even a couple of years ago," said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a coral specialist from the University of Queensland in Australia.

Some species are already fished way beyond their limits - and may also be affected by other threats "So if you look at almost everything, whether it's fisheries in temperate zones or coral reefs or Arctic sea ice, all of this is undergoing changes, but at a much faster rate than we had thought."

But more worrying than this, the team noted, are the ways in which different issues act synergistically to increase threats to marine life.

Some pollutants, for example, stick to the surfaces of tiny plastic particles that are now found in the ocean bed.

This increases the amounts of these pollutants that are consumed by bottom-feeding fish.

Plastic particles also assist the transport of algae from place to place, increasing the occurrence of toxic algal blooms - which are also caused by the influx of nutrient-rich pollution from agricultural land.

In a wider sense, ocean acidification, warming, local pollution and overfishing are acting together to increase the threat to coral reefs - so much so that three-quarters of the world's reefs are at risk of severe decline.

Life on Earth has gone through five "mass extinction events" caused by events such as asteroid impacts; and it is often said that humanity's combined impact is causing a sixth such event.

The IPSO report concludes that it is too early to say definitively.

But the trends are such that it is likely to happen, they say - and far faster than any of the previous five.

"What we're seeing at the moment is unprecedented in the fossil record - the environmental changes are much more rapid," Professor Rogers told BBC News.

"We've still got most of the world's biodiversity, but the actual rate of extinction is much higher [than in past events] - and what we face is certainly a globally significant extinction event."

The report also notes that previous mass extinction events have been associated with trends being observed now - disturbances of the carbon cycle, and acidification and hypoxia (depletion of oxygen) of seawater.

Levels of CO2 being absorbed by the oceans are already far greater than during the great extinction of marine species 55 million years ago (during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum), it concludes.

Blue planet

The report's conclusions will be presented at UN headquarters in New York this week, when government delegates begin discussions on reforming governance of the oceans.

In the long run, greenhouse gas emissions must be cut to conserve ocean life, the report concludes IPSO's immediate recommendations include:

- stopping exploitative fishing now, with special emphasis on the high seas where currently there is little effective regulation
- mapping and then reducing the input of pollutants including plastics, agricultural fertilisers and human waste
- making sharp reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Carbon dioxide levels are now so high, it says, that ways of pulling the gas out of the atmosphere need to be researched urgently - but not using techniques, such as iron fertilisation, that lead to more CO2 entering the oceans.

"We have to bring down CO2 emissions to zero within about 20 years," Professor Hoegh-Guldberg told BBC News.

"If we don't do that, we're going to see steady acidification of the seas, heat events that are wiping out things like kelp forests and coral reefs, and we'll see a very different ocean."

Another of the report's authors, Dan Laffoley, marine chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas and an adviser to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), admitted the challenges were vast.

"But unlike previous generations, we know what now needs to happen," he said.

"The time to protect the blue heart of our planet is now."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Green buildings: Good for people, productivity and profit

One more reason to begin standing up for a cleaner, greener environment – a working environment, that is.

Today's leading-edge green buildings are driving a radical shift in office politics.
Gone are the days of the senior management pinching the penthouse floor and hogging the best harbour views. Today, green buildings are providing truly equitable workplaces, with fresh air, natural light and views of the outdoors available to all staff regardless of their salaries.

Ask most employees for their office wish lists and onsite gymnasiums, massage therapists and child care centres will be lower down the list than fresh air, natural light, indoor comfort and collaborative spaces.

In fact, Colliers International Office Tenant Survey 2010 found that excellent indoor air quality and thermal comfort was second only to location to public transport (and above cutting edge IT and communications) in the top three office attributes for staff attraction and retention.

Office employees intuitively know that the basics of natural light and fresh air make workplaces happier, more productive places - after all, most office workers spend 90% of their waking hours indoors.

What they may not understand is how much poor indoor environment quality (IEQ) can affect their performance - and how simple solutions can have a dramatic impact on their productivity levels.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that sickness and absenteeism costs organisations an estimated $2,700 per employee each year. When indirect costs are factored in, absenteeism costs around $5m for every 1,000 employees.

At the same time, we know that good IEQ in green buildings reduces sick leave and improves worker productivity and health. The evidence-based research has found that these gains are between two and 10 per cent per worker.

