Trump Sparks More Support For Climate Change Policies

U.S. President Trumped By Public Opinion, Political Support

As U.S. President Trump breaks the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement On Climate Change, grassroots support is rising up.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans, including a majority of people in all 50 states, support the Paris Agreement on climate change. The global climate deal, struck in late 2015, was a historic moment. Trump’s declaration to join Nicaragua and Syria outside the largely symbolic deal is also historic.

The United States Climate Alliance will carry the flag for America in Trump’s absence. The Alliance is a bipartisan group of states in the United States that are committed to upholding the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change within their borders, by achieving the U.S. goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions 26–28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025 and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.

climate change and extreme weather

With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.

“Those of us who understand science and feel the urgency of protecting our children’s air and water are as united as ever in confronting one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Our collective efforts to act on climate will ensure we maintain the United State’s commitment to curb carbon pollution while advancing a clean energy economy that will bring good-paying jobs to America’s workers.”

The alliance was formed on June 1, 2017, in response to the announcement earlier that day by U.S. President Donald Trump that he had decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. formed the Alliance to convene U.S. states committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.

The formation of the alliance was thereupon announced by three state governors: Jay Inslee of Washington, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and Jerry Brown of California. The association is not a legally binding treaty, but a group of state governments with similar policies regarding climate change.

Jerry Brown California water conservation

A press statement released by Inslee states that “New York, California and Washington, representing over one-fifth of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, are committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26–28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.” These three states are governed by the Democratic Party, although both New York’s and California’s governorship will be on the ballot in the United States gubernatorial elections, 2018. By the evening of June 1 the state governors of seven other U.S. states had agreed to maintain their states’ support for the Paris Agreement.

On June 2, Governor Dan Malloy announced that Connecticut would join the United States Climate Alliance. On the same day, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker became the first Republican governor to bring his state into the alliance. Governor Phil Scott of Vermont, another Republican, said his state would join. Governor Gina Raimondo said Rhode Island would also join. Governor Kate Brown said that Oregon would join. Governor David Y. Ige of Hawaii announced that Hawaii would also join, making them the 9th state in the Alliance.

On June 5, Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia would join the US Climate alliance. However, the Virginia Governorship is on the ballot in November of 2017. Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota, Governor John C Carney Jr of Delaware, and Governor Ricky Roselló of Puerto Rico also joined the alliance.

The member states, which make up 31.4 percent of the U.S. population and 36.3 perent of U.S. GDP as of 2016, emitted 18.1 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions in 2014.

In addition, governors, mayors, businesses, investors, and colleges and universities from across the U.S. or with significant operations in the U.S said they would continue to uphold the tenets of the non-binding international agreement, according to a new consortium, We Are Still In.

Mayors, city councils, tribal groups and more progressive business leaders are responsibly stepping up to fill the leadership void. More than 1,000 state and city government officials and business and university leaders on Monday vowed to follow through on the goals outlined by the Paris climate change agreement, calling out President Donald Trump and his move last week to yank the U.S. from the landmark deal.

A coalition that includes nine U.S. states, more than 200 mayors and more than 20 Fortune 500 companies said in a so-called “letter to the international community” that it would work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

eiffel tower wind energy generator

Officially named We Are Still In the pledge has been signed by 1,370 businesses and investors (along with 9 states, 275 colleges and universities, and 178 cities and counties), and the list is still growing. Of the 1,370 businesses involved in We Are Still In, thirty-five of those are apparel brands like Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, Gap, Levi’s.

Indian tribes and indigenous organizations have pledged to honor the commitments of the Paris Climate Accord in the wake of Trump’s withdrawal, as have dozens of cities and states. Hawaii became the first state to pass laws supporting the agreement as Gov. David Ige signed two bills designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s (Tlingit & Haida) Executive Council issued a call to action to support the Paris Climate Change Accord. They were joined by three tribes, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), among others.

“As Indigenous Peoples, we have a responsibility to protect traditional homelands which are inherently connected to our cultural languages and identities,” declared a statement issued by the Tlingit & Haida along with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Quinault Indian Nation and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

“Alaska tribal governments are living with the early but significant effects of climate change,” said council President Richard Peterson in the statement. “Our traditional knowledge learned over millennia within our aboriginal lands leaves us with no doubt that immediate action to reduce the impacts of climate change is our duty as sovereign indigenous governments. As such, we will seek to participate in the Paris Agreement.”

