Friday, 29 January 2010

Slowdown in Warming Linked to Water Vapor

Climatologists have puzzled over why global average temperatures have stayed roughly flat in the past decade, despite a long-term warming trend. New research suggests that lower levels of water vapor in the stratosphere may partly explain the anomaly.
The study, appearing in the journal Science, points out that the concentration of water vapor in the stratosphere has dropped about 10% in the past decade, triggered by unexplained cooler temperatures at certain high altitudes above the tropics. The study concludes that in the last decade the decline in water vapor slowed the rate of rising temperatures by about 25%, thus partly negating the heat-trapping effect of increasing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.
The recent fluctuation—the flattening of temperatures since the year 2000—isn't merely of academic interest. Those skeptical of man-made global warming say the temperature anomaly supports their case. Others say it is merely a blip, and that warming remains the long-term trend.
"There is slow warming that has taken place over the last 100 years," says Susan Solomon, lead author of the study and a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo. "But from one decade to another, there can be fluctuations in the warming trend," such as those caused by water vapor and other factors.
Separate findings suggest that fleeting changes in ocean currents and alterations in solar activity may partly explain the recent flat-temperature trend. The study in Science uses fresh and more-accurate satellite data to conclude that water vapor also likely contributed to the flattening of the global warming trend since 2000.
Not only is water vapor the planet's most abundant greenhouse gas, it also is known to amplify the warming effect of other such gases, including carbon dioxide. Scientists refer to the process as a positive feedback loop: Higher temperatures lead to higher concentrations of water vapor, which then absorbs more thermal energy radiated from the Earth, which further warms the atmosphere.
Water vapor is formed through evaporation from the Earth's bodies of water. A key factor that affects how much water vapor enters the stratosphere is the coldest temperature that air encounters as it rises from the Earth.
Most of this upward movement occurs in the tropics—a region where "cold point" temperatures have dropped in the past decade.
As a result of these lower temperatures, less water vapor ended up in the stratosphere. That, in turn, helped lower the warming rate, the study concludes.
The overall picture is still far from complete. Water vapor's role may be important, but "it doesn't rule out other contributing factors," such as changes in ocean currents and solar activity, says Dr. Solomon.
Nor do current warming models fully account for all the complexities of water-vapor shifts in the stratosphere. And scientists have yet to pin down why cold point temperatures in the tropics fell in the past decade.

Words alone are not enough

David Wighton: Business Editor’s Commentary

Davos has an image problem. Outside the international economic elite, it is widely seen as a glitzy talking shop where corporate bosses can spend a few days posturing about improving the state of the world before going straight back to improving the state of their profits.
For many outside observers, the financial crisis was the last straw. Investment bank bosses had spent years talking about corporate social responsibility at Davos, only for their employees to act with such extraordinary social irresponsibility that they brought the financial world to its knees.
Some Davos insiders believe this illustrates the more general gulf between corporate rhetoric and corporate behaviour.
As Maurice Levy, head of the media giant Publicis, said yesterday, there often seems to be a big gap between what companies do and what they say about ethics and the environment in their annual reports. Enraged by the financial crisis, the public is now demanding change and Mr Levy warned that if companies did not respond, they would pay a heavy price. He was referring particularly to companies’ commitment to sustainability. But many of his fellow chief executives believe it extends to companies’ wider role in society.

To be fair, many companies are taking their responsibilities seriously and are challenging the Anglo-Saxon orthodoxy about the pursuit of shareholder value. Many chief executives would agree with Unilever’s Paul Polman about the need to resist pressure from short-term shareholders, even if they would not have the nerve to express it so forcefully.
Critics of Davos claim that most of the promises made here are never kept. Insiders admit there is some truth to this, which is why many of the Davos initiatives — such as the sustainability programme in which Unilever is involved — are now focused on turning words into actions.
That is essential not only for the future of Davos but for public confidence in business as a whole.

