Just as many had predicted, COP 15 failed to produce a legeally binding international climate aggreement. The international community will have to wait for COP 16 in Mexico City.
As unfortunate as this is, I would like to focus on the fact that COP 15 was able to capture the attention of nearly every major politicition in nearly every country in the world. Not only did it capture their attention but it also required their prescence.
Many will blame the US for not putting forth a great effort. But I would like to note that the Federal and State Governments brought their top employees; including members ofthe Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also including; influential Governors, Mayors, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and most notably, President Barrack Obama.
This is proper governmental representation on the largest stage of international environmental politics.
The problem is not the government, it is the citizens of the United States, most of whom deny the fact that climate change is even a legitimate reality. As citizens of the United States we are fortunate to have the right to be provided a representative government. Unfortunately, the majority of citizens choose to be represented in a manner that is not in our best interest.
Many argue that moving towards a low carbon economy will result in the loss of jobs, inadequate supplies of energy, or possibly even shrink national GDP. All of those arguments are legitimate; however, they are the temporary issues that arise whenever change occurs.
Change is really what everyone is concerned about. Many live by the concept: that if it isnt broke then dont fix it. Our economy nearly broke and our climate is begining to show vulnerabilities. The bloodline of the US economy is oil. This provides a supreme polictial advantage to middle eastern nations. If we do not begin to change that fact, then we will eventually encounter an economic collapse.
It is certain.
It is the responsibitly of all of us to positively influence the deniers of climate change. Not everyone will accept it; thankfully, all we need is a majority.
Sunday the 13th of December, Dr. Pachauri President of the IPCC (Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change) spoke to an audience of several hundred at the Bright Green Forum in downtown Copenhagen.
Dr. Pachauri spoke with the purpose of warning government and business leaders of the fact that seal level rise projections published in the IPCC’s 4th report were inadequate.
He remarked, “projections presented in the 4th report had not considered the oceans ability to release current carbon concentrations currently witheld in the ocean. Such realeases would further increase carbon concentrations in the atmosphere which would undoubtbly increase overall global temperature; ultimately accelerating glacial melt which would lead to increased sea level rise.
Dr. Pacauri warned that seal level rises will occur at a greater rate than the IPCC had initiall believed.
He also stated that most financial and industrial centers were located in coastal regions; therefore. firms should begin addressing this issue.
Dr. Pachauri offered an optimistic view for business leaders, stating that climate change provides a oppurtunity for innovation, re development, and ultimatley the potential for increased profits.
Dr. Pachauri closed his speech by acknowledging that business leaders and governments will not be able to address this issue alone. Local grass roots organizations will have to grow and provide a greater impact in the process of combating climate change.
Bjorn Stigson; President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, hosted an event Monday evening at the Niels Bohr event room in the Bella Center.
The event was conducted for the purposes of providing the audience with a greater understanding of the current domestic policies being undertaken in the US Congress.
The event started with perspectives from two government officials; first from Governor Chris Gregoire from the state of Washington, and then from Gina McCarthy Assistant Administrator for the EPA.
Governor Gregoire displayed how over the last 10 years states have been forced to take the lead in creating sound environmental and energy policies. She remarked that since she took office in 2005, the state of Washington has become the 5th largest wind power producer, the largest biofuel producer and will soon be the largest solar panel producer among all states in the union. Governor Gregoire stated that these initiatives were accomplished by providing tax incentives to clean technology firms. She stressed that the program was possible only because of the demand expressed by the residents of Washington. She continued her presentation stating, “when I took office in 2005 I made the goal of creating 25,000 clean technology jobs by 2012, as of 2008 we created 47,000.” This clearly illustrates the potential that the clean technology industry has for job growth. She concluded by stating the business community needs proper legislation in order to confidently invest into the economy.
Next up was Assistant Administrator for the EPA, Gina McCarthy. She reported on the production of the EPA’s newly published Endangerment Finding. The report was conducted for the purpose os assessing climate science on public Health. She reported that the findings have inspired the EPA to now consider green house gas(GHG) emissions as threats to public health. Assistant Administrator McCarthy concluded by stating that GHG emissions will now be regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act. This is a significant change in EPA regulatory policy.
The forum proceeded to include a business perspective from Senior Vice President of Federal Government and Regulatory Affairs for Duke Energy, Bill Tyndall.
