Australia announces fund for clean energy, in break with past

The Japan Times

SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday said the country would establish a 1 billion Australian dollar ( 760 million) fund for innovation in clean energy, a major departure from his predecessor's much-maligned approach to climate change. Conservative former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was criticized by environmental groups for lagging behind other advanced economies when he announced cuts to Australia's greenhouse gas emissions last year. Abbott, a climate change skeptic who was ousted in a party coup by Turnbull in September, also faced criticism for his strong support for the coal industry and for scrapping an ambitious carbon tax and emissions trading plan in 2014. Turnbull said the new fund would focus on investing in high-tech clean energy technologies. "What that is going to do is every year invest A 100 million in the smartest, most cutting-edge Australian clean-energy technologies and businesses to ensure that we . . .

Great Barrier Reef: Scientists Send Letter To Australian PM, Call For Action To Save The Bleaching-Damaged Structure

International Business Times

An international team of scientists and coral reef experts have, in a letter to the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, urged greater action to protect the iconic Great Barrier Reef -- a region that is currently witnessing its worst bleaching event on record. The letter, signed by past and present presidents of the International Society for Reef Studies on behalf of over 2,000 attendees of the International Coral Reef Symposium recently held in Honolulu, was sent to Turnbull on Saturday. "This year has seen the worst mass bleaching in history, threatening many coral reefs around the world including the whole of the northern Great Barrier Reef, the biggest and best-known of all reefs," the scientists reportedly wrote in the letter. "The damage to this Australian icon has already been devastating. In addition to damage from greenhouse gasses, port dredging and shipping of fossil fuels across the Great Barrier Reef contravene Australia's responsibilities for stewardship of the reef under the World Heritage Convention."

G-7 environment ministers vow to take lead role in delivering Paris climate deal

The Japan Times

TOYAMA – Environment ministers and representatives from the Group of Seven nations expressed their resolve Monday to take a leading role in implementing the landmark climate accord reached last year. In a communique that summarized two days of discussions in the city of Toyama, the participants agreed to push for adoption of the Paris climate accord and to bring forward the schedule for the submission of their mid-century, long-term strategies to tackle global warming before the 2020 deadline. "As for the Paris Agreement, we were able to affirm our strong political will that the G-7 will take the lead toward implementing measures to tackle climate change," Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa, who chaired the two-day meeting, said at a joint news conference with the other participants. It was the first gathering of G-7 environment ministers since nearly 200 nations agreed at the U.N. conference on climate change in Paris in December to create a long-sought framework to involve every country in reining in greenhouse gas emissions. While welcoming the fact that more than 170 countries have already signed the agreement, the G-7 members expressed determination "to show leadership with early and steady implementation" of promises to curb heat-trapping gas emissions, according to the communique.

Japan aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 10 billion tons by 2050

The Japan Times

In a bid to combat climate change, the government hopes to achieve practical use of new technologies that would help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by up to about 10 billion tons by 2050, a draft of the strategy showed Wednesday. Seeing climate change as a top priority issue, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has ordered his government to craft a plan designed to strengthen the country's technological development and enable it to spearhead global efforts for drastic greenhouse gas emission cuts. The key features of the envisioned strategy include introducing technologies such as those making use of more efficient and cheaper solar and storage batteries. Japan's move comes at a time the international community is stepping up efforts to combat global warming, following up on a landmark deal adopted in December in Paris to hold global average temperature rises to "well below" 2 C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve the goal, global emissions in 2050 must be reduced by more than 30 billion tons from current projections, according to the secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

EPA aims to cut methane leaks from natural gas companies

U.S. News

The Obama administration on Wednesday announced a new partnership with 41 energy companies that have agreed to voluntarily reduce methane emissions from natural gas operations to help combat climate change. The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program at this week's Global Methane Forum held in Washington. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, capable of trapping 25 times more heat in the atmosphere than an equivalent amount of carbon dioxide. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the voluntary program is meant to protect public health and combat climate change while providing a platform for companies to report actions taken to reduce methane emissions. The announcement comes after the worst methane leak in the nation's history was finally plugged last month at an underground storage facility owned by Southern California Gas Co.