Davos: Funding switch threatens aid to developing world, campaigner warns

Larry Elliott in Davos, Thursday 28 January 2010 15.58 GMT
Rich countries are raiding their aid budgets to bankroll a new global fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change, one of the world's leading development campaign groups warned today.
Jamie Drummond, executive director of the One group co-founded by the rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof, said the west was being "dishonest" about the $30bn (£18bn) of fast-track finance proposed in Copenhagen last month to persuade developing countries to agree a deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
Drummond said the proposal to spend $10bn a year over the next three years involved no additional money, but was instead being diverted from existing budgets.
The impact, he said, would be to divert funds from health and education spending in Africa to infrastructure projects in Asia and Latin America.
"Development promises are under threat. There is double counting going on. The $30bn is not new money and nor is the $100bn promised for 2020 to help poor countries cope with climate change."
Speaking in Davos, Drummond said One was lobbying world leaders to "come clean" about what they were doing. Similar concerns were expressed earlier this week by Bill Gates, who has used part of his personal fortune to fund health programmes in Africa.
Drummond admitted that it was hard for rich countries to stump up more money during a tough recession, but said the solution was to explore innovative ways of raising finance – including a transaction tax, a levy on aviation travel and selling part of the International Monetary Fund's gold reserve.
Poor countries, he added, would not be prepared to sign up to a climate change deal unless there was additional money for adaptation and mitigation.
Many countries, including Britain, have pledged to raise aid budgets to 0.7% of GDP, but Drummond said that "we may need to look at new goals and proposals like Sir Nicholas Stern's proposal for 1%, incorporating both development and climate finance".

Keeping climate change alive

In his state of the union address, Obama seemed willing to trade nuclear power and offshore drilling for climate bill votes

A guest blog by Suzanne Goldenberg, the Guardian's US environment correspondent
Greens probably didn't reckon the "change you can believe in" would mean building more nuclear power plants when Barack Obama was first elected. But that is what they are going to get – in return for getting a climate change bill through Congress.
Last night Obama delivered the signal Congress – and much of the world – had been watching for that the White House is ready to throw itself into the effort to get a climate change bill through the Senate.
But what kind of bill? One deliberately crafted to prise off at least a handful of Republican votes – which means expanding nuclear power, offshore drilling, and money for clean coal technology."That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies," Obama said in his state of the union address.
That is not a recipe to make the enviros happy. But Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham who are trying to craft a compromise bill are going to be relieved.
The two told reporters earlier today there was no hope of getting a bill through the Senate without getting a few Republicans on side and in their wake – hopefully – a few of those Democrats from coal, oil and old industrial states.
The appeal to conservaties is probably why Obama only once uttered the words "climate change", let alone "global warming". But there were enough references to "clean energy jobs" to remove any doubts that Obama still sees green investment as key to America's economic future.
The president also endorsed a "comprehensive energy and climate bill" – code in Washington for a broad set of proposals that would also include establishment of a cap and trade programme.
"And yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America."
And he said he wanted a bill through the Senate in 2010 – timing that is seen as crucial both for the prospects of energy reform in America and for getting a global change deal.
"This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate," he said."
Before the speech, Hill rats had put the chances of getting a bill through the Senate at between 0 and 40%. Maybe it went up a tick tonight.