Mr. Tyndall’s specialty is assessing domestic energy policy in the US. Tyndall explained the status of the domestic climate bill in the US Congress. He stated that the bill had succeeded in the House of Representatives and had moved its way through a Senate subcommittee. Unfortunately, this looks to be where the bill may sit for some time. Tyndall remarked, “The bill received one third of its votes in the house from California and New York alone. Since the Senate votes are delegated to 2 per state, the bill will have a much more difficult time passing through the Senate.” Nevertheless, Tyndall provided reason for optimism; stating that Democrats John Kerry and Joe Lieberman along with Republican Lindsey Graham have formed a coalition to persuade senators to pass the climate bill. Tyndall also illustrated how Duke Energy had partnered with GE to lobby the Senate for the passing of climate legislation. He closed by stating that utilities are in dyer need of direction; without legislation, markets will continue to be unstable, leaving utilities with little incentive for deploying any sort of investment strategy.
The Secretary of the Department of Energy(DOE) for the US spoke to a group of a few hundred Sunday at the Bright Green Convention in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Secretary Chu spoke about current DOE projects; as well as; department goals for the next 8-10 years.
His presentation started with a DOE plan to increase household appliance efficiency. Secretary Chu reported that the average American household currently emits 10 times more carbon due to household appliance use compared to those of Europe. Secretary Chu remarked that he intends for American appliances to obtain the same efficiency as those in Europe. He also stated that the DOE intends to make great increases in efficiency standards for residential and commercial building. This will be achieved through the use of infrared cameras; which will provide insulation suppliers with the ability to pinpoint areas in which air escapes. Essentially, this will be a tool to tighten up buildings, allowing for a reduction in HVAC use.
Secretary Chu proceeded by providing DOE figures for Wind and Coal technology development. The DOE recently spent 44 million dollars on a turbine research facility and 25 million on a blade research facility. Secretary Chu noted that these facilities would encourage the development of windmills which will operate at greater efficiency. He then displayed figures for DOE spending on clean coal technologies. They included 8 billion dollars of investment into carbon capture research and development, and 7 billion in government loans for the coal industry to implement clean coal technologies. Before displaying these figures Secretary Chu stated that Australia, China, India, Russia and the United States have 75 percent of the worlds coal reserves. He then explained that he expected these nations to use these reserves and if the US did not follow the result would be a supreme economic disadvantage.
The presentation proceeded with Secretary Chu presenting DOE goals for the next 8-10 years.
1. The development of batteries on a scale equivalent to that of an Olympic swimming pool. These batteries would be used to capture energy surpluses created by renewable energies.
2. The greater use of nuclear power. Although, Secretary Chu did remark that the US had concerns over potential misuses of nuclear facilities. Most notably for the production of nuclear weapons.
3. Greater production of electric vehicles. He noted that the creation of the hybrid vehicle is a lesson that all should value. He stated, that there were no parts invented for the hybrid vehicle, it is merely a product of old technologies constructed in a new fashion. He finished by statin this is a concept that must be utilized to its full ability.
Discussion of poor leadership surfaced this morning during the third meeting for the Conference of Parties. This issue was presented by a member of the Chinese delegation, he remarked that Annex I countries had shown little practical leadership during the past four years of negotiations. He argued further that without the leadership of developed nations, developing nations would have little incentive to comply with carbon regulations.
Essentially the Chinese delegate would like to see more action domestically on the part of Annex I nations. If Annex I countries do not demonstrate their respective domestic efforts to combat carbon emissions, then developing nations will not comply, for if they do they will put themselves at a supreme economic disadvantage. Consequently, the US and Europe must demonstrate their efforts in order to influence developing nations to move forward with their own efforts in reducing carbon emissions.
Financing for mitigation and adaption for developing countries is an issue at the center of climate negotiations. It is expected that developed countries will put forth a substantial amount of investment; however, recent finance discussions have included private taxation; specifically, the idea of levying a tax on international aviation and shipping emissions. Raising funds from private taxation is a crucial step in ensuring the success of a global deal. Unfortunately, taxing aviation will deliver a critical blow to an industry which has struggled for more than a decade. It is my opinion that taxation must be placed on profits obtained by energy suppliers (most notably oil and coal suppliers). They are the firms which profit the most from our carbon intensive economy, and they should incur the greatest cost for providing substances which have negatively impacted the ecology of our planet. It is essential that the tax is taken from profit rather than revenue. Additionally, measures must be taken to ensure that energy suppliers do not pass their new found costs to consumers. If this occurs we will see a tightening of the global economy due to increased energy costs. Of course these firms will show a great reluctance towards any measure including the taxation of their profits. This is why governments must collaborate and agree to provide tax incentives to firms who develop carbon neutral energy sources. It is a simple matter of inhibiting firms abilities to continue their negative actions and rewarding them for providing carbon neutral energy supplies, all while balancing energy prices for the purpose of maintaining economic stability. This should not happen quickly, pressure on energy suppliers must be applied slowly, but low carbon incentives should occur immediately.