In response to the U.S. pullout, the indigenous leaders said they would “aggressively address climate change” in their respective homelands and communities. NCAI and NARF also said they “remain firmly committed to representing and advancing Indigenous Peoples’ interests in the ongoing process of implementing the Agreement.”

“We will work to ensure that all parties respect, promote, and consider Indigenous Peoples’ rights in all climate change actions, as is required by the Paris Agreement,” said NARF Executive Director John Echohawk in a statement.

Indigenous communities worldwide are at the forefront in feeling the effects of climate change. The Native Alaska village of Kivalina is nearly underwater, and in 2016 the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw in Louisiana became the first official climate refugees when they were given $48 million by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to move inland.

The Quinault Indian Nation has seen the encroachment of the ocean on the Lower Village of Tahola, the tribe said in a statement, and glaciers on the Olympic Peninsula are melting.

A federal judge has denied the Trump administration’s appeal in a climate change lawsuit, paving the way for the unprecedented suit to go to trial.

global warming solution

Meanwhile, the case — Juliana v. United States — pits a group of youth climate plaintiffs against the federal government and the fossil fuel industry. The plaintiffs allege that the federal government, through its actions and coordination with the fossil fuel industry, have violated their constitutional right to a livable climate. It is the first climate lawsuit to rely on a version of the public trust doctrine — known as atmospheric trust — to make its case, and adds to a growing number of attempts to force climate action through the judicial branch.

The lawsuit was initially filed in August of 2015, against the Obama administration. The Obama administration, as well as three fossil fuel industry groups as intervenors, all filed motions to have the lawsuit dismissed, which was denied in November by U.S. Federal Judge Ann Aiken. In February, after President Donald Trump was sworn in, the youth plaintiffs filed notice with the court that they would be replacing Obama with Trump.

They will seek to prove that the United States government has taken action to harm their right to a livable climate. They will also argue that the government has failed to protect commonly held elements, like the atmosphere, in good condition for future generations — a legal doctrine known as the public trust. The plaintiffs will then ask for science-based climate action by the federal government.

“The more evidence we gather for our case, the more I realize how decisively we can win at trial,” Alex Loznak, a 20-year old youth plaintiff from Oregon, said in a statement. “It’s no wonder the Trump administration wants to avoid the trial by seeking an unwarranted, premature appeal. Today’s ruling brings us one step closer to trial and to winning our lawsuit.”

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Crossbow Communications is an international marketing and public affairs firm. It specializes in issue management and public affairs. It’s also promoting sustainable, resilient and livable cities. Please contact Gary Chandler at gary@crossbow1.com to join our network.

New Coal Deals Threaten Paris Climate Goals

Greenhouse Gas Reductions Critical In Battle Against Climate Change

The landmark global climate change deal brokered in Paris cleared an important hurdle this week when it secured enough official support to go into effect, but experts say the biggest hurdle — signatory countries turning their emissions, clean energy and climate adaptation financing goals from mere promises into reality — still lies ahead.

Slowing down construction of coal-fired power stations will be vital to hit globally agreed climate change goals, the World Bank president, Jim Yong Kim, said as he outlined a five-point plan to flesh out last year’s Paris agreement to reduce COemissions.

climate change policy

Speaking at a climate ministerial meeting in Washington during the bank’s annual meeting, he said there was no prospect of keeping global warming at or below 2C (3.6F) if current plans for coal-fired stations, especially those earmarked for Asia, were built.

“Many countries want to move in the right direction on climate change. We can all help to find renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions that allow them to phase out coal,” Kim said.

The World Bank president said achieving the climate change target required action in five areas. In addition to slowing down growth in coal-fired power stations, Kim said climate ambition needed to be baked into development plans for every developing country. It was important that the $90 billion of planned infrastructure spending over the next 15 years was for low-CO2 and climate-resilient investment.

He called for the ramping up of energy-efficient appliances and less use of hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in air conditioning units. “Phasing down HFCs could prevent close to half a degree of global warming by the end of the century,” he said.

