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Climate: Aviation industry eyes 2016 emissions cap

Contentious meeting ends with small step forward

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A passenger jet flies above the mountains of Greenland. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The international aviation community last week took another small step toward capping greenhouse gas emissions by agreeing to develop a global market-based measure to cap international aviation’s carbon pollution at 2020 levels.

The International Civil Aviation Organization agreed to finalize what will likely be a cap and trade emissions program by 2016 in a meeting that was marked by uncertainty until the very end, according to Environmental Defense Fund attorney Annie Petsonk, who has been watch-dogging the aviation industry.

According to the EDF, if aviation were a country, it would rank among the world’s top ten largest emitters, and it is one of the fastest growing sources of global warming pollution. Continue reading

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Study seeks early warning of ecological tipping points

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Penguins could be a species prone to an ecological tipping point. bberwyn photo.

Ecosystem collapses could also have serious economic and social consequences

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — One of the biggest concerns raised by the rapid rise in global temperatures the past few decades is that some ecosystems may reach an environmental tipping point, from beyond which there is no recovery.

It’s hard to predict where those tipping points are and when they might be reached, but a team of scientists with NOAA Fisheries, University of California at Santa Barbara, Stanford University, and Environmental Defense Fund wants to know if it’s at least possible to detect early warning signs in the world’s oceans.

The Ocean Tipping Points Project includes scientists and other experts from NOAA Fisheries, University of California at Santa Barbara, Stanford University, and Environmental Defense Fund. The Project is just getting off the ground with a recent $3.1 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Continue reading

Obama signs anti-environmental airline measure

The debate about controlling airline emissions rages on.

Conservation groups pin hopes on global airline emissions deal

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Obama administration may be talking the talk on climate change, but it’s not clear if the president is ready to walk the walk — especially after signing into law a bill that was partly driven by Jim Inhofe, the U.S. Senate’s most infamous global warming denier.

The new law gives federal officials the ability to prevent U.S. airlines from complying with European Union airline emissions regulations — rules that have been suspended for a year while the International Civil Aviation Organization  tries to develop a global mechanism for controlling airline emissions.

Obama’s signature of the measure drew a mixed response, with some groups panning the president for his actions, while others said they are hopeful that the U.S. will help lead the aviation community to a solution. Continue reading

Climate: Discussions raging on possible links between global warming and superstorm Sandy

Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast. Satellite image courtesy NOAA.

Record-breaking storm spurs more public awareness about the potential for more frequent extreme weather events

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — With several all-time weather records shattered and early estimates that Hurricane Sandy may cost the U.S. economy some $20 to $25 billion, it’s clear that the storm lived up to its billing. Along with the cleanup, there’s also a raging debate about whether global warming was a factor in the storm’s development and path.

On the one side, environmental activists seeking to limit heat-trapping greenhouse gases have jumped on the so-called super storm as an opportunity to tout their cause. On the other side, global warming deniers and others have pulled out timeworn statistics about past hurricanes that supposedly were equally as strong.

The arguments at the extreme sides of the spectrum don’t ring true. Of course, there is no way to scientifically prove that increases in air and ocean temps directly contributed to this storm. There’s still so much natural variability in nature that you just can’t establish a causal link. Continue reading

Lawsuit pushes EPA to regulate airplane emissions

Environmental groups want the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes.

Environmental groups want agency to set a timeline for action on airplane greenhouse gas emissions

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The EPA is dragging its feet on controlling greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes, the Environmental Defense Fund said this week, reinforcing arguments made in court by a coalition of groups seeking to establish a timeline for EPA action.

The hearing in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia is part of a 2010 lawsuit that charges the EPA with unreasonablly delaying action. The courts have already ruled that the EPA must act on airline emissions in response to a petition filed in 2007, but the agency doesn’t have a specific timeline it must follow, according EDF attorney Pamela Campos. Continue reading

U.S. teams with fossil fuel dinosaurs on airline emissions

The U.S. continues to oppose a European plan that would take meaningful steps to reduce emissions from commercial aviation.

International aviation group opposes EU plan to cut airline carbon footprint
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — In the ongoing battle over reducing greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aviation, The U.S. last week sided with fossil fuel dinosaurs like Saudi Arabia.

American officials signed a statement suggesting opposition to an European Aviation Directive that would hold all airlines accountable for their emissions from flights using European airports starting in January 2012.

The statement suggests that the EU policy is inconsistent with existing international legal frameworks. It also calls for emissions from aviation to be addressed in the International Civil Aviation Organization. Continue reading

Travel: Greenwashing in the U.S. airline industry?

New European standard would cap greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes, but several U.S. airlines are sueing to block the regulations.

Major carriers sue to block European Union regs that would cap and reduce some airline greenhouse gas emissions

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Three of the largest U.S. airlines like to tout their green credentials, but out of the public eye they’re doing their best to gut meaningful environmental rules for the industry.

American Airlines and United both promoted their environmental initiatives in a campaign timed to coincide with Earth Day last month. American published an article, “AA Reduces Environmental Footprint”, in its in-flight magazine, and United promoted itself as an “environmentally friendly company” in its new, widely publicized “eco-skies” campaign.

But at the same time, both companies filed suit in a European court to block a European Union law that holds all airlines accountable for their global warming pollution from flights to, from and within Europe. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2012. American and United have also been lobbying the U.S. Congress to declare the EU law invalid. Continue reading

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