Barack Obama commits to climate change bill

President Obama pledges to help pass 'comprehensive' climate change law, but also backed nuclear power and drilling
Suzanne Goldenberg, Thursday 28 January 2010 05.50 GMT
Barack Obama put himself firmly behind the effort to get a climate change bill through Congress last night – but said it must include a new generation of nuclear power.
The brief passage on energy and climate in Obama's state of the union address did deliver the signal Congress and much of the world had been seeking that the White House is ready to throw itself into the effort to pass legislation.
"This year, I am eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate," he said.
But Obama made it clear that he supported a "bipartisan" effort which would incorporate energy policies that are popular among Republicans – and fiercely opposed by the liberal wing of his own party."That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies," Obama said.
The endorsement for nuclear power and especially offshore drilling will be difficult for some Democratic voters to swallow.
Most of the instant reaction to the speech from environmental groups was positive – though few commented directly on Obama's support for nuclear power or drilling.
However, the Centre for Biological Diversity was scathing. "A clean energy economy does not include continued reliance on dirty coal and further risky drilling for oil in fragile offshore areas," the centre's director, Kieran Suckling said in a statement."The president failed tonight, as he failed over the past twelve months, to use his bully pulpit to advocate a bright line goal for greenhouse gas reductions. "
Obama's endorsement of a nuclear renaissance – 30 years since the last new nuclear plant – was calculated to help the efforts of Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican Lindsey Graham craft a compromise bill that could get broad support in the Senate.
The house narrowly passed a climate change bill last June, but the effort has bogged down in the Senate.
The two Senators told reporters earlier Wednesday that they were closely focused on pulling in Republican support, and damping down fears among Democratic senators from oil, coal and heavy manufacturing states that energy reform would hurt local economies.
Obama hewed closely to the same strategy, peppering his speech with references to new "clean energy" jobs and the "profitable kind of energy". He uttered the words "climate change" precisely once, referring to America assuming a leadership role in the negotiations to get a global deal to halt warming.
But the president did voice support for a "comprehensive" Senate bill – code in Washington for a broad set of proposals that would also include establishment of a cap and trade programme.The nod for a "comprehensive" bill could help head off attempts to get the Senate to scale back its ambitions, and pass a narrowly focused energy bill that would not attempt to establish a carbon market.
And he said he wanted a bill through the Senate in 2010 – timing that is seen as crucial both for the prospects of energy reform in America and for getting a global change deal.
Obama also took a shot at climate change deniers, which brought some mutterings from Republicans.
"I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change," he said. "But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future."

Barack Obama pledges $8bn to upgrade aged US rail network

US president and Amtrak devotee Joe Biden take jobs pledge to Florida

Suzanne Goldenberg, Thursday 28 January 2010 22.46 GMT
Barack Obama announced $8bn in grants to upgrade America's slow and aged passenger rail network today, taking his state of the union promise to build America's clean energy economy to Florida.
Obama was touting his efforts to create jobs by investing in infrastructure and less polluting technology.
He was accompanied by his vice-president, Joe Biden, an Amtrak devotee, who told the audience that over his years in Washington he had made more than 7,900 round trips by rail to his home state of Delaware.
Obama said the 13 projects in 31 states would help create jobs as well as transform the way Americans travel.
"We are making the largest investment in infrastructure since the interstate highway system was created," he said. "There's no reason why Europe or China should have the fastest trains, when we can build them right here in America."
But the funds, authorised nearly a year ago under Obama's $787bn recovery act, will not quite bring America into the age of hi-speed rail. Most of the projects are for faster but still not necessarily hi-speed — trains.
More than a quarter of the funds, some $2.25bn, will help California move ahead with its plans to build a genuinely high speed rail project, which would convey passengers at 220mph between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
California has already raised $10bn for the estimated $42bn project.
The White House said the funds would be used for purchasing rights of way, and building track, signalling systems and stations on four segments of the 800-mile corridor.
In Florida, the funds would go to building just 84 miles between Tampa and Orlando. The project, which will receive $1.25bn, will feature trains that travel as fast as 168mph.
Routes connecting Chicago to St Louis will also get funds. There was also $112m to help speed service on the most highly travelled line, between New York and Washington.
The awards make good on Obama's promises to help America catch up with European and Japanese rail travel. During a visit to Strasbourg a year ago, the president confessed to a secret hankering after the TGV and other fast trains. But rail experts — and Obama and Biden today — admit that the $8bn represents only a start to the estimated cost of building a truly modern network. The administration has also committed another $5bn for rail under last year's recovery plan.
Apart from California, none of the routes announced today truly qualify as high speed rail. But the initial $8bn should help to win over Americans to giving up their cars for relatively short journeys between cities.
It also allows Obama to help drive home the connection made in his state of the union address between job creation and clean energy.
"We can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow," he said.

