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February 07 2014

00:47

Record Number of Wind Energy Projects Under Construction

Record growth in wind energy construction after an uncertain 2013

For American wind power, 2013 was the best of times, and the worst of times. On one hand, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) reports that 1.084 gigawatts (GW) of wind power came online in 2013, down fully 92 percent from the 13.131 GW of new capacity brought online in 2012.

Despite yet another expiration of the Production Tax Credit in Congress, there are a record number of wind energy projects under construtionNot surprisingly, we can thank Congress for the precipitous drop in new wind capacity last year due to uncertainty and delay in dealing with the Production Tax Credit (PTC). We can all recall fondly the looming threat of the “fiscal cliff” that ushered in the start of 2013. The PTC was allowed to expire on December 31st 2012, extended the next day and signed back into law on January 2nd. By then the damage had been done for 2013. According to the AWEA when the PTC is allowed to expire the wind energy industry typically experiences a 70 percent to 95 percent drop-off in new installations. 2013 bore out this historical trend.

Originally enacted as part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, Congress has extended the PTC five times and allowed it to expire 5 time, the last time on December 31, 2013. Given the “off” status of Congress’ on-again, off-again approach to energy governance, you may think things don’t look well for 2014 for wind energy growth. Fortunately, part of the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012, enacted in January 2013, allows eligible wind projects under construction before January 1st 2014 to qualify for the PTC.

Now the good news.

In it’s fourth quarter 2013 report, AWEA reports a record 12,000 megawatts (MW) of new wind energy capacity under construction at the end of 2013. Of that, 10,900 MW started construction in the forth quarter. AWEA also reports at least 60 Power Purchase Agreements for nearly 8000 MW were established between utilities and corporate buyers.

Congress and the PTC –  why bad governance must end

Even with a record number of new projects under construction, Congress needs to stop it’s short-sighted policy for the PTC. Not only does it adversely impact renewable energy development, it hampers overall economic growth. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, wind capacity more than tripled between 2007 and 2012, representing an average annual investment of $18 billion. There are now more than 550 manufacturing plants in 44 states producing 72 percent of all wind turbines and components in the United States. That’s a 25 percent increase since 2006. Furthermore, the cost of generating electricity from wind power has fallen by more than 40 percent in just the past three years.

Now it’s time for Congress to act responsibly on behalf of all Americans and offer long term support of the future of America and the new energy economy.

“Our current growth demonstrates how powerful the tax credit is at incentivizing investment in wind energy,” says AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “Now it’s up to Congress to ensure that growth continues by extending this highly successful policy.”

Let your Senators know you want action to support U.S. wind energy growth!

Image credit: ClarkMaxwell, courtesy flickr

The post Record Number of Wind Energy Projects Under Construction appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

January 30 2014

22:51

The Perilous Contradictions in the President’s 2014 State of the Union Address

Staying within prescribed climate change limits will be difficult under Obama’s all-of-the-above strategy. Although Obama may be the greenest President in American history he is not doing enough to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. In his State of the Union address, he did talk about the veracity of climate change and the need to further reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions, however his ongoing support for fossil fuel extraction is dangerous and imperils hopes that we can tackle the issue of climate change before we reach irreversible tipping points.

The President made many laudable points during his address including his desire to increase protections for air, water, land and American communities. He quite correctly explained that, “we have to act with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought and coastal cities dealing with floods.”

In his state of the union address, Obama touted his The President touted the growth of solar power saying: “[W]e’re becoming a global leader in solar too. Every four minutes another American home or business goes solar, every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced.”

The President has repeatedly stated his desire to put an end to tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry and use that money for fuels of the future (ie renewables). A point which he reiterated in his State of the Union address.

The President also touted his efficiency efforts including efficiency standards for new cars. He went on to suggest that he will be imposing new fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy weight trucks. However, their is an irreconcilable paradox between efficiency and the expansion of fossil fuel.

The President indicated that he wants to “cut red tape” to help businesses build factories that use natural gas. As he explained, “If [natural gas is] extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.”

While natural gas could be made far less destructive if we could eradicate (or substantially reduce) methane leaks associated with extraction, it is easier said than done.

The President made the point that the U.S. has reduced its carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth over the last 8 years. He further indicated that he wants to set new standards for power plants which would tighten restrictions on CO2 emissions.

All of the above – Obama can’t have it both ways

While efforts to reduce GHGs are beyond reproach, his overall strategy conceals an irreconcilable contradiction. Reducing GHGs is at odds with increasing domestic dirty energy exploitation. The simple fact is he cannot have it both ways.

Despite pleas from the leading U.S. environmental organizations to stop fossil fuel extraction, President Obama’s State of the Union address indicates that he intends to move forward with his “all of the above” energy strategy.

The reliance on natural gas and oil may undermine efforts to stay within prescribed scientific limits. The first limit concerns temperature increases, the second involves greenhouse gas emissions. If we are to keep warming below the internationally agreed upon upper threshold limit of 2°C, we will need to stop pumping greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. It is widely known that the primary contributors of GHGs are fossil fuels.

This is the conclusion reached by numerous studies including the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which was published late in September 2013. According to the IPCC report, we cannot add more than another 140 gigatons of carbon globally (500 GtCO2).

If we continue to exploit and burn fossil fuels at the current rate, we will considerably exceed these limits. If we burn only 20 percent of estimated available carbon reserves we will have already reached the upper allowable limit of carbon emissions. If the remaining reserves are exploited there will be no way to stop runaway climate change.

We cannot afford to move forward with planned coal projects or the tar sands, nor can we afford President Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy.

In fairness, President Obama acknowledges the veracity of climate change but he is constrained by the Republicans in congress and the general ignorance of many Americans. We cannot appreciate efforts to engage climate concerns without factoring political considerations. Obama may be advancing domestic fossil fuels for political reasons, not the least of which is the impending midterms. If he loses control of the Senate, his efforts to manage climate change will suffer a serious blow.

A Ceres report titled, “Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayers.” sees political factors as a major part of inaction. “[T]he reason for our collective shortsightedness is that the issue of climate change, and what to do about it, has become politicized in the U.S,” the report said.

Despite his considerable efforts (not the least of which is his climate action plan), the President can be faulted for failing to lead efforts to educate Americans. To create the political support we need to see, Americans need to be apprized of the implications of failing to act. Obama’s State of the Union address focused on education and this could be expanded to include efforts to explain the rationale for action and expose the ignorance of climate denying Republicans who control the House.

More than any other single factor, people respond to economic considerations. The focus on the economy and jobs in the President’s State of the Union speech is a reflection of this understanding. He needs to do a better job informing Americans about the price associated with climate change.

The President can do far more to help Americans apprehend the scope of the costs of failing to stay within the prescribed limits. Failing to heed these limits will result in a massive price tag that will cripple the U.S. (and global) economy and ultimately, irrevocably change life on Earth.

The costs of climate change

Evidence for these costs are not just part of some apocalyptic future, they are with us here and now. According to the the Ceres report, Federal and state disaster relief payouts are estimated to have cost every person in the U.S. more than $300. According to the report, the costs of climate change to taxpayers going forward will get worse and ultimately be “debilitating.” A cogent argument can be made for acting now, as one dollar spent on prevention saves four dollars in damages. From this perspective mitigation efforts are a far better investment than adaptation.

“Continuing to ignore these escalating risks may be more comfortable than confronting the challenges of climate change, but inaction is the far riskier and more expensive path,” the Ceres report concluded.

“[T]he debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did,” the President said.

However, “booming” oil and natural gas production is inconsistent with efforts to combat climate change. Reducing emissions while boosting domestic oil and gas production is a contradictory policy position. At a time when we most need the President to lead, we really got nothing new in this state of the Union speech.

The U.S. cannot simultaneously be a leading producer of fossil fuels and at the forefront of efforts to combat climate change. Selling the facts to the American public will not be easy, but it is necessary.

“The the shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require some tough choices along the way,” the President said. The question is whether he is prepared to make those tough choices.
——————
Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of The Green Market Oracle, a leading sustainable business site and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.

Image credit: scatteredView, courtesy flickr

The post The Perilous Contradictions in the President’s 2014 State of the Union Address appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

December 27 2013

01:35

Roundup of U.S. Environmental Achievements in 2013

In 2013, concerned people, organizations and companies in the U.S. and around the world helped move environmental causes forward. From new legislation to the protection of habitats and ecosystems, here is a sampling of U.S. environmental achievements in 2013.

The environmental achievements  of 2013 show that we can act as good stewards of the planetEnvironmental success stories

A new study showed that a solid majority of Americans accept the reality of global warming and are calling for action on climate change.

U.S. President Obama launched the most ambitious government wide climate action plan in the history of the nation. In the summer of 2013, Obama said, “As a president, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act.” The President’s Climate Action Plan includes limiting pollution from power plants, new standards for energy efficiency on public lands, doubling renewable energy, and working on leading efforts to forge international action.