The principles of green design recognise that improving IEQ can dramatically affect productivity, health and wellbeing. Green Star, Australia's environmental rating system for buildings, rewards building projects that can demonstrate high levels of IEQ - by providing more fresh air, circulating fresh air around the rooms more efficiently, ensuring daylight can reach more of the interior, and eliminating harmful chemical compounds found in paints, adhesives or carpets.

We now have more than 315 Green Star-rated buildings around Australia, with tens of thousands of people enjoying the benefits of cleaner, greener offices. After moving into their green office, the legal firm at the 5 Star Green Star-rated 500 Collins Street in Melbourne reduced staff sick leave by 39% - well below the national average. What's more, sick leave costs fell by 44%. A post-refurbishment study also found a 9% increase in typing speeds of secretaries and a 7% increase in lawyers' billings ratio, despite a 12% decline in the average monthly hours worked.

Trevor Pearcey House, the 6 Star Green Star head office of Australian Ethical Investment in Canberra, provides staff with a healthier work environment by maximising the use of natural ventilation and lighting. More than 90% of the floor space is naturally ventilated with openable windows, which also improve daylight penetration. Occupant health was also a priority in choice of materials, with paints and sealants, furniture and fittings selected for their low levels of volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde. The building now ranks in the top 11% of Australian buildings for staff productivity and amenity.

Many of Australia's employers of choice are looking for green office space to attract and maintain top talent. Increasingly, Green Star-rated buildings symbolise a corporation's environmental and social performance, and can be a powerful strategic business tool.

A 2008 Deloitte survey of organisations that had undergone at least one green building retrofit in the US found that 93% of respondents found it easier to attract talent after their renovation, with 81% reporting greater employee retention. Every company surveyed reported an increase in goodwill and brand equity. Closer to home, leading corporate such as ANZ, Google and Accenture have recognised that operating from Green Star-rated facilities can not only boost performance, but also attract and retain staff.

ANZ's new global headquarters, the ANZ Centre in Melbourne, is the largest 6 Star Green Star-rated building in Australia. The new building, which houses 6,500 staff, offers fresh air, natural light and easy access to outdoor open spaces. More than 500 bike spaces have been provided, alongside yoga and Pilates classes, physiotherapy and massage at the ANZ Wellness Centre. ANZ's Green Star rating is part of its employee attraction and retention program, saying that the new headquarters "was designed and developed with great care and consideration for employees, with facilities and services available that enhance the working environment and promote health and wellbeing".

The Green Building Council of Australia's post-occupancy survey of its own 5 Star Green Star-rated office, known as The GreenHouse, found that 95% of all staff had a positive or very positive perception of their new workplace. One staff member even said that it was a "one-of-a-kind office and I feel very privileged to be able to work here. None of my previous offices have made me want to come to work".

Green buildings are more affordable than ever before. A 5 Star Green Star-rated building is now considered cost neutral when compared with its non-green counterpart, and the ongoing operational costs are significantly less. When productivity gains are factored in, it just makes good business sense to go green.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Going Green Helps Company’s Health

As more and more individuals look to make the world a little bit healthier and safer place to live in, have you stopped and asked yourself what contribution you and your employees are making?

With recognition that more needs to be done to leave the planet for the next generation in a better place than we found it, more people worldwide are seeing the benefits of a greener lifestyle.

Not only is the planet left a little bit better for the next person when your business and its employees practice healthier lifestyles both in and out of the office, but the rewards can reach way down.

If you haven’t been researched some of the ways going green can improve your health and those of your co-workers, think about the following 10 means:

1. Driving less, using more mass transit – When individuals leave the car at home to drive to work or the store, it means one less vehicle emitting pollution on the our local roads and freeways. If possible, cycle or even walk to work. Not only is there less pollution, but you give your heart and other organs a good workout in the process.

2. Practice green in the office – Whether it is cutting down on the amount of paper used in the office copier, using lights at a minimum or other means, practicing conservation in the office has many benefits. The rewards to the environment are equaled by the financial benefits to the company.

3. Make home a viable workplace – While not always an option, working from home allows individuals to cut down on the amount of vehicles polluting the environment. In turn, it helps people avoid breathing the same stale air often filled with pollutants. As an employer can you come up with a scenario where your workers can telecommute from time to time?

4. Avoid a toxic lifestyle – Life is stressful, no way around that. Not only is there a physical toll on the body, but also a mental one. By eating better, exercising more and laughing as much as possible, you reduce the stress in your life. Businesses that have exercise programs in place for their workers not only are likely to have healthier employees, but happy ones too.

