Where Are We Going With Energy?

future now Students at Columbia staged a very informative, sometimes provocative symposium last week.  Old energy (oil and gas) made new (by fracking and horizontal drilling), new energy (renewables and the “negawatts” of energy efficiency), the old grid versus the new “smart” grid, questions of geopolitics and finance, policy and practice were all on the table.  Although two prominent speakers in particular highlighted the looming climate crisis, the symposium was, in my view, darkened by the fact that the first keynote speaker was Ken Cohen, Flack-in-Chief for the Exxon Mobil Corporation.  I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t know exactly what he was going to say: Continue reading

The Road to Paris

cop19“UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw keeps governments on a track towards 2015 climate agreement” is the headline from the official final press release from the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP 19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

It has been a long, agonizingly slow process from Rio in 1992 when the Framework Convention was created to Japan in 1997 when the famous Kyoto Protocol was introduced to Bali in 2007 from whence we were supposed to have a final new agreement in Copenhagen in 2009. Continue reading

Blockbuster Paper on Major Emitters

guardian major emittersThere is a characteristically excellent story from The Guardian on a blockbuster paper that’s just come out in one of the premier science journals, Climatic Change.  The Guardian reports that “The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.” Continue reading

Climate Risk, Building Resilience

World Bank adaptation report2Haiyan, Sandy, Katrina.  By now, we should have gotten the message.  Some have, but not enough of us.  Yet.

The IPCC got it.  Years ago.  And one of their many important contributions has been to focus our attention on the need for adaptation to the worsening impacts of climate change.  I wrote about their comprehensive Special Report for Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX) here two years ago. Continue reading

Summary for Policymakers – The Physical Science

ipcc_altlogo_full_rgbIn September, the IPCC kicked off its cycle for the Fifth Assessment Report with the release of its look at the physical science, aka the Working Group I report.  I just wanted to bring to your attention the fact that they’ve now issued the finalized Summary for Policymakers (SPM) with all of its graphics.  This had been held up in the pipeline as final edits and review were performed.  It is a document well worth reading.  In fact, if you want to have the most thorough and, at the same, most easily readable overview of what the scientists have been seeing, then this is what you should read.  You can find the SPM here. Continue reading