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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Ocean food chain affected as acidity impacts phytoplankton

phytoplankton diatomsOcean acidification is impacting phytoplankton now http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/48810  Steve Williams, Care2, July 26, 2015 Scientists are warning that ocean acidification is impacting microorganisms in our ocean known as phytoplankton and, as they pay a key role in ocean habitats, any future loss or change in species numbers could impact marine life in a big way.

Ocean acidification isn’t always mentioned in conjunction with phytoplankton blooms, and the U.S. Government has been slow to link the two, but MIT researchers say acidification of our oceans could impact phytoplankton in a big way, and that will be bad news for our marine life.

Publishing in the journal Nature Climate Change, the scientists say their research shows that ocean acidification–where our oceans absorb gasses like carbon dioxide and sulphor dioxide that are released during the burning of fossil fuels–will increase to such an extent that by 2100 several species of phytoplankton will die out, robbing several larger marine species of a vital food source, while other phytoplankton species will rapidly increase in number, threatening the delicate balance of marine habitats and even potentially threatening the bird populations that depend on marine life.

According to the National Ocean Service (NOAA), phytoplankton are organisms that function in much the same way as the plants we see around us. They contain chlorophyl and depend on sunlight. For that reason they tend to float close to the surface of the water where they can get as much sunlight as possible. They also take in nutrients like nitrates, phosphates and sulfur.

In marine environments phytoplankton play a key role and are a food source for a number of species, from tiny animals like shrimp and snails, all the way up to jellyfish and even whales.

July 29, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Simpler climate document for UN Paris negotiations

flag-UN-Smclimate-changeNew UN document seeks to simplify Paris climate negotiations http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-28/new-un-document-seeks-to-simplify-paris-climate/6653016  The United Nations has released a streamlined negotiating text in a bid to help nations agree on a climate deal during talks in Paris later this year.

UN officials say the 83-page document delivers a clearer picture of a possible agreement, by offering an insight into which parts of a treaty could be enshrined in international law.

But while some organisations say the move will help to cut through red tape, others say the UN paper failed to address human rights.

Oxfam Australia is one organisation that’s examined the plan, and its Food, Climate and Humanitarian Advocacy manager Kelly Dent says while some aspects of the paper are positive, there is not enough mention of climate adaptation – an increasingly important issue for the Pacific.

July 29, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

If South Australia gets nuclear facilities, they’ll be endangered by increasing wildfires

If the radiation leak lasts more than a few hours, there is no viable safe plan. If the radiation plume passes, the ground will probably still be contaminated

Wildfires also threaten Nuclear Waste and Nuclear Waste Shipments


flag-AustraliaWildfires and Nuclear Don’t Mix: Lessons from San Onofre and Chernobyl to Australia https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/4410547/762849951 
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 miningawareness  27 July 15 As the deadline looms (3 Aug.) for comments regarding the risks of the nuclear fuel chain for South Australia – whether uranium mining, which is already occurring, or any proposed additions (uranium enrichment, nuclear energy, nuclear waste), foremost in everyone’s minds should be the
risk of Bushfires (Wildfires), as well as endangerment to the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) aquifer, upon which so much of Australia is dependent for water, and which is being depleted, and most assuredly contaminated, by uranium and other mining:https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/nuclearcommissionsaust-have-your-say-for-the-future-of-south-australia-submissions-close-soon-july-theme/ (Australia’s uranium mining “generates less than 0.2 per cent of national export revenue and accounts for less than 0.02 per cent of jobs in Australia.http://www.conservationsa.org.au/images/Nuclear_Royal_Commission_issues.pdfMeanwhile it is laying waste to the land and provided nuclear fuel for Fukushima)

