Tag Archives: many strong voices

Climate Expert James Hansen: The Planet May Become Ungovernable

The repercussions of climate disruption are still not being acknowledged fully, warned climatologist Dr. James Hansen, addressing an audience of Baby Boomer and Greatest Generation climate activists on September 9.

Dr. Jim Hansen

“We’ve now got an emergency,” he told about 150 “elder activists” at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, DC, who were participating in Grandparents Climate Action Day.

Hansen — formerly NASA’s head climate scientist, now adjunct professor at Columbia University — is probably best known for bringing definitive evidence of global warming to Congress in testimony in 1988. In July of this year, he released a report with sixteen co-authors studying glacier melt in Greenland and Antarctica. Unlike previous models, the new report takes into account some feedback loops which may be hastening the loss of ice sheet mass far faster than anticipated.

Time is running out to transition to renewable energy, Hansen said, yet the most “relevant” people in power aren’t aware of the situation’s gravity. “Even people who go around saying, ‘We have a planet in peril,’ don’t get it. Until we’re aware of our future, we can’t deal with it.”

Mass species extinction, extreme weather events, dry spells and fires are climate change impacts which are happening now. A warmer atmosphere and warmer oceans can lead to stronger storms, he explained. Superstorm Sandy, for example, remained a hurricane all the way up the Eastern seaboard to New York because Atlantic waters were abnormally warm.

“Amplifying impacts” and feedback loops will accelerate the changes, according to Hansen. “It will happen faster than you think,” he said. If major coastal cities become “dysfunctional” because of sea level rise, as he believes is possible, the global economy could be in peril of collapse.

It is therefore imperative to stop using coal, oil and gas as energy sources now. “We’ve already burned as much as we can afford,” he said. Fossil fuels already burned will continue to have impacts, because the climate system “has inertia.” “We’ve only felt the warming for half of the gases that are up there,” he said.

The use of fossil fuels is still on the rise in spite of the dangers, he said, because governments subsidize them and don’t make companies bear the real costs to society. The only viable way to make the price of fossil fuels “honest,” in his opinion, is to implement a “fee and dividend” system.

While Hansen denounced “unfettered capitalism”and “scary” trade agreements in the works, he believes government regulation can steer captains of industry onto the right path. “We’ve got to make the system work for us,” he said. “If you properly harness the market, it will work for you.”

He gave an example of incentives and tax breaks for solar panels, which he has on his own home, and how he contributes electricity to the grid. Yet one audience member took issue with a corruption-free scenario. “Come to Virginia, I dare you!” he said. (In Virginia, where Dominion Virginia Power has a stranglehold on state politics, “standby” fees and other barriers stifle solar panel installation by individuals.)

Hansen, a grandparent himself, was the keynote speaker at Grandparents Climate Action Day, an event to mobilize elder activists and promote a policy agenda aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Hansen believes elders possess resources and wisdom which, combined with the zeal of youth, can help find solutions to climate change. “Older people have a lot of clout, a lot of votes, and time,” he said. With more older people getting involved, there will be more pressure to make needed changes.

Fellow speaker John Sorensen, co-founder of the Conscious Elders Network, echoed this point. The 80 million elders in the U.S. — 25 percent of the population — are living longer and healthier lives with more time and resources to devote to activism.

Hansen is supporting a lawsuit in which 21 young people are suing the U.S. government. (One of the plaintiffs is his granddaughter Sophie.) The lawsuit alleges that the federal government knew decades ago that burning fossil fuels and climate were linked, but continued on the same course anyway.

In his testimony for Youth v. Obama, Hansen said, “In my opinion, this lawsuit is made necessary by the at-best schizophrenic, if not suicidal, nature of U.S. climate and energy policy.”

The judiciary, he believes, is the only viable recourse left for the younger generation, “because the courts will be less under the thumb of the fossil fuel industry.”

“Young people have all these rights that are guaranteed by the constitution, and that’s what we’re asking the courts to look at, and I think this may be our best chance to force the government to do its job,” he said.

