Mephiticity

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Via BBC:

China says it will cut the intensity of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product in 2020 by 40- 45% from 2005 levels, says state media.

The “carbon intensity” measurement is unique to China and analysts say it will not necessarily cut emissions.

It came ahead of December’s UN climate change summit in Copenhagen, which Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will attend.

Via Associated Press:

BEIJING — China will seek binding pollution targets for developed countries and reject similar requirements for itself at an international climate summit next month, China’s top climate envoy said Wednesday.

Yu Qingtai said it is unfair that all countries be required to play a role combating global warming since most of the environmental damage was caused by developed nations during their industrialization over the last 100 to 200 years.

“Developed countries should not make requirements of developing countries that are unreasonable,” Yu told a news conference.

“Developed countries should also earnestly ask themselves: ‘In solving this problem that I have created, am I keeping my promises and honoring my commitments?'” he said.

via Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama’s top aides met frequently with lobbyists and health care industry heavyweights as his administration pieced together a national health care overhaul, according to White House visitor records obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

The records disclose visits by a broad cross-section of the people most involved in the health care debate, weighted heavily toward those who want to overhaul the system.

The list includes George Halvorson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Health Plans; Scott Serota, president and CEO of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association; Kenneth Kies, a Washington lobbyist who represents Blue Cross/Blue Shield, among other clients; Billy Tauzin, head of PhRMA, the drug industry lobby; Richard Umbdenstock, chief of the American Hospital Association, and numerous lobbyists.

The AP in early August asked the White House to produce records identifying communications that top Obama aides — including chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, senior advisers David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett and Pete Rouse, and 18 others — had with outside interests on health care. The AP in late September narrowed its request to White House visitor records for those officials on the topic of health care.

via BBC:

US President Barack Obama will go to the early stages of December’s UN climate summit in Copenhagen, but will not stay for crucial talks at the end.

Mr Obama will be in the Danish capital on 9 December on his way to Oslo to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize, a US administration official said.

The talks will attempt to draw up a new global climate treaty to supplant the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

So far more than 60 world leaders have said they will attend the summit.

Observers say the attendance of such figures as Mr Obama will raise expectations, although the talks are not expected to result in a new treaty.

via BBC:

Large sums promised to developing countries to help them tackle climate change cannot be accounted for, a BBC investigation has found.

Rich countries pledged $410m (£247m) a year in a 2001 declaration – but it is now unclear whether the money was paid.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has accused industrialised countries of failing to keep their promise.

The EU says the money was paid out in bilateral deals, but admits it cannot provide data to prove it.

The money was pledged in the 2001 Bonn Declaration, signed by 20 industrialised nations – the 15 countries that then made up the European Union, plus Canada, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland.

They said they would pay $410m per year until 2008 – a total of $1.6bn.

But only $260m has ever been paid into two UN funds earmarked for the purpose, the BBC World Service investigation has found.

“There have been promises which have not been fully materialised. There is an issue of trust,” says Ban Ki-moon.

 

via Detroit News:

WashingtonHonda Motor Co. has the most fuel efficient fleet in the United States, followed closely by Hyundai Motor Co., the Environmental Protection Agency said Friday in releasing preliminary figures for 2009.

All vehicles sold in the 2009 model year are expected to average 21.1 miles per gallon in “real world” driving, which is one-tenth of a mile better than in the 2008 model year.

Final 2009 figures will be released next year in October or November. The preliminary numbers are based on sales data and confidential product reports and sales estimates from the companies and usually don’t vary much from the final tallies, which are based on actual sales.

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The EPA also released final numbers for the 2008 model year, reporting the nation’s fleet improved 0.4 miles per gallon from 20.6 mpg in 2007 to 21.0 mpg.

Via Associated Press:

ATLANTA — Let us give thanks — and pass the Purell.

Your family might be sharing more than turkey and pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving. Swine flu may also be on the table — and at crowded airports and shopping malls.

Just as the pandemic seems to be waning around the country, some health officials are worried that holiday gatherings could lead to more infections. So the government has launched a new travel-health campaign.

“It’s important to remember the things that everybody can do to stay healthy,” said Dr. Beth Bell of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thanksgiving is typically followed by at least a modest bump in early seasonal flu cases, according to reports from the past few years. But this, of course, is not a typical year. Swine flu is a new virus that accounts for nearly all flu cases right now.