The Australian climate is generally hot, dry and prone to drought. At any time of the year, some parts of Australia are prone to bushfires with the widely varied fire seasons reflected in the continent’s different weather patterns. For most of southern Australia, the danger period is summer and autumn.” http://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/hazards/bushfire/basics/where

bushfire & rad gif

2015 Wildfires Near Chernobyl  http://www.mns.gov.ua/news/40286.html

In April of this year, and again from the end of June into mid July, hundreds of firefighters in the Ukraine bravely battled fires in the area of the Chernobyl nuclear power station. Smoldering peat fires were the hardest to put out.

http://www.mns.gov.ua/news/40286.html
While this represents a serious danger to Europe, it received shockingly little media coverage. Continue reading

July 27, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, environment | Leave a comment

Climate change danger hangs over China’s coastal cities (and their nukes!)

Climate change threatens China’s booming coastal cities, says expert, Guardian, Peng Yining , 25 July 15 

With an ageing society and more people living by the coast, China faces a challenge coping with climate change, reports China Daily A recent study led by Georgina Mace, ecosystem professor at University College London, indicated that governments across the world have failed to grasp the risk that population booms in coastal cities pose as climate change continues to cause rises in sea levels and extreme weather events. Mace is director of the UCL Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research.

Mace says population growth in coastal areas can lead to big increases in exposure to extreme weather. The biggest direct effect of projected climate change is heat waves. The number of people dying from extreme heat could increase twelvefold by the end of this century, as a result of global warming combined with increasing numbers living in affected areas.

“People are increasingly living in the wrong places, and the demographic shift in China is enormous. China has a lot of old people who are vulnerable to extreme weather,” says Mace………

map China nukes

The commission also released a report in July indicating that by 2030, China will have 230 million rural residentswho have relocated to urban areas and the urbanisation rate will reach 70%.

Increased urbanisation will also exacerbate the effects of climate change, particularly among elderly citizens who are more vulnerable to extreme weather, Mace said recently at the release of the latest climate change report commissioned by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The report, drawn up by experts from UK, the United States, China and India, demonstrated risks triggered by climate change, including extreme weather and social instability, and also stressed the potential impact on coastal areas caused by rising sea levels

“The reason we chose to work with China is very much because of the population factor. The eastern coastal region is highly populated, and the sea level is rising. That could be a big challenge,” says David King, the UK foreign secretary’s special representative for climate change, who led the project……… http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/25/climate-change-threatens-chinas-booming-coastal-cities-says-expert

July 27, 2015 Posted by | China, climate change | Leave a comment

Draft for UN climate deal needs to be shorter and clearer

climate-changeU.N. climate deal draft must be shorter, clearer: minister BY MEGAN ROWLING  LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) 23 July 15 – Ministers working towards a new U.N. deal to tackle climate change, due in December, need a negotiating text that is shorter and more manageable than the current draft, the Marshall Islands’ foreign minister said after informal talks in Paris.

“It should be something that people can understand, be able to work with and negotiate from,” chief diplomat Tony de Brum told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from France.

The current version of the draft text is a bewildering 85-page list of options, incorporating the demands of the nearly 200 nations participating in the process.

At the last round of formal U.N. talks in June, negotiators slimmed the document down by only a few pages and tasked the co-chairs with preparing a new version, to be published on Friday.

This unofficial document is expected to streamline the text, and may provide more structure aimed at sorting the elements of the draft into a potential core legal agreement and an accompanying set of decisions.

The message from this week’s two-day gathering in Paris of around 40 countries’ delegations, including 26 with ministers, and an earlier meeting of the world’s major economies was that the negotiating text should be short – around 40 pages – and ambitious, de Brum said………….

(Reporting by Megan Rowling; editing by Tim Pearce; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit www.trust.orghttp://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/22/us-climatechange-un-paris-idUSKCN0PW1NR20150722

July 25, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Congo’s forgotten uranium mine

In Congo, silence surrounds forgotten mine that fuelled first atom bombs, Aljazeera America 
The US sourced uranium for the weapons used on Japan from Shinkolobwe; though the site is closed, locals mine illegally
 July 23, 2015 by Tom Zoellner One of the manifest ironies of the nuclear age is just how primitive it all is. A complicated war was brought to an end within a week by a pair of indiscriminate hammer blows. The logic behind the next 45 years of Cold War military strategy — hit us and we both die — was as simplistic as it was problematic. And driving everything was a bomb fashioned out of dirt.