Most of the elders participating in Grandparents Climate Action Day probably won’t live to see the worst effects of climate change, yet they were eager to learn about the earth future generations will inherit. One participant explained her reason for being there. After working with children for her whole career, she realized that “all of it mean[s] nothing if we don’t have a livable planet.”

“Young people have all these rights that are guaranteed by the constitution, and that’s what we’re asking the courts to look at, and I think this may be our best chance to force the government to do its job,” he said.

Most of the elders participating in Grandparents Climate Action Day probably won’t live to see the worst effects of climate change, yet they were eager to learn about the earth future generations will inherit. One participant explained her reason for being there. After working with children for her whole career, she realized that “all of it mean[s] nothing if we don’t have a livable planet.” More

 

Comments Off on Climate Expert James Hansen: The Planet May Become Ungovernable

Filed under climate change, energy security

Portraits of Resilience | Christine Germane | TEDxRenfrewCollingwood

 

Portraits of Resilience | Christine Germane | TEDxRenfrewCollingwood

Published on Nov 26, 201 4 • This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Listen as photographer and educator Christine Germane tells the stories of Portraits of Resilience, a unique project that illustrates the ethical dimension of the climate change discussion through documenting and sharing the personal stories of indigenous youth. Since 2000, Christine Germane has been collaborating with Indigenous communities as a photographer, educator and curator. The international photojournalism project titled Portraits of Resilience has allowed her to work with indigenous youth to illustrate the personal and ethical effects of climate change on their communities. Since its creation in 2008, the project has occurred in 12 countries and has been exhibited internationally, including the launch at the National Museum of Denmark. With a range of education, awards, and project coordination experience within art and design under her belt, Christine’s exceptional work has provided youth with a medium to share their voice during a crucial period of time.

Twitter ©Germane Photo

Facebook Christine Germane Photography

Email: christinegermano@yahoo.com

Web http://www.christinegermano.com

Leave a comment

Filed under sea level rise, SIDS

On Low-Carbon Economies

RMI and Carbon War Room are working together to help Caribbean islands transition to lowcarbon, clean-energy economies

Former Costa Rican president and Carbon War Room head José María Figueres on islands, carbon, and global energy use

In 1994 at age 39, José María Figueres was elected president of Costa Rica, becoming the youngest president of a Central American country during modern times. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, his administration focused on sustainable development. Since then, he has served as the chair of a United Nations taskforce, CEO of the World Economic Forum and then Concordia 21, and most recently president of Sir Richard Branson’s nonprofit Carbon War Room. Fresh off travel through parts of Asia with RMI chief scientist Amory Lovins, we asked Figueres about the importance of working with islands, creating low-carbon economies, and how to accelerate transforming global energy use.

José María Figueres

Rocky Mountain Institute: Like RMI CEO Jules Kortenhorst, your background spans business and government. Looking at today’s energy and climate challenges, why are market-based solutions — even if bolstered by supportive governmental policies — so important for driving change?

José María Figueres: About 40 percent of global carbon emissions can be profitably avoided today within existing international agreements and national regulations by applying already-proven technologies. RMI and CWR are leaders in helping businesses realize this terrific market opportunity. As we get more capital to flow into financing the transition toward clean energy and lower carbon emissions, we can provide profitable example for others to follow and broaden understanding about these issues at the same time.

RMI: Looking at RMI and Carbon War Room’s collaborative work together in the Caribbean, including the Creating Climate Wealth summit earlier this year, why is focusing on islands so important, given their small contribution to climate change yet great vulnerability in the face of it?

JMF: Working with islands to shift their energy base from fossil fuels to renewables is important for at least three reasons. First, it helps improve the quality of life for island residents, who are burdened with some of the highest electricity prices in the world. Second, such a transition creates jobs, investment possibilities, and entrepreneurial opportunities that render these islands — normally dependent on tourism for the overwhelming bulk of their economies — more competitive. And third, our work with islands can yield shining examples of a successful transition to lower-carbon, clean-energy economies using existing technologies. This will hopefully inspire others to follow in their footsteps, and not only on literal islands. After all, islands need not be surrounded by water. They can be an off-grid mine, a rural community, an isolated military installation, and much more.