Calls for the greening of finance by the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, were also strongly backed by Kim who said the sector needed to be “fit for purpose to assess climate risks and opportunities.”

greenhouse gas and climate change

Finally, Kim said poor countries needed help to adapt to climate change and to become more resilient. He added that without climate-driven development, climate change could force more than 100 million people into extreme poverty by 2030, and that unless low-income countries in many parts of Africa, south Asia and the Pacific islands were helped all the gains in poverty reduction risked being lost.

Kim said countries needed more efficient water supply systems, climate-smart agriculture, early warning systems, better social protection and a reduction in disaster risk.

“It is our collective responsibility to see the Paris agreement through,” he said. “We cannot afford to lose the momentum. With each passing day, the climate challenge grows. The longest streak of record-warm months has now reached 16 – such heat has never persisted on the planet for so long. The reality is stark. We have a planet that is at serious risk, but our current response is not yet equal to the task.”

Kim said the Paris climate agreement was a “victory for multilateral action and a powerful signal from all corners of the world that there can be no turning back in the battle against climate change.”

Climate Change Update via https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/09/world-bank-jim-yong-kim-paris-climate-coal-power-emissions

Eiffel Tower Now A Wind Turbine

Paris Climate Plan Revising History

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most popular sights in the world, and now it stands taller than ever. The historic structure is partially powering itself thanks to two new wind turbines that were just installed.

eiffel tower wind energy generator

Located above the second level, the turbines will produce over 10,000 kWh of electricity per year, offsetting the annual consumption of commercial activity on the Eiffel Tower’s first floor, which thanks to a larger refurbishment project now includes two panoramic pavilions with meeting and conference spaces, plus a new glass floor.

One of the major goals of the refurbishment project was to achieve a significant reduction in its ecological footprint as part of the City of Paris Climate Plan.

In addition to the wind turbines, other green enhancements include roof mounted solar panels–whose output will meet approximately 50 percent of the water heating needs of both new pavilions–plus a rainwater recovery system that provides flushing water to the toilet facilities, and also reduces the amount of energy needed to power the booster pumps used to pump water to the higher levels of the vertiginous tower.

To top off the green changes, in another energy saving move, almost all of the lighting on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower has been converted to LED.

The Eiffel Tower’s green upgrades come at a good time, with the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC due to take place in Paris this December.

Speaking about those upgrades, Eiffel Tower spokesman Jean François Martins shares, “The Eiffel Tower and its teams are constantly developing features, hospitality facilities and services offered to visitors, in ways that respect the principles of sustainable development and ensure high levels of safety.”

U.S.-based Urban Green Energy (UGE), the self-proclaimed global leader in distributed renewable energy, was the lucky company chosen to install the Eiffel Tower’s two VisionAIR5 vertical axis wind turbines, in partnership with the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE), the Paris authority responsible for managing the Tower.

How does UGE CEO Nick Blitterswyk feel to have such a high (no pun intended) profile client? “The Eiffel Tower is arguably the most renowned architectural icon in the world, and we are proud that our advanced technology was chosen as the Tower commits to a more sustainable future,” he says.

Installing giant wind turbines into an iconic structure located 400 feet above ground level was no easy task for UGE. Mounting the turbines required each component to be hoisted individually and suspended with rope above the tower’s second level.

Noise from the turbines is not a concern because apparently the new additions are super quiet as far as wind turbines go, and in case you’re worried that the turbines will visually conflict with the Eiffel Tower’s original design, the turbines are “specially painted to match the iconic tower,” as UGE put it. Amazingly, the Eiffel Tower remained open to the public throughout the entire refurbishment project, including all of its sustainable development upgrades.

Given the precarious state of the environment, if he was alive today, who knows what Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the original Eiffel Tower, would think of the new wind turbines.

Hopefully he would see them as a step in the right direction–a symbol for the world to admire–that conveys the reality of humanity’s situation, which is that without a planet, nothing else will matter.

As for UGE, their dream is to power the world with renewable energy. Perhaps next they can try for the Golden Gate Bridge. It gets awfully windy up there.

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/the-eiffel-tower-is-now-a-powerful-wind-energy-machine.html#ixzz3T9KPeKqH

Renewable Investments By Norway Could Re-Shape World

Norway Could Lead World To Sustainability

With more than $750 billion of holdings in its sovereign wealth fund, Norway is on the brink of potentially making renewable energy investments around the world. Erna Solberg, who will be named Norway’s second female prime minister, has already heard proposals from her government to use sovereign wealth fund money to invest in sustainable companies and projects in developing countries, Climate News Network reported today. Leader of the conservative party, Solberg won the election in September.

renewable energy
PGE’s landmark solar project in Arizona.

She hasn’t publicly discussed the specific companies and projects the country might invest in, but there are already high hopes.

“If Norway actually does this, it will be an unprecedented shift in the global investment community and also for tangible action on climate change,” said Samantha Smith, head of the global climate and energy initiative at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Financial analysts predict that other nations will follow Norway’s lead and also invest in renewable energy projects. Pension funds in Denmark and the Netherlands already support the renewables sector.

Legally, Norway’s fund can invest 60 percent of its money in stocks, 35 percent in bonds and up to 5 percent in real estate around the world. The fund owns large portions of some of Europe’s leading companies. Experts estimate that one in every $80 invested in global equities is owned by Norwegians.

The WWF wants Norway to allocate 5 percent of its portfolio to direct investments in renewable energy infrastructure and projects and to end its investments in coal and tar sands. The Norwegian government will also consider establishing a dedicated mandate for renewable energy.

“Norwegian savings could change the world,” WWF-Norway head Nina Jensen said. “This would provide a powerful boost for the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”

See more at: http://ecowatch.com/business/renewable-business/norway-renewable-energy-could-change-world/#sthash.WMwfjQ8P.dpuf

India Schedules Sustainability Summit

Sustainabilty stakeholders in India will convene in New Dehli next month to discuss green buildings and cities. Green Habitat Summit India 2013 is scheduled for August 20-21.

The Summit will focus on technologies, strategies, and financial mechanisms that can help the ULBs and states achieve sustainability goals – from building infrastructure and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to promoting a thriving green economy.

India's booming economy and population must address sustainability issues fast.
India’s booming economy and population must address sustainability issues fast.

The summit will bring in government agencies, entrepreneurs, private enterprises and the civil society to share their experience and deliberate on areas like sustainable buildings, energy efficiency, renewable energy, building materials, wastewater management, solid waste management, and waste-to-wealth initiatives and to chalk out a sustainable and green roadmap for habitats, including buildings, housing projects, townships and cities.

Green Habitat Summit India 2013 aims to identify green technologies and direct the ULBs and states towards sustainable and eco-friendly development.

Dr. Sukumar Devotta, Former Director, National environmental Engineering Research institute (NEERI) and convener of the event, said, “It is a compelling case for sustainable infrastructure projects to have a clear and well-structured road map. I hope that The Green Habitat Summit 2013 will bring together all stakeholders including leading think-tanks and practitioners and provide valuable insights, which can be put into action.”

Mr. Nesar Ahmed, Former President, Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI), founder of Universal Knowledge Foundation (UKF) and Adviser with HexaGreen, said, “Measuring impacts on environmental, social, and economic aspects of our buildings and cities is only a first, albeit essential, step towards a sustainable future. We need to create financial framework to help sustain the urban future of India.”

Thought provoking issues that the summit will deliberate on:

  • Energy Efficient Buildings: What are all stakeholders up to?
  • Solid Waste Management: Enough or require more innovative ideas?
  • LEDs: Green vs. Price
  • Urban Design in 21st Century: Where have we been mistaken and what is the way forward?
  • Beyond BRTS & CNG: What do we need in Urban Transportation?
  • Green Building Materials: Breaking the barrier
  • Sustainable Water Management: Where are the gaps and how do we bridge them
  • LEED & GRIHA: Do they need to change?
  • Green Investing in India: Has it gone well over the years?
  • Getting environment clearance: Perception Vs. Reality

HexaGreen is an initiative by DevCom Media Pvt. Ltd. with a vision of bridging the information and communication gap in the environment sector through websites, events, and research. It provides a digest form of all important happenings, policy matters, and actions taken in the sector, trend reading of the future of the business and representation of the same in pithy to-the-point anecdotes culled out from worldwide sources with high degree of India-centricity, opinion and analysis from corporate executives and thought leaders offering insight and inspiration on trends and best practices and valuable resources to help increase the effectiveness of online browsing.

