There’s a deal, finally, out of the latest, exhaustive negotiating sessions from the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change: “The Lima Call for Climate Action.” What does it say? It, for one thing, requires all parties to the convention to submit their plans for reducing emissions. These climate action plans, called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), are due in the first quarter of 2015. They will form the basis for the final agreement to come from Paris a year from now. Continue reading
While we’re waiting for our brothers and sisters in Lima to come up with a template for agreement in Paris next year, here’s a great story from Bloomberg about the demand destruction for oil. (See my post, “Houston, You’ve Got a Problem,” for some background.) If we keep on this trajectory for reducing greenhouse gases, an international treaty will be useful, certainly, but not essential. Continue reading
There’s a lot of good energy, as it were, at Columbia University all the time: they’re working on climate and sustainability, and have a wealth of world-class educational programs. I went to this year’s tenth annual energy symposium staged by the students from the business school, law school, and SIPA. I’ve been to a few of these over time, including last year’s.
The night before the symposium, I went over to a “cleantech startups showcase” to check out some really innovative projects. I heard the mini-pitches from folks working on fuel cells and on cellulose for bioplastics. One startup has developed a cheaper and easier way to conduct energy Continue reading
Here are the world’s four largest emitters of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion and cement production. In 2013, China accounted for twice of America’s carbon dioxide output. Collectively, the world blasted 36 billion tons of CO2 into the climate system – nearly ¾ of the total global burden of greenhouse gases. Continue reading
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, quoted his countryman, Mahatma Gandhi, in welcoming the delegates to the final session of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) cycle. The IPCC counts among its victories, certainly, winning a share of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Continue reading
The Europeans have, once again, proven that they are willing to lead the world on sustainability. I wrote in February how the European Union was embarking on a bold new initiative to advance their already ambitious “20/20/20” program. Well the Europeans have, after months of hearings, further study, negotiations, and the inevitable political give and take necessitated by the fact that they are 28 sovereign nations working together in a complex union, unprecedented in its scope, come up with a living, breathing, working plan. The goal? Nothing less than a 40% reduction of their greenhouse gases from 1990 levels by 2030. Continue reading
The super motivated students of NYU Divest met with the University Senate yesterday. They marked that important step forward with a great visual display of their intention. I’ve had the pleasure of being involved a bit with these students over the past year. They have a goal, a plan, and are executing it smartly.
It’s Blog Action Day all over the world today and the theme this year is Inequality. From my perspective, the main example of inequality in our world today is energy poverty. This is defined by the International Energy Agency as “…a lack of access to modern energy services. These services are defined as household access to electricity and clean cooking facilities (e.g. fuels and stoves that do not cause air pollution in houses).” 18% of the seven billion of us today don’t have electricity and a whopping 38% don’t have a clean way to cook. Continue reading
Action This Day. That’s what Winston Churchill wrote on many of his memos. It has always worked for me as a call to arms. Action was the persistent theme of the recent UN Climate Summit. I had the good fortune to be there last week and I was, after a fair number of years of observing the environmental scene, somewhat in awe of the tone and timbre of the speeches in support of climate action. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been building support for nearly a year for a successful summit, with leaders of governments, business and civil society in abundance coming to speak and to make commitments. Continue reading
New York City this week and next is the center of the Climate Activist universe. I define activism broadly: it means not only being in the streets and expressing discontent with the pace of change toward decarbonizing and denuclearizing our energy economies to save the climate system, but also doing the hard work of researching, litigating, legislating, organizing, writing, speaking, making movies, teaching, farming, financing, designing, planning, building, regulating, and working, day after day, to create the newer world that we need. I celebrate everybody and all the energy and focus and commitment brought over the past 50 years of the modern environmental movement that has brought us forward. The first environmental journalist, Phil Shabecoff, wrote a great book, A Fierce Green Fire, about the movement. (They made a documentary last year too.)