RMI: Costa Rica, already known as an ecotourism hot spot and global leader in environmental stewardship, has set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2021. Your energy mix is already almost entirely renewable (mostly hydro plus some geothermal and wind), with an impressively small amount of fossil fuels. As the country embraces diversification with other renewables, such as solar in the Guanacaste region, what lessons can the rest of the world learn from your successes and challenges?

JMF: The first lesson is that renewables are profitable. Powered by renewables Costa Rica has successfully diversified its economy, with a very pronounced and competitive export-oriented bias. Secondly, we are living proof it can be done even among developing nations with scarcer economic resources than the developed world. Thirdly, our experience shows that systemic thinking in addressing these challenges is much better than a “silo” focus.

RMI: What do you see as the most significant barriers that stand in the way of transforming global energy use? With renewables making an increasingly compelling economic case — garnering billions of dollars of global investment, while their costs keep declining, making that investment go further — how can we accelerate their adoption and topple incumbent fossil fuels?

JMF: There is nothing harder than changing cultural attitudes. Most of the world grew up on fossil fuels without thinking of their unintended consequences: increasing carbon emissions driving climate change. Now we must change our habits and practices, and do so within a ten- to fifteen-year window to avoid temperature changes from escalating beyond two degrees Celsius. This requires broadening our understanding with respect to the business opportunities it entails, strong leadership to change present business models, and public-private partnerships to make progress in the short time we have to act.

RMI: With China and the U.S. dominating global oil imports, fossil fuel consumption (especially coal), and carbon emissions, how do smaller countries such as Costa Rica and the Caribbean’s island-nations perceive their place in that landscape?

JMF: Smaller nations face both a great challenge and a great opportunity. The challenge — and it’s not an easy one to come to terms with — is that even if we do everything we can in the smaller nations and reduce our carbon footprint to zero, the world still needs China, the U.S., Brazil, India, and other large players to do more and move faster. The opportunity, though, is for smaller nations to set an example in the transition to low-carbon economies, which hopefully inspires others to follow. Then, the issue becomes one of scaling solutions, rather than proving them in the first place. Smaller nations can become early-adopters proving the case that paves the way for other major world energy powers to follow.

Follow José María on Twitter.

This article is from the Summer 2014 issue of Rocky Mountain Institute’s Solution Journal. To read more from back issues of Solutions Journal, please visit the RMI website.

 

Comments Off on On Low-Carbon Economies

Filed under Uncategorized

OAS Workshop Seeks to Improve Caribbean Sustainable Energy Projects

20 August 2014: A regional workshop organized by the Organization of American States (OAS) discussed how to improve donor interventions regarding sustainable energy projects in the Caribbean.

The workshop, titled 'Development of Sustainable Energy Projects: Experiences, Strategies and Implementation,' took place on 19 August 2014 in Saint Lucia. The event brought together major donors for Caribbean energy projects with country representatives to: examine current and planned sustainable energy projects; discuss local barriers to commercialization of sustainable energy; identify Caribbean country project priorities and gaps in current assistance; and look at ways to foster collaboration and complementarity between projects.

During the opening session, OAS consultant Christina Becker-Birck provided an overview of the 80+ energy initiatives in the region, amounting since 2004 to around US$129 million in technical assistance and grants, about US$108 million in loans and lines of credit, with at least US$100 million pending and planned.

Philipp Blechinger, Reiner Lemoine Institut, outlined the results of a survey on barriers to the development of renewable energy technologies for power generation on Caribbean island States. Carolina Peña, OAS Sustainable Development Department (DSD), outlined OAS energy interventions in the region.

During a roundtable discussion on learning from success stories and failures, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) detailed its Sustainable Energy Programme on technical assistance and energy labeling. The Carbon War Room discussed its 10 Island Challenge to catalyze private investment and produce a Ten Island Renewable Roadmap/Blueprint. The Caribbean Development Bank outlined the proposed Sustainable Energy for the Eastern Caribbean (SEEC) and Geothermal Drill Risk Facility projects. The EU provided an overview of its support for energy projects in the region, and the Clean Energy Solutions Center (CESC) outlined its technical support.

