Today’s Climate: October 17-18, 2009

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Republican Senator Says Open to U.S. Climate Bill (Reuters) 

A senior Republican in the Senate, conservative Sen. Lisa Murkowski, said she would consider voting for the climate bill that Democrats are pushing if it contains a vigorous expansion of nuclear energy and domestic oil drilling.

Biggest Economies Try Again to Strike Climate Deal (AP)

Representatives of the world’s 17 biggest and most polluting nations gather Sunday in London to search for a breakthrough on financing efforts to contain climate change, as pressure mounts on the U.S. to finalize its position on the issue.

Obama Envoy Warns of ‘No Deal’ Copenhagen Summit (The Independent)

Todd Stern, Obama’s climate change envoy, said pre-summit negotiations had been "too slow" and warned that it was "certainly possible" there will be no deal at December’s climate conference in Copenhagen.

India Opens Door to Climate Deal (Reuters)

India dropped a core demand on Friday that rich nations cut their greenhouse gases by 40% below 1990 levels by 2020, helping to bridge a rich-poor divide.

U.S. Lobby Group Defends Alberta’s Oil Sands (Globe and Mail)

The U.S. petroleum industry is touting the development of Canada’s oil sands as a boon for the American economy and the source of 343,000 jobs south of the border.

U.S. Seeks Tougher Protections for Polar Bear (AP)

The Interior Department has asked nations to support a stringent ban on the commercial trade of polar bears. The request would upgrade protections for the bear internationally for the first time since 1975.

Bush-Era Oil-Shale Decision Under Review (Los Angeles Times)

The Interior Department is reviewing a decision made by the Bush administration in its final days that sought to lock in lucrative royalty rates for oil companies holding leases for oil-shale development on public lands.

Seven Carbon Markets May Replace Kyoto, Barclays Says (Bloomberg) 

A patchwork of at least seven carbon markets will probably replace the Kyoto Protocol, making climate protection more complicated after 2012, according to Barclays Capital.

Maldives Sends Climate SOS with Undersea Cabinet (Reuters)

The Maldivian president held the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting on Saturday, in a symbolic cry for help over rising sea levels that threaten the tropical archipelago’s existence.

Police Arrest 21 People at U.K. Coal Plant Protest (Reuters)

Police clashed with environmental activists and arrested 21 people during a day of protests at a coal plant in central England on Saturday.

NASA Flies Over Antarctica to Measure Icemelt (AP)

Hoping to better understand how a melting Antarctica could swamp the planet, a NASA plane outfitted with lasers and ground-penetrating radar made its first flight over the continent on Friday.

Germany Nabs Second Solar Decathlon Win (CNN)

A university team from Germany has won the U.S. Energy Department’s Solar Decathlon for the best solar-powered home. It was the second win in a row for Germany. Team Illinois took second, while third place went to Team California.

First Solar Defends Accounting Practices (Reuters)

U.S.-based First Solar has denied it was using aggressive accounting methods to support its earnings growth, despite concerns from some analysts that its cash flows were beginning to lag profit levels.

U.N. Panel Finds Environmental Assessments of Biofuels Lacking (Greenwire)

A new UN report has concluded that current ‘lifecycle assessments’ of biofuels must go beyond calculating greenhouse gas emissions and consider the effects of growing ethanol on air and water.

Renewable Energy Projects Threaten Some of California’s Rarest Plants (Los Angeles Times)

The proposed construction of wind and solar energy projects on public land in the California desert would hasten destruction  of land that is home to 17% of the state’s rarest plants, botanists said Saturday.

Senate Returns Funding to Hydrogen — What’s Next? (BNET) 

In another reversal to the Obama administration, the Senate has decided to restore $187 million in R&D funding for hydrogen cars that DOE head Steven Chu had tried to cut in May.

Bolivia Says Lithium-Battery Project Will Take Time (Latin America Herald Tribune)

The Bolivian government said it will wait until 2013 before partnering with a foreign company to produce lithium batteries and in the meantime will go ahead with the first stages of industrializing the metal.

Finland Says Aims to Cut Emissions 80% by 2050 (AFP) 

Finland aims to cut greenhouse gases by 80% or more from 1990 levels by 2050, the government said last week in a report outlining its long-term climate and energy policy.