The details related to the summit can be obtained at http://hexagreen.com/ghsi

Contact:

Lakshmishree Sinha, +91-98110-06805, lmshree@hexagreen.com

MGM Resorts Betting On Solar System

In Las Vegas, everything is on a grander scale, so it should come as no surprise the gambling capital of the world soon will be home to one of the world’s largest rooftop solar systems.

MGM Resorts knows a good bet when it sees one.
MGM Resorts knows a good bet when it sees one.

NRG Energy last week announced plans to install a 6.2 megawatt (MW) installation on top of the Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center. At peak production, the array should produce enough electricity to meet around a fifth of the building’s energy demand, while reducing pressure on the grid at the hottest time of the day.

“The new 20,000-panel solar rooftop array at Mandalay Bay will effectively enable the resort to lock in a substantial component of its energy costs at a very competitive rate,” Tom Doyle, president and chief executive of NRG Solar, said in a statement.

“Our expectation is that other corporations will follow thought leaders like MGM Resorts to protect our planet.”

Once the project is completed, Mandalay Bay will buy the electricity generated through a power purchase agreement.

The system is the latest in a series of environmental measures taken by parent company MGM Resorts under its Green Advantage sustainability initiative.

Over the past five years, the company has reduced its energy intensity by more than 12 percent and has saved more than 2.5 billion gallons of water.

The news comes as U.S. developer SolarCity announced it has started fitting 3.4 MW of solar rooftop systems at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The project will see solar systems installed on more than 600 military homes as part of the company’s SolarStrong program to power 120,000 military residences.

Similar schemes are underway at bases in Texas, Hawaii, Los Angeles and Colorado, contributing to the Department of Defense’s target to meet a quarter of its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2025.

In other solar industry news, the investment arm of insurance giant Aviva has acquired a 12.3 MW portfolio of residential solar systems built on 4,000 U.K. homes from Ecovision Renewable Energy Ltd.

Aviva Investors will collect revenue generated through the feed-in tariff subsidy scheme, while residents continue to save money on their electricity bills.

“This acquisition continues the expansion of our activities in the U.K. renewable sector and is in line with our strategy of investing in high quality infrastructure assets with attractive yields,” Ian Berry, fund manager of infrastructure and renewable energy at Aviva Investors, said in a statement.

“As institutions continue to look towards assets that offer secure and long-dated income streams in order to meet their liabilities, we believe infrastructure opportunities such as this offer the potential to meet these needs.”

Source: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2279484/mgm-resorts-raises-stakes-with-giant-vegas-solar-system

Corporations Share Secrets On Energy Savings

Several corporate leaders, including Kohl’s, HEI Hotels and Resorts, Staples and Walgreens, have volunteered to reduce energy use 20 percent by 2020 as part of a challenge initiated by President Barack Obama. But that’s not the big deal.

062413kohls-2

The big deal is that they have agreed to publicly disclose how they’re doing it. Factories, data centers, stores and other large energy users often balk at revealing their energy efficiency strategies. After all, saving energy reduces the cost of doing business and gives them a competitive edge. By sharing details, they tip off the competition to better practices.

By not sharing details, however, they force others to reinvent the wheel — if they invent it at all — thus slowing U.S. progress in reaching national energy productivity goals aimed at bettering the economy.

“The real goal is to figure out who is leading in the space and how we can learn from their learning and replicate their activities in the marketplace quickly,” said Maria Vargas, director of the Better Buildings Challenge at the U.S. Department of Energy.

Vargas described the Obama strategy June 18-19 at the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships’ (NEEP) annual summit, an event that drew more than 300 people to Springfield, Mass.

“I have children, and they watch a show called ‘Mythbusters,'” she said. “So the way I think about the Better Business Challenge is as ‘barrier busters.'”

Some companies participating in the program have pursued energy efficiency for a decade or more, so can bust a lot of myths and offer substantial guidance. She relayed two examples where participants offered a useful strategy or technology.

Kohl’s was interested for years in pursuing energy efficiency, but the energy team could not convince the department store’s chief financial officer. It was largely a communications problem, as Vargas tells it.

“The CFO kept looking for different criteria than they had. They finally said, ‘This is crazy. We’re literally speaking different languages,'” she said.

Then, Kohl’s added someone from the CFO’s office to the energy team. That changed everything.

“All of a sudden, they move to the different country, and they are forced to speak the language,” she said.