5. Know where your water comes from – Research has shown that bottled water utilizes both resources and energy. Throw in chemicals emanating from the plastic bottles, and you have potential health issues. Drinking water is essential to life, but drinking filtered tap water is a more viable option. What are you doing at work to keep your employees properly hydrated during the day?

6. Get some sun – While being out in the sun should be done in moderate amounts and with the proper protection, natural light assists your calcium consumption, not to mention your mental attitude. If you spend too much time indoors, get outside and take in some fresh air. In the meantime, using less artificial lighting helps the environment. Encourage employees to take their breaks outside when possible and enjoy the weather.

7. Recycle, recycle, recycle – By taking those used water bottles, soda cans and bottles and other drinking instruments to recycling centers, you are not only helping the environment, but you’re in many cases making a few dollars on the side. While it takes some effort to collect and transport the recycled items to a center, if you do not have a recycling pick-up, it is time well spent. Do you have a recycling program at work for employee cans and bottles?

8. Clean wisely in the office and home – We all hate to clean up around work and at home, but it is a necessity. When doing so, use cleaners that are non-toxic to you and your loved ones. Using the wrong cleaners can lead to respiratory issues, headaches, stomach problems and more. For office cleaning crews, toss out the harmful chemicals and clean wiser. For more info see www.greencleaners.asia

9. Take out the garbage only when necessary – No one likes garbage, but especially the environment. Employees/individuals that decrease their office/household trash outputs not only are saving themselves money, but alleviating the crush of materials at the local landfills. Whether it is recycling your office paper, home shopping bags or using more dishes and fewer paper products, make the effort to have the garbage truck drive off with less each time.

10. Instead of buying new, fix that device – How many times have you thought about buying a new computer for the home or office or television? Stop and think about the fact that repairing and reusing such devices instead of purchasing new save energy and in turn money.

Both employers and employees can do their part to leave the planet in a little better shape than when they found it – it all begins with one small step.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Adelaide shows off Australia's first 5 Green Star Hospital

Adelaide’s redeveloped Flinders Medical Centre has become the country’s first hospital project to receive a 5 Star Green Star rating.

The hospital’s New South Wing has been awarded the Healthcare Design v1 Certified rating by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA) for excellence in environmentally sustainable design as part of the $160 million redevelopment; it is the first hospital in Australia to be awarded under the Green Star Healthcare v1 Tool.

Woodhead Architects designed the project in conjunction with building services engineers and sustainability consultants.

The redevelopment includes the four-level New South Wing, opened in 2009, which houses medical consulting and outpatient clinics, a labour and delivery unit and an obstetrics and gynaecology unit. ECOM implemented a range of sustainable features including one of Australia’s largest energy-efficient centralised air-conditioning systems, a 286-panel solar hot water system and extensive grey-water and rainwater harvesting. These sustainability measures are set to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water usage by a significant amount.

A displacement air conditioning system supplies patients’ rooms with heat recovered from exhaust air paths, which is the first application in a South Australian hospital supplying improved indoor air quality and a low energy solution.

The 286-panel solar hot water system is designed to reduce recurrent energy costs by $400,000 per year and annual carbon dioxide emissions by 70 per cent. On each level sub-meters monitor electricity, hot and cold water use and chilled and heating water consumption in real-time. They are connected to the building management system and enable tracking over time.

Water-saving measures designed to drastically reduce water consumption include rainwater harvesting from the hospital roof to large tanks for toilet flushing and fire testing, as well as high water-efficiency tapware, showerheads and toilets.
The new wing also includes purpose-designed external fixed shading devices to maximise light penetration while minimising solar heat gain, and high efficiency glazing.

Here's to hoping more institutions find inspiration and revamp their old ways towards a greener path!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Eco-Friendly Lunch Sack to Send Kids Back to School the Green Way

If they had this during my generation, the level of awareness would be significantly higher. Parents today have no excuse!

A new eco-friendly lunch sack featuring Jimmy from the book "Jimmy's Gone Green" is sure to be a hit among children this back-to-school season.

Kids Smart Publishing and Kids Konserve, a leading reusable lunchware company, have collaborated to create a new eco-friendly lunch sack featuring the star of the picture book "Jimmy's Gone Green."

The reusable lunch sack, made with 100 percent recycled cotton and printed with vegetable-based inks, is free of BPA, lead and phthalate, and is sure to be a hit among kids and parents.

The machine-washable lunch sack is designed to replace paper lunch bags, which contribute to an estimated 67 pounds of lunchtime waste per child each year.
"We hope Jimmy will encourage families to choose safe, earth-friendly products over those that may be harmful to both the environment and kids," said Monique Harris, spokesperson for KS Publications, Inc., the parent company of Kids Smart Publishing.

To celebrate the release of the new Jimmy's Gone Green Reusable Lunch Sack, Kids Smart Publishing is giving away 100 FREE lunch sacks to the next 100 people who buy Jimmy's picture book, "Jimmy's Gone Green," at http://www.jimmysgonegreen.com.
In addition, Kids Smart Publishing is donating copies of "Jimmy's Gone Green" to elementary school libraries in order to help increase children's access to green books and help raise environmental awareness among young children.

"The book is a great introduction to what it means to go green," said Monique Harris. "It fosters conversation and encourages children to ask questions about the environment and how they can make a difference."

Jimmy's picture book "Jimmy's Gone Green" and his new reusable lunch sack are available at select retailers and at http://www.jimmysgonegreen.com.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Eco-friendly weddings are becoming the norm

Since this seems to be the season of weddings and engagements – it’s all over my social networks – I’ve decided to post another useful blog, for those who are currently racking their brains for wedding ideas! After all, the royal wedding may have been about the fairy tale, but modern couples are ready for a reality check.
Many couples aren't walking down the aisle at all - they are saying, "I do" after wading through the buffalo grass. And on their walls are artistic portraits of the bridal party against an unfinished brick wall.

Weddings have evolved into the 21st century, and many couples are taking cues from the environment and their urban lifestyles.

At their upcoming nuptials this weekend, Tulsan Scott Vrooman and his business partner and fiancee, Mary Kreider, will be married on the 3,700-square-foot roof of their business, TriArch Architecture, 618 E. Third St. They designed the building with an eco-friendly roof complete with a large patch of buffalo grass. So before about 70 guests this weekend, they'll be married in the open air with downtown Tulsa as a backdrop. "As architects, we try to teach people about being green, and we wanted to put our money where our mouth is," Vrooman said.

Wedding couples have become more environmentally conscious over the past few years, said Meghan Hurley, owner of Concepts PR in Tulsa. She said her clients are aware of the amount of resources they use for their weddings. "Couples are more concerned with giving back," Hurley said. "They are more aware of how much is consumed and thrown away for a wedding on one day."

Using green materials, and even the color green, are trends that began on the East and West coasts but are emerging in Tulsa, she said. "They're using items that are more recyclable. Invitations are what really started the trend. They're using recycled paper made from different fibers. And they've been using bamboo fibers in linens and napkins," she said. "Some are using living centerpieces that guests can take home, like a tree or, again, bamboo."

And couples are certainly conscious of their wedding's setting - not only its location but also what it says about them as a couple. "We would spend so much time up there (on the roof) that we thought it would be great to share that with people," Vrooman said.

"On the roof itself, we'll probably not even decorate a lot," said Kreider, who is an interior designer. "We think it'll be simple and elegant." Hurley said couples are choosing downtown as their wedding backdrop - and even for wedding portraits - because they appreciate its history and architecture.

"The traditional, fuzzy-edged photo is not what people want anymore," she said. "They want to show what is realistic. Yes, it's a fairy-tale day, but again, it's one day. They'll have a whole marriage to spend together. "They like the photojournalism look any more, capturing real moments," Hurley said.
After the ceremony, Vrooman and Kreider will host their reception downstairs in the main offices, which they also use for parties. The LEED-certified building was built in 1919 and was once a distribution center for a bread company.

If they choose to, Scott and Mary can tiptoe through the grass - on their roof.

Ways to have a 'green' wedding

Use invitations made from recycled paper. Or, if it's a casual affair, some couples are choosing to go paperless - by using an e-vite. Yes, etiquette experts might be offended, so make sure to explain your goal: to consume less.

Use living centerpieces. Small trees, herbs, shrubs or annuals make beautiful summer centerpieces. Encourage your guests to take them home and plant them to enjoy long after the wedding is over.

Give eco-friendly wedding favors. Seed packets are all the rage at green weddings. Some companies will print your names and the date of the wedding on them so guests will remember your special day. For more, visit tulsaworld.com/greenfavors
Make it vintage. Update your mother's or grandmother's wedding gown, or even exchange family or heirloom rings. It will reduce consumption, and it's in style. "Vintage and rustic are very much in," said Meghan Hurley, owner of Concepts PR in Tulsa. "But it's a rustic-chic, or a country-chic." So using the old and the new is still important.

