by Douglas Hunter

Canadian Bioenergy Corporation has put forward a proposal to build western Canada’s first large-scale biodiesel refinery near Edmonton, Alberta. It would produce an estimated 114 million litres a year from canola oil. The Government of Ontario announced a plan to introduce “green” licence plates in the spring of 2008 for fuel-efficient vehicles, which could allow their owners such perks as free parking and access to high-capacity commuter lanes.

Environment Canada released a study showing that human activity is changing global rainfall patterns. The authors established the first link between global warming and increases in rainfall between latitudes 40 and 70 in the northern hemisphere, with a decrease in rainfall in the hemisphere’s subtropical and tropical regions.

Industrial emissions credits were to begin trading on a new exchange, the Marché climatique de Montréal, by the end of 2007. In the Arctic, the area of floating ice shrank more this summer than in any year since observations began in 1979.

Champagne producers in northern France picked grapes in August, the earliest harvest on record, further encouraging some producers to buy land in southern England for vineyards as climate change moves the ideal growing zone farther north. And a study by the French institute of the environment determined that vacation trips in cars produce 16 percent of national carbon dioxide emissions annually.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina claim that coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean are dying even faster than expected, with reef coverage having contracted 20 percent in the past two decades. The exact cause is unknown, but the study cited climate change, coastal development and disease as leading candidates.