Whilst Copenhagen may not have produced the global agreement and framework to stimulate national legislation on climate change, recent weeks have seen continued emphasis on environmental issues in government in the US and Europe:
• The US government has announced the formation of an office to address climate information needs. It’s part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and will be known as the NOAA Climate Service.
The service is positioned as a response to requests for information on climate change from businesses and individuals looking for help in the decision-making process of planning and adapting to climate change.
The NOAA claims that it already has global leadership in climate research and observation and the idea is to build on the science to create a useable climate service. The press release says that the “NOAA is committed to scientific integrity and transparency; we seek to advance science and strengthen product development and delivery through user engagement.” It’s a comment clearly aimed at the recent revelations about the IPCC’s research errors and the cover-up of data at the Climate Research Unit in the UK. Certainly authoritative research and comment coming from the US must be a good thing. If only it had been sooner.
• The NOAA has also launched a new web portal to give single point of access to its climate information, data, products and services. It’s known as the NOAA Climate Portal and a there’s a prototype here.
The site aims to address the needs of five user groups: decision makers and policy leaders, scientists and applications-oriented data users, educators, business users and the public.
Among the highlights of the site are a ‘climate dashboard’ that shows a range of constantly updating climate datasets (e.g., temperature, carbon dioxide concentration and sea level) over adjustable time scales – see below.
• EurActiv reports that a study on behalf of the European Commission has concluded that it should set up a dedicated agency to oversee and enforce EU waste laws.
Part of the problem is that EU waste legislation consists of some 60 regulations, directives and decisions but many member states are not enforcing them as they should. There are also different interpretations of EU waste requirements.
According to EurActiv, in 2008 there were 141 waste-related infringement procedures pending against member states, representing 19% of all environmental infringement cases.
The report suggest that a new agency should carry out reviews of member states’ enforcement systems, conduct coordinated checks and inspections, and train national officials, the report suggests.
So it’s not the direct environmental compliance legislation that will drive businesses and stimulate green ICT requirements, but it’s all part of the growing focus and awareness on environmental issues and helps bring a consensus for action. (Note that the NOAA says that one of its target audiences for its Climate Portal is ‘applications-oriented data users’).