As a result, Kohl’s is now “very much moving down an energy efficiency path and seeing tremendous savings across its portfolio,” she said.

Vargas also told the story of HEI Hotels & Resorts, owner of the Hilton, Marriott, Westin and other hotels. The company has developed an “easy, yet sophisticated” energy dashboard. “It was very proprietary,” she said.

Energy Looking Glass A snapshot of the Energy Looking Glass, HEI’s energy management tracking tool.

But after getting a direct request from Obama, Kohl’s CEO said, “‘The president asked me to share, and I’m going to share,'” Vargas said. “So they have.”

Ultimately, though, Vargas sees the federal program as a way to bolster innovation for communities, cities and states — the true launching pad for an energy-efficiency revolution.

“I firmly believe that all politics, all success, all life is local,” she said. “The Department of Energy can tell somebody what to do, and people will be like, ‘That’s nice, pass the muffins.'”

NEEP, host of the conference where Vargas spoke, works within one of the nation’s most active regions for energy efficiency. In keeping with the idea that it helps to get information about successful companies out there, NEEP announced several business leader awards. Videos or written profiles are available about the energy efficiency efforts of the 12 companies and organizations.

This year’s winners were American University, Atlas Box & Crating Company, Anheuser-Busch (New Hampshire and New York), Baystate Health, Boehringer Ingelheim, Boston College, Cape Cod Commercial Linen Service, Covidien, ESPN, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Woodstock Inn Station and Brewery.

Source: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2013/06/25/kohls-hilton-share-energy-efficiency-secrets?page=0%2C0&mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRokuKjOZKXonjHpfsX56%2BQlX6e2lMI%2F0ER3fOvrPUfGjI4DTsNiI%2BSLDwEYGJlv6SgFSLHEMa5qw7gMXRQ%3D

Military Report: Fighting Climate Change Top Priority

A new report from the U.S. Center for Naval Analyses and the London-based Royal United Services Institute, two of the NATO alliance’s front-line strategy centers, recommends putting more effort into fighting global warming than securing reliable supplies of fossil fuels.

The authors call the habitual American fixation on winning energy independence through expanded North American production of oil and natural gas “misguided.” They say the “only sustainable solution” to the problem of energy insecurity is not through more drilling, but through energy efficiency and renewable fuels, like biofuels to replace oil.

Despite the steady supplies provided by the current U.S. drilling boom, “the increased domestic production of oil and natural gas is not a panacea for the country’s energy security dilemma,” they say.

And in blunt language, they criticize American policymakers and legislators for refusing to accept the “robust” scientific evidence that emissions of carbon dioxide are already causing harmful global warming, and for refusing to take actions that, if taken swiftly, could ward off its worst effects.

“Political leaders, including many in the United States, refuse to accept short-term costs to address long-term dangers even though the future costs of responding to disasters after they occur will be far greater,” said their report, published this month.

The report, in the works for a year, was released as President Obama prepared to ramp up the administration’s efforts on climate change, and while the State Department was immersed in its review of whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in the United States.

In a major policy speech on Tuesday, Obama is expected to renew his commitment to regulating emissions from coal-fired power plants, as well as other measures involving renewable energy and green technologies, but not to tip his hand on the Keystone decision. Many in Washington believe that he wants to offer strict controls on power plants, the nation’s leading source of greenhouse gases, as a quid pro quo for approving the controversial pipeline, which is seen by opponents as a contributor to the global warming problem.

Keystone’s proponents have described the project as important for energy security.

The military embraces solar and other forms of alternative energy.

For several years, the view that global warming caused by burning fossil fuels is an overwhelming national security threat has been taking firmer hold in national security circles. In 2007, a report from CNA’s military advisory board called climate change a “threat multiplier.” In 2008, a formal National Intelligence Assessment found that climate change poses a serious threat to national security and long-term global stability. The Department of Defense’s 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, a major planning document, warned that climate change may fuel conflict, put new strains on military forces operating in the field, and cause damage to military bases, especially ports exposed to rising seas and intense storms.

In an article published in Foreign Affairs online in June, Tom Donilon, the former National Security Adviser to President Obama, wrote: “The Obama administration’s National Security Strategy recognizes the ‘real, urgent, and severe’ threat posed by climate change in no uncertain terms, stating, ‘change wrought by a warming planet will lead to new conflicts over refugees and resources; new suffering from drought and famine; catastrophic natural disasters; and the degradation of land across the globe.'”

