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COP25: UN climate conference to tackle global challenges

Paris climate deal will be a key issue as some 25,000 delegates convene for the annual UN conference in Madrid. Aljazeera, by 12 Dec 19,   Madrid, Spain – As alarm bells ring ever louder worldwide over climate change, some 25,000 delegates will meet for the next two weeks in Spain for COP25, the annual United Nations international conference on a global challenge that shows little signs of being resolved.

Last Monday, a World Meteorological Organization report indicated that greenhouse gas concentrations rose again in 2018, with carbon dioxide levels hitting 407.8 parts per million, a new record in human history.

COP25 begins on Monday in a trade fair park in the Spanish capital, Madrid, days after the European Union collectively declared a “climate emergency”, echoing a joint, equally grim crisis warning issued in early November by more than 11,000 scientists from 150 countries.

“The confirmation that we’ve exceeded the records for CO2 levels in the atmosphere indicates that the measures governments are currently taking are not sufficient,” Alberto Mataran Ruiz, who specialises in environmental science at the Spain’s University of Granada, told Al Jazeera.

“One key question is probably changing those measures. There’s another big issue with the United States, which is pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement altogether… [It] is a big problem as the US is one of the most important producers of CO2.”…….. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/cop25-climate-conference-tackle-global-challenges-191201120548039.html

 

December 2, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

The insanity of punishing the good — Beyond Nuclear International

Our focus should be the climate crisis and banning the bomb

via The insanity of punishing the good — Beyond Nuclear International

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The judge who assailed “worship of the Bomb” — Beyond Nuclear International

He supported desperate plea to stop military madness

via The judge who assailed “worship of the Bomb” — Beyond Nuclear International

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Germany must now face up to its nuclear waste problem

Germany is closing all its nuclear power plants. Now it must find a place to bury the deadly waste for 1 million years

By Sheena McKenzie, [excellent diagrams]. CNN https://edition.cnn.com/2019/11/30/europe/germany-nuclear-waste-grm-intl/index.html   When it comes to the big questions plaguing the world’s scientists, they don’t get much larger than this.

Where do you safely bury more than 28,000 cubic meters — roughly six Big Ben clock towers — of deadly radioactive waste for the next million years?
This is the “wicked problem” facing Germany as it closes all of its nuclear power plants in the coming years, according to Professor Miranda Schreurs, part of the team searching for a storage site.
Experts are now hunting for somewhere to bury almost 2,000 containers of high-level radioactive waste. The site must be beyond rock-solid, with no groundwater or earthquakes that could cause a leakage.
The technological challenges — of transporting the lethal waste, finding a material to encase it, and even communicating its existence to future humans — are huge.
But the most pressing challenge today might simply be finding a community willing to have a nuclear dumping ground in their backyard.

Searching for a nuclear graveyard

Germany decided to phase out all its nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011, amid increasing safety concerns.
The seven power stations still in operation today are due to close by 2022.
With their closure comes a new challenge — finding a permanent nuclear graveyard by the government’s 2031 deadline.
Germany’s Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy says it aims to find a final repository for highly radioactive waste “which offers the best possible safety and security for a period of a million years.”
The country was a “blank map” of potential sites, it added.
Currently, high-level radioactive waste is stored in temporary facilities, usually near the power plant it came from.
But these facilities were “only designed to hold the waste for a few decades,” said Schreurs, chair of environmental and climate policy at the Technical University of Munich, and part of the national committee assisting the search for a high-level radioactive waste site.
As the name suggests, high-level radioactive waste is the most lethal of its kind. It includes the spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants. “If you opened up a canister with those fuel rods in it, you would more or less instantly die,” said Schreurs.
These rods are “so incredibly hot, it’s very hard to transport them safely,” said Schreurs. So for now they’re being stored in containers where they can first cool down over several decades, she added.
There are dozens of these temporary storage sites dotted across Germany. The search is now on for a permanent home at least 1 kilometer underground.

Between a rock and a hard place

The location will need to be geologically “very very stable,” said Schreurs. “It can’t have earthquakes, it can’t have any signs of water flow, it can’t be very porous rock.”
Finland, which has four nuclear power plants and plans to build more in the future, is a world leader in this field. Work is well underway on its own final repository for high-level waste — buried deep in granite bedrock.
Germany’s problem is “it doesn’t have a whole lot of granite,” said Schreurs. Instead, it has to work with the ground it’s got — burying the waste in things like rock salt, clay rock and crystalline granite.
Next year the team hope to have identified potential storage sites in Germany (there are no plans to export the waste). It’s a mission that stretches beyond our lifetimes — the storage facility will finally be sealed sometime between the years 2130 and 2170.
Communications experts are already working on how to tell future generations thousands of years from now — when language will be completely different — not to disturb the site.
Schreurs likened it to past explorers entering the pyramids of Egypt — “we need to find a way to tell them ‘curiosity is not good here.'”

