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Archive : June 2012


June 25, 2012

Rio+20: On the Same Planet, But Not the Same Page

Why is that we share a common future, but so little common ground? The result from Rio+20 is so lackluster, leaders and their delegates declined to bequeath it one of the grandiloquent titles normally attached to such things. It is not a Rio+20 Declaration, nor even a "roadmap." It is simply, awkwardly, uninspiringly, a "Rio+20 Outcomes Document."

June 25, 2012

The Week Ahead: Jackson to Testify Before House Committee, Energy-Related Hearings Also on Agenda

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson is scheduled to testify June 28 before the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee on "Strengthening the Scientific Backbone of EPA: An Examination of Agency Practices and Foundations for Regulations Affecting the American Economy." The hearing comes on the heels of a June 25 deadline for public comments on a proposed Clean Air Act rule that would set new source performance standards for power plants to control greenhouse gas emissions.

June 18, 2012

The Week Ahead: The Spotlight Turns to South America with Rio+20 and the G-20 Summit

Sustainable development is the theme this week in Rio de Janeiro, as world leaders, NGOs, and private sector representatives gather Wednesday through Friday for the 20th anniversary of the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, or Earth Summit.  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he hopes the Rio+20 summit will result in agreement on a text that provides a clear path to advance economic development, expands access to electricity, and increases environmental protection. A conference that yields a road map for future action would be considered a success, according to many organizers.

June 15, 2012

How Many Rio+20 Negotiators to Change a Planet?

What might the world get out of Rio+20? The 3-day U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development kicks off in Rio de Janeiro June 20. If the ambitions of many are met, Rio+20 will put the world on track to agree a suite of sustainable development goals on matters such as energy, water and food security, building on the Millennium Development Goals that expire in 2015.If many in the finance sector have their way, Rio+20 also will encourage nations to oblige big business to report on environmental factors material to their operations, or explain why they do not.

June 12, 2012

House Votes to Continue Use of Foam Cups Amid Partisan Battle Over Sustainability

The House has voted to continue using foam cups and other polystyrene products, the latest salvo in a congressional food fight over the sustainability of the Capital’s restaurants. The use of disposable foam cups and food containers, along with plastic cutlery, in the House’s eateries has been the subject of a long-running battle between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans reversed a ban on the products when they took control of the House in 2011. In the latest skirmish over the House’s tableware, a Democratic amendment to a $3.3 billion bill funding House operations that would have effectively banned the use of food service products made of polystyrene failed June 8 by a largely party-line vote of 178-229.

June 12, 2012

Humans Are Pushing Earth Toward Precipice, Researchers Say

Humans may be rapidly and irreversibly pushing Earth into a new geologic age, according to a paper published in the June 7 issue of Nature. The new age or epoch, called Anthropocene, may begin within decades to centuries or may already be here, researchers said in the paper, Approaching a State Shift in Earth’s Biosphere. Instead of projecting recent trends into the future or using models to predict the potential impacts of climate change, scientists looked at past “critical transitions,” such as the extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and determined that humans are now “forcing another such transition.”

June 11, 2012

The Week Ahead: Senate to Move Forward on Farm Bill; Deadline for Rio+20 Text Looms

While the House recesses for a constituent work week, the Senate remains in session this week. The Senate Agriculture Committee will consider amendments to a farm bill, and other committees will take up energy issues related to taxes and China. The farm bill would provide more than $1 billion dollars in energy-related spending. Leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee cautioned members against introducing proposals unrelated to the legislation.

June 8, 2012

Ford, Coca-Cola, Others Partners Aim to Get 100% Plant-Based Plastic Industry Off the Ground

  The Coca-Cola Co., Ford Motor Co., H.J. Heinz Co., Nike Inc., and Procter & Gamble Co. have partnered to promote technology to make 100 percent plant-based plastic. The partnership aims to speed up the commercialization of 100 percent plant-based PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, for use in beverage bottles, apparel, automotive carpet, and other products.

June 4, 2012

The Week Ahead: Aviation in EU Emissions Trading to Be Focus of Senate Hearing, House May Vote on Energy Spending Bill

  The inclusion of U.S. airlines in the European Union's Emissions Trading System will be examined June 6 during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing. The United States has opposed the inclusion of U.S. airlines in the EU ETS. Some members of Congress and the airline industry have pressed the Obama administration to bring the dispute before the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention. As detailed in a World Climate Change Reportarticle, a challenge under Article 84 of the Convention would force the International Civil Aviation Organization and its member nations to address whether the European Union's plan intrudes on the sovereignty of other nations.