A particular kind of dirt, of course, and one that required a lavish industrial process before it could be made into a fissile device. That dirt is uranium, and it lies all around the world in abundant quantities. A place where it was concentrated to levels of freakish purity is now just a curious footnote of the nuclear age, but at one time, it was treated with intense secrecy.

Shinkolobwe was a small settlement in the Katanga province of what was then the Belgian Congo……….

The mine produced uranium for U.S. nuclear weapons until 1960, when enough uranium mines had opened up in the American Southwest to meet the nuclear hunger, and Shinkolobwe was closed. The Belgians poured concrete down the mineshaft and closed off the pit.

I visited Shinkolobwe in 2007, 120 miles from the city of Lubumbashi over disintegrating roads through the rain forest. A permit to go there cost $80, payable to a member of the presidential staff. We had to walk the last several kilometers until we reached a decrepit fence overgrown with vines.

Sharp’s hill had given way to an immense pit, which had been chewed over for decades by local freelance miners. The mineshaft the Belgians built and then filled with concrete had been dug away to a depth of about 100 feet and fallen over. The scene was disquietingly peaceful. Though we had been told it was heavily guarded, no soldiers or police were there to challenge us.

The birthplace of the Bomb has been forgotten by the outside world but not by everyone. Teams of Congolese miners kept slipping inside the old pit to dig out residual supplies of copper and cobalt, which they sell on the black market. There have been persistent rumors — and some occasional instances — of local businessmen selling uranium to outside parties. There is also evidence that some of the Shinkolobwe uranium has found its way into Iranian centrifuges, though this remains publicly unconfirmed by Western intelligence agencies…….http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/7/23/in-congo-silence-surrounds-forgotten-mine-that-fueled-first-atomic-bombs.html

July 25, 2015 Posted by | AFRICA, climate change | Leave a comment

Stephen Harper, Canada’s PM blocking action on climate change

flag-canadaclimate-posterCanada’s PM blocking climate reform, says Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne, Guardian,  , 21 July 15  Leader of country’s biggest province condemns Stephen Harper ahead of elections: ‘There isn’t a collaborative process around any of this’ The leader of Canada’s biggest province has escalated her feud with the country’s prime minister, accusing Stephen Harper of obstructing efforts to fight climate change and calling on Canadians to make global warming a decisive issue in the coming elections.

In an interview with the Guardian, Kathleen Wynne, the Liberal premier of Ontario, brought long-simmering tensions with Harper over energy and economic policy to a rollicking boil, repeatedly calling out the Conservative prime minister for blocking efforts to cut carbon pollution.

When it came to fighting climate change, Harper was an obstruction rather than a help, she said……….

Wynne called on Canadians to vote on climate change in the October elections. “I hope that climate change and taking action on climate change is an election issue,” she said.

As premier, Wynne has championed the efforts of Ontario and other provinces to deal with climate change. Last week’s meeting of 22 states, provinces and territories called for setting a price on carbon.

Ontario won positive attention when it phased out the use of coal in its power plants last year.

But the environmental commissioner said on 7 July that theprovince would have to do much more to meet its 2020 target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Wynne’s advisers said she hoped to cut carbon pollution from transport by investing in public transit and easing congestion.

Climate change looms even larger over Harper, who faces increasing criticism at home and abroad tying Canada’s economic future to the development of the tar sands.

At international climate conferences, the Harper government now is routinely handed out mock “fossil” awards for its failure to deal with climate change. Campaigners have accused Harper of treading on the rights of government scientists……..