The workshop was organized by the OAS DSD in the framework of the Sustainable Energy Capacity Building Initiative (SECBI) of the Energy and Climate Change Partnership of the Americas (ECPA). More

 

 

Comments Off on OAS Workshop Seeks to Improve Caribbean Sustainable Energy Projects

Filed under caribbean sids

High-level Event Discusses Renewable Energy in SIDS


News: High-level Event Discusses Renewable Energy in SIDS

1 September 2014: Participants recognized sustainable energy for all as a tool for eradicating poverty, combating climate change, creating economic opportunities and achieving sustainable development for all small island developing States (SIDS), at a high-level side event, titled ‘Linking SIDS and Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL): From Barbados to Samoa, and Beyond.' The event took place on the sidelines of the Third International Conference on SIDS, in Apia, Samoa, on 1 September 2014.


The SE4ALL side event aimed to build on commitments from the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20+) and the Barbados SIDS High-Level Conference on SE4ALL, to take stock of progress since these events and chart the way forward to ensure sustainable energy for all SIDS.


Speaking at the event, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said achieving the three targets of the SE4ALL initiative is an important part of putting the world on a pathway for keeping temperature rise below two degrees Celsius. He outlined the need for a new energy paradigm, particularly for SIDS, who he said are particularly vulnerable to climate change and faced inflated energy costs due to their remoteness, and he welcomed the proposal of a dedicated Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on sustainable energy for all with a focus on access, efficiency and renewables. Ban encouraged all leaders to “bring bold actions and ideas and strong political vision and political will” to the UN Climate Summit.


“SIDS are creating opportunities and examples that, if replicated worldwide, could lead the transition from fossil fuel energy to renewable and sustainable energy,” said UN General Assembly President John Ashe in his remarks.


The panel was moderated by Helen Clark, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, and featured: Adnan Amin, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); Camillo Gonsalves, Foreign Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Salvatore Bernabei, General Manager, Enel Green Power Chile and Andean Countries; Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility (GEF); and Reginald Burke, Caribbean Policy Development Centre. Key messages included the importance of reducing risk to catalyze private investment, the leadership being taken by SIDS, and various SIDS initiatives on sustainable energy, such as SIDS Dock and IRENA's SIDS Lighthouse project.


Participants highlighted: energy costs and energy security; climate change; and challenges and vulnerabilities faced by SIDS, including their small size and the high costs of importing fossil fuels. They stressed SIDS' renewable energy potential and the importance of addressing energy access and efficiency, highlighting the role of partnerships to address these issues. [UN Press Release] [UN Secretary-General Statement] [UNDP Administrator Remarks] [IISD RS Meeting Coverage, 1 September] [IISD RS Sources]



read more: http://energy-l.iisd.org/news/high-level-event-discusses-renewable-energy-in-sids/


 

Comments Off on High-level Event Discusses Renewable Energy in SIDS

Filed under renewable energy

Here’s Why Al Gore Is Optimistic About the Fight Against Climate Change

Al Gore has something of a reputation as the Cassandra of climate change. But amid the doom and gloom—melting glaciers, ever-rising carbon levels, accelerating species extinction—the former vice president has been positively sunny of late.

Why? Solar energy. “There is surprising—even shocking—good news: Our ability to convert sunshine into usable energy has become much cheaper far more rapidly than anyone had predicted,” Gore wrote recently in Rolling Stone. “By 2020—as the scale of deployments grows and the costs continue to decline—more than 80 percent of the world’s people will live in regions where solar will be competitive with electricity from other sources.”

Now a new report substantiates Gore’s optimism. Research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts renewable energy will account for 49 percent of the world’s power by 2030, with another 6 percent coming from carbon-free nuclear power plants. Solar, wind, and other emissions-free sources will account for 60 percent of the 5,579 gigawatts of new energy capacity expected to be installed between now and 2030, representing 65 percent of the $7.7 trillion that will be invested.