The EPA’s new standards to reduce emissions from U.S. power plants are of great importance as these plants produce approximately 40 percent of American greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The U.S. joined the U.K. and the World Bank in a decision to limit financing to coal power plants around the world. The U.S. Treasury Department indicated that except for some rare circumstances, it will not finance any new coal projects.

A study published this summer suggested that global warming may have slowed somewhat over the past 15 years. The observed slow down may be at least partly attributable to a global phase out of potent greenhouse-trapping gases called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The eradication of CFCs is attributable to the Montreal Protocol. This finding can be interpreted as evidence that international agreements can be effective at reducing climate change causing GHGs.

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), another GHG have largely replaced CFCs and these are also being phased out. President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, forged a new historic agreement that outlines critical steps both nations will take to end the use of HFCs. Other world leaders are following suit.

The WWF highlighted a dozen environmental success stories in 2013. Here is a their summary of U.S. achievements:

  • People are getting involved with events designed to raise awareness and increase actions that will help reduce our environmental impacts. One such event was Earth Hour. On March 23, 2013, Americans joined hundreds of millions of people around the world who switched off their lights for one hour to show their commitment to the planet. American cities are among the 60 cities worldwide that are participating in the 2013 Earth Hour City Challenge. This challenge involves quantifiable actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand renewable energy, and/or increase energy efficiency.
  • The U.S. is also taking action in support of native people’s land and animal stewardship. One such initiative is the first tribal national park for Oglala Sioux in South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. This park will more than double the number of Bison stewarded by the tribe.
  • Responsible forest management and trade practices were adopted by International Paper. This brings the number of companies and communities involved in the WWF’s Global Forest & Trade Network to 200 worldwide.
  • In Alaska, Royal Dutch Shell shelved a plan to drill for oil and gas in mammal-rich Beaufort and Chukchi seas in 2013.
  • In July, U.S.-based multinational Coca-Cola renewed an agreement with the WWF through 2020 that will help to conserve the world’s freshwater resources and measurably improve Coca-Cola’s environmental performance across the company’s value chain. This includes agriculture, climate, packaging and water efficiency impacts.
  • President Obama is working to address wildlife crime including poaching and trafficking around the world and in Africa in particular.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services in Denver crushed six tons of illegal elephant ivory tusks, trinkets and souvenirs. This event highlighted U.S. intolerance to ivory trafficking and wildlife crime.

Here is a summary of the Sierra Club’s list of 10 clean energy success stories in 2013.

  • The American Electric Power announced it would add enough wind energy to power 200,000 homes in Oklahoma while providing substantial savings to customers.
  • Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado signed into law new legislation that will double the state’s renewable energy standard. Under the new law, 20 percent of the state’s energy will from clean sources.
  • In Minnesota, comprehensive legislation passed the state legislature that will boost the state’s solar electricity from 13 megawatts (MW) to 450 MW by 2020. This represents an increase of more than 1,200 percent.
  • Facebook announced that its Altoona, Iowa data center will be fully powered by wind by early 2015 due to a 138 megawatt wind farm in Wellsburg.
  • Nebraska’s huge wind potential is being tapped after Governor Dave Heineman signed progressive wind energy legislation.
  • The Nevada state legislature passed legislation to retire the Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant and bring an end to the importing of coal power from Arizona. The state will also expand local clean energy development.
  • California’s growing solar industry reached a major milestone with more than 150,000 homes and businesses with rooftop solar installations.
  • Environmental groups and Georgia’s Tea Party teamed up to create the Green Tea Coalition. The group pushed for the Georgia Public Service Commission to approve Georgia Power’s proposal to retire 20 percent of its coal plants and add 525 MW of solar power to Georgia by 2016.
  • The Long Island Power Authority is investing in 100 MW of new solar power on the island, and they have plans to add an additional 280 MW of renewable energy. This is the single largest investment in renewable energy in New York history. New York City also announced a 10 MW project at Staten Island’s Freshkills Park, once known as the world’s largest landfill.
  • Maryland is moving forward with clean energy legislation known as the Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 and Prince George’s County Council voted to require renewable energy in all new and renovated governmental facilities.

The Wilderness Society is at the forefront of efforts to protect forests, parks, refuges and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. Here is thier summary of their environmental success stories for 2013.

  • President Obama designated 5 new national monuments in March.
  • California’s Pinacles National Park, was upgraded from national monument status.
  • Washington state legislature passed a bill that protects 50,000 acres of land in the Teanaway River Valley, east of Seattle.
  • Sensitive areas in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska gained protection from oil and gas drilling when the Department of the Interior issued a final management plan that will protect 11 million acres of “Special Areas.” The BLM also announced a strategic plan to clean up more than 130 abandoned oil and gas well sites.
  • Utah’s red rock lands were protected by a federal judge who struck down a management plan that prioritized off-roading over Utah’s wildlands.
  • Yosemite National Park was removed from a logging bill after a public outcry.
  • A ban on new uranium mining was upheld by the court’s ruling on the Greater Grand Canyon
  • In Montana a bill introduced by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is moving forward. The bill will add 67,000 acres to protected areas in that state’s eastern fringe of the existing Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas.
  • The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is safe for another year despite repeated efforts by Governor  Parnell (R-AK) to launch seismic testing to search for oil and gas in the refuge. All three of Parnell’s attempts were rejected by the Interior Department.

Taken together, these victories give us reason to hope that we are capable of acting more responsibly to defend the planet for future generations.
——————-
Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of The Green Market Oracle, a leading sustainable business site and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.

Image credit: Chauncey Davis, courtesy flickr

The post Roundup of U.S. Environmental Achievements in 2013 appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

December 19 2013

20:09

All I Want for Christmas is a Price on Carbon

As 2013 winds down, there are promising signs that we may actually see a price on carbon in the U.S. In 2010, the cap-and-trade bill was killed in the Senate by the fossil fuel industry’s ubiquitous misinformation campaigns. However, a confluence of events have renewed hopes that we may yet see carbon pricing legislation that could significantly reduce U.S. carbon emissions.

Implementing a carbon tax is no longer a pipe dream but understood as a coming - and much needed - realityWhy we need a carbon tax

Paying for carbon pollution is the best way to put free markets to work to reign in emissions that cause global warming. There is a virtual consensus among economists who say that putting a price on carbon is the most effective way to fight global warming. The case for carbon pricing is strong, this point has been repeatedly made by the World Bank and a number of economists including a team from the London School of Economics.

According to most analyses, carbon pricing is the most powerful regulatory mechanism we have to bring down emissions without wreaking havoc on the economy. Putting a price on carbon will allow market forces to drive down demand for carbon rich industries like fossil fuels and help to buoy cleaner low carbon technologies like renewable energy.

On a very pragmatic level, carbon pricing could enable the U.S. to achieve the pledges it has made at UN climate talks. This includes carbon emissions cuts of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050.

Corporate juggernauts are onboard for putting a price on carbon

One of the reasons to be hopeful comes from a Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) report which indicates that at least 29 big American corporations are actively preparing for a carbon tax. The companies in the CDP report include powerhouses like American Electric Power, ConAgra Foods, Delta Air Lines, Duke Energy, DuPont, Google, General Electric, Microsoft, Walmart, Walt Disney and Wells Fargo.

What is most surprising is that this list also includes five major oil companies (BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Shell). While they can hardly be called champions of a low carbon economy, they are, if nothing else, economic realists. They see the writing on the wall, and their actions are a strong indication that they see some form of carbon tax as inevitable.

Make no mistake about it, fossil fuel companies are not embracing the common good, they are acting in their own best interest. Preparing for the expense of a carbon tax is simply good business and for many, it represents a great opportunity. To illustrate the point, ExxonMobil, America’s wealthiest corporation supports a carbon tax because it has a vested interest. As the nation’s biggest producer of natural gas, it would profit from carbon pricing. Such a scheme would inflate the costs to the coal and crude oil industries far more than natural gas.

Republicans may be left out in the cold

Support for a carbon tax from corporate interests including fossil fuel companies could be a real problem for the GOP’s political future. Republican opposition is a salient reason for the failure of cap-and-trade legislation in 2010. The GOP’s climate denial was underscored during the 2012 presidential elections and they continue to beat the climate denial drum to this day. As recently as Wednesday December 11, their ignorance was on display for all America to see. On this day, Republicans in the House of Representatives held sham hearings that called upon climate change denying scientists to reinforce their subterfuge.

Corporate interests are the traditional support base for Republicans, but as they embrace a carbon tax, Republicans will be left out of the cold if the companies responsible for global warming are seeking a carbon tax.

The Koch brothers may be the only friends that the GOP has left. The only U.S. supporters from big oil still onside with climate denial is Koch Industries, who continues to pressure Republicans to stay onboard the denial train. In 2012, all of the GOP’s presidential candidates had ties to the owners of Koch industries. Koch continues to use its various front groups to oppose science and resist any form of carbon tax. However, this oil company has repeatedly been exposed as the nation’s biggest purveyor of misinformation. Koch industries is a pariah even in the dirty and destructive fossil fuel industry. Republicans who embrace Koch may undermine their own election hopes and further tarnish the GOP’s already badly battered brand.

According to the latest research, Americans, including supporters of the Republican party, embrace the veracity of climate change and want government to do something about it. A Stanford University study showed that all states, even traditionally Republican states, acknowledge global warming and would like government to find ways to reduce climate change causing emissions. Recent election and ballot initiatives may also signal a change in American attitudes.

Republicans have effectively painted themselves into a corner. Changing public and corporate attitudes are stranding GOP policy positions. If Republican support is eroded they may not have enough political representation to thwart progress and this could in turn pave the way for carbon pricing.

Carbon trading in place and calls for emissions reduction from U.S. state governments

Carbon trading is increasing around the world with emissions trading schemes now operating in 35 countries, 13 states, provinces and cities. Europe already has the world’s biggest emissions market and China is launching its own schemes. In North America, new additions to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) doubled carbon trading in 2012. There are now 48 schemes internationally and when added to the 7 in China, a total of 880 million people, representing about 20 percent of global emissions will be part of some form of carbon pricing.

As reported by Reuters on December 16, fifteen U.S. states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington) are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to adopt their carbon-cutting policies.

As part of President Barack Obama’s climate change strategy announced in June, the EPA has been directed to develop federal emissions standards for existing power plants. Now a coalition of states have told the EPA that they would like to see a “system-wide” approach to cutting emissions rather than working on individual power plants.

The Clean Air Act has stipulated that states must develop their own plans to meet EPA standards. States have been asked to provide feedback ahead of a planned June 2014 proposal which is scheduled to be finalized a year later. States that are part of carbon pricing schemes want to make sure that the EPA gives them credit for being early adopters.

Benefits of price on carbon far outweigh cost

The most frequently cited argument against carbon pricing and carbon taxes is the cost. According to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the introduction of a carbon tax could cause fossil fuel companies to lose between $9 trillion an $12 trillion in profits by the end of the century. That is because a carbon tax would drive up costs and decrease demand, as the demand was reduced the prices would fall.

However, the Potsdam Research indicates that the cost to fossil fuel companies would be more than compensated for by carbon taxes (or carbon auction revenues). Their analysis reveals that such taxes would generate revenues equaling $21 trillion to $32 trillion by the end of the century. That translates to a net economic benefit of around $20 trillion, in addition to potentially staving off the worse impacts of climate change and providing citizens with cleaner air and water. The profits from carbon taxes could be used for green-energy projects and climate adaptation efforts.

There was a time in the recent past when putting a price on carbon was dismissed as a utopian dream, however, the overwhelming logic is becoming increasingly undeniable, even in the most unlikely places.

The introduction of a carbon tax is unlikely to occur without a political fight, but the weight of the evidence will inevitably triumph over ignorance.

——————
Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of The Green Market Oracle, a leading sustainable business site and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.

Image credit: Gustavo Madico, courtesy flickr

The post All I Want for Christmas is a Price on Carbon appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

November 19 2013

00:07

Coal and Climate – a Tale of Two Summits: UNFCCC Chief Figueres Addresses Coal Conference in Poland

Coal and climate don't mix. UNFCCC chief addresses International Coal Summit in Warsaw, Poland, one of the most polluting countries in EuropeCoal and climate in Warsaw

Perhaps one of the biggest ironies at the ongoing COP19 climate conference is the open acceptance of corporate sponsorship by Poland, this year’s host country for the talks – sponsors that are, as Giles Parkinson points out in RenewEconomymostly fossil fuel companies as Lotos, a Polish oil company and brown coal producer PGE.

In fact, Poland has a rather spotty record on climate, epitomized by the start today of the World Coal Association’s International Coal and Climate Summit - the ”other” climate summit hosted by the Polish government that has called into question Poland’s own role in climate policy and raised the ire of more than a few environmental advocates.

Given that Poland depends almost exclusively on coal for its power production may make it no surprise that Poland would host an international industry “summit” essentially promoting clean coal, but the timing is another issue. In an open letter to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Fiqueres Greenpeace called the timing “outrageous”:

“It is outrageous that the World Coal Summit… will take place at the beginning of the second week of the climate negotiations…  We would not like events promoting the most polluting of industries to become associated with solving climate change. While we recognize that the focus of the Coal and Climate Summit is so-called “clean coal”, in our view this ranks among the most desperate of myths spun by the coal industry in a frantic bid to survive.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) also called out the unfortunate juxtaposition in Warsaw between COPO19 and the World Coal Association event:

“The summit’s focus on continued reliance on coal is directly counter to the goal of these climate negotiations,” said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy for UCS, “which is to dramatically reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Every year countries come together at these negotiations to find a global solution to climate change, and yet our host is embracing a chief cause of the problem.”

Coal industry must radically reform

Questionably timed on purpose or not,  UNFCCC chief Figures took the opportunity to address the coal industry directly, saying the industry “can and must” radically reform and diversify to avoid the top-end, worst consequences of climate change.

 ”Let me be clear from the outset that my joining you today is neither a tacit approval of coal use, nor is it a call for the immediate disappearance of coal. But I am here to say that coal must change rapidly and dramatically for everyone’s sake,” Figueres told the assembled coal company CEOs.

Speaking of the latest  Cimate Assessment Report recently published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fiqeures said:

“The IPCC’s findings have been endorsed by 195 governments, including all of those in which you operate. We are at unprecedented greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere; our carbon budget is half spent. If we continue to meet energy needs as we have in the past, we will overshoot the internationally agreed goal to limit warming to less than two degree Celsius.”

In her speech, Figueres made clear the existential nature of climate change, even for coal companies:

“All of this tells me that the coal industry faces a business continuation risk that you cannot afford to ignore. Like any other industry, you have a fiduciary responsibility to your workforce and shareholders. And by now it is abundantly clear that further capital expenditures on coal can only go ahead if they are compatible with the 2 degree Celsius limit.”

Diversify, keep it in the ground

On the point of leaving coal behind as the best future for humanity, Figueres said:

“Some major oil, gas and energy technology companies are already investing in renewables, and I urge those of you who have not yet started to do this to join them. By diversifying your portfolio beyond coal, you too can produce clean energy that reduces pollution, enhances public health, increases energy security, and creates new jobs.”

“Look past next quarter’s bottom line and see the next generation’s bottom line.” 

Get the full  Figueres’ full speech to the International Coal and Climate

 

Image credit: CEE Bankwatch Network, courtesy flickr

The post Coal and Climate – a Tale of Two Summits: UNFCCC Chief Figueres Addresses Coal Conference in Poland appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

July 03 2013

21:08

Making Good on Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan, Part 2

Part 2 of a discussion from expert attorneys and policy advisors on the course of climate and environmental policy in light of president Obama's National Climate Action PlanThis is the second in a three-part series on energy, environment and US law in light of the launch of President Obama’s National Climate Action Plan. In it, we continue our discussion with Robert McKinstry, Jr., Practice Leader for Ballard, Spahr’s Climate Change and Sustainability Initiative.

In Part 1, McKinstry began recounting the long, arduous path of three major federal initiatives via which the Obama Administration aims to significantly reduce greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions across society and the economy: the issuance of the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), issuance of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule (MATS), and the EPA’s efforts to regulate and reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act (CAA). Having discussed CSAPR, we move on to the second and third of these federal regulatory initiatives.

MATS: the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule

Finalized by EPA in December 2011, the Utility MACT or “Mercury and Air Toxics Standards Rule” (MATS) requires existing and new coal-fueled power plants to limit emissions of toxic air pollutants, such as mercury, arsenic and metals, by installing the best available emissions control technology by 2015.

Initially enacted in 1990, the Clean Air Act  (CAA) empowers the EPA to establish the standards and guidelines via which state governments develop plans to regulate toxic air pollutants. However, though proven technologies existed, no federal standards requiring power plants to limit their emissions of toxic air pollutants had been established until the MATS ruling.

MATS finalizes standards to reduce power emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants under sections 111 and 112 of the CAA. Setting emissions limits based on the best available control technology (BACT), it requires the EPA to set emissions standards for existing sources “that are at least as stringent as the emissions reductions achieved by the average of the top 12 percent best controlled sources.”

Though CSAPR and MATS imposes additional costs on polluters, the EPA’s new source performance standards (NSPS) apply only to new and modified power plants. The omission of existing power plants actually creates a perverse market incentive, McKinstry explained. Excluding existing coal and oil-fueled power plants from NSPS provides an incentive for power utilities to keep older, more polluting plants up and running rather than modifying or decommissioning them or replacing them with new, cleaner power generation capacity.

Massachusetts vs. EPA: A landmark ruling

As opposed to mercury and air toxic emissions, the EPA has not and said it doesn’t intend to set ambient air quality standards for carbon and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, standards which typically precede the establishment of emissions limits (national performance standards), reduction targets and state implementation plans to realize them. More fundamentally, the EPA’s effort to deem CO2 a pollutant has been vociferously challenged in the courts for some 13 years’ running.

Concerned with rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere, the Clinton Administration determined that the Clean Air Act could be applied to CO2 and other greenhouse gases back in 1998. Opponents thwarted any attempts to move forward, however.

That changed in April 2007 in Massachusetts vs. the EPA, wherein the US Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision that was deemed “a sharp rebuke to the Bush administration,” ruled that not only does the EPA have authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate carbon and greenhouse gas emissions from new automobiles and light-duty vehicles, but that it could not avoid doing so without providing a scientific basis for inaction. It also gave the EPA the leeway to move forward without having to establish national ambient air quality standards for carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, McKinstry noted.

By concluding that the EPA could consider CO2 and other greenhouse gases pollutants, the Supreme Court’s ruling was a precedent-setting milestone in the effort to regulate US carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. It paved the way for the EPA to not only establish standards and guidelines for mobile sources of CO2, but for also for stationary sources, such as power plants, oil refineries, other industrial plants, and factories. It would not go unchallenged.

As the EPA began the long, arduous process of developing a broader, more comprehensive institutional framework and mechanisms to limit and reduce CO2 emissions, the Coalition for Responsible Regulation Inc. and other plaintiffs challenged the Supreme Court ruling. Of even greater import, the Bush administration issued an advance notice of rulemaking that delayed implementation.

The situation changed radically when President Obama took office. EPA began “providing a number of opportunities for stakeholders to have a say in how it should actually implement this,” McKinstry recounted. “They reached a settlement, agreeing to regulate mobile sources under rule 202 [of the CAA] and for heavy duty vehicle emissions, which the Bush admin refused to do,” as well as agreeing to limit carbon and greenhouse gas emissions limits and standards to new, not existing or even modified, power plants.

Significantly, one of the first, and fundamental, things the Obama Administration EPA did in the wake of Massachusetts vs. EPA was make an endangerment finding, concluding that carbon dioxide (CO2) and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can threaten the health and well-being of the American public.

Setting limits on fossil fuel power plants’ carbon emissions

As McKinstry elaborated, the EPA in March 2012 proposed a limit on carbon and GHG emissions of 1,000 tons per megawatt-hour (MWh) for new source coal-fired power plants of greater than 25 MW capacity. Based on the emissions vented to the atmosphere by current commercial natural gas combined cycle power plants, the EPA watered this down, reasoning that new coal-fueled generation capacity may be desirable for reasons of national energy security, drastic changes in market conditions or other factors.

The EPA said it will maintain the new standard, but gave fossil fuel power plant operators the option of meeting it based on 30-year averaging, McKinistry noted.

“New coal-fired or pet coke-fired units could meet the standard either by employing carbon capture and storage (CCS) of approximately 50 percent of the CO2 in the exhaust gas at start up, or through later application of more effective CCS to meet the standard on average over a 30-year period,” the EPA wrote in its proposed rulemaking.

Meanwhile, opponents were mustering their resources. In total, “a cluster of four rulings was appealed by opposing interests,” McKinstry explained: the EPA’s endangerment finding, the “Tailpipe Rule” in which it set emissions standards for car and light-duty vehicles, and the “Timing Rule” and Tailoring Rule,” which ease requirements for major stationary sources of greenhouse gases to obtain construction and operating permits.

Initially rebuffed in December 2011, the Coalition for Responsible Regulation and other plaintiffs’ appeal of the Supreme Court’s decision in Massachusetts vs. EPA was heard in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last year. The Appeals court in June 2012 upheld the Supreme Court’s decision and subsequently, in December, denied a petition to rehear the case.

The Coalition of Responsible Regulation hasn’t quit yet. In April, it  filed a petition requesting the Supreme Court rehear to review the Appeals court’s ruling. Word in the legal community is that the petition is unlikely to be accepted, according to McKinstry.

The tale doesn’t end there, however…To be continued

The post Making Good on Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan, Part 2 appeared first on Global Warming is Real.

June 19 2013

00:08

Hawaii’s Fishermen: Scapegoats for Forces Outside their Control

Are Hawaii's fishermen the scapegoats over environmental problems of which they have no control?Climate change is affecting fisheries in the Western Pacific and around the world, but a host of other factors, including land use, are threatening fisheries and the health and integrity of marine ecosystems. Aiming for sustainable fisheries, marine policymakers, resource managers, fishermen and other stakeholders are increasingly looking to take a more holistic, integrated approach to fisheries management, as evidenced during the latest meeting of the Western Regional Fishery Management Council (WRFMC) meeting, which was held in Oahu.

Often blamed for overexploiting fish stocks, local fishermen in Hawaii are keenly aware of external impacts on the health and integrity of marine ecosystems and fish populations. At the latest WRFMC meeting in Honolulu, they argued in support of taking a more comprehensive ecosystems management approach, specifically zooming in on how land use and associated runoff from cities, agriculture and industry are harming marine ecosystems and fisheries.

“Hawaii fishermen asked policymakers to address how runoff caused by land development harms reefs, fisheries and oceans when they consider how to cope with the effects of climate change,” the AP’s Audrey Mcavoy wrote in news report.

Adopting an ecosystems-based approach to fisheries management

Established by Congress in 1976 per the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act (MSA), the WRFMC is one of eight Fishery Management Councils in the US. Its regulatory authority stretches from the Pacific Ocean waters off Hawaii to include those off Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. MSA was amended in 1996 “to prevent overfishing, minimize by-catch and protect the fish stocks and habitat.”

Adopting a bottom-up approach to fisheries and marine resource management, the Council is made up of 16 Council members, which draw on input from local and community fishermen and the broader public, as well as marine scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Pelagic Fisheries Research Program.

Local fishermen have wound up being “scapegoats” for declining fish stocks and catches, one fishermen told committee members, arguing “that what happens on land is one cause of deteriorating reefs.”  But he says fishermen can’t control what happens ‘up mauka,’ or “toward the mountains,” Mcavoy reported from the Regional Ecosystem Advisory Committee for Hawaii fisheries meeting.

Said local fishermen Carl Jellings,

“We fight every day so we can continue fishing. It’s getting harder and harder because more things are happening in the environment that we’re getting blamed for.”

Push for public-private collaboration on climate change adaptation strategies

Scientists at the meeting highlighted the rise in global mean temperatures and a drop in local rainfall, pointing out how different fish species differ in their ability to adapt to climate change.

They also highlighted that ongoing increases in carbon and greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in ocean acidification, putting additional pressure on coral reefs and marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

These threats are very real and pose very difficult problems that involve fundamental trade-offs and controversy, they added.

The committee drafted recommendations proposing public-private sector collaboration to craft climate change adaptation strategies. These are to be considered by WRFMC members.

A proposal that the state also study Hawaii’s carrying capacity – how many people can live in and visit Hawaii without irrevocably harming natural resources – was also adopted. “How are you going to say we’ve got to reduce 1 million tourists to be sustainable? Or 10 million tourists to become sustainable? How are you going to tell the hotel industry that? The tourism industry that?” Jellings was quoted as saying.

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June 11 2013

18:33

UN, World Bank, IEA Gear Up to Achieve Sustainable Energy for All

The UN and World Bank seek to motivate the international community toward sustainable energy with the "Sustainable Energy for All" initiativeLast year UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon created and set in motion “Sustainable Energy for All,” a global initiative that aims to realize what to many may seem irreconcilable goals: mitigating climate change by fostering deployment of green, renewable energy systems and boosting energy efficiency while also stimulating socioeconomic development and growth by providing access to modern energy services for all those who lack it.

A year on, some 170 national governments have signed on to SE4ALL, pledging to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by doubling renewable energy capacity and energy efficiency, and providing access to modern energy services to all those living in their countries. Private sector businesses and other organizations have pledged to invest billions of dollars to achieve SE4ALL’s goals. Aiming to raise the public profile of the initiative, the UN General Assembly has declared the decade 2014-2014 a “Decade of Sustainable Energy for All.”

While notable gains in energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment have been made worldwide, rapid industrialization, population growth and ongoing growth in the use of fossil fuels has all but negated progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stimulating green, responsible socioeconomic development. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose 1.4 percent in 2012 to a record high of 31.6 billion tons, that despite reductions in the world’s developed economies (emissions in the the US were at their lowest level since the mid-1990s), the IEA announced while presenting its latest annual World Energy Outlook in Stockholm this week.