Sustainable bites. Choose organic or local produce and meats for your menu. Many local caterers are only too happy to use fresh vegetables from the farmers markets. And summer is the prime time to choose fresh products from the area.

Just keep in mind that at the end of the day, your wedding day and all the preparations leading to it are meant to be reminders of a love that you continue to share and grow into, so whatever path you choose to take, take time to appreciate the process and enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Eco-friendly ideas to keep kids busy this Summer

It’s summer and there’s one thing parents hate to hear from the kids, “I’m bored!” While you’re looking for easy ways to entertain the kiddies, you can also Do Your Part to pass along important lessons on being eco-friendly. Here are 5 green ways to keep kids busy all summer long – certified to keep boredom at bay!

1) Have an Eco-Adventure
Eco-adventures don’t have to be a daunting task. They can be anything you want them to be! A simple walk or hike is the perfect opportunity to learn about the trees, flowers, and insects you might see. Or, think bigger. Check out national parks around your area; they are affordable and filled with all sorts of possible adventures from camping to horseback riding and even kayaking.

2) Get Crafty
One of the best ways to take care of the planet is to get more life from things you already have. So instead of tossing out things like milk cartons, cereal boxes, or old t-shirts, show your kids how to transform them into something new and useful. Some crafts children love are making bird feeders, crafting t-shirt tote bags, and creating a kids’ organizer from “trash.”

3) Grow a Garden
This activity is downright fun for parents. Watching children turn seeds into food is always a thrill. They learn about where their food comes from, how to care for their crops, and they get to eat up all their hard work. Plus, you’ll know exactly what’s in the fruits and veggies your family is eating. Give your kids a couple packets of seeds and a window box or planter full of healthy soil and let them have fun getting dirty.

4) Visit the Library
Don’t spend money or resources on brand new books and videos when you can get an endless supply at your local library. Plus, most libraries have special readings and presentations for every age group throughout the summer at no cost. If you’re looking to check out books that teach an important environmental message, start with The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, which teaches children about the importance of trees. Here Comes the Garbage Barge by Jonah Winter talks trash and shows us why we can’t keep adding to the garbage pile. And, Good Growing: A Kids’ Guide to Gardening helps kids start a garden no matter how much (or how little) space they have.

5) Be Charitable
An important lesson for all children to learn is to how to be charitable. This summer, don’t let shoes, clothes, toys, bikes, and the like sit around your home when there is a lot of life left in them. Sifting through closets is not only a good way to spend quality time with the family, it’s also a great reminder to appreciate what you have.

What are you waiting for? Hit the ground running this summer and dare to come up with your own spectacular green ideas!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ontario's city hall goes green

ONTARIO - When city officials committed to building a more sustainable community, they knew the only way to achieve it was if they took the lead. That's what they did with the renovation of City Hall.

The $21.9 million building incorporates sustainable practices that will not only reduce the city's carbon footprint but lead to energy savings and cost savings over time.

"It's important that we not only set the pace but set the example," Councilman Jim Bowman said.

The building has been designed to meet Silver LEED certification standards. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an internationally recognized green building certification system. Meanwhile, the sustainable design status is given by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Work on LEED certification started as soon as officials embarked on the 19-month demolition and construction process, and in order to improve their chances of reaching the silver rating, Ontario officials had to be certain that they recycled as much material as possible from the demolition of the interior of the building. All waste was separated into various types thus minimising the impact on the landfill – a move that was simple enough for the city which already maintains an active recycling program.

To bring the old building into the 21st century, energy efficient lighting has been installed. Windows in the building have also been double paned, to retain heat. Another portion of the project was improving the plaza area in the interior courtyard of the building. Trees and new seating have been brought in and a metal shade structure now surrounds the windows. The structure will help block the direct sunlight that would otherwise hit the building.

In the courtyard, as well throughout the entire building, officials have placed California drought tolerant plants. In an effort to save even more water a drip irrigation system was installed underneath the plants, which releases water directly to the roots.

The city has removed the cement and installed permeable pavers around the building. The change will allow water to seep into the ground rather than creating groundwater runoff. However, the project continues to extend itself to the parking lot, with officials earning extra points in providing specific parking spots for fuel efficient vehicles.