People power

For now, nobody wants a nuclear dumping ground on their doorstep.
Schreurs admitted public mistrust was a challenge, given Germany’s recent history of disastrous storage sites.
Former salt mines at Asse and Morsleben, eastern Germany, that were used for low- and medium-level nuclear waste in the 1960s and 1970s, must now be closed in multibillion-dollar operations after failing to meet today’s safety standards.
The fears around high-level waste are even greater.
For more than 40 years, residents in the village of Gorleben, Lower Saxony, have fought tooth-and-nail to keep a permanent high-level waste repository off their turf.
The site was first proposed in 1977 in what critics say was a political choice. Gorleben is situated in what was then a sparsely populated area of West Germany, close to the East German border, and with a high unemployment rate that politicians argued would benefit from a nuclear facility.
Over the decades, there have been countless demonstrations against the proposal. Protesters have blocked railway tracks to stop what they described as “Chernobyl on wheels” — containers of radioactive waste headed for Gorleben’s temporary storage facility.
An exploratory mine was eventually constructed in Gorleben, but it was never used for nuclear waste. And in the face of huge public opposition, the government in recent years decided to start afresh its national search for a dumping ground.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Germany, wastes | Leave a comment

Global climate tipping point is getting near – researchers say

December 2, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Big risk factors for Middle East countries in adopting nuclear power

December 2, 2019 Posted by | MIDDLE EAST, safety | Leave a comment

Iran warns EU that it may step back from UN nuclear watchdog

Iran threatens to step back from UN nuclear watchdog
Tehran warns it will reconsider IAEA commitments if EU states trigger possible sanctions,
Guardian, Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor, Mon 2 Dec 2019
Iran has warned it may “seriously reconsider” its commitments to the UN atomic watchdog if European parties to a nuclear deal trigger a dispute mechanism that could lead to fresh sanctions.

The speaker for the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, told a press conference in Tehran on Sunday: “If they use the trigger [mechanism], Iran would be forced to seriously reconsider some of its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency. If they think doing so is more beneficial to them, they can go ahead.”

The threat to trigger sanctions has come after the Iranian government has taken a series of deliberate steps away from the 2015 nuclear deal, which it says are intended as a reprisal for Europe’s failure to deliver on commitments to boost trade.

Iran has also been frustrated by Europe’s refusal to defy the threat of US sanctions against any European company that trades with Iran.

A mechanism known as Instex developed by Europe to sidestep sanctions received a boost at the weekend when six more EU countries said they would join. Instex is a bartering system devised to avoid the reach of the US, but Iran is less interested in the number of EU countries signed up than the fact that no deals are being made under the mechanism. A mechanism known as Instex developed by Europe to sidestep sanctions received a boost at the weekend when six more EU countries said they would join. Instex is a bartering system devised to avoid the reach of the US, but Iran is less interested in the number of EU countries signed up than the fact that no deals are being made under the mechanism……. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/01/iran-threatens-to-step-back-from-un-nuclear-watchdog

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Prominent Americans to wage ‘World War Zero’ against climate change

John Kerry Launches Star-Studded Climate Coalition, NYT, By Lisa Friedman, Nov. 30, 2019 WASHINGTON — John Kerry, the former senator and secretary of state, has formed a new bipartisan coalition of world leaders, military brass and Hollywood celebrities to push for public action to combat climate change.

The name, World War Zero, is supposed to evoke both the national security threat posed by the earth’s warming and the type of wartime mobilization that Mr. Kerry argued would be needed to stop the rise in carbon emissions before 2050.

The star-studded group is supposed to win over those skeptical of the policies that would be needed to accomplish that.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are part of the effort. Moderate Republican lawmakers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, and John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, are on the list. Stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting and Ashton Kutcher round out the roster of more than 60 founding members.

The star-studded group is supposed to win over those skeptical of the policies that would be needed to accomplish that.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are part of the effort. Moderate Republican lawmakers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor of California, and John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio, are on the list. Stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Sting and Ashton Kutcher round out the roster of more than 60 founding members.

“We’re going to try to reach millions of people, Americans and people in other parts of the world, in order to mobilize an army of people who are going to demand action now on climate change sufficient to meet the challenge,” Mr. Kerry said in an interview.

The launch of the new group on Sunday comes as diplomats gather in Madrid on Monday for global climate negotiations aimed at strengthening the 2015 Paris Agreement, from which President Trump has vowed to withdraw next year. Earlier this week the United Nations found that the world’s richest countries, responsible for emitting more than three-fourths of planet-warming pollution, are not doing enough to keep Earth’s temperature from rising to dangerously high levels. Net carbon emissions from the two largest polluters, the United States and China, are expanding……….. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/30/climate/john-kerry-climate-change.html?smid=tw-nytclimate&smtyp=cur

December 2, 2019 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

USA will send no senior government official to COP25 climate conference

US will ‘protect its interests’ at COP25 climate conference No senior members of Donald Trump’s administration will attend COP25.  https://www.sbs.com.au/news/us-will-protect-its-interests-at-cop25-climate-conference   2 Dec 19, The US will send a diplomatic team but no senior members of Donald Trump’s administration to a global climate change conference starting in Spain on Monday, according to a statement.However, in an effort to raise the US profile in Madrid, House speaker Nancy Pelosi will led a 15-member congressional delegation to “reaffirm the commitment of the American people to combating the climate crisis”.

