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THE ENVIRONMENT,I '57

20ll offers little cheer for those battling climate change

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U)R advocates of action to Cprevent climate change, 2010 was mostly a year to forgeL It began with gloom, after the collapse of the Copenhagen climate meetings in December 2009_ The mood darkened further as it became clear that cap-andtrade legislation to combat greenhouse gas emissions would not pass the U_S_ Congress_ A sliver of hope came from a modest agreement at climate meetings In cana1n, Mexico, earlier this month, on a more solid multinational commitment to finding ways to cut emissions_ Another development, bringingperbaps more relief than hope, was the rejection by California voters of an effon, backed by oil comranies, to suspend the state s landmark law to combat global warming_ The year 2011 may not bring too much improvement, from environmentalists' perspective_ Budget deficits and a still-sluggish economy in the United States and elsewhere may complicate investments in clean-energy technologies_ And international negotiators have plenty of tough work ahead, the progress at Caudin notwithstanding_ "I'm pessimistic about this international process," said )iirgen Weiss, a principal at Brattie Group, a consulting firm based in Massachusetts. The Candin agreement was not legally binding, so while vows to limit the planet'S warmingtoa modest amount are all very well, Mr. Weiss said, it would be "utterly shocking if these things remain more than just words." This year, some big milestones are set to be reached. The United States is to begin regulating greenhouse gas emissions for the first time in lanuary. The rules at first will be mild and will apply only to new or expanding big plants. But last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a timetable for issuing rules to control greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and refineries - two major sources of the heat-trapping gases - in 2012. (The E.P.A. also declared last week that it would take over the issuing of greenhouse gas permits for big plants in the one state, Texas, that has made clear its unwillingness to carry out the regulations.) Among other 2011 developments, international climate talks are scheduled to take place in South Africa late in the year. They are intended to build on the candin accords, which spanned a range of good intentions, including assistance from wealthy countries to poorer ones. Indeed, two of the major players in Cancim - China and the United States - will have an oppottunity for further discussion on climate, as the Chinese preSident, Hu )intao, is scheduled to visit the United States next month. Much of the focus for 2011, however, is likely to remain on the race to develop a cleanenergy economy. The European Union is to begin work on a new "energy savings directive" to help with financing and other issues related to energy efficienC)[ A proposal from the European Commission is likely to be

The year 2011 may not bring too much improvement. from environmentalists' perspective. writes KATE GALBRAITH of New York Times. She notes that budget deficits and a stillsluggish economy in the United States and elsewhere may complicate investments in clean-energy technologies, released in the third quaner of 2011, with additional negotiations and discussions to follow, according to Bendt Bendtsen, a Danish member of the European Parliament and a draftsman of the Parliament's position on energy effiCiency. China too is likely to focus on Its burgeoning wind and

solar sectors. "With or without international agreements, Asian countries are taking action to promote renewable energy, Yotam Ariel, an Independent solar consultant based in Shanghai, said in an e-mail. However, the promotion of renewable energy by China in particular is likely to be a big Issue next year in Washington, as U.s. officials continue to scrutinize Chinese clean-energy expotts and potentially complain to the World Trade Organization about trade practices. Earlier this month, the administration of President Barack Obama brought a case to the trade group alleging that the Chinese government had illegally subsidized production of wind-turbine equipment; that. case was strongly backed by the United Steelworkers, a U.S. labor union. The Chinese have defended their policies. The United States is still Investigating other aspects of Chinese green teChnology practices, so further action by Washington could be com-

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COP 16 display ... lot's put the Can In Caneun ing. more. The press secretary, How strongly the United Roben Gibbs, said in a Twitter States moves forward next question and answer session year to suppon clean energy last week, "We have to focus on the home front remains to on dealing with our lack of be seen. The White House says energy independence - conit is committed to d~ing tinue to push for renewable

standards and more." A major tax package signed this month by Mr. Obama included one-year extensions of a major grant program for

CONTINUED ON PA!lE 38


THE GUARDIAN, 10 JANUARY, 2011  

2011 offers little cheer for that battling climate change

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