The city of Ontario is currently preparing for a re-dedication ceremony for the newly renovated City Hall.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Running for the oceans

Dear All,

Next week, on Sunday 12 June, one of our loyal clients (along with two friends) will run a half-marathon in the Laguna Phuket International Marathon.

They will be running for a cause: Protect our oceans!

Team Thalassa Phuket (Cait, Lizzy & Mia) will run to help raise funds for Project AWARE, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to conserve underwater environments through education, advocacy and action (http://www.projectaware.org/).

Please help support them and email your pledges at Team.Thalassa.Phuket@gmail.com by Sunday 12 June and they will make a combined donation to Project AWARE after the run.

Please feel free to forward this email to anyone who might be interested in supporting this cause.

Did you know…
- Whales have now resorted to shouting (as opposed to singing) as the oceans are now so noisy thanks to increased shipping and deep sea drilling.
- Humans generate waste faster than it can be broken down and use up resources faster than they can be replaced. Nearly 90 percent of all marine debris is plastic. To date, plastic outweighs zooplankton 6:1.
- Entanglement and ingestion of fishing line, nets, rope and other debris has been reported in more than 260 animal species worldwide.
- More than 1 million seabirds are killed by aquatic litter each year.
- An estimated 100,000 marine mammals including dolphins, whales, seals and sea turtles choke or get tangled in debris every year. 86 percent of all sea turtles are affected by marine debris.
- An estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic litter alone are floating on every square mile of ocean – 70 percent of which will eventually sink. A plastic bag takes 10 to 20 years to degrade in the environment.
- It takes glass bottles one million years to biodegrade in the natural environments.
- An aluminum can takes 80 to 200 years to break down in the environment and 6-pack holder rings 450 years.
- It takes a cigarette filter one to five years and a newspaper six weeks to degrade in the environment.

Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

..CO2 emissions highest ever in 2010: IEA

Carbon dioxide emitted by energy use hit a record high last year, dimming prospects for limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said Monday.

Breaching the 2.0 C (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) threshold sharply increases risk of severe climate impacts, including flooding, storms, rising sea levels and species extinction, scientists have warned.

"Energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2010 were the highest in history," the Paris-based IEA said in a statement posted on its website.

After a dip in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis, emissions climbed to a record 30.6 gigatonnes (Gt), a five-percent jump from the previous record year in 2008, the agency said.

Moreover, 80 percent of projected greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 from energy sources are "locked in" as they will come from power plants already operating or under construction.

"This significant increase in CO2 emissions and the locking in of future emissions due to infrastructure investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than 2.0 C (3.6 F)," said IEA chief economist Fatih Birol.

UN climate change talks have agreed that average global temperatures should not increase by more than 2.0 C (3.6 F).

To achieve this goal, long-term concentration of greenhouse gases must peak at about 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, barely five percent more than in 2000, scientists say.

This target will slip beyond reach if global energy-related emissions in the year 2020 exceeds 32 Gt, the IEA has calculated.

The rise in emissions over the next decade must be less than the jump between 2009 and 2010, the agency cautioned.

"Our latest estimates are another wake-up call," said Birol.

"The world has edged incredibly close to the level of emission that should not be reached until 2020 if the 2.0 C (3.6 F) target is to be attained."

The UN's top climate official said the figures underscored the urgency for political action.

"The IEA estimates ... are a stark warming to governments to provide strong new progress this year towards global solutions to climate change," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

UN climate talks, resuming in Bonn next Monday, remain deadlocked on how to achieve the 2.0 C (3.6 F) target.

Even the Kyoto Protocol, whose first round of emissions-cutting pledges for rich nations expires at the end of 2012, may be in jeopardy as key nations say they do not favour renewal.

"The figures mean that the world is very far from achieving the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more that two degrees Celsius," EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a statement, calling on other nations to set binding targets and emissions trading schemes as has the European Union.

Emerging countries say emission limits will stunt their development and argue that only rich economies can afford green technology which can boost living standards and cut emissions.

The IEA estimated 40 percent of global emissions in 2010 came from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) club of advanced countries.

But these only accounted for a quarter of the annual emissions growth. The rest came came from rapidly developing countries, led by China and India.

On a per-capita basis, OECD countries emit on average 10 tonnes, compared with 5.8 tonnes for China, a voracious burner of coal, and 1.5 tonnes in India.