Gore is right that solar is driving the shift away from fossil fuels, thanks to plummeting prices for photovoltaic panels and the fact that solar fuel—sunshine—is free.

“A small-scale solar revolution will take place over the next 16 years thanks to increasingly attractive economics in both developed and developing countries, attracting the largest single share of cumulative investment over 2013–26,” the report states.

Solar will outpace wind as an energy source, with photovoltaic power accounting for an estimated 18 percent of worldwide energy capacity, compared to 12 percent for wind. That’s not surprising given that a solar panel can be put on just about any home or building where the sun shines. Erecting a 100-foot-tall wind turbine in your backyard usually isn’t an option.

In the United States, solar is projected to supply 10 percent of energy capacity, up from 1 percent today. In Germany, though, solar and wind will account for a whopping 52 percent of all power generated by 2030, according to the BNEF estimate.

These are all projections, of course, based on the existing pipeline of projects and national policies and involving a certain amount of guesswork.

The big wild card is what happens in developing nations like China and India, where energy demand is expected to skyrocket with a burgeoning middle class. Energy consumption will grow to an estimated 115 percent in China and 200 percent in India over the next 16 years. (Falling birth rates in the West mean that energy use will drop 2 percent in Japan, for instance, and 0.2 percent in Germany.)

Whether the world kicks its reliance on coal-fired electricity will depend in large part on what kind of energy choices China and India make. China installed a record amount of solar capacity last year and has set ambitious goals for ramping up renewable energy production.

But old ways die hard. While the Obama administration has proposed regulations to slash carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, the U.S. Export-Import Bank, on the other hand, is considering financing a 4,000-megawatt coal-fired power station in India.

The good news, though, is that individuals around the world can make a difference with their personal power choices. According to BNEF, much of the solar energy to be generated over the next 16 years will come from solar panels installed on residential roofs. More

 

Comments Off on Here’s Why Al Gore Is Optimistic About the Fight Against Climate Change

Filed under alternative, energy, energy security, solar

Island Nations Build Ocean Thermal Power to Reduce Dependency on Fossil Fuels

Seawater is proving to be one way to combat climate change by reducing fossil fuel dependency for some ocean island nations. Taking a page from land-based geothermal power which uses the coolness below ground in heat exchange systems, islands are using the thermal energy gradient in a column of seawater to generate electricity.

The technology is known as Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion or OTEC. A French defense contractor, DCNS Group, is the latest to deploy it in the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean. It plans a second project in Martinique which is expected to come online in 2015.

Lockheed Martin, the American defense contractor, has been working with OTEC for over a decade. When I previously wrote about this technology I described apilot project Lockheed was building in Southern China. The company currently plans to have an OTEC power plant operating offshore in Hawaii.

Why offshore? Because OTEC projects need to be on or near the water. The Lockheed and DCNS technology above the water looks very much like a marine production oil platform (see picture below).

Because the ocean is a great energy storage medium, in fact, the largest on the planet, we can take advantage of the temperature gradient that occurs in a column of water and use it to our advantage. Surface water can be as warm as 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) off islands like Reunion and Martinique. At depths of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), however, that water remains a constant 4-5 degrees Celsius (39-41 Fahrenheit). Go deeper and you approach freezing temperatures or below freezing. The difference in temperature between surface and deep water is what makes OTEC work.

OTEC technology is built using a membrane that serves as a heat exchanger. The warm surface water is exposed to a liquid with a low boiling point. DCNS uses ammonia. When it gasifies the ammonia drives a turbine which is attached to a gemerator. The second part of the OTEC technology involves drawing the cold from below to act as a coolant. This condenses the ammonia back to a liquid state where the process can then be repeated.

Key to OTEC's successful deployment is the finding of island and coastal locations that currently experience high energy costs because fossil fuels need to be imported for energy generation. The second key is locations where there is a sufficiently high temperature gradient in nearby ocean and seas. Japan, China, the Bahamas, Curacao, South Korea and Hawaii are current locations where OTEC is under development or being considered. For countries looking to lower their carbon footprint with all the right keys in place, OTEC may prove to be a strong renewable energy play. More

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized