The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its 19th annual report of overall U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today, showing a 3.4 percent decrease in 2012 from 2011. The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks, which is submitted annually to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, presents a national-level overview of annual greenhouse gas emissions since 1990.
The major contributors to the decrease in emissions from 2011-2012 were the decrease in energy consumption across all sectors in the U.S. economy, and the decrease in carbon intensity for electricity generation due to fuel switching from coal to natural gas. Other factors included a decrease in transportation sector emissions attributed to an increase in fuel efficiency across different transportation modes and limited new demand for passenger transportation.
Greenhouse gases are the primary driver of climate change, leading to increased heat-related illnesses and deaths; worsening the air pollution that can cause asthma attacks and other respiratory problems; and expanding the ranges of disease-spreading insects. Climate change is also affecting the frequency and intensity of heat waves, droughts, and other extreme weather events.
Delivering the latest stark news about climate change on Sunday, a United Nations panel warned that governments are not doing enough to avert profound risks in coming decades. But the experts found a silver lining: Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.
In a report unveiled here, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever. Though it remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found.
“We cannot afford to lose another decade,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.”
Jeff Tollefson, NATURE
Many foresters have long assumed that trees gradually lose their vigour as they mature, but a new analysis suggests that the larger a tree gets, the more kilos of carbon it puts on each year.
“The trees that are adding the most mass are the biggest ones, and that holds pretty much everywhere on Earth that we looked,” says Nathan Stephenson, an ecologist at the US Geological Survey in Three Rivers, California, and the first author of the study, which appears today in Nature1. “Trees have the equivalent of an adolescent growth spurt, but it just keeps going.”
The scientific literature is chock-full of studies that focus on forests’ initial growth and their gradual move towards a plateau in the amount of carbon they store as they reach maturity2. Researchers have also documented a reduction in growth at the level of individual leaves in older trees3.
In their study, Stephenson and his colleagues analysed reams of data on 673,046 trees from 403 species in monitored forest plots, in both tropical and temperate areas around the world. They found that the largest trees gained the most mass each year in 97% of the species, capitalizing on their additional leaves and adding ever more girth high in the sky.
via Tree growth never slows : Nature News & Comment.
Jeremy White, CAPITOL ALERT
Barring a sweeping policy change or the introduction of new technology, California will fall short of its goals to drastically curtail greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to a new report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
The good news is that California remains on pace to cut emissions to their 1990 level by 2020, a goal set out in a 2005 executive order issued by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But the subsequent goal of thinning greenhouse-gas trapping emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 currently appears to be out of reach.
via Capitol Alert: California won’t meet 2050 emissions goals, report says E.U. For a more technical discussion, see this article.
Bob Norberg, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Greenhouse gas emissions declined in Sonoma County in 2011 for the third straight year, reflecting an expansion of renewable energy sources and a down economy, which lowered demand for power and transportation.Still, Sonoma County’s goal of reducing emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2015 remains elusive, officials said Tuesday.
via Greenhouse gas emissions down again in Sonoma County | PressDemocrat.com.
by bvesser, CLIMATE PROTECTION CAMPAIGN
April 10, 2012, the Sonoma County Water Agency Board voted unanimously to continue its evaluation of Sonoma Clean Power. Since 2011 the Sonoma County Water Agency has studied the feasibility and desirability of implementing Sonoma Clean Power, a local program that will buy and generate electricity for businesses and residents to reduce local greenhouse gas emissions.
April 24, 2012, PG&E announced it had asked permission of the California Public Utilities Commission to offer its electric ratepayers a voluntary new program to support 100 percent renewable energy. PG&E expects that residential customers who voluntarily opt in to the program will pay on average about $6.00 more per month.
via Sonoma Clean Power vs. PG&E’s “Green Option” Program | Climate Protection Campaign.
The third annual 350 Home & Garden Challenge returns on May 12-13, encouraging thousands to transform Sonoma County homes and gardens by taking practical actions to save water and energy, increase local food production, and reduce greenhouse gases. Last year, the challenge inspired 1044 home and garden actions in Sonoma County, including installing 21 grey water systems and transforming 243 lawns. Ideas include transforming lawns to food or waterwise landscapes, installing a grey water system, line-drying clothes, planting fruit trees and more!
The Challenge has taken its call to action national for the second year running with Transition US’s “Transition Challenge,” encouraging citizen’s nationwide to take action and implement community-powered solutions to climate change. It is an initiative of Daily Acts in parnership with iGROW Sonoma County and others.
For more information, or to register your action, go to http://dailyacts.org/350-challenge/.
by Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
In 2005, Santa Rosa set two goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The first was to reduce its own emissions from municipal operations to 2000 levels by 2010.
The second was to reduce emissions citywide to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2015, one of the most aggressive targets in the nation.
The city government missed the first goal and the community is almost certain to miss the second, which is less than three years away.
via Santa Rosa likely to miss 2015 climate target | PressDemocrat.com.