EU Parliament backs climate plan. The European Parliament’s environment committee yesterday voted largely in favour of the ambitious European climate action plan (subscription) proposed in January. The decision, although preliminary, allows the European Union (EU) to go into the upcoming next round of international climate negotiations with a common goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions across Europe by at least 20 % by 2020. The European commission, Council and Parliament must yet formally agree on details of the plan, but substantial changes are now considered unlikely. — Climate Feedback

Arctic ice – standing on the brink. Despite some recovery of the Arctic summer sea ice this year, the signs suggest the transition to a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean is underway. Each year since 2002 has seen pronounced seasonal minima in Arctic sea ice extent, serving as exclamation points on a more general downward trend. According to analyses by the US National Snow and Ice Data Center, the seasonal minimum for 2008, occurring on 14 September, entered the books as the second-lowest of the satellite era, probably the second-lowest of at least a century, and just behind the standing record set in 2007 (Fig. 1)1. Could a rapid transition to a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean be underway? We’ll never know except in hindsight, but evidence is growing that if not, we’re at its doorstep. — Nature

The economic crisis should prompt more green infrastructure spending, not less. Democrats and Keynsians are urging deficit spending to correct the financial crisis – some say a massive government spending program may be the only thing between us and the collapse of the global financial system… Every progressive and green who wants to see substantial climate and energy legislation passed by the next president better add their voices to the latter chorus. — Grist

Pint-size eco-police, making parents proud and sometimes crazy. Sometimes, Jennifer Ross feels she cannot make a move at home without inviting the scorn of her daughters, 10-year-old Grace and 7-year-old Eliza. The Acura MDX she drives? A flagrant polluter. The bath at night to help her relax? A wasteful indulgence. The reusable shopping bags she forgot, again? Tsk, tsk. — New York Times

Peter Fray

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