The US, at Mr Trump’s direction, is withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, which set a goal of limiting global temperature rises to well within two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

Spain stepped in to host the COP25 meeting, which seeks to boost commitments to fight climate change, after Chile pulled out due to civil unrest.

“The United States will continue to participate in ongoing climate change negotiations and meetings – such as COP25 – to ensure a level playing field that protects US interests,” the US State Department said Saturday.

The US team will be headed by ambassador Marcia Bernicat, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for oceans and international environmental and scientific affairs.

Ms Pelosi, calling climate change “the existential threat of our time,” announced a delegation of Democrats drawn from both the House and the Senate, with no members of Mr Trump’s Republican party.

The president has cast the Paris climate accord as elitist and unfair to the US, saying when announcing his decision to withdraw that he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris”.

But scientists say the accord is vital to check the worst damage from global warming, such as increasing droughts, rising floods and intensifying storms.

The US is the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China, and is the only country to pull out of the Paris agreement.

The final US withdrawal from the landmark accord is scheduled for 4 November, 2020, a day after the next presidential election.

Several Democratic presidential aspirants have said that, if elected, they would immediately return to the agreement.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | climate change, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Catastrophic weather in Australia does not influence its climate denialist government

 

Time is running out for a climate adaptation plan, Independent Australia

By Chad Satterlee | 30 November 2019  While the climate-deniers in power continue to burn our country, they still have no contingency plan to help those affected, writes Chad Satterlee.

THE POSSIBILITY that the effects of climate change could be more extreme and materialise much sooner than expected was never hypothetical. At the end of the last ice age, it is estimated that temperatures in some regions of the world spiked between five and 15 degrees celsius in just a few decades.


Catastrophic
 climate conditions have already arrived in Australia. With a growing sense that the events of the last few weeks could be the new normal, dealing with the immediate effects of climate change may take increasing priority over historically unsuccessful emissions reduction efforts.

It is striking that Australia has no unified climate adaptation plan.

Our bushfires are escalating in number and intensity. Given this reality, leaving individuals to enact their own bushfire survival plans again and again seems inadequate. In light of successive governments upholding policies designed to discourage asylum seekers from risking their lives at sea, where is the plan to permanently move residents out of areas surrounded by highly flammable material?  …..

These are just a few matters of relevance, before we even get to responses to heat stress (cooler living spaces), or the erratic intensity of droughts (innovative measures to ensure food and water security), storms (systematic storm-proofing of property) and floods (moving communities to higher ground where necessary).

All of this will require a great deal of resources and coordination. While governments, both State and Federal, have been much too slow to act, politicians interested in keeping their jobs could conceivably be motivated to do so by increasingly engaged voters.

At the same time, the market has failed to respond anywhere near adequately and it is hard to see it doing so. The private sector-led installation of the flood-proofing infrastructure Brisbane needs is nowhere to be seen.

When warmer temperatures melt arctic ice, sun-reflecting white layers on that ice disappear, causing more heat to be absorbed by darker surfaces, a further rise in temperature and a further melting of ice. A number of chain reactions operate like this in the climate system. There could be many more that have not yet been discovered and that could behave in unanticipated ways.

Under some scenarios, changes could be so rapid that even attempts to adapt could become impractical. We haven’t a moment to lose. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/time-is-running-out-for-a-climate-adaptation-plan,13365

December 2, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change, politics | Leave a comment

Sir David Attenborough shocked at Australian government’s disdain for climate action

Sir David Attenborough hits out at the federal government over climate position,

 https://www.sbs.com.au/news/sir-david-attenborough-hits-out-at-the-federal-government-over-climate-position   Sir David Attenborough has taken another swipe at the Australian government’s climate policies, expressing his shock at the government’s hesitation to link recent extreme weather with global warming.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

No president should have the absolute authority to launch nuclear weapons

December 2, 2019 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cyber attack targets UK’s nuclear industry

Telegraph UK,   Wil Crisp, 30 NOVEMBER 2019 GCHQ cyber experts have been called in after a digital attack on a major player in Britain’s nuclear power ­industry triggered a security crisis.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), an arm of GCHQ, has been ­secretly providing assistance to a ­nuclear power company in the UK that has struggled to recover after being hit by a cyber attack, The Telegraph can reveal.

A Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) report, obtained using freedom of information legislation, said officials are “aware that an important business in the Nuclear Power Generating Sector has been negatively impacted by a cyber attack and has had to rely on expertise from the NCSC to help them with recovery”.

The document,... (subscribers only) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/11/30/cyber-attack-targets-uks-nuclear-industry/

December 2, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Russia’s nuclear company Rosatom in financial trouble trying to fund nuclear project in Turkey

December 2, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, Russia, Turkey | Leave a comment

Russia’s Rosatom planning to market Small Modular Nuclear Reactors to Europe

December 2, 2019 Posted by | marketing, Russia, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment