Today’s Climate: February 19, 2009

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Obama, Canadian PM Expected to Unveil Climate Deal (Canadian Press)

With President Obama arriving in Ottawa today, Canada and the United States appear set to take an initial step towards a North American climate treaty today that would build toward continental cap-and trade.

Chu Says He’ll Put Green Loans on Fast Track (Forbes)

The Energy Department will start approving loan guarantees as early as April for renewable energy projects after streamlining the application process, Energy Secretary Steven Chu says. He vows to overhaul a notoriously slow process for funding new electric grid projects.

Solar and Wind Groups Lobby FERC to Lead Grid Upgrades (Greentech Media)

Renewable energy advocates release a report outlining why the federal government, not the states, should have more say in approving transmission projects.

Australia Backs Carbon Trade Programs, Abandons Inquiry (Reuters)

The Australian government moved to end confusion over its carbon trading policy today, abandoning plans for a new inquiry and declaring the scheme would start as planned in mid-2010.

EU Firms Selling Carbon Credits to Survive (Business Green)

Companies are rumored to be selling off huge numbers of EUAs in desperate bid to raise cash, raising prospect of surge in carbon price come 2012.

Making Solar Power Work at Night (Scientific American)

A Spanish solar plant’s creative answer to making solar power shine at night: Use molten salt to store the sun’s heat during the day and provide continuous power.

China Promises Economy Won’t Stop Climate Effort (Reuters)

The global financial crisis will not affect China’s resolve to tackle global warming, the Foreign Ministry said today, ahead of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Beijing.

California PUC: One-Third of Energy from Renewables is Doable (Chronicle)

If all the renewable power projects proposed in California last year were built, the state would easily surpass that goal, a new report from the California Public Utilities Commission says. The projects would generate enough electricity for 18 million homes.

Wyoming Legislature Moves on 3 Carbon Capture Bills (AP)

The Wyoming Senate is attempting to define a regulatory structure for the underground storage of carbon dioxide gas. One bill would establish that the right to mine or drill takes precedence over carbon storage. Another says he who injects is legally responsible.

Study: Tropical Rainforests Sink 20 Percent of CO2 Emissions (Nature)

Intact tropical forests take up 1.3 billion tons of carbon per year – equivalent to almost 20% of global CO2 emissions, which may help explain the gap between fossil fuel emissions and measured atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations.

Sun-Powered Nanotubes Convert CO2 to Fuel (New Scientist)

Scientists are developing a device that can use natural sunlight for an array of nanotubes to convert a mixture of carbon dioxide and water vapor into natural gas at unprecedented rates.

Is Cell Phone Industry Really Turning Green? Maybe (Guardian)

After years of being criticized by environmental campaigners for their poor green credentials, cell phone companies are falling over each other at this week’s Mobile World Congress to proclaim their transformation, including using solar power and recycled-material shells.