An institutional “Sustainable Energy for All” framework emerges

Fossil fuels continue to account for more than 80 percent of the world’s energy mix, while “a population four times the size of the United States still lives without access to electricity,” according to the recently launched Global Tracking Framework, a multi-agency effort led by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Bank.

SE4ALL’s ambitious goals are to help foster a doubling of energy efficiency, a doubling of renewable energy capacity and universal access to modern energy services by 2030. Putting an institutional framework and mechanisms in place to monitor and track progress and share information is critical to success. To that end, the International Energy Agency (IEA) and World Bank launched the Global Tracking Framework.

“The Sustainable Energy for All initiative is a rallying cry to tackle the twin crises of energy poverty and climate change, and this Global Tracking Framework is an important first response,” Maria van der Hoeven, IEA executive director and a member of the Advisory Board of the SE4ALL initiative, was quoted in a press release.

“By measuring the scale of the challenge, it provides a crucial reference against which the partners of the SE4ALL initiative, and all of us, can track progress towards building a cleaner energy system for all. The IEA has advocated stronger action to tackle energy poverty for more than a decade as part of its World Energy Outlook, but more needs to be done to tackle the problem. It is a moral imperative and we cannot afford to ignore it.”

Local challenges to achieving global “Sustainable Energy for All”

Renewable energy made up 18 percent of the global energy mix and energy efficiency had increased an average 1.3 percent per year since 1990 as of 2010, according to the Global Tracking Framework’s initial report. An estimated 17 percent of the global population lacked access to electricity and 41 percent “still relied on wood or other biomass to cook and heat their homes.”

Focused, determined action is needed worldwide if SE4ALL goals are to be achieved, but “the nature of the challenge differs across countries and, for each of the SE4ALL goals,” the report authors note. Looking to address this, the report singles out “20 ‘high-impact’ countries that are crucial to making major progress.”

In addition, the IEA and World Bank found that realizing SE4ALL goals will require green energy investment increases of at least US$600 billion per year out to 2030 as compared to the current level. Of that total, investment in boosting energy efficiency will need to increase $394 billion, that for renewable energy by $174 billion per year, that for universal access to electricity by $45 billion per annum, and that for universal access to modern cooking by $4.4 billion per annum.

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May 07 2013

18:15

Rising Temperature, Sea Level On Track to Wipe Out Major World Cities Former Shell Exec Tells UN

Global community risks catastrophic sea level rise if current fossil fuel and c02 emissions stay on trackConsensus among the world’s leading climate scientists has established a 2°C rise in global mean temperature as the tipping point for runaway climate change, but even that could result in catastrophic rises in sea level of as much as 6-7 meters (23 feet), energy expert Ian Dunlop and policy planner and scholar Tapio Kanninen told audiences at packed meetings and panel discussions at UN headquarters in New York City organized by the Finnish Mission to the United Nations, the Club of Rome, the Temple of Understanding and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Sea level rises of 6-7 meters would wipe out coastal cities, including London, New York, Shanghai and Tokyo, and that’s even if we could somehow manage to limit global average temperature rise to 2°C this century, Dunlop and Kanninen told shocked audiences at the UN, according to a Club of Rome report.

On track for 4C rise in global temps; 230-foot rise in sea level

If current trends in fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions continue, global temperatures would rise as much as 4°C or more. That would lead to sea level rises of up to 70 meters (230 feet), Dunlop and Kanninen stated as they “presented new evidence demonstrating the severity of the crisis of global sustainability and global survivability,” the topic of discussion for the mix of diplomats, political decision makers, sustainable development experts and NGOs who attended the meetings.

Dunlop’s experience in the field includes over 30 years working as an engineer and senior executive at the Royal Shell Group. He also is the former leader of Australia’s Emissions Trading Panel.

Commenting on the latest scientific evidence, “Today’s leaders refuse to accept that climate change science and the concept of Peak Oil condemns the international community to a catastrophic future,” Dunlop said.

“Why are we still exploring for fossil fuels since we can only burn 20-30% of reserves if we wish to keep climate change to the 2°C limit, while current policies will result in warming of 4-6°C?”

Perhaps even more shocking a 4°C rise in temperature results in a global human carrying capacity of 0.5-1 billion as compared to a present-day human population of 7 billion.

Urgently needed: drastic economic restructuring, emergency response mechanisms

Scientists have identified a number of climate change tipping points the reaching of which “exponentially and dramatically accelerate global warming trends,” Kanninen, a fomer long-time UN staff member and policy planner, pointed out. These will be reached in “a matter of years, not decades. We must take action before it is too late to avert a catastrophe,” he was paraphrased as saying.

Current policy measures and institutional frameworks are incapable of avoiding or preventing these scenarios from playing out, the pair emphasized. What’s needed, they said, is “a change in the entire system plus an emergency response.

“If runaway climate change leads to rising sea levels the next move has to be to urgently overhaul the UN and our global governance system so it is capable of dealing with rapidly changing global and regional conditions.”

 

Image credit: Cherrylynx, courtesy flickr

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August 13 2012

17:04

What To Expect When You’re Electing: Representative Paul Ryan

With the selection of Wisconsin Republican Representative Paul Ryan has his running mate, Mitt Romney has effectively pushed his campaign into the climate change denying fringe. While Romney hasn’t been considered a friend of the environment since he began running for national office, his tendency towards flip-flopping made some of his more extreme, anti-environment positions rather toothless. But Paul Ryan is someone that isn’t just all talk, and what he’s saying will be a disaster for our environment.

While Ryan isn’t necessarily a complete climate science denier, he is certainly classified as a “skeptic,” and oftentimes has used anecdotal evidence to say that we’re making too much of a fuss over something that may or may not be happening.

Let’s start by following the money on Rep. Paul Ryan. Since 1989, he has received $65,500 from Koch Industries, making them his sixth largest campaign donor. In total, he has pulled in a little over $244,000 from the oil and gas industries.

Those finances are clearly represented in his voting history in Congress. Here are a few of Ryan’s most anti-environment, pro-industry votes since being elected:

2000 – Voted against implementing Kyoto Protocol
2001 – Voted against raising fuel economy standards
2001 – Voted against barring oil drilling in ANWR
2003 – Voted to speed up “forest thinning” projects
2005 – Voted to deauthorize “critical habitats” for endangered species
2005 – Voted to speed up oil refinery permitting
2008 – Voted against environmental education grants
2008 – Voted against tax incentives for renewable energy
2008 – Voted against tax incentives for energy conservation
2009 – Voted against enforcing CO2 limits for air pollution
2011 – Voted NO on allowing EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions
2011 – Voted YES to opening up the Outer Continental Shelf for oil drilling
2011 – Voted to eliminate climate advisors for the president
2011 – Voted in favor of allowing Keystone XL Pipeline


Ryan’s proposals and voting history are clearly being dictated by the Koch brothers, and the money that their companies continue to throw behind Ryan’s campaigns. But his actions in Congress are almost docile when compared to his activities outside of Washington, D.C.

From Think Progress:
  

In a December 2009 op-ed during international climate talks, Ryan made reference to the hacked University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit emails. He accused climatologists of a “perversion of the scientific method, where data were manipulated to support a predetermined conclusion,” in order to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.” Because of spurious claims of conspiracy like these, several governmental and academic inquiries were launched, all of which found the accusations to be without merit. [Paul Ryan, 12/11/09]

In the same anti-science, anti-scientist December 2009 op-ed, Ryan argued, “Unilateral economic restraint in the name of fighting global warming has been a tough sell in our communities, where much of the state is buried under snow.” Ryan’s line is especially disingenuous because he hasn’t been trying to sell climate action, he’s been spreading disinformation. [Paul Ryan, 12/11/09]
 

But the story of Paul Ryan goes much, much deeper than this. It turns out that Ryan is a huge fracking supporter, and isn’t just to benefit his benefactors. Ryan actually has a financial stake in companies that are currently pillaging the state of Wisconsin. From Badger Democracy:
  

Ryan’s 2011 SEI shows his most significant interests are in four companies, all owned by his father-in-law, Dan Little (according to Oklahoma Secretary of State corporate registration). Little is a prominent oil industry attorney (who refused comment to Badger Democracy). The total value of these interests are $350K – $800K, with annual profit of $40K – $130K:

Ava O Limited Mining Co (8% interest) – valued at $100K – $250K; paying out $15K – $50K in profit.

Blondie & Brownie, LLC (10% interest) – valued at $100K – $250K; paying out $5K – $15K in profit.

Little Land Co., LLC – valued at $50K – $100K; paying out $5K – $15K in profit.

Red River Pine Timber (7% interest) – valued at $50K – $100K; no reported profit or interest.

Also owned by Ryan are Mineral Rights in Oklahoma valued at $50K – $100K; and returning $15K – 50K in profit last year.

An examination of Ryan’s 2000 SEI and 2007 SEI show a large increase in the value of these investments. This increase corresponds directly with Ryan’s growing power over the Federal Budget process.
 