Wynne said Canada should have put forward a more ambitious climate pledge ahead of the UN negotiations in Paris.

Canada will not meet its 2020 target for cutting emissions because of the tar sands, and it has retreated still further from those earlier promises in its pledge ahead of the Paris climate talks……..http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/21/canada-climate-change-kathleen-wynne-stephen-harper-ontario

July 25, 2015 Posted by | Canada, climate change, politics | Leave a comment

Australia’s Cardinal George Pell criticises Pope Francis for his stand on climate change

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

I thought we had enough to worry about with our government leader Tony Abbott. Now our religious heavy is out to dceny climate change. I’m ashamed to be Australian!

Cardinal George Pell criticises Pope Francis over climate change stance , SMH, July 19, 2015  Kerrie Armstrong Cardinal George Pell has publicly criticised Pope Francis’ decision to place climate change at the top of the Catholic Church’s agenda.

Cardinal Pell, a well-known climate change skeptic, told the Financial Times the church had “no particular expertise in science”.

“The church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters,” he said,

“We believe in the autonomy of science.”

 His comments come a month after Pope Francis released an historic encyclical calling on humanity to fight global warming……….Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Pell to reform the Vatican’s finances nearly 18 months ago.  http://www.smh.com.au/world/cardinal-george-pell-criticises-pope-francis-over-climate-change-stance-20150718-gifhjt.html#ixzz3gZqkYfTP

July 22, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Pope Francis and international Mayors get together to work on climate action

Francis is on to something by inviting mayors to the Vatican, rather than state-level leaders, such as prime ministers and presidents.

The Vatican summit this week comes ahead of a crucial round of United Nations climate talks scheduled for early December in Paris.

It’s a safe bet that Francis will nudge policymakers in the U.S. to push for climate action when he speaks at the U.N. in September, and becomes the first-ever pope to address a joint session of Congress.


PopePope Francis convenes world’s mayors to discuss global warming, Mashable Australia, Andrew Freeman 20 July 15  
Anyone who thought that Pope Francis was going to issue his climate change manifesto, and then recede quietly into the background on the issue was sorely mistaken.

In fact, judging from his agenda this week, it’s clear that Francis intends to be a major player in spurring leaders to combat global warming, which he sees as inextricably linked to efforts to lift the plight of the world’s poor.

SEE ALSO: Pope Francis: Global warming is a threat to humanity

This week, the Vatican’s science committees will host two days of meetings with 50 mayors and governors from around the world; they will discuss ways to implement policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, boosting resilience to climate extremes and eradicating poverty. Continue reading

July 22, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Unstoppable warming of oceans due to climate change

ocean-heatingWarming of oceans due to climate change is unstoppable, say US scientistshttp://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/16/warming-of-oceans-due-to-climate-change-is-unstoppable-say-us-scientists , 17 July 15  Globally 90% of the excess heat caused by the rise in greenhouse gas emissions is absorbed by the oceans

Seas will continue to warm for centuries even if manmade greenhouse gas emissions were frozen at today’s levels, say US government scientists The warming of the oceans due to climate change is now unstoppable after record temperatures last year, bringing additional sea-level rise, and raising the risks of severe storms, US government climate scientists said on Thursday.

The annual State of the Climate in 2014 report, based on research from 413 scientists from 58 countries, found record warming on the surface and upper levels of the oceans, especially in the North Pacific, in line with earlier findings of2014 as the hottest year on record. Continue reading

July 19, 2015 Posted by | climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Danger for China, in planning inland nuclear facilities

Climate kills nuclearDrought and earthquakes pose “enormous risk” to China’s nuclear plans, China Dialogue Wang Yi’nan 27.02.2013

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China’s nuclear industry is shifting inland, away from the crowded coast. It’s a risky move, argues Wang Yi’nan When the Fukushima nuclear disaster struck, China was building new nuclear power capacity at a rate unprecedented in world history: 40% of all reactors planned or under construction were in China. Targets for installed nuclear generation capacity by 2020 were raised repeatedly – from 40 gigawatts in 2007 to 80 gigawatts in 2010.