But the focus of Donilon’s piece was on energy, not on climate change, and it spoke expansively of the importance of increased energy production to America’s strength in the world. For example, it claimed that by helping to provide plentiful oil to satisfy world demand, the United States could more effectively squeeze Iran with an embargo, a strategy that otherwise would harm oil-deficient allies.

The new American-British report looks mostly at the other side of the coin, the risks presented by the burning of fossil fuels no matter where they come from.

It acknowledges the problems caused by Western reliance on imported oil, especially from unstable parts of the world. But the new report says that even more important is the compelling need to stop using fossil fuels in the first place, since the steady addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is now posing imminent dangers to national security.

Even though the United States gets just 20 percent of its oil imports from the Middle East, the lowest share in four decades—and it could be headed toward being an oil exporter two decades from now—”the U.S. economy is highly sensitive to supply shocks and price fluctuations, regardless of the source of the oil,” it says. “Even new, domestic sources of oil and gas do not free the United States from the risks of over-reliance, because the prices of these commodities will be determined by global markets,” the report says.

The bigger problem, says the report, is global warming, which will cause upheaval, and military challenges, across the globe in the coming decades.

“Our consumption of oil and other fossil fuels contributes to climate change, which poses growing risks to our infrastructure, livelihoods, and national security,” it says in its primary conclusion. “Using more natural gas and oil, even if domestically produced, neither frees our economies from global oil prices nor checks the greenhouse gas emissions that threaten future generations. The only sustainable solution to this dual challenge is to improve our energy efficiency and diversify our energy sources to include cleaner and renewable power.”

Experts outside the military have also been increasingly alarmed by the possibility that climate change, by spreading famine, drought, disease and poverty, would lead to migration, competition for resources, and war, especially in poor regions of Africa and Asia. Rich countries might easily be drawn into these conflicts.

But the World Bank, in a new report that predicted many dire consequences for a warming planet, was cautious in predictions that climate change would lead to war.

“The potential connection between environmental factors and conflict is a highly contested on, and the literature contains evidence both supporting and denying such a connection,” it said. “However, given that unprecedented climatic conditions are expected to place severe stresses on the availability and distribution of resources, the potential for climate-related human conflict emerges as a risk—and one of uncertain scope and sensitivity to degree of warming.”

Strategists frequently note that dealing with uncertain risk is a central feature of military planning, and that whether the risk is of nuclear proliferation, terrorism, or climate change, it must be addressed long in advance of becoming real.

The new Center for Naval Analysis report quotes the “voice of experience” of General Charles E. Wald, a retired Air Force officer who was deputy commander of the U.S. European Command: “The biggest thing we could do right now to address climate change and its national security effects would be to decrease the amount of carbon we pump into the atmosphere, and the biggest thing we could do about that would be to have a comprehensive energy policy that addresses not only the amount and diversity of our energy, but how clean it is.”

The report hits hard at those in Congress who deny the scientific consensus on climate and use national security arguments to encourage more production of coal, oil and natural gas.

“Many elected leaders in the United States fail to grasp or distrust the scientific evidence for global warming,” it says. “To some, the revelation of newly accessible oil and gas reserves across North America seems to resolve the problem of relying on oil imports—a position we regard as misguided.”

Source: http://insideclimatenews.org/news/20130624/military-report-america-has-misguided-fixation-domestic-drilling

U.S. Ski Industry Demands Action on Climate Change

study authored by University of New Hampshire researchers Elizabeth Burakowski and Matthew Magnusson and published last December warns that if winter temperatures continue to warm significantly, the winter tourism industry could disappear completely in many areas of the U.S.

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Legislators continue to drag their feet in addressing what is the greatest crisis confronting humanity today. But increasingly, many companies are joining the call for effective policies to address the threat. Many have joined Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), an advocacy coalition of businesses directed by Ceres that is calling for meaningful legislation to enable a transition to a low-carbon economy.

In April, Ceres and BICEP launched the Climate Declaration, whose signatories advocate for a coordinated effort to combat climate change. The nation’s health and prosperity “are threatened by a changing climate that most scientists agree is being caused by air pollution,” the declaration states. “We cannot risk our kids’ futures on the false hope that the vast majority of scientists are wrong.”

