Today’s Climate: February 16, 2009

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UN Urges G20 Leaders to Back ‘Green New Deal’ (Reuters)

The head of the U.N. Environment Program told a gathering G20 leaders today that political efforts to curb pollution, protect forests and avert global warming have failed. He said the world needs to learn from U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression and launch a "Green New Deal."

Will Beijing Respond to Clinton’s Wish List? (Time)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Asia today on her first foreign trip as the nation’s top diplomat. Climate change is near the top of her list. It also provides an opportunity to establish a working relationship with Beijing.

Indonesia Ending Ban on Clearing Peatland Forests for Palm Oil (Reuters)

Indonesia will open up peatland forests for plantation crops such as palm oil after freezing new permits for more than a year, an agriculture ministry official said today. The move has alarmed green groups.

European Lawmakers Push for Deforestation Credits in ETS (Euractive)

A European Parliament resolution slated for debate today suggests earmarking some of the revenue from emissions trading to boost EU policies on tackling deforestation.

Hansen: Coal-Fired Power Stations are Death Factories (Guardian)

NASA’s James Hansen launches an excoriating attack on Britain’s love affair with the most polluting of fossil fuels – right before the government is expected to give the go-ahead to a coal-burning Kingsnorth power plant.

Scientists: Hamburgers are the Hummers of Food (AFP)

Beef is such an incredibly inefficient food to produce that switching from steak to salad could cut as much carbon as leaving the car at home a couple days a week, scientists say.

Solar Energy Could Be Texas’ Next Boom (Houston Chronicle)

In Texas, the realization is hitting home — solar can create thousands
of jobs and spur the Texas economy. State lawmakers are jumping on

Clean Energy is Struggling in Downturn Like Everything Else (Guardian)

Renewable energy consultant New Energy Finance says the next six
months are likely to be more difficult for the clean energy sector, but
it notes, "there is still a significant amount of investment activity
going on."

Despite Gov’s Opposition, Coal Plant Gets Air Permit (Post and Courier)

South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environment Control board issued an air pollution permit to Santee Cooper to build a $2.2 billion coal-fired power plant, despite opposition from the governor.

Gasification Plant OK’d for Idaho (AP)

The developers of a proposed $1 billion Idaho facility that is designed to produce fertilizer from the coal gasification process received a final state permit and could begin construction this fall.

Life After Coal: It’s Sooner Than You Think (Altenergy Stocks)

It’s great that The New York Times is asking “Is America ready to quit coal?" but the real question may be "Will we have any choice?" writes energy analyst Tom Konrad.

Canada: Energy Security Calls for a Continental Vision (Globe and Mail)

Pierre Alvarez, chairman of the Canadian Centre for Energy Information, argues the Canadian case for a continental energy and environmental partnership ahead of U.S. President Obama’s trip to Canada later this week.

What a Coal CEO Learned from Activist Investors (Globe and Mail)

The CEO of TransAlta Corp has become an advocate of carbon capture and storage technology: “Let’s try and if it doesn’t work, let’s move on to something else.”

Massive Effort Under Way to Save Endangered Seeds (Reuters)

Farmers and plant breeders around the globe are planting thousands of endangered seeds as part of an effort to save 100,000 varieties of food crops from extinction.