No matter how you look at it, Paul Ryan is an environmental disaster. His personal and professional wealth both hinge upon investments in the dirty energy industry, and his track record as a U.S. Representative shows how this will affect his policy decisions.

August 11 2012

17:59

Romney’s New Campaign Strategy: Attack Green Jobs During Massive Unemployment

Since President Obama took office, industry-funded think tanks and faux grassroots organizations, along with oil-friendly politicians have been collectively demanding to know “where are the jobs?” And with last month’s jobs report showing an increase in the U.S. unemployment rate (even though there was a net job gain for the month, making 28 consecutive months of private sector job growth) it would be unwise for any politician seeking national office to attack programs to put Americans back to work. But Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is doing exactly that.

On the campaign trail recently, Romney took a few jabs at Obama, claiming that the president has an “unhealthy obsession with green jobs,” a claim that numerous media outlets are warning will not resonate well with the American public.

The Associated Press points out, as we mentioned last week, that Romney’s energy plan (which is being guided by industry insiders) would cut tax breaks for renewable energy sources like wind energy, while expanding tax breaks for oil companies. AP also noted that the American public, by a two-to-one margin, favor renewable energy over fossil fuels, showing that Romney’s positions go against the majority of Americans.

While most media outlets have only given cursory attention to Romney’s comments about Obama’s alleged “obsession” with green jobs, it's not a remark that should be taken lightly. In fact, it tells us a lot about what we can expect from Romney should he win the presidency.


The green economy is one that has never really been given a chance to survive in our "free market system." While stimulus money has flowed to many renewable energy companies, the lack of a green infrastructure has caused these projects to remain stagnant.

Investment in green jobs shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We could create millions of American jobs – jobs that can’t be outsourced; We could reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and reduce our oil imports from hostile nations; And we would help reduce the country’s carbon footprint. None of those are partisan issues, as both major parties have talked about the need to do all of the above.

That’s not hyperbole, either. Studies abound about the benefits of investing in a green economy. But they also all say the same thing – More has to be done to create a delivery system for renewable energy. At the moment, there is no major infrastructure for delivering renewable energy to the masses, leaving the vast majority of the country reliant on fossil fuels to power their lives.

There are very few, if any, drawbacks to investing in clean energy, green jobs, and renewable technology. The benefits listed above should be enough to get any American on board, as long as that American isn’t a fossil fuel CEO.

Following the money on the issue helps us understand why we’re still so far behind in the green economy sector. USA Today has the numbers:
  

Last year alone ConocoPhillips, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, Chevron and the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group that represents these energy giants, used $66.2 million for lobbying efforts, nearly 44% of the $150 million total spent by the oil and gas industry, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. Collectively, nearly 800 lobbyists worked on behalf of oil and gas interests in 2011.

The total towers over the $53 million spent by what the center classifies as the "miscellaneous energy" industry — which counts the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the American Wind Energy Association as its members. The grouping includes 751 lobbyists.
 

The Obama administration has also met fierce opposition on their renewable energy and green jobs investments by industry-funded think tanks and astroturf organizations like Americans for Prosperity and ALEC. These groups are able to outspend their green counterparts, and in Washington, D.C., that gives them access to a much larger microphone.

And that brings us back to Romney. He’s already shown us that he’s willing to employ dirty energy industry insiders to craft his energy policy, and his claims about Obama’s “obsession” with green jobs is an extension of his pandering to the oil and gas industries. After all, they have the finances that he needs to keep his campaign alive through November.

Reports from earlier this year tell us that at least 3 million American workers are employed in the “green economy” sector, most of which are with private sector firms. Romney’s attack on Obama is an attack on the 3 million workers in this industry.

August 02 2012

20:09

What To Expect When You’re Electing: Mitt Romney’s Energy Advisors

In the last few months, the press has been drawing a lot of parallels between presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and former Republican President George W. Bush. And they have plenty of reasons for doing so. Romney has already tapped many of the same Bush economic and foreign policy advisers, and rumors were swirling earlier this year that Romney would tap Bush’s energy advisers as well.

As it turns out, those rumors are true.

Climate Progress has compiled a list of people who have been tapped, or will likely be tapped, by Romney for his energy team. The roster is a virtual “Dream Team” of dirty energy industry representatives from the coal industry, the shale gas industry, the oil industry, mountaintop removal mining companies, and lobbyists - all of whom were close advisers and friends of George W. Bush.

The most terrifying name on the list is American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard. Climate Progress points out that Gerard has been a longtime supporter of Romney, and that Romney considers Gerard a close, personal friend. Gerard’s stated goals, goals that we have to assume he’ll pressure Romney to fulfill, include placing an oil lobbyist in every district in America, opening up all federal lands for oil drilling, and removing many existing safety regulations.


The pick for Romney’s chief energy adviser is Harold Hamm, the head of oil-shale company Continental Resources. As the 78th richest man in the world, Hamm already has a significant amount of power, but being a chief adviser to the President of the United States would give him all the power he needs. His top priority, and the priority he says a Romney administration would approve immediately, is the Keystone XL pipeline, which would provide a gigantic financial benefit for Hamm.

Then we have Tom Farrell from the coal industry, a Romney campaign adviser, who wants to roll back the Clean Air Act and restrict the EPA from regulating harmful mercury emissions.

David Wilkins, a tar sands lobbyist, handles Canadian oil issues for the Romney campaign. He is also a card-carrying member of ALEC, who has worked to create special legal loopholes for lobbyists to push anti-environmental bills.

Rounding out the team are lobbyists Linda Stuntz, Jeffrey Holmstead, Greg Mankiw, and Jim Talent, all working on behalf of sectors within the dirty energy industry. Collectively, they have pushed for approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, opening federal lands to drilling (including offshore drilling in protected areas), and reducing pollution controls and taking away what little power the EPA has left to wield.

Romney has already proposed plans that would greatly benefit the industries from which his advisers came from, including an expansion of the oil industry tax breaks and subsidies, effectively raising the annual giveaway to about $8 billion a year (up from an estimated $4 billion a year). His tax break plan would give another $2.3 billion to the top five oil companies alone.

On top of that tax giveaway, Romney has also proposed a plan that would exempt income made overseas from U.S. taxes, which would be an enormous boon to the oil industry. Last year alone, Exxon, Chevron and ConocoPhillips made a combined $76 billion overseas, and under Romney’s plan, they could bring that money back into the U.S. without having to pay a dime in taxes.

And at the same time he’s proposing these huge gifts to the dirty energy industry, he’s also touting a plan that would strip tax credits away from renewable energy projects, specifically the production tax credit for wind energy. Not only would this cripple that renewable energy sector, it would also cost the U.S. an estimated 37,000 jobs that are funded by that tax credit.

As I pointed out in part 2 of this series, Romney’s environmental policies as governor of Massachusetts were surprisingly progressive. But when he made the decision to run for national office, his policies fell more in line with the far right of the Republican Party, not unlike Senator John McCain during his bid for the Republican nomination. The fact that Romney is looking to the same energy advisers that served President Bush shows that his policies will likely shift even further, becoming almost indistinguishable from those of the dirty energy industry.

History is the best lesson for the future, and going forward, Mitt Romney needs to remember one very important number: 22. That was the percent of the American population that approved of George W. Bush when he left office, the lowest approval rating upon leaving office in the history of American presidential polling. If Romney chooses the same path as Bush, he could easily be looking at similar poll numbers in the very near future.

April 24 2012

17:27

Drying Up: How Should China Deal with Growing Threat of Water Scarcity & Drought?


China grapples with water scarcity With its massive population, China’s focused on massive infrastructure projects to address what remain growing problems of water scarcity and drought. In the spirit of a grand scheme that dates back to early medieval Chinese times, China’s government is now looking to build the South-North Transfer, a vast new water pipeline that would transport massive amounts from the country comparatively water-rich south to its more water-starved north, according to a ClimateWire report (subscription required).

Pressed by population growth, climate change and rapid industrialization, China’s now facing a water crisis, one that feats of large-scale engineering alone will not solve, according to “Drying Up,” a new Asian Development Bank report.

The incidence of frequent and severe droughts is on the rise in China, yet it is China’s increasing demand for water, over-extraction of water and its inefficient use that pose the greatest threats to sustainable management. “Over extraction and inefficient use of water resource is creating water shortages in cities and putting large populations at risk when a drought occurs, the ADB notes in a press release.

“The country’s traditional approach of building more infrastructure is not enough to fill the widening gap between water supply and demand,” said Qingfeng Zhang, ADB’s Lead Water Resources Specialist and one of the authors of the report. “An integrated water resources management approach is needed to bring balance and prepare safety net supplies for droughts.”

