UN says 30 more countries to ratify climate deal

UN says 30 more countries to ratify climate deal by Karl Ritter, The Associated Press Posted Sep 20, 2016 6:51 pm MDT Last Updated Sep 20, 2016 at 7:40 pm MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) STOCKHOLM – Thirty more countries are expected to formally join the Paris Agreement on climate change this week, greatly improving the pact’s chances of coming into force just a year after it was negotiated in the French capital, the United Nations said Tuesday.More than 170 world leaders have signed the deal, but it won’t take effect until 55 countries accounting for at least 55 per cent of global emissions have ratified or accepted it through their domestic procedures.That was initially expected to take several years, but 28 countries accounting for 39 per cent of emissions including the world’s two biggest emitters, the United States and China, have already ratified the deal.The 30 ratifications expected to be handed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a special event at U.N. headquarters in New York on Wednesday would bring the total to 58 countries — but many are small and their total emissions likely won’t reach the required 55 per cent.Brazil, Mexico and Argentina are the largest emitters on the list announced late Tuesday by the United Nations. But the 30 countries will only bring the emissions total to 47 per cent.At least half a dozen small island nations including Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Kiribati are expected to ratify along with several countries from Central America, Africa, Asia and one from the Mideast — the United Arab Emirates.“We are ready. We will announce it in New York,” Moroccan Environment Minister Hakima el-Haite told The Associated Press.In the world of international diplomacy, this is considered a blistering pace, reflecting a sense of urgency in the fight against global warming and a desire to seal the deal before Ban and U.S. President Barack Obama leave office.After years of negotiations, governments agreed in Paris last December to curb the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that scientists say are warming the planet.Ban, who has made climate change a top priority since he became secretary-general nearly 10 years ago, urged world leaders in his keynote speech at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to bring the Paris Agreement into force by the end of the year.“The Earth assails us with rising seas, record heat and extreme storms,” Ban said. “With the Paris Agreement on climate change, we are tackling the defining challenge of our time.”U.S. diplomats are also pushing other countries to accelerate their ratification efforts so that the deal can enter into force this year. The White House says Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry plan to corner foreign leaders in the hallways during the U.N. gathering to personally pressure them to join this week.“We’re very anxious to have it move forward quickly,” U.S. climate envoy Jonathan Pershing told the AP. “We are talking to everybody about the urgency.”Pershing said the haste comes down to the fact that “this is a problem that can’t wait.”Others say another factor is the potential of a shift in U.S. climate policy depending on the outcome of the presidential election in November. Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton has said the U.S. must implement the Paris Agreement, but Republican candidate Donald Trump has said he will cancel the deal.“The Obama administration clearly would like to see this done before they leave office,” said Alden Meyer, a veteran observer of the U.N. climate talks at the Union of Concerned Scientists.“That doesn’t guarantee that the next president will fully implement Paris,” Meyer said. “But it would take at least four years for the U.S. to formally withdraw.”The Paris Agreement asks both rich and poor countries to take action to curb the rise in global temperatures that is melting glaciers, raising sea levels and shifting rainfall patterns across the globe. It requires governments to present national plans to reduce emissions, though the targets themselves aren’t internationally binding.The European Union, which considers itself as one of the architects of the Paris deal, is trying to fast-track its ratification process to avoid the embarrassment of sitting on the sidelines when it comes into force.The EU, which accounts for 12 per cent of global emissions, originally planned to wait for its 28 member states to approve the deal domestically, but now wants to ratify it on their behalf.“It’s technically possible,” said Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, a spokeswoman for EU Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete. “But politically it’s a decision of the member states.”With or without the EU, there’s a chance that the deal can enter into force as early as the next U.N. climate conference, which starts Nov. 7 in Marrakech, Morocco.For some the timing is mostly symbolic, because the first round of emissions targets doesn’t start until 2020. For others, like the island nations who face an existential risk from rising seas, it’s imperative that countries prepare to implement — and improve — their targets as soon as possible.“We cannot wait,” said Maldives Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim, who chairs an alliance of small island states. “We are at the forefront of climate change and we are the people who will suffer if there is no action taken early.”___AP writers Edith M. Lederer, Michael Astor and Josh Lederman at the United Nations contributed to this report.___Follow Karl Ritter on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Karl_Ritter read more

Human error increasingly a factor contributing to pipeline leaks data suggests

Workers wear protective clothing as the work continues to contain and clean up a pipeline spill at Nexen Energy’s Long Lake facility near Fort McMurray, Alta., Wednesday, July 22, 2015. Human error, whether it’s burying a pipeline too shallow or not fastening bolts tight enough, is increasingly a factor contributing to pipeline leaks, federal data suggests. The AER’s investigation into the spill at the Long Lake facility continues, but Nexen’s preliminary conclusion was that the pipeline design was incompatible with the ground conditions, and wasn’t installed properly. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh Human error increasingly a factor contributing to pipeline leaks, data suggests by Ian Bickis, The Canadian Press Posted Jan 29, 2017 8:00 am MDT Last Updated Jan 29, 2017 at 8:40 am MDT AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email CALGARY – Human error — whether it’s burying a pipeline too shallow or not fastening bolts tight enough— is increasingly a factor contributing to pipeline leaks, federal data suggests.Figures compiled by the National Energy Board show that in the past three years, incorrect operation — which covers everything from failing to follow procedures to using equipment improperly — has caused an average of 20 leaks per year. That’s up from an average of four annually in the previous six years.“It’s both probably one of the most difficult things for an organization to deal with, but also the most important,” said Mark Fleming, a professor of safety culture at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.Fleming said operators have made improvements in safety practices, but to achieve the higher levels of safety required by other industries such as the airline or nuclear power sectors would require extreme attention to detail.What may seem inconsequential at first can later contribute to a disaster, Fleming said.“It’s like a ball balancing on the top of a pyramid,” he said.“Safety, particularly very high levels of safety, requires constant attention and effort. And the tendency is for it to degrade.”Pipelines installed in the U.S. in the past five years have the highest rate of failure of any built since the 1920s, and human error is partially to blame, said Carl Weimer, executive director of the Washington-based Pipeline Safety Trust.“A lot of new pipelines being put in the ground just aren’t being installed right, or things don’t get tightened up quite enough, so within the first year or two things fail,” said Weimer.The consequences of the improper management of pipelines have come to bear in several spills in recent years, resulting in oil coursing down rivers, gushing onto city streets and contaminating many hectares of Canadian wilderness.Alberta Energy Regulator investigations into Plains Midstream Canada, for one, found that the company hadn’t inspected its pipelines frequently or thoroughly enough, did a poor job of managing the ground around its pipelines and hadn’t properly trained control room staff.A subsequent audit found the company had improved its safety practices, but not before those failures helped contribute to a 4.5-million litre oil spill in 2011 near Peace River, followed by a 463,000-litre oil leak into the Red Deer River a year later.In 2015, a Nexen Energy pipeline south of Fort McMurray, Alta. burst, spilling about five million litres of emulsion including about 1.65 million litres of oil near its Long Lake oilsands operation. The AER’s investigation into the incident continues, but Nexen’s preliminary conclusion was that the pipeline design was incompatible with the ground conditions, and wasn’t installed properly.“There’s been a lot of learnings in our industry that have resulted from some very unfortunate incidents,” said Patrick Smyth, vice-president of safety and engineering at the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association.Smyth said CEPA, which represents pipeline companies like TransCanada and Plains Midstream, have improved their safety practices in recent years.He points to the fact that CEPA members spilled only about 2,500 litres of oil in 2015, with companies implementing stricter safety practices and using better inspection tools to prevent leaks.But even as companies make improvements on safety, Fleming said getting pipelines towards the higher safety standards of industries like airlines will likely require significant financial sacrifice.“To be able to do that, you need to have a very cautious approach to doing work, and that’s something that’s hard financially,” said Fleming. “It does have some cost implications that we are often very uncomfortable talking about.”Follow @ibickis on Twitter. read more