The big headline in climate politics is revelations published in Sunday's Observer over Tony Blair's secret attempts to remove emissions targets from key EU documents. The British Prime Minister has always tried to portray himself as a proponent for measures tackling climate change, and has put climate change at the top of the British hosting of the G8 in Scotland this summer. However this leaves any belief in his words in tatters.
"The precise pledges that officials attempted to remove from European proposals include a lowering of carbon dioxide emissions by up to 50 per cent by 2050." The removal was blocked by other nations. This doesn't make much sense, as the UK has targets for a 60% reduction by 2050 - we are missing our 20% by 2010 target by a wide margin, the question that crosses my mind is does the government only want targets that we can change ourselves at a later date and won't have any controls or penalities imposed upon the UK by the EU if the UK miss them?
Their response was "We believed the EU should follow the path taken by the UK of undertaking
the necessary work to demonstrate that the targets at this level were both achievable and made economic sense." This would suddenly show an unprecidented and, in my opinion, unbelievable sign of interest in other EU nations which was completely absent during the negotiations over the EU Constitution. Additionally, I'm sure said other nations are capable of deciding that for themselves.
Remarkably it was only the day before the British government tried to do this that Sir David King, the UK chief scientific advisor highly recommended changing the UK target from 60% to 80% reductions by 2050 due to the extent of melting on the Greenland ice-sheet.
Make up your own mind: original article.
Significant new developments on solar energy
Researchers at the University of Toronto have apparently developed a flexible plastic solar cell that is five times more efficient than current methods, "the film can turn 30 percent of the sun's power into usable electrical energy -- a far better performance than the 6 percent gleaned from the best plastic solar cells now in use." [Reuters / CTV] It also increases the number of applications for solar technology, particularly in portable form - as well as other non-power applications such as digital cameras that work in darkness.
According to a University of Toronto's press release this is due to the use of infrared-sensitive material - “We made particles from semiconductor crystals which were exactly two, three or four nanometres in size. The nanoparticles were so small they remained dispersed in everyday solvents just like the particles in paint,” explains Sargent. Then, they tuned the tiny nanocrystals to catch light at very long wavelengths. The result – a sprayable infrared detector." The material can even generate a low level of power in darkness from the infrared light generated from people and animals.
Discussion with Jarod Diamond
The UCLA professor who's article I added as the "link of the day" in the last post will be answering questions from the Guardian's talk page on Thursday. You can add questions right now, here.