Preparations were also under way for more than 20 inland nuclear power plants. The 41-plus gigawatts of capacity already completed or under construction lies along China’s seaboard. Space is running out.

But Fukushima sent shockwaves through the nuclear industry. In China, focus shifted from the speed and scale of expansion to questions of safety and quality. The government placed a moratorium on approvals for new nuclear plants, which lasted for more than a year, a period during which debate on what to do raged – over safety, scale of expansion, technology, site locations and, most crucially, whether or not the process of considering applications to build new inland nuclear power plants should be restarted.

China’s nuclear moratorium may have been lifted, but those arguments continue today……..China’s realities warn against inland nuclear development.

Figures from the China Earthquake Administration’s Institute of Geology show that, since 1900, China has been hit by almost 800 earthquakes of magnitude six or above, causing destruction in all regions except Guizhou, Zhejiang and Hong Kong. Despite having only 7% of the world’s landmass, China – where three tectonic plates meet – gets more than a third of all strong continental earthquakes.

Moreover, China’s per-head freshwater resources are only one quarter of the global average. Inland nuclear power plants require a failsafe, 100% reliable and never-ending supply of water for cooling. Even if a reactor stops operating it still requires water to carry off heat. If the water dries up, we could see a Fukushima-style disaster, with terrible consequences: radioactive pollutants released into nearby rivers and lakes, affecting the safety of water on which hundreds of millions rely.

In June last year, Reuters covered a report by European and US scientists on the vulnerabilities of nuclear and thermal power to climate change. According to the report, “under climate change, a lack of water for cooling is severely restricting generating capacity at nuclear power plants in the EU and US. In the summer seasons of 2003 to 2009, many inland nuclear power plants were forced to shut down due to a lack of cooling water.”

The authors predicted that “due to a lack of water for cooling, between 2030 and 2060 nuclear and thermal generating capacity will drop 4-16% in the US, and 6-19% in the EU,” and went on to stress that “opting to build nuclear and other thermal power plants by the sea is an effective and important strategy to cope with climate change.”
China is densely populated and prone to both drought and earthquakes, making the development of inland nuclear power inadvisable. It has also long sought to emulate the EU and US, regions which have now realised the outlook for inland nuclear power is bleak. China should not make the same mistake………
Safety standards still not being met

Moreover, there are still limits to China’s ability to run nuclear power plants.

During the State Council’s safety audit of 41 reactors in operation or under construction, some plants and fuel recycling facilities were found not to meet new safety standards for flood and earthquake resilience, while some plants did not have procedures for preventing or mitigating major accidents. Others had not evaluated tsunami risks and responses.

The Taishan Nuclear Power Plant has no guidelines for managing a major accident, for example. The Taishan No.2 reactor, Ling’Ao and Tianwan Nuclear Power Plants have procedures only for certain types of major accident……..
China has better and more realistic options to relieve energy shortages and cut emissions. These include more efficient use of resources including coal; the promotion of energy-saving techniques such as the use of energy performance contracting(where energy savings from new buildings systems pay for the cost of a building renewal project) a tool which, if used in China as it is in the EU, would save the equivalent of several Three Gorges Dams’ worth of energy.

Comprehensive clean-energy solutions, incorporating solar power, wind power, bioenergy, pumped-storage hydropower and natural gas peak power plants, can provide China with the clean, reliable and efficient energy it needs for a new type of industrialisation.

China’s development must be built on genuinely safe, reliable, clean and efficient energy. Blindly opting for nuclear power in response to energy shortages and emissions pressures is to drink from a poisoned chalice. https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/5746-Drought-and-earthquakes-pose-enormous-risk-to-China-s-nuclear-plans

July 19, 2015 Posted by | China, climate change, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Human caused global warming hardly dinted by a new grand solar minimum

climate-changeA grand solar minimum would barely make a dent in human-caused global warming, Guardian,  , August 2014 

Research has shown that a grand solar minimum would offset no more than 0.3°C of global warming Recent articles in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten (translation available here) and in the Irish Times both ran headlines claiming that another grand solar minimum could potentially trigger an “ice age” or “mini ice age” this century. These articles actually refer to the Little Ice Age (LIA) – a period about 500 to 150 years ago when global surface temperatures were approximately 1°C colder than they are today. This is quite different from an ice age, which are more like 5°C colder than today. The LIA was not actually very cold on a global scale.

So, in order to trigger another LIA, a new grand solar minimum would have to cause about 1°C cooling, plus it would have to offset the continued human-caused global warming of 1 to 5°C by 2100, depending on how our greenhouse gas emissions change over the next century.

In the Jyllands-Posten article, Henrik Svensmark (the main scientist behind the hypothesis that the sun has a significant indirect impact on global climate via galactic cosmic rays) was a bit more measured, suggesting,

“I can imagine that it will become 0.2°C colder. I would be surprised if it became 1–2°C”

So these two articles are suggesting that a grand solar minimum could have a net cooling effect in the ballpark of 1 to 6°C, depending on how human greenhouse gas emissions change over the next century. Is it plausible that a grand solar minimum could make that happen?

The short answer is, ‘No.’

Fortunately, Solar Output is Stable

We’re fortunate that the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth’s surface is very stable. Climate contrarians will often ask if we’d prefer if the planet were warming or cooling, suggesting that global warming is a good thing because at least the planet isn’t getting colder. This is a false dichotomy – an ideal climate is a stable one………

Peer-Reviewed Research Says Global Warming will Continue

There have been several studies in recent years investigating what impact another grand solar minimum would have on global surface temperatures, since solar research suggests it’s possible we could be due for another extended solar minimum. Generally these studies will run climate model simulations under a given greenhouse gas emissions scenario with stable solar activity, then run the same scenario with the sun going into a grand minimum, and look at the difference in resulting global surface temperature changes.

Using this approach, Feulner & Rahmstorf (2010) (PDF available here) estimated that another solar minimum equivalent to the Dalton and Maunder minima would cause 0.09°C and 0.26°C cooling, respectively………

Human Influence on Climate Change is Bigger than the Sun’s

The bottom line is that the sun and the amount of solar radiation reaching Earth are very stable. Even during the Maunder and Dalton grand solar minima, global cooling was relatively small – smaller than the amount of global warming caused by human greenhouse gas emissions over the past century.

A new grand solar minimum would not trigger another LIA; in fact, the maximum 0.3°C cooling would barely make a dent in the human-caused global warming over the next century. While it would be enough to offset to about a decade’s worth of human-caused warming, it’s also important to bear in mind that any solar cooling would only be temporary, until the end of the solar minimum.

The science is quite clear that the human influence on climate change has become bigger than the sun’s. At this point, speculation about another mini ice age is pure fantasy. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2013/aug/14/global-warming-solar-minimum-barely-dent

July 19, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Notes on Climate Change News

Climate Change
Caring about Climate Change – Global Citizens and Moral Decision Making.
In a recent cogito blog post, Clive Hamilton claims that the greatest crimes of recent years will surely prove to be human interference with and disruption of the Earth’s climate.
http://theconversation.com/caring-about-climate-change-global-citizens-and-moral-decision-making-44771

One by one – church leaders speak out on climate change
Religious leaders around the world keep coming out in support of efforts to reduce or combat climate change.
http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/one-by-one-church-leaders-speak-out-on-climate-change

Cold now but June the warmest ever
Last month was the hottest June on record by a wide margin, Japan Meteorological Agency said, increasing the likelihood that 2015 will also be the warmest.
http://www.smh.com.au/environment#ixzz3g5ZrN0jn

Hotter, wetter, stormier – study finds 2014’s climate melted records
Global sea levels swelled to a high, tropical cyclones continued to multiply and the world’s thermometer set a record in 2014, according to a new report tracking the earth’s climate.
http://www.smh.com.au/environment#ixzz3g5ZywnRv

July 18, 2015 Posted by | climate change | Leave a comment

Progress is being made, in climate talks, quietly, behind the scenes

poster-climate-FranceClimate Talks Nearing Consensus in Behind-the-Scenes Meetings http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-15/climate-talks-nearing-consensus-in-behind-the-scenes-meetings by  July 16, 2015 Publicly, the United Nations climate-change talks look mired in disputes over everything from money to the length of the proposed agreement.

Behind the scenes, a deal may be closer than it seems, according to a report today from two veteran negotiators who’ve organized a series of unofficial meetings among key countries.

With almost five months to go before a critical Paris meeting, nations are coalescing around a deal that would commit every country to restricting greenhouse gases but bind none to specific targets. While that may seem a tepid effort, given scientists’ warnings of catastrophic climate change, it’s still an improvement over the last big meeting, when talks in Copenhagen in 2009 ended without an expected global deal, and with finger-pointing among the U.S., China and other big polluters.

 “There will not be a Big Bang in Paris, but hopefully there will be a big step in the right direction,” said Harald Dovland, a former Norwegian environment minister who co-chaired some of the unofficial meetings.

Dovland, who also participated in past UN climate talks, along with former South African environment minister Valli Moosa, led almost 100 hours of “informal discussions” over the past 16 months with officials from the U.S., China, the European Union, Brazil and other countries. The sessions were organized by the Center for Climate & Energy Solutions, an Arlington, Virginia-based advocacy group

‘Snail’s Pace’

The process left them optimistic about the chances of reaching a global deal this year, even as the UN’s public negotiating sessions have bogged down over issues including how much funding rich nations will provide to poorer states to deal with climate change. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last month bemoaned the “snail’s pace” of the talks.

While much remains to be hashed out, “I believe governments are more serious than ever about tackling this issue,” Moosa said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “We have the makings of a good deal in Paris.”

A “hybrid” structure, in which nations would be legally bound to make some climate pledge but free to decide the specific steps they must take, has helped bridge divides between developed and developing countries, Moosa said. While that leaves it to individual nations to follow through on their promises, it bows to political realities in places like the U.S., where legally binding cuts would face a tough sell in Congress.

“The biggest consideration here has been what is it that will make countries put forward ambitious plans,” Moosa said. “It’s very clear to everybody that the tighter the legal requirements, the less ambitious will be the plans.”

July 18, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Uranium shipments suspended by Cameco, Areva , due to Saskatchewan fires

Climate change is bringing heatwaves, which bring wildfires, which bring added dangers to all phases of the nuclear fuel chain

wildfire-nukeflag-canadaCameco, Areva suspend uranium shipments due to Saskatchewan fires http://globalnews.ca/news/2102099/cameco-and-areva-suspend-uranium-shipments-due-to-saskatchewan-fires/ By Staff The Canadian Press CALGARY, 10 July 15  – Cameco Corp. and Areva Resources Canada have stopped shipping uranium from their northern Saskatchewan operations after wildfires made highway transportation unsafe. Cameco spokesman Gord Struthers says the company suspended shipments from the mines in the region about a week ago.

Areva spokeswoman Veronique Larlham says that company did the same a few days ago.

READ MORE: Increased wildfire behaviour expected in Saskatchewan due to weather

But both say their overall uranium deliveries are continuing normally because they have large inventories.

The operations affected are Cameco’s Rabbit Lake mine, McArthur River mine and Key Lake mill, the Cameco-Areva jointly-owned Cigar Lake mine, and Areva’s McClean Lake mill.

July 11, 2015 Posted by | Canada, climate change | Leave a comment

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