Today’s Climate: March 18, 2009

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UN Climate Chief Hustles on Climate Change Deal (Reuters)

Big gaps remain in a new U.N. deal on global warming and time is running worryingly short with just 265 days left, the U.N. climate chief said after European Union finance ministers put conditions on financial aid for developing countries.

Robot Sub in Antarctica Finds Clues to Rising Seas (Reuters)

A robot submarine has found clues to rising world sea levels by making trips deep beneath an ice shelf in Antarctica, scientists said. A little-understood shift in ocean currents may be bringing in more water and melting ice from below.

Energy Chief Says US Open to Carbon Tariff (Wall Street Journal)

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, speaking before a House science panel, said establishing a carbon tariff would help "level the playing field" if other countries haven’t imposed greenhouse-gas-reduction mandates.

Agencies Divide Oversight of Offshore Wind (Washington Post)

The Interior Department and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will divide responsibility for regulating offshore alternative energy sources such as wind and wave power, ending an interagency turf battle.

Shell Goes Cold on Wind, Solar; Eyes CCS (Guardian)

Tar sands developer Shell says it will no longer invest in renewable technologies such as wind, solar because it believes they aren’t economic, and it will instead put money into biofuels and CCS.

Why CCS Is Years Away (U.S. News and World Report)

FutureGen aside, most plans for developing CCS have quietly fallen apart. When it comes to the industry’s claim of $6 billion in "clean coal" projects, many have little or nothing to do with carbon dioxide.

Wind Breakers: U.K. Offshore Wind Plan Draws Wide Interest (Wall Street Journal)

Crown Estate just announced that 18 companies have countries submitted bids to build as much as 25,000 megawatts of offshore wind power over the next decade. No one has ever built offshore wind at this scale before,

Insurers Must Report Exposure to Climate Change Risk (SolveClimate)

The chief insurance regulators from the 50 states and U.S. territories have decided to require insurance companies to disclose the financial risks they face related to global warming.

Obama Tries to Draw Up an Inclusive Energy Plan (New York Times)

As the Obama administration outlines its energy plans, it is caught between oil companies and environmental groups, who are demanding a reinstatement of the drilling ban Congress lifted in September.

Loophole Gives Fodder to Offshore Drilling Foes (Reuters)

Oil and gas companies that have leased millions of offshore federal acres are not required to produce the energy supplies those tracts may hold, the Interior Department’s Inspector General told Congress.

Copenhagen aims to be first carbon neutral capital (IANS)

The capital of Denmark has set itself the ambitious target of becoming the world’s first carbon-neutral capital by 2025 by bringing its net carbon dioxide emissions down to zero.

Chernobyl Animals More Severely Affected than Thought (Reuters)

Radiation has affected animals living near the site of Ukraine’s Chernobyl nuclear disaster far more than was previously thought, a study showed Wednesday, challenging beliefs that local wildlife was on the rebound.

Hertzberg: Scrap Payroll Tax for Carbon Taxes (New Yorker)

The New Yorker’s Hendrik Hertzberg takes a Republican idea and spins it into this: Scrap the payroll tax and replacing the lost revenue with a package of levies on things that, unlike jobs, we want less rather than more of—things like carbon emissions, oil imports, inefficient use of energy and natural resources, and excessive consumption.