World News Brief, Tuesday April 15

Worst climate change consequences can be averted, says international panel; avian flu  outbreak in Japan leads to chicken cull; Pakistani Taliban factions agree ot one-month cease fire; Guinea-Bissau heads to the polls; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Worst Climate Change Scenarios Can Be Averted, Panel Says

The worst consequences of global climate change can be averted, but only if governments act quickly and aggressively, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in a new report, released in Berlin on Sunday (WSJ). The UN-sponsored body emphasized that action to contain warming to 2 degrees Celsius over preindustrial levels would have "modest" costs to the economy, and new technologies have made efforts more affordable (AP). This is the third of four IPCC reports in the periodic review; previous installments said human activities caused warming and that warming's effects were already destabilizing human society (NYT). A global treaty is supposed to be completed in late 2015.


"The report essentially puts a nail in the coffin to the idea of European-style cap-and-trade, saying existing policies of that sort 'have not proved to be constraining to carbon emissions' due to a variety of factors. Instead, countries considering climate policies should consider reducing subsidies for continued fossil fuel production, low-carbon consumer labeling like the U.S. government's Energy Star, and revenue-neutral tax-based policies like the one in British Columbia," writes Eric Holthaus in Slate.

"Instead of discouraging fossil-fuel use, the U.S. government underwrites it, with tax incentives for producers worth about four billion dollars a year. Those tax breaks are evidently ludicrous, and they should be repealed. According to the International Monetary Fund, the U.S. is the world's largest single source of fossil-fuel subsidies; the I.M.F. has estimated that eliminating such subsidies worldwide could cut carbon emissions by thirteen per cent," writes Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker.

"There is every reason to believe that efforts to raise public concern about climate change by linking it to natural disasters will backfire. More than a decade's worth of research suggests that fear-based appeals about climate change inspire denial, fatalism and polarization," write Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger in the New York Times.


Pacific Rim

Avian Flu Outbreak in Japan

Agricultural workers rushed to contain an avian flu outbreak, culling 112,000 chickens after nearly 300 were found dead on Friday and Saturday. The agriculture ministry ruled out the possibility of transmission to humans (Japan Times).


Pakistani Taliban factions agree to one-month cease fire

Guinea-Bissau heads to the polls

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