Aspen Skiing Company and the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) are members of BICEP, and Ceres announced Thursday that more than 100 of the nation’s ski resorts have signed the Climate Declaration. Ski resorts in the U.S. employ 160,000 people and generate revenues of more than $12 billion. But according to the UNH study, the number of days with snow cover in the Northeast could decrease by as much as 75 percent if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and the mean snow depth at Rocky Mountain resorts could drop to zero.

“The success of ski business operations depends greatly on climate, which is why we are so invested in programs that keep our slopes sustainable,” Brent Giles of Park City Mountain Resort in Utah said. “But our actions alone won’t be enough without strong policies. We welcome legislative and regulatory initiatives that will reduce carbon emissions, incentivize renewable energy development and help improve our resiliency in the future.”

“We welcome the ski industry as allies in our work on climate and energy issues and as signatories of the Climate Declaration. This is an industry that cannot be off-shored, and they are calling for climate action here at home,” said Anne Kelly, director of BICEP. “Policymakers must realize that the old political paradigm of ‘It’s the environment or the economy; pick one’ is a false choice. American businesses are ready to combat climate change, and policymakers should join them in leading the way.”

Source: http://www.greenbiz.com/news/2013/06/07/ski-industry-calls-effective-climate-change-policies-avoid-drifting-away

Renewable Energy Use in The United States

Florida and Texas might be leading America’s expansion of solar and wind power, but Washington, where hydroelectric dams provide over 60 percent of the state’s energy, was the country’s biggest user of renewable power in 2011, according to new statistics released last week by the federal Energy Information Administration.

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Hydro continued to be the overwhelmingly dominant source of renewable power consumed nationwide, accounting for 67 percent of the total, followed by wind with 25 percent, geothermal with 4.5 percent, and solar with 3.5 percent. The new EIA data is the latest official snapshot of how states nationwide make use of renewable power, from industrial-scale generation to rooftop solar panels, and reveals an incredible gulf between leaders like Washington, California, and Oregon, and states like Rhode Island and Mississippi that use hardly any.

The gap is partly explained by the relative size of states’ energy markets, but not entirely: Washington uses less power overall than New York, for example, but far outstrips it on renewables (the exact proportions won’t be available until EIA releases total state consumption figures later this month). Still, the actual availability of resources—how much sun shines or wind blows—is far less important than the marching orders passed down from statehouses to electric utilities, says Rhone Resch, head of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“Without some carrot or stick, there’s little reason to pick [renewables] up” in many states, he says; even given the quickly falling price of clean energy technology, natural gas made cheap by fracking is still an attractive option for many utilities.

More than half of the 29 states that require utilities to purchase renewable power are currently considering legislation to pare back those mandates, in many cases pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council. “We’re opposed to these mandates, and 2013 will be the most active year ever in terms of efforts to repeal them,” ALEC energy task force director Todd Wynn recently told Bloomberg.

But so far the tide seems to be turning against that campaign: This week the Minnesota legislature will consider two versions of a bill passed by the House and Senate that would require utilities to get 1-4 percent of their power from solar by 2025 (solar made up less than one percent of Minnesota’s renewable power in 2011); last month North Carolina, the same state that outlawed talking about sea level rise, surprised green energy advocates by voting down a proposal to ax the state’s renewable mandates, followed a few days later by a vote in Colorado to increase rural communities’ access to renewables. But challenges remain ahead in some of the very states that already rank relatively low for renewables consumption, including Connecticut, Missouri, and Ohio.

Karin Wadsack, director of a Northern Arizona University-based project to monitor these legislative battles, says the time is now for states to start mixing in more clean energy.

“If you have all these utilities sticking with gas, coal, and nuclear, then you create a situation where 20 years from now they aren’t prepared to deal with the increased climate risk,” she says. “Electricity is a huge piece of the climate puzzle, so [utilities] need to be learning what to do with renewables.”

There’s always the option that Congress could set a renewables standard on the national level—a group of senators took a failed stab at one in 2010 only a few months after Republicans killed the infamous cap-and-trade bill. But don’t hold your breath, Wadsack says: “I don’t know that I would call it a pipe dream. But I wouldn’t see it happening in our current set of national priorities.”

Source: http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2013/05/interactive-which-states-use-most-green-energy