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Germany most energy efficient nation, says study World getting warmer: global report

WASHINGTON, July 18, (AFP): The world is getting warmer, as greenhouse gases reach historic highs and Arctic sea ice melts, making 2013 one of the hottest years on record, international scientists said Thursday. The annual State of the Climate report 2013 is a review of scientific data and weather events over the past year, compiled by 425 scientists from 57 countries. The report looks at essential climate variables, much like a doctor checks a person’s vital signs at an annual checkup, said Tom Karl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center.

While Karl declined to give a diagnosis for the planet, he said the report shows some surprises but an ongoing trend that continues the warming pattern seen in recent decades. “If we want to do an analogy to human health, if we are looking at our weight gain and we are trying to maintain an ideal weight, we are continuing to see ourselves put on more weight from year to year,” Karl told reporters. “The planet — its state of the climate — is changing more rapidly in today’s world than in any time in modern civilization.”
 
Global temperatures were among the warmest on record worldwide, with four major datasets showing 2013 ranked between second and sixth for all-time heat, the report found. “Australia observed its warmest year on record, while Argentina had its second warmest and New Zealand its third warmest,” said the report. Sea surface temperatures also rose, making last year among the 10 warmest on record.
The Arctic marked its seventh warmest year since records began in the early 1900s. Arctic sea ice cover was the sixth lowest since satellite observations began in 1979.
 
Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice has been increasing — particularly at the end of winter when it is at its maximum — about one to two percent growth per decade. “This is a conundrum as to why the Arctic ice cover is behaving differently than the Antarctic,” said James Renwick, associate professor in the school of geography at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. “We love questions like this because it creates more important research questions that need to be addressed.”
 
Renwick said the growth relates to sea ice in Antarctica, not the glacial ice mass on the continent, which was the subject of recent studies finding that the loss of ice in the Western Antarctic may be unstoppable.
Meanwhile, methane, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that come from burning fossils fuels “continued to rise during 2013, once again reaching historic high values,” said the report.
For the first time, the daily concentration of C02 in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm), as measured by the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, a year after observational sites in the Arctic observed C02 at 400 ppm in spring 2012.

Also:
WASHINGTON: Germany is the world’s most energy efficient nation with strong codes on buildings while China is quickly stepping up its own efforts, an environmental group said Thursday.
The study of 16 major economies by the Washington-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Mexico last and voiced concern about the pace of efforts by the United States and Australia.
The council gave Germany the top score as it credited Europe’s largest economy for its mandatory codes on residential and commercial buildings as it works to meet a goal of reducing energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020 from 2008 levels.
 
“We are pleased to win a second title in a week’s time,” Philipp Ackermann, the deputy chief of mission at the German embassy in Washington, told a conference call, alluding to his country’s World Cup victory. Echoing the views of the report’s authors, Ackermann pointed out that Germany has achieved economic growth while improving efficiency and reducing harmful environmental effects of the energy trade. “We all agree , I think — the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t have to produce in the first place,” Ackermann said.
 
“Our long-term goal is to fully decouple economic growth from energy use,” he said. The study ranked Italy second, pointing to its efficiency in transportation, and ranked the European Union as a whole third. China and France were tied for fourth place, followed by Britain and Japan. The report found that China used less energy per square foot than any other country, even if enforcement of building codes is not always rigorous.
 
“There’s a lot more China can do, they do waste a lot of energy as well, but they really are making quite a bit of progress,” said Steven Nadel, the council’s executive director. The study found a “clear backward trend” in Australia, where Prime Minister Tony Abbott is skeptical about the science on climate change. Earlier Thursday, Australia abolished a controversial carbon tax.
 
Australia was ranked 10th, with the council praising the country’s efforts on building construction and manufacturing but placing it last on energy efficiency in transportation. The study ranked the United States in 13th place, saying that the world’s largest economy has made progress but on a national level still wastes a “tremendous” amount of energy.
 

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