The Chinese government has been trying to reduce Chinese society’s water use, but doing so is proving very difficult. Local governments are not taking advantage of opportunities to mitigate the impacts of these extreme weather events. Meanwhile, the rapidly industrializing country is experiencing “increasingly frequent and intense droughts.”

“Between 2001 and 2006, over 400 cities in the PRC suffered perennial water shortages and 11 suffered severe water shortages,” the report authors point out. “The 2011 drought which affected the Yangtze River left 3.5 million people with minimal drinking water. The 2009 drought affected 60 million people and compromised 6.5 million hectares of land. Between 2004 and 2007, droughts cost the PRC an estimated $8 billion of annual direct economic losses.”

Mitigating the Effects of Drought, Shortages: Disaster Preparedness, Demand Management, Efficient Use

Drawing on experience inside China, in “Drying Up” the ADB water resources team proposes a three-pronged approach for reducing the impacts of drought in China.

  • Strengthen its disaster preparedness, including risk monitoring and early warning systems, to reduce response time and costs incurred by losses, damages and rebuilding.
  • Manage demand through water savings, building better capture and storage facilities, re-evaluating tariffs, and boosting water efficiencies in agriculture, industry, and cities.
  • Take an integrated approach to water management at the municipal level based on water allocation schemes and monitoring that ensure nature, people, and the economy have secure supplies.

The authors draw on the experience of Guiyang residents in the southwestern Guizhou province to illustrate the social, economic and ecological benefits such an approach offers. A severe drought affected the city in 2010, leaving people without drinking water. Some 170,000 needed rations of grain to survive.

The municipality would have had 20% more water during the drought had Guiyang government officials taken the step of requiring the use of water-saving fixtures in residential and commercial buildings, imposing higher industrial water efficiency standards and reducing system leakage.

“Demand management alongside a system that monitors flows and water allocation can propel the country to greater resilience,” according to the report. “This would significantly close the supply-demand gap, which cannot be done by infrastructure alone.”

*Graphic courtesy: ADB – Water for All

April 05 2012

17:45

Healthier Polar Bears Mean Less PCBs


PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) were widely used as cooling fluids and insulators in transformers and electric motors in our not-so-distant past. Studies found that PCBs acted as a neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor in humans and animals, and exposure to the pollutant resulted in low birth weights and developmental delays.

The chemicals were fat-soluble and were more concentrated the higher up in the food chain you looked. As a result, industrialized nations began banning PCBs thirty years ago. Then in the era of solar panels and global warming, they were banned in May 2004 from global production by the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Polar bears suffered from PCBs in particular, because they needed great stores of fat to survive the arctic winters. Added to that was the problem that their primary food source, seal, was also high in fat. This hit polar bear cubs particularly hard, because their mother’s milk was very fatty. The beleaguered species was already being affected by melting Arctic ice and shrinking habitat, and environmental pollutants were one more item to add to the list. Now there’s a flicker of hope in polar bear futures: PCB levels seem to be falling.

“The levels of PCB compounds in blood samples from females are on the decline,” says Jenny Bytingsvik, a biologist at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) who is completing her doctoral dissertation on the findings. “For newborn, vulnerable cubs, this is a very positive trend. Reduced levels of PCBs in the mother bears’ blood mean that there is also less contamination in their milk. Even though the PCB levels we found are still too high, this shows that international agreements to ban PCBs have had an effect.”

In a study of polar bear cubs from Svalbard, Norwegian researchers discovered that PCBs and other pollutants in cub blood levels had decreased 59% from 1998 to 2008. There had also been a significant drop of 55% in their mother’s blood levels as well. The levels were still too high to be considered healthy, but there was significant evidence that proved the ban is effective.

Less PCBs meant that polar bear fertility rates may be on the rise as their thyroids are less affected by the chemical. Without the pollutant hurting their ability to grow and thrive, they’ll be able to cope better with the other challenges ahead. Even more importantly, the decreased levels of PCBs are evidence that a unified policy against a harmful contaminant is possible, and that humans can change this world for the better.

Photo Credit: Martin Lopatka

January 26 2012

22:57

San Francisco, Medellin Awarded 2012 Sustainable Transport Award


San Francisco and Medillan, Columbia are 2012 winners of the Sustainable Transportation AwardThe 2012 Sustainable Transport Award was presented to the cities of San Francisco California and Medellin, Colombia on Tuesday at a ceremony in Washington DC.

Sponsored by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy based in New York City, the international honor is awarded based on five criteria, including improved mobility for citizens, transportation access for cyclists and pedestrians, improved safety, emissions reduction, and an enduring commitment to sustainable transportation.

“This is work that were very proud of,” said Edward D. Reiskin, director of transportation for San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency. San Francisco is the nation’s first city to implement a parking system that charges on a sliding scale based on demand for available parking spaces. Complementing the system is a smartphone application providing drivers real-time information on available parking spaces, a very useful technology, says Reiskin, in the city were 30 percent of traffic congestion comes from drivers searching for a place to park.

San Franciscans can also use mobile technology to determine costs and travel time for varying modes of transportation like taxis, car and bicycle shares, public transit, and walking.

“We are thinking about how to make mobility work in ways that are good for the environment, or good for public health, are good for quality-of-life and make our cities great places to be,” says Reiskin.

For Medellin, Colombia, a fully integrated transit system that utilizes gondola lifts, buses, bicycles shares, carpooling, and Metro rail serve the city’s 3.5 million inhabitants. Last year, the city opened a massive outdoor escalator ascending 1260 feet shortening the half-hour walk from the city’s center to about 5 minutes.

Among the other nominees for the Sustainable Transport Award were Buenos Aries and Cape Town, South Africa.

Additional sources:
Climatewire (subscription required)

January 16 2012

19:20

January 12 2012

18:46

Climate Change a Growing Factor in Pension Funds’ Strategic Asset Management Allocation


Climate change is becoming a key, high-level factor in the strategic asset allocation and risk management decisions of a growing number of the world’s institutional investment organizations, a group that includes the world’s largest pension funds.

More than half of 14 “asset owner partners” participating in the Mercer Group’s “Climate Change Scenarios – Implications for Strategic Asset Allocation” now include climate change considerations in future risk management and/or strategic asset allocation decisions- including Calpers (California Public Employees Retirement System), the largest pension fund in the US.

Moving into a third year, Mercer is leading a global collaborative effort to develop a strategic risk management and asset allocation framework that institutional investors can use to evaluate the risks and opportunities global climate change presents for their portfolios, retirees and investors.

“Collectively, large pension and sovereign funds (and other asset owners) have the power (and perhaps the resources) to determine objectives, fund vehicles and structure deals. Potentially, they may also have the capacity to create new entities to effectively deploy assets as necessary to fund (and profit from) a transition to a lower carbon economy,” write the authors of a project update report released January 12.

Assessing Climate Change Impact on Investments: Mercer’s TIP Framework

Mercer has developed the three-point TIP framework to represent and assess the impacts of climate change on asset class returns.

  • ‘T’ for Technology: Investments in carbon efficient technologies could accumulate to $3 trillion – $5 trillion by 2030
  • ‘I’ for Impacts: Costs of physical damage could accumulate to $4 trillion by 2030
  • ‘P’ is for Policy: Costs of delayed, uncoordinated policy could accumulate to $8 trillion by 2030.

In addition to the three TIP factors, fundamental economic factors (economic cycle inflation) and market factors (ERP, for Energy Resource Price, Volatility) are key elements of Mercer’s climate change asset allocation and risk management framework.

Climate Change Scenarios for Asset Allocation, Risk Management

In its latest project report update, Mercer analysts developed four climate change scenarios as a means “of understanding how asset classes may respond to the TIP factors under different conditions.” The four scenarios – Regional Divergence, Delayed Action, Stern Action and Climate Breakdown – were developed to indicate how climate change “might have an impact on a portfolio’s asset mix from now until 2030.”

Using the TIP model and four scenarios to look a little more closely at each of these three key factors, Mercer finds that the value of additional investments in technology assets (T) will grow between $180 billion to $260 billion per year for all climate mitigation scenarios.

Regarding the impacts of climate change on investment portfolios (I), the costs range in the order of $70 billion to $80 billion per year in terms of adaptation and residual damage costs. In terms of climate policy (P), the increase in the cost of emissions from 2010-2030 ranges between $130 billion and $400 billion per annum, with costs highest under the model’s “Delayed Action” scenario.

As Mercer has clearly recognized, mitigating and adapting to the risks associated with worldwide
climate change requires comprehensive action on a global scale. The active engagement of private sector investment and investors is critical. Among the largest investment organizations in the world, the participation of pension funds and other institutional investors is likewise critical to making the transition to a more sustainable and clean energy economy.

The resources and research challenges required to realize the project’s objectives are enormous and virtually unprecedented. It’s going to require consistent, coordinated, broad-based collaborative working relationships between supra-national and national government agencies, investor and industry participants and associations, and other stakeholders in order to carry out. The Mercer Group’s groundbreaking Climate Program makes for an excellent, if belated, start.

