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Post-2012 meeting in May and the Thames needs a new barrier

Conclusion of the COP10 climate change conference

The end of the COP10 conference concluded with an agreement to have another several day-long meeting for May in Germany to assess activities post-2012 when the first stage of the Kyoto Protocol finishes. India - supported by China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - insisted on a written guarantee that the deal would not lead to to the imposition of carbon reduction commitments on developing nations. The EU opposed the guarantee.

As stated previously, developing nations have had no limits imposed on them during the first stage of the protocol as each citizen produces around a tenth of the CO2 of a European citizen (or 20th of an American). However, the second stage of the protocol needs to take into account that this is going to start changing as India and China's economies become westernised as growth accelerates, and we need to ensure they do not follow our carbon-heavy path at the same time as the west making very heavy reductions in our emissions. [BBC article one and two]

The other big question is after "obstructing even anodyne proposals" at the COP10 Buenos Aires talks is how much, if at all the US will get involved in the next stage, even now that they've agreed they will be at the meeting. They are looking increasingly isolated - Saudi Arabia ratified the treaty on the 21st of December, and although Australia still will not ratify the agreement, according to Independent, is has stated "that it was prepared to negotiate its successor".

The full list of items agreed at COP10 can be found on the UNFCCC website. Most of it is in practice ground level business of the protocol.

Yesterday climate change came up in Parliament again. Margaret Becket, acknowledged that CO2 emissions rose by 1.5% between 2002-03 in the UK.

Thames Barrier

Upgrades and an addition to the Thames barrier are planned. Thames 2100, a project from the Environment Agency, believes that the current 1982 barrier should be sufficient until 2030 where it will reach a 1 in 1000 chance of bursting and flooding 1.2million homes. They believe that the barrier will then need significant strengthening, until 2100 when a second barrier will have to be created. A key finding was that if the city's existing defences were to be breached, then Westminster and other parts of central London could be 6ft deep in water within an hour. [Guardian / Times]

Universities promoting sustainable development

On the education front, the Higher Education Funding Council for England is launching a consultation document on how universities can help promote sustainable development in all their activities, "from research and teaching to waste recycling and buying green energy" according to the Guardian (the full report is available from the HEFCE website). Sadly Oxford who trailblazed in this area by buying all their energy from renewable sources a few years ago following a People and Planet campaign, are considering returning to fossil fuels after a recent price increase.

Link of the day

A comment piece by UCLA professor Jared Diamond, which starts by making describing how the link between states pre-dispositioned to environmental problems and those politically unstable is no co-incidence, then moves on to a hard hitting rebuttal of attitudes found commonly today.
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