Climate & Energy

Climate equity: Saleemul Huq

From citizens of nation states to citizens of the world

((equity_include)) This is a guest essay by Saleemul Huq, head of the climate change group at the International Institute for Environment and Development and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This essay is part of a series on climate equity. —– Perceptions of climate change — and what must be done to tackle the problem — have evolved over time. With concerns about justice and equity now rising to the surface, it is time for a new era of global citizenry in which people around the world come together to both take and demand effective action. Back …

Great Lakes water wars

Race to make the Earth look like the Moon

What with drought threatening large sections of the American West and South, perhaps it should not be surprising to see this article from the Chicago Tribune, "Great Lakes key front in water wars; Western, Southern states covet Midwest resource," in which the reporter warns: With fresh water supplies dwindling in the West and South, the Great Lakes are the natural-resource equivalent of the fat pension fund, and some politicians are eager to raid it. The lakes contain nearly 20 percent of the world's surface fresh water ... Water levels of the Great Lakes are down substantially, and while that may be part of the historic cycle of ups and downs, water managers argue the region must jealously guard what is here Even New Mexico Governor and Presidential candidate Bill Richardson couldn't resist the temptation to speculate on using the lakes. Fortunately, there is a concerted attempt to protect them: Eight Great Lakes-area states, from Minnesota to New York, and two Canadian provinces have proposed a regional water compact that would, among other things, strengthen an existing ban on major water diversions outside the Great Lakes Basin, home to 40 million Americans and Canadians

Introducing Auden Schendler: Part I

On those quotes in Businessweek’s ‘Little Green Lies’

This post is by guest blogger Auden Schendler, executive director for Community and Environmental Responsibility at the Aspen Skiing Company. Named a "Climate Crusader" in Time magazine's 2006 special issue on climate change, Auden once worked for Amory Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute. You can read his full bio here. Auden has unique insights into the difficulties of corporate sustainability in the absence of government leadership and a price for carbon. ----- Recently, Businessweek covered Aspen Skiing Company's work on emissions reduction as part of an article titled "Little Green Lies." The article has received considerable coverage in the blogosphere because it addresses the gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to business claims on the environment. Joe asked me if I'd like to clarify that story, and I jumped at the opportunity. My main point, which probably didn't get across in the article, is that even at a remarkably progressive company like Aspen Skiing Company -- which has strong support from ownership, management, and staff -- cutting CO2 emissions is very difficult. Imagine how hard it must be in most standard businesses that don't have this level of buy-in. This statement may seem obvious, but it cuts against conventional wisdom. Most entities involved in emissions reduction have a stake in saying it's profitable, relatively easy, and sometimes fun. The NGO community makes its living on this perspective. The government needs its own programs to look good. And corporations have a stake in their perceived success as well.

Here to stay

Why I don’t agree with James Kunstler about peak oil and the ‘end of suburbia’

The remarkably low fueling cost of the best current hybrids (like the Toyota Prius) and future plug-in hybrids are major reasons I don't worry as much about peak oil as some do. James Kunstler, for instance, argues in his 2005 book The Long Emergency (see Rolling Stone excerpt here) that after oil production peaks, suburbia "will become untenable" and "we will have to say farewell to easy motoring." In Rolling Stone, Kunstler writes, "Suburbia will come to be regarded as the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world." (No -- that distinction probably belongs to China's torrid love-affair with coal power.) But suppose Kunstler is right about peak oil. Suppose oil hits $160 a barrel and gasoline goes to $5 dollars a gallon in, say, 2015. That price would still be lower than many Europeans pay today. You could just go out and buy the best hybrid and cut your fuel bill in half, back to current levels. Hardly the end of suburbia.

Umbra on solar holiday lights

Dear Umbra, As the holiday season approaches, I’m trying to figure out how to spread good cheer in home decorations while being sensitive to the environment. Years ago, my husband and I purchased strings of lights that we wrapped around the trunks of palm trees in our front yard. Now the wiser, I’d like to use these lights off the grid, if you will. Instead of purchasing new LED lights that are so popular right now (and in turn, promoting more consumerism!), do you know of a solar panel that has an electrical outlet? I’m thinking that I could charge …

New partnership hopes to jumpstart global carbon market

A whole slew of countries and states have signed on to a new International Carbon Action Partnership, with a goal of sharing knowledge about and standardizing best practices for what they hope will become a global cap-and-trade system. Participants include members of the Western Climate Initiative and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as various European countries and New Zealand. “By working together we can make our shared vision of a global carbon market a reality,” said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Added California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Just because you don’t see Washington leading on this issue don’t assume that …

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