“It will be no small task to accomplish this across regions, market segments and asset classes, but the stage has been set through membership organizations and established intermediaries to explore alternative investment structures, outsourcing opportunities and agreements on requirements. Focus should be put on developing these solutions and the associated deployment of assets – as a priority,” the authors of latest project update report wrote.

January 09 2012

18:26

Enviro News Wrap: Controversy in Wind; Watching the Arctic Melt; Newt’s Retreat on Climate Change, and more…


The Latest Environmental News HeadlinesGlobalWarmingisReal contributor Anders Hellum-Alexander wraps-up the climate and environmental news headlines for the past week:

December 20 2011

22:31

US Needs to Be Better Prepared for Extreme Weather, Ecological Changes Resulting from Climate Change


Ecological changes in the 21st Century

Climate change will cause changes in plant communities across nearly half the Earth’s land surface by 2100, driving conversion of nearly 40 percent of land-based ecosystems from one major ecological community type – forest, grassland or tundra – toward another, according to a new computer study conducted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The study’s results may put what’s been a record year for US weather-related disasters in a much broader perspective. While it’s impossible to draw a causal link between any one weather event and global warming or climate change, climate change is probably increasing the intensity of some disasters, such as the Texas drought, according to experts from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Addressing attendees at a briefing on Capitol Hill, AAAS’s representatives said that regardless of cause, the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters is increasing, which is causing greater financial losses than ever. They cautioned that governments and societies need to be better prepared, according to an Insurance News Net report.

Mounting Financial Costs of Climate Change

It’s not useful to debate whether or not climate change exacerbated by humans caused or causes any particular weather event Jay Gulledge, a senior scientist at the nonprofit Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), told Insurance News Net, adding that statistical trends are consistent with scientists’ expectations of climate change.

Texas state climatologist and Texas A&M professor of atmospheric science John Nielsen-Gammon noted that La Niña was the triggering event for this year’s drought in Texas, which is expected to last through next summer. He added that climate change likely intensified the drought by adding about 1 degree Fahrenheit to annual average temperatures in the state. Drought as severe as this year’s could be more likely as a result of ongoing climate change, he added, although more research is needed to confirm that.

Ultimately, increasingly severe and frequent weather events pose a serious risk management problem for public officials and society, and we need to be better prepared, Gulledge said. “This is a risk problem, and we have to manage it as a risk problem,” he said at the 2 December briefing, which was entitled, Drowning and Drought: Extreme Weather Impacts on Our Economy and Society.

JPL-Caltech Climate Change Study

The parts of Earth not covered by land or desert are projected to undergo a 3o percent change in plant cover at minimum, and that means humans as well as plants and animals will need to adapt and in many cases relocate.

JPL and Cal Tech researchers, who investigated how plant life on Earth is likely to react over the next three centuries in response to rising levels of greenhouse gases, published their findings in the journal Climatic Change.

The results show rising emissions will increase ecological stress and change in Earth’s biosphere, with growing numbers of plant and animal species competing for survival. Species turnover will be significant, as some species invade areas occupied by others, according to the researchers’ report.

Besides altering plant communities, “the study predicts that climate change will disrupt the ecological balance between interdependent and often endangered plant and animal species, reduce biodiversity and adversely affect Earth’s water, energy, carbon and other element cycles,” according to JPL’s news release.

“For more than 25 years, scientists have warned of the dangers of human-induced climate change,” said Jon Bergengren, a scientist who led the study while a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech. “Our study introduces a new view of climate change, exploring the ecological implications of a few degrees of global warming. While warnings of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other environmental changes are illustrative and important, ultimately, it’s the ecological consequences that matter most.”

Image Credit: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

December 14 2011

19:15

Is the Agreement in Durban Enough to Contain Climate Change?


Is the deal struck in the final marathon session at COP17 producing the Durban Platform too little, too late?The participants at the U.N. sponsored COP17 climate change talks in Durban, South Africa, managed to come to an agreement on a package of measures that will eventually force all the world’s polluters to take legally binding action. One of the most significant elements of the deal concerns a replacement for the soon to expire Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto protocol is the only global warming fighting treaty we have and it was initially adopted in Kyoto, Japan, in 1997. Although there are details that are yet to be worked out, the parties in Durban managed to craft a general agreement that would extend Kyoto for five years from January 1, 2013 until the end of 2017.

Just hours after the landmark agreement was announced in Durban, Canada officially withdrew from Kyoto prompting an Indian official to remark that Canada’s decision could jeopardize gains made at the Durban meeting.

The Canadian Conservative government’s prioritization of the tar sands made it impossible for Canada to meet its emissions targets, which made the rejection of Kyoto inevitable. While the province of Alberta applauded the decision, much of the rest of the world has criticized Canada for its decision to formally withdraw from Kyoto. China’s state news agency, Xinhua, denounced Canada’s decision as “preposterous,” calling it “an excuse to shirk responsibility.”

Chinese Foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin lashed out at Canada, describing Ottawa’s decision as being “against the efforts of the international community,” and “regrettable.” “We hope Canada will face up to its responsibilities and obligations and honor its commitments and actively participate in relevant international cooperation against climate change,” Liu said in Beijing.

A spokesman for France’s foreign ministry called the move “bad news for the fight against climate change.” Japan’s Environment Minister Goshi Hosono told reporters that Canada’s withdrawal was “disappointing,” and noted that it was “indispensable that each country makes efforts” on climate change.

Graham Saul of Climate Action Network Canada said, “It’s a national disgrace. Prime Minister Harper just spat in the faces of people around the world for whom climate change is increasingly a life and death issue.”

Greenpeace Canada spokesman, Mike Hudema, said in a written statement that the Canadian Conservative government “has imposed a death sentence on many of the world’s most vulnerable populations by pulling out of Kyoto.” He said the move “destabilizes” the promise of future action on global warming. “This is a further signal that the Harper government is more concerned about protecting polluters than people.”

Ian Fry, lead negotiator for the vulnerable island nation of Tuvalu, said “it’s an act of sabotage on our future, withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol is a reckless and totally irresponsible act.”

Canada’s irresponsibility badly damages a UN climate process already weakened by divisions. Like the Republicans in the US, Canadian Conservatives use misinformation and fear mongering to sell their irresponsible governance.

To explain its decision, Canada cited the cost of meeting its obligations under Kyoto. However, they fail to factor the costs of climate change. Even the $13.6 billion it would cost to honor Kyoto in Canada is a tiny fraction of the cost of climate change, which could run as high as $91 billion a year in the country by 2050. According to the September 2011 report from the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, climate change will cost Canadians at least $5 billion a year by 2020.

The research reveals that the longer the effects of climate change are ignored, the costlier they become. ”Our modeling…shows there is a risk those costs could not be just higher, but much higher,” the report adds. “Getting global emissions down is both in Canada’s economic and environmental interest,” said David McLaughlin, president of the roundtable. In addition to increased health costs, the report estimates that global warming will lead to between five and 10 additional deaths per 100,000 people per year by 2050.

The world may not be able to afford Canada’s renunciation of Kyoto and exploitation of the tar sands. As NASA’s chief climatologist James Hansen said:

“If the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over [for containing global warming].”

As the world’s second largest emitter and as the primary consumer of tar sands oil, the U.S. is both an egregious offender and complicit in Canada’s role as a climate renegade. Even if the parties iron out the details, respect the stipulations and implement the timetables of the Durban agreement, it may not be enough.

Under the Durban Platform, a new global agreement will be negotiated by 2015 and will be implemented by 2020. The Climate Action Tracker scientists indicate that the delay and the absence of more ambitious targets make “catching up on this postponed action…increasingly costly.”

Scientists at the Climate Action Tracker said this puts the world on a path that will see “over 3°C warming with likely extremely severe impacts.”

A global temperature increase of over 3°C could destroy the Amazon rainforest, bleach coral reefs, melt Greenland ice, thaw permafrost in the arctic, and release methane hydrates from the ocean floor.

UN chief negotiator Christiana Figueres said the Durban agreement is the “critical next step,” but also admitted it is “still insufficient.”

“What remains to be done is to take more ambitious actions to reduced emissions, and until this is done we are still headed to over 3 C warming. There are still no new pledges on the table and the process agreed in Durban towards raising the ambition and increasing emission reductions is uncertain it its outcome,” Bill Hare, Director of Climate Analytics said.

The Climate Action Tracker research indicates “the global mean warming would reach about 3.5°C by 2100 with the current reduction proposals on the table. They are definitely insufficient to limit temperature increase to 2°C.”

The Durban agreement is not capable of curbing global warming within acceptable limits and Canada’s support for the tar sands over Kyoto make controlling climate change that much more unlikely.

——————-

Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of THE GREEN MARKET, a leading sustainable business blog and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.

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