New Climate Negotiations, Tougher Standards for Animal Experiments, and a Boost for Autism Research

Here are a few of the science policy stories we covered this past week on Science's policy blog, ScienceInsider.

In Bonn, Germany, international negotiators to the U.N. climate change treaty began work this week on a successor to the Kyoto Accords, an effort they hope to finish by December in Copenhagen. "My team and I came here determined to make up for lost time," top U.S. negotiator Todd Stern told delegates. The United States also hopes to hold bilateral talks with the 15 or so biggest emitters around the world. Meanwhile, stateside, a key draft of climate legislation was released this week in the House of Representatives by Edward Markey (D–MA) and Henry Waxman (D–CA).

British scientists and biomedical institutions have rallied to oppose portions of a new European Union animal-experimentation law. Animal-rights advocates have pushed the E.U. law, which would create new ethical reviews and tougher minimum housing and care requirements. British scientists told ScienceInsider that they fear the new regime will create a mountain of paperwork.

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that $60 million of the $10 billion it has received as part of the stimulus package for spending to boost the economy will be set aside for a competition on autism research. In 2008, NIH spent $118 million on the disease, so that's a big increase. Most of the rest of the stimulus funds will be spent on proposals already in the hopper, but National Institute of Mental Health Director Thomas Insel says he hopes that the autism funding can be distributed in the next 18 months if proposals are good.

Elsewhere … The blog offered regular updates on the Texas vote on science standards related to the teaching of evolution. It chronicled difficulties among the Irish science community to justify current funding in hard economic times and a new database of Japanese research. And it noted some environmentalists' frustration with the Obama Administration, which, despite its green reputation, didn't endorse Earth Hour, an international effort to turn off the lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on 28 March.

For more stories from the Web's best source of science policy news, check out ScienceInsider.