Using biofuel in cars 'may accelerate loss of rainforest'

Ben Webster, Environment Editor

Using biofuel in vehicles may be accelerating the destruction of rainforest and resulting in higher greenhouse gas emissions than burning pure petrol and diesel, a watchdog said yesterday.
The Renewable Fuels Agency also warned that pump prices could rise in April because of the Government’s policy of requiring fuel companies to add biofuel to petrol and diesel. More than 1.3 million hectares of land — twice the area of Devon — was used to grow the 2.7 per cent of Britain’s transport fuel that came from crops last year.
Under the Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation, a growing proportion of biofuel must be added to diesel and petrol. This year fuel must be at least 3.25 per cent biofuel on average. By 2020 the proportion will be 13 per cent.
The agency’s first annual report revealed that fuel companies had exploited a loophole to avoid reporting the origin of almost half the biofuel they supplied to filling stations last year. The origin of fuel from land recently cleared can be described as “unknown”. Last year Esso reported the source of only 6 per cent of its biofuel and BP reported 27 per cent. Shell was the best-performing of the main oil companies but still failed to report the origin of a third of its biofuel.

The agency said: “The large proportion of unknown previous land use is of concern. If even a small proportion of this was carbon-rich grassland or forestland, it could have substantially reduced the carbon savings resulting from the renewable transport fuels obligation as a whole, or even resulted in a net release of carbon.”
Most companies met part of their biofuel obligation by buying palm oil, one of the cheapest fuels but potentially the most damaging to the environment because of the carbon released when forest is burnt down to create plantations.
Expansion of the industry has made Indonesia the third-largest CO2 emitter after China and the US. A litre of palm oil produced on land converted from Indonesian forest produces roughly three times as much CO2 as ordinary diesel.
The agency said oil companies had failed to invest in slightly more expensive certified sustainable palm oil. Only 0.5 per cent of the 127 million litres of palm oil added to petrol and diesel last year came from plantations certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an international monitoring body.
Chevron, Murco, Topaz and Grangemouth refinery had “failed to demonstrate the sustainability of their biofuels”, the report said. ConocoPhillips was the only big oil company to meet the three voluntary targets the Government set the industry: for 30 per cent of the biofuel to meet a minimum environmental standard, for it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent compared with fossil fuel and for the source of at least half the biofuel to be reported.
The agency said the end of the 20p a litre fuel duty discount for biofuel from April could cause prices to rise, though probably only by less than 1p per litre.
From March 2011 companies will be required under a European directive to report the previous use of all the land from which they derive their biofuels. However, they will also gain an additional loophole because they will not have to admit using rainforest land if the trees were removed before 2008.

Time for a Rethink on Global Warming

Mandated carbon cuts won't work.
With most of the world still reeling from the worst recession in 40 years, this week some 2,500 members of the international political, business and media elite are descending on Davos, Switzerland. The occasion is the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, that well-publicized Woodstock for movers and shakers. The point of Davos is to swap big ideas about big issues, and this year's theme couldn't be bigger: "Improving the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild."
If you detect a whiff of "back to the drawing board" in that slogan, you're right. There is a growing consensus in policy circles that if the recent economic carnage has taught us anything, it's that our 20th-century prescriptions are not up to the challenges of our 21st-century world.
This kind of intellectual humility would certainly be welcome in my particular area of interest: the debate over how best to cope with man-made climate change. For nearly two decades, environmental policy makers have been single-mindedly marching down the same road, trying without success to get the governments of the world to endorse a binding agreement to drastically reduce carbon emissions. Just last month, we saw this strategy fail again when yet another global climate summit convened and adjourned without accomplishing anything. Yet policy makers refuse to change course.
There is a superficial logic to the conventional wisdom that the only serious way to stop global warming is to get governments to either force or bribe their citizens into slashing their reliance on fuels that emit carbon-dioxide. After all, if carbon emissions cause global warming, shouldn't eliminating them cure it?
Yes, it would. The question is at what cost? The fact is that whatever prosperity we currently have or are likely to achieve in the near future depends heavily on our ability to acquire and burn carbon-emitting fuels such as coal, oil and gas.
Right now, developing nations like China and India are most vocal in their opposition to cutting carbon emissions—and it is not hard to see why. Compared to other forms of energy, fossil fuels are abundant, efficient and cheap. In order to make drastic cuts in their carbon emissions, developing countries would have to pull the plug on domestic economic growth—thus consigning hundreds of millions of their citizens to continued poverty.
But the developed world has an interest at stake here as well. All the major climate economic models show that to achieve the much-discussed goal of keeping temperature rises under two degrees Celsius, we would have to impose a global tax on carbon emissions that, by the end of the century, would cost the world a phenomenal $40 trillion a year. Even the wealthiest of nations would have trouble paying that price.
Viewed in this light, it's no wonder so many governments are skeptical of the idea that environmental salvation lies in just saying no to fossil fuels. So what's the alternative? I believe it's time to take a page from the World Economic Forum's book and rethink, redesign and rebuild our climate policy.
Despite all the optimistic talk about solar, wind and other green-energy technologies, the alternatives we currently have aren't anywhere close to being able to carry more than a fraction of the load fossil fuels currently bear. For two decades, we've been putting the cart before the horse, pretending we could cut carbon emissions now and solve the technology problem later. But as we saw in Copenhagen last month, that makes neither economic nor political sense.
If we really want to solve global warming, we need to get serious about developing alternatives to coal and oil. Last year, the Copenhagen Consensus Center commissioned research from more than two dozen of the world's top climate economists on different ways to respond to global warming.
An expert panel including three Nobel Laureate economists concluded that devoting just 0.2% of global GDP—roughly $100 billion a year—to green-energy R&D could produce the kind of breakthroughs needed to fuel a carbon-free future. Not only would this be a much less expensive fix than trying to cut carbon emissions, it would also reduce global warming far more quickly.
Mr. Lomborg is the director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center at Copenhagen Business School and the author of "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming" (Knopf, 2007).

Obama sees the positives as US gives formal notice on greenhouse gases

State department climate change envoy Todd Stern writes to UN to formally promise to reduce emissions by 17% by 2020

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, Friday 29 January 2010 02.51 GMT
America embraced the accord reached at the Copenhagen climate summit yesterday by formally giving notice to the United Nations that it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The announcement was the second piece of encouraging news from the US in 24 hourson the prospect of reaching a global deal on climate change.
In his state of the union address on Wednesday, Barack Obama promised to keep pushing on his energy and climate change agenda. The intervention could boost the slim prospects of getting Congress to act on climate change - which is widely seen as a precondition for a global deal.
In his letter to the UN, the state department climate change envoy, Todd Stern, said that America could cut carbon emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020.
However, he said, the commitment was contingent on Congress passing climate change legislation.
The letter reaffirms the promise Obama made to the summit last month to cutUS emissions and work for a global climate deal. It says the 2020 commitment was a first step towards cutting America's global warming pollution by 42% in 2030, and by more than 80% by the middle of the century.
"The US submission reflects President Obama's continued commitment to meeting the climate change and clean energy challenge through robust domestic and international action that will strengthen our economy, enhance our national security and protect our environment," Stern wrote.
He said America was acting on the assumption that other countries which signed the accord would take similar action.
"The United States is committed to working with our partners around the world to make the accord operational and to continue the effort to build a strong, effective, science-based, global regime to combat the profound threat of climate change," Stern wrote.
Under the slight, 12-paragraph, accord reached at Copenhagen, industrialised countries and the rapidly emerging economies like India and China were expected to offer formal notification of their plans to act on emissions by January 31.
However, the UN has since indicated that deadline is somewhat elastic, and there are fears that the momentum in the run-up to Copenhagen has fizzled away.
Obama offered some sense of movement in his speech, refusing to back down on climate agenda despite running into opposition from Republicans, as well as Democrats from oil and coal states, and the industrial heartland.
He told Congress he would carry on. "I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy, and I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change," he said. "But even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future. "
Obama's new vision for an energy and climate bill, spelled out on Wednesday, do not necessarily align with those of environmental groups or the liberal wing of his own Democratic party. He called for opening up new areas for offshore drilling and building more nuclear power plants.
But his willingness to recommit his administration to the energy agenda could boost the slim prospects of getting a climate change bill out of the Senate this year.
Democrat John Kerry and Republican Lindsey Graham have been lobbying hard among Republicans and conservative Democrats - as well as business leaders - to try and craft a compromise bill.
Obama, in his support for nuclear power and offshore drilling, hit on some of the components Kerry and Graham have been discussing. But several Senators told reporters they still thought it unlikely the Senate would take up energy and climate before the end of 2010.

Wind farms can cause noise problems finds study

The noise caused by wind farms can make some people ill, according to experts.

