Since COP13 / MOP3 -- hereafter "Bali" -- has begun, I thought I'd send a brief note on expectations and strategy. Brief because there's too much to say, so I shouldn't try. Besides, I'll try to post again in a few days. Here's the thing: Bali is freighted with terrific expectations, which are entirely appropriate given the state of the science. We now "know," insofar as we can know these things, that we've got to do everything to hold total temperature increase from global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, and that to have a good chance of doing so global emissions are going to peak by 2015. In other words, we now know this is an emergency situation. So why would we demand anything except emergency action? No reason at all. Which is why EcoEquity signed the "Call for Climate Talks to Accelerate Global Economic and Energy Transitions: What Bali Must Achieve" (PDF), now being circulated by the Institute for Policy Studies and the International Forum on Globalization. The Call urges negotiators to pursue three paths:
This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. A few weeks ago, one of the presidential candidates' advisors challenged a group of climate leaders to describe America's future. His challenge triggered a flurry of e-mails as we attempted to articulate a vision. We talked about carbon caps and price signals and new investments in R&D. That's fine, the advisor responded, but what it the vision? What is America's perfect future? I'm not sure we ever satisfactorily answered this very good question, but I found myself trying to describe what America might look like 10, 20, and 40 years from now.
When I visited Bali 20 years ago, the beaches teemed with people offering any manner of products and services, and the most abundant seemed to be blowguns. Lying in the sand with your eyes closed, you could just hear, above the rhythmic lapping of the waves, the repeated murmur of “Blowgun? Blowgun? Blowgun?” What the connection with Bali was, I couldn’t make out, but I can’t help but think they could come very much in handy to defend your own patch of beach over the coming two weeks as 20,000 people descend on the tranquil isle for the U.N. negotiations …
It may be better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, but authorities in the Indonesian region of Sragen think it’s better to have loved, lost, and helped the climate. Couples seeking divorce have to pay a fee that goes toward planting 25 trees in the area where they live. Lovebirds getting married have to pay a similar, but smaller fee — for a mere 5 trees. Because … their impact will be less, especially if they start having kids? Hmm.
This post was co-written with Dorjee Sun, the head of Carbon Conservation, a company that works to protect forests in Indonesia from destruction. ----- Photo: www.viajar24h.com Bali, Indonesia, is the perfect backdrop for this week's climate summit. No country better embodies the immense peril of inaction -- and the immense opportunity this meeting has to make massive and immediate progress in stemming the climate crisis. Indonesia is the world's third largest global warming polluter, behind the United States and China, and just ahead of Brazil. But in Indonesia, like Brazil and the rest of the tropical world, pollution isn't coming from factories, power plants, or cars like it is in the industrialized world. Instead, almost all of it is coming from the rapid burning of the world's vast tropical forests to make room for timber, agriculture, and especially palm oil plantations. (Despite its green reputation, palm oil is anything but: a recent study in Science found that palm oil, like other biofuels, produces two to nine times more greenhouse gases than regular old crude oil because of the forests and grasslands destroyed for its production.) Companies like Starbucks, Procter & Gamble, Cargill and Seattle's Imperium Renewables are paying top dollar to turn palm oil into food, cosmetics and biodiesel. That global demand has driven the value of a hectare of palms above $1000 (PDF) in some cases -- providing a powerful financial incentive to corporations, investors, and farmers to raze the forests, regardless of the consequences to the climate or to the endangered orangutans, tigers, and rhinoceroses - and indigenous people -- who need them to survive. The Bali conference could immediately eliminate that perverse accounting by making sure forests and other wild lands around the world are financially valued for the carbon they store, and not just their potential as timber or agricultural land. The way to do that is to allow polluters to get credit for protecting forests that they can apply against their pollution reduction obligations, an idea called carbon ranching or avoided deforestation. Polluters would jump at this opportunity. Protecting forests from destruction can cost as little as 75 cents per ton of carbon dioxide - even at higher costs, it's a fraction of the price (PDF) of cleaning up most industrial pollution. In the past, some environmentalists criticized carbon ranching for this very reason: they were concerned that if polluters focused their greenhouse gas reduction efforts on forest conservation, that would divert money from necessary clean-ups in industrial pollution. That's the wrong way to look at it. Because locking up carbon dioxide by protecting forests is so cheap, it means that the world can achieve bigger reductions in global warming pollution faster and for less money. Carbon ranching should be an argument for bigger immediate pollution reductions, from both forests and industry, not a way for polluters to get around their responsibility to clean up their own pollution.
The White House just sent this letter (PDF) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, renewing its threat to veto any bill that doesn’t follow exactly the (absurd) guidelines it laid out in its last letter.
See that green line on the map? Study it closely, boozehounds. Those of you to the right of it can enjoy a nice French Bordeaux. Those to the left should be getting your Pinot from Napa. So concludes Dr. Vino in his excellent -- and topical! -- study, "Red, White and 'Green': The Cost of Carbon in the Global Wine Trade." The paper is nicely readable in addition to being thorough. Few details go unconsidered. Dr. Vino cares about the CO2 produced from the breakdown of sugar during the fermentation process. He mulls the land-use implications of grape production. He knows his screw caps from his corks. All of these factors (well, not the corks) feed into a model that allows the paper's authors to compute the carbon content of different bottles of wine drunk in various points in the U.S. Some conclusions:
In 2002, Xerox Corp. pledged to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions 10 percent by 2012. With four years to go, the company has in fact reduced emissions by 18 percent, and has boosted its goal to 25 percent by 2012. Xerox says it saved $18 million last year through practices like increasing manufacturing efficiency and reducing employees’ job-related driving. Seems like a plan worth … wait for it … copying.
In the good old days, the only constant that the fickle fashion industry could rely on was the changing of the seasons — now, it can’t even rely on that anymore. A run of unseasonably warm winters has led some apparel companies to hire staff climatologists who help predict when consumers will be in the market for cold-weather clothes. Because, darling, buying a winter-anticipating coat in August is so five years ago.