By Louise Gray, Environment CorrespondentPublished: 7:30AM GMT 28 Jan 2010

The study by a panel of independent experts found that the irritation caused by the noise around wind farms can effect certain individuals.
Scientists dismissed the idea of a "wind turbine syndrome" where the vibrations in the air or the particular sound waves from wind turbines cause headaches, nausea and panic attacks.

However, they did concede that the swishing sound caused by wind turbines can "annoy" some people, keeping them awake at night and even causing psychological problems because of the stress.
The Government is planning on building thousands more wind turbines onshore and the report has led calls for more research into the noise effects caused by the turbines.
But the wind industry said if wind turbines were harmful, it would be impossible to live in a city given the sound levels normally present in urban environments.
The Government insisted that wind farms do not have a direct impact on health.
Wind farms have traditionally been seen by protesters as a blot on the British countryside, but it has now emerged that their noise may make people ill.
A new study found no evidence for "wind turbine syndrome" where the wind farms directly cause a host of health problems such as headaches, nausea and panic attacks.
But the swishing sound caused by wind turbines can be a problem for certain people, causing sleep deprivation and even mental health problems.
It has sparked renewed debate on the Government's plans for more onshore wind and led to calls for more research into the problems caused by noise.
A panel of independent experts in public health, audiology and medicine looked at peer-reviewed studies on the health effects of wind turbines.
Wind Turbine Sound and Health Effects, commissioned by the American Wind Energy Association, found that some people may be "annoyed" by the sound of wind turbines. A major cause of concern is the fluctuating nature of the sound, which is particularly stressful for some people because it is difficult to get accustomed to intermittent noise.
Dr Geoff Leventhall, an honorary fellow of the UK's Institute of Acoustics and one of the authors of the study, said noise from wind turbines can disturb people in the same way as any other noise pollution, such as an airport nearby.
"The conclusions of our report were that the main effects of wind turbines noise is similar to the effect of any other noise and will disturb people if they are listening to a noise they do not want to hear. One of the main effects is sleep disturbance which can lead to other stress related effects."
Presenting the evidence at a Wind Turbine Noise meeting organised by the IOA in Cardiff, he emphasised that only a small number of people find the noise distressing, which can lead to sleep deprivation and psychological problems.
"The number of people who suffer these extreme effects are small and ** if the turbines are designed properly the effects are minimised even further," he added.
Jane Davis is hoping to take the country's first private nuisance case against a wind farm to the High Court.
The 54-year-old was forced to move from her home in Lincolnshire after eight wind turbines were built in 2006.
The qualified nurse said one in five wind farms cause noise problems for the local people.
"All I know is the amount of health problems people have suffered since [the turbines were put up] seem to be excessive in relation to what was happening," she said. "Those symptoms include sleep deprivation, tittinus, vertigo, depression, raised blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (abnormal heart beat), needing to go the lavatory at night more often than you would normally, pneumonia, ear infections, stomach disorders and psychological stress."
Mrs Davis said 190 campaigners around the country have complained of noise and are expected to consider legal proceedings if the test case is successful.
"This is not Nimbyism. These things have devastated my life and continue to do so," she said. "The last four years have been hell and there has been no redress."
The Government has plans to build up to 6,000 new turbines onshore over the next ten years.
Mary Stevens, policy officer at the charity Environment Protection UK, said there will need to be more research into the problems caused by noise.
"While we fully support the deployment of renewable energy, we believe, that like any major development, the siting and operation of wind farms must be carried out with full regard to any significant and lasting impacts on local environmental quality and health," she said.
However the British Wind Energy Association pointed out that the new report said there were no direct health effects from wind farms.
"The findings of the study tally with UK research on the subject. In 2007 a Government-backed study carried out by the University of Salford found that only one wind farm in the UK was ever found to present a noise nuisance to residents and the issue has since been resolved," a spokesman said.
Wind turbines by numbers
The Government wants to built up to 6,000 new wind turbines on land over the next ten years.
At the moment there are more than 2,500 turbines onshore.
The turbines are around 300ft high
Onshore wind provides around 2.5 per cent of the country's electricity needs
The current limit for noise is 43 maximum decibels at night
Campaigners want it reduced to 33 decibels at night