Thursday, August 27, 2015

Let us fix this planet before we go out and ruin another

 

Hawaii Flips Switch on World’s Largest Ocean Harvesting Clean Energy Plant

Hawaii is definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to renewable energy.

In June, the Aloha state became the first state to mandate that all of its electricity come from renewable sources no later than 2045. Along with other islands, its charging ahead with wind, solar and smart grid systems. But now, the state is home to the first fully closed-cycle Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant in the U.S.

OTEC is “a process that can produce electricity by using the temperature difference between deep cold ocean water and warm tropical surface waters,” Makai Ocean Engineering, the company that built the plant, explains on its website. “OTEC plants pump large quantities of deep cold seawater and surface seawater to run a power cycle and produce electricity.” Makai touts OTEC as a constant, clean energy source that is “capable of providing massive levels of energy.”

Watch this short video for an explanation of how it works.

Makai staff explain in the video that the potential for OTEC is immense because the source of the energy is just sunlight.

“About 70 percent of the sunlight coming to Earth lands on the ocean. Most of that is captured in the surface layers of the ocean water in the form of heat,” says Duke Hartman, vice president of business development at Makai. “That’s beautiful because we can extract that energy 24/7 and use that power any time we want it, totally eliminating the need for an energy storage system.”

The 105-kilowatt demonstration plant on the Big Island, which cost about $5 million to build, only generates enough electricity to power 120 homes. But to date, it’s the largest such plant in the world. And it’s promising enough for the U.S. Navy to be investing in it. The Navy has a target for 50 percent of its shore-based energy to come from alternative sources in five years.

While the industry is still very much in its infancy, Makai believes it won’t be long until it takes off.

“The plant is dispatchable, meaning the power can be ramped up and down quickly to accommodate fluctuating demand and intermittent power surges from solar and wind farms,” Hartman told Bloomberg.

The company estimates that all of Hawaii’s electricity needs could be met by about 12 commercial-scale OTEC plants. They already have plans to construct a 1-megawatt facility in Japan, and Hartman says Brazil, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and West African nations all have potential.

“Anywhere tropical with deep water is ideal, especially if they import their fuel,” says Hartman.

The biggest challenge remains financing, explains Hartman. “We need a visionary investor to get us past the expensive pilot project into the large-scale commercial projects,” he said.

According to the company’s website, an offshore commercial-scale OTEC plant could prevent burning roughly 1.3 million barrels of oil each year, produce electricity at roughly $0.20 per kilowatt-hour and prevent more than half a million tons of carbon emissions per year.

 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Peak Oil Crisis: A $4 Trillion Hole

Last week reporters at the Wall Street Journal sat down and did some arithmetic.

Tom Whipple

They looked at how much oil was selling for in the spring of 2014 (over $100 a barrel); looked at what it is selling for today (under $50); and concluded that if prices stay low for the next three years, the global oil industry and the countries it finances will be out $4.4 trillion in revenues. As these oil companies, nationalized and publically traded, will be producing roughly the same amount of oil in the next few years, the $4 trillion will have to come mostly out of profits or capital expenditures.

This is where the problem for the future of the world’s oil supply comes in. The big oil companies, especially those that export much of their production, have been doing quite well in recent years. National oil companies have earned vast profits for their political masters. Publically traded ones have developed a tradition of paying out good dividends which they are loathe to cut.

This leaves mostly capital expenditures on exploring for and producing more oil in coming years to take a dive as part of the $4 trillion revenue hit. Even if oil prices of $50 a barrel or less do not continue for the next three years, this still works out to a revenue drop of $1.5 trillion a year or about three times the planned capital expenditures of some 500 oil companies recently surveyed.

The International Energy Agency just came out with a new forecast saying that while current oil prices have the demand for oil products increasing rapidly, there is still so much over-production that the oil glut is expected to last for another year or more before supply/demand comes back into balance. The return of Iran to unfettered production would not help matters.

In looking at the next five years there are several trends or major issues that are likely to impact the supply and demand for oil. First is the recent price collapse that no longer makes it profitable to start projects to produce new oil, most of which now comes from deepwater, tar sands, or shale oil fields and is far more expensive to produce than "conventional" oil. As a result, investment in new oil production projects has dropped substantially in the last year and is likely to fall further.

On the demand side of the equation China is the biggest unknown. For the last 30 years the Chinese have enjoyed unprecedented economic growth, but recently the "world’s factory" has not been doing as well. Its government has been thrashing around wildly trying to stimulate growth and fend off a collapse in its stock market. Some believe China is a huge economic bubble that is about to collapse taking much of the world with it, and obviously reducing its ever-increasing demand for more oil.

The other 800-pound gorilla looming out there is climate change. Except for the drought in California and the storm that flooded New York a few years back, much of America and China for that matter has not been hurt badly enough by anomalous weather to reach an agreement that stopping climate change is the number one priority of all of us. Reports of "feels like" 159°F coming out the Middle East this summer have little impact on those convinced that climate change is a hoax. Should the effects of climate change worsen in the near future to the point that "do something before life on earth becomes impossible" becomes the majority perception of the issue, consumption of fossil fuels could be severely restricted. Although not widely appreciated, there do seem to be viable alternatives to fossil fuels waiting to be exploited.

The violence in the Middle East has grown worse in recent years. Although oil production in some areas has been restricted by geopolitics and violence, most of the oil continues to be produced. It is useless to talk about the next five years in the Middle East; however, we should keep in mind that there are at least a half dozen confrontations going on in the region that could morph into situations where oil production becomes more restricted.

When we net this all together, what do we have? Conventional wisdom currently says that oil prices are likely to be closer to $50 a barrel than to $100 for the next year or more. Capital spending on new production to offset declining production from existing oilfields is likely to drop still further leaving us in the situation where depletion may exceed the oil coming from new wells or fields. This is the argument that those who believe that we are at or near the all-time peak of world oil production about now are using.

The International Energy Agency says that the demand for the cheaper oil is rising rapidly, that production of shale oil currently is falling and the rest of world’s production is relatively static so we should be seeing oil prices rising again by 2017. This is where the turning point in the history of oil production could occur. In recent history rising prices have led oil producers to increase drilling for new oil production again. However the next time around, as mentioned above, there are new factors that may come into play. Will China be increasing its demand for oil in another two years? Will the Middle East still be exporting as much oil, and producing oil given the turmoil and the need to increase air conditioning? Will the world have decided the time has come to clamp down seriously on carbon emissions?

If global oil production does reach some kind of a peak this year and is lower in 2016, can it recover to reach new highs in the years following? Anything from inadequate investment stemming from persistently low oil prices to a major conflict in the Middle East could keep production from rebounding to new all-time highs. We are living in interesting times and just could see peak oil before we realize it. More

 

 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rapidly Mobilizing American Politics On Climate

CHANNELING THE POWER OF THE POPE’S ENCYCLICAL THROUGH THE PLEDGE TO MOBILIZE CLIMATE STRATEGY

The Pope calls on each of us to undertake an "ecological conversion" to protect humanity and the natural world — Creation — from climate catastrophe. He also calls for the "ecological conversion" of civilization.

The Pledge to Mobilize is a tool to achieve this ecological conversion — on the individual and national level.

The Pledge to Mobilize calls on the federal government to convert the American economy to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 through an emergency, WWII-scale mobilization.

When Individuals take the Pledge, they commit their time, money, and vote to achieving this goal. Most importantly, they commit to spreading the Pledge to others—to spreading the ecological conversion. More

 

 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Op-Ed: The Challenge of Small Island Developing States

The United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States defines small island developing states, or SIDS, as "a distinct group of developing countries facing specific social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities."

These countries are across the globe in the Caribbean, the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the Mediterranean and South China Sea.

In addition to common difficulties faced by developing countries, SIDS have an additional series of challenges to cope with that require special assistance from the international community.

These challenges were highlighted in the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action (BPOA) and the Mauritius Strategy of Implementation (MSI) of 2005, both of which stated that the difficulties SIDS face in the pursuit of sustainable development are particularly severe and complex.

Recognition of these issues was reinforced in September of 2014 when Member States of the United Nations officially adopted the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action, known as the SAMOA Pathway.

The challenges that SIDSs face are varied, but all conspire to constrain their development processes.

They typically do not have a wide base of resources available to them, and thus do not benefit from cost advantages that this could potentially generate.

Coupled with small domestic markets, they experience difficulties in profiting from globalisation and trade liberalisation and are cripplingly reliant on external and remote markets with limited opportunities for the private sectors.

The cost of provision of energy, infrastructure, transport and communication are high, and along with high population densities, creates increased pressure on these already limited markets.

These developing countries generally have a heavy reliance on tourism and services; however, as a consequence of their low resilience and location, they are also heavily affected by disasters due to frequent natural hazards.

The unique characteristics and vulnerabilities facing SIDS were first addressed by the international community at the Earth Summit (United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development) in Brazil in 1992.

The SIDS case was the focus of Agenda 21, a non-binding, voluntarily implemented plan of action of the Summit, committed to addressing the problems of sustainable development of SIDS.

This plan involved adopting methods to enable SIDS to function and cope effectively with environmental change, and to mitigate the impacts and reduce the threats posed to their marine and coastal resources.

Following Agenda 21, the Barbados Programme of Action was introduced in 1994, in an effort to provide further aid and support to SIDS. Similarly, its ultimate aim was to improve sustainable development.

It highlighted the challenges of converting Agenda 21 into precise strategies, movements and procedures at the national, regional and international level and listed fifteen areas of priority for specific action.

Five further areas were selected by the UN General Assembly in 1999, recognising their urgency. These five were: climate change, as the rising sea level could render some low-lying SIDS submerged; natural and environmental disasters and climate variability, with an emphasis of improving disaster preparedness and recovery; freshwater resources, preventing water shortages as demand increases; coastal and marine resources, promoting the protection of coastal ecosystems and coral reefs; energy, developing solar and renewable energy in order to lessen dependence on imported oil; and finally tourism, focusing on the management of the growth of the tourism industry and the protection of the environment and cultural integrity.

The 2005 Mauritius Strategy of Implementation further complemented the BPOA.

It gave recognition to the challenges that are unique to SIDS, and proposed further action towards their sustainable development.

The MSI emphasised the location of SIDS in the most vulnerable regions of the world with respect to natural and environmental disasters and their rapidly increasing impact.

It made call for a global early warning system covering threats such as tsunamis, storm surges and cyclones, and stressed that some major adverse effects of climate change are already being observed.

Further, the MSI recognised the importance of international trade for building resilience and sustainable development in SIDS, and established the necessity for international institutions, including financial ones, to pay more specific attention to the structural drawbacks of SIDS.

The MSI went further on matters of trade, stating that "most small island developing states, as a result of their smallness, persistent structural disadvantages and vulnerabilities, face specific difficulties in integrating into the global economy".

More recently, in September 2014, the Small Island Developing States Accelerated Modalities of Action, also known as the SAMOA Pathway, was adopted. As in the case of the previous adoptions, the strategy recognises the need to support and invest in SIDS so that they can achieve sustainable development. Distinguishing the Samoa Pathway slightly from the BPOA and the MSI is the idea of investing in the education and training of the people of SIDS.

The aim of this idea was to create "resilient societies and economies, with full and productive employment, social protection and decent work for all", and to provide "full and equal access to quality education at all levels", the latter which is a vital ingredient for achieving sustainable development.

The promotion of education for sustainable development is especially crucial for SIDS that are under direct threat from climate change, as it will "empower communities to make informed decisions for sustainable living rooted in both science and traditional knowledge". Finally, the SAMOA Pathway supports efforts "to promote and preserve cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, which provide a mechanism for social cohesion and, thus, are essential in building blocks for addressing the challenges of social development".

Many SIDS have recognized the need to embrace sustainability through their own internal processes, however, without external aid from the international community, the required change will not come quickly enough. Following on the adoption of the Samoa Pathway, 2015 is rapidly becoming a watershed year for global processes of importance to SIDS.

Convergence is occurring across a broad spectrum of activities as this year has seen the international community deliberate on the Post 2015 framework for disaster risk reduction which culminated in the adoption of the Sendai Framework, new expected agreements in the post 2015 development agenda with Sustainable Development Goals replacing the Millennium Development Goals. New agreements are also expected on how development is financed and there remains expectation of a new international agreement on climate change.

Given their far reaching impact, these developments are critical, particularly when viewed from the perspective of the small island developing state.

Notwithstanding the global consensus, serious challenges remain for SIDS and for the foreseeable future; they will remain a special case for sustainable development.

However, with a global consensus and an avid commitment to the advancement of sustainable development in these countries, positive change is most certainly on the horizon.

George Nicholson is the Director of Transport and Disaster Risk Reduction and Anastasia Ramjag is the Research Assistant of the Directorate of Transport and Disaster Risk Reduction of the Association of Caribbean States.

Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal. More

 

 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Climate Reality Training in Miami with Al Gore

Hello!

I’m reaching out today on behalf of The Climate Reality Project, an organization started by former Vice President Al Gore focused on creating a global movement calling for action on climate. We have an upcoming training opportunity in Miami, Florida that I believe you and others who follow The Climate War Room and The Cayman Institute will be interested in.

As we are all aware, the time has come for action on climate. On September 28-30 in Miami, The Climate Reality Project and Mr. Gore will be hosting a training for new Climate Reality Leaders to help grow the movement. There has never been a better time to engage your friends and colleagues on this issue. The Miami training will not only provide attendees with cutting edge tools to most effectively communicate climate change to your community but will also enter them into a community of over 8,000 devoted individuals from 126 countries who are committed to using their voices to address the climate crisis.

Our training in Miami will highlight the unique challenges that climate change poses to the state of Florida and what some local governments are already doing to tackle them; Florida’s huge untapped solar energy generating capacity; and the role of the ever strengthening Latino voice and vote in driving climate action. At the training, Mr. Gore, and experts and influencers from across the climate sphere will present in panels, take questions, and host breakout sessions.

We encourage you to recommend outstanding leaders in your personal and professional life who would be well suited for giving presentations and helping to build strong support for action on climate change. They can apply for the Climate Leadership Corps Training here. I’ve also attached a document you can share with your network, which has a little more information about who we are and what the Miami training will cover. The deadline to apply is August 26th, 2015.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

Warm regards,

Joseph Moran | Program Assistant-Climate Reality Leadership Corps

750 Ninth Street, NW, Suite 520 | Washington, DC 20001


NOTICE OF CONFIDENTIALITY & DISCLAIMER
The information contained in this e-mail and any attachments is CONFIDENTIAL and is intended only for the use of the addressee. Any unauthorized use, disclosure, distribution, dissemination, or copying is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you are not the intended recipient, you are prohibited from any further viewing of the e-mail or any attachments or from making any use of the e-mail or attachments. If you believe you have received this e-mail in error, notify us immediately and permanently delete the e-mail, any attachments, and all copies thereof from any drives or storage media and destroy any printouts of the e-mail or attachments and any copies of such printouts. Although this e-mail and any attachments are believed to be free of any virus or other defect that might negatively affect any computer system into which it is received and opened, it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that it is virus-free and no responsibility is accepted by the sender for any loss or damage arising in any way in the event that such a virus or defect exists. Thank you for your cooperation.

 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

How Singapore is leading a water revolution

Fifty years ago Singapore had to ration water, and its smelly rivers were devoid of fish and choked with waste from shipbuilding, pig farms and toilets that emptied directly into streams.

But it’s a very different story today. The world’s most densely populated country now collects rainwater from two-thirds of its land, recycles wastewater and is even developing technology that mimics human kidneys to desalinate seawater.

“In about a lifetime, we have transformed Singapore,” said George Madhavan, an engineer who has worked for the national PUB water agency for 30 years and is now communications director.

“It’s not rocket science – it is more political will … The key success factor is really government – the leadership to pull different agencies together to come up with a plan.”

As governments around the world wrestle with water crises from droughts to floods, many are looking to the tiny Asian city-state of Singapore for solutions.

In many countries, a flood prevention agency focuses on quickly draining away storm water, while another manages drinking water.

In Singapore, PUB “manages the entire water loop”, Madhavan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Its aim is to capture every drop of rain it can and recycle as much used water as possible.

“That means that ideally, we don’t sell you water. We rent you water. We take it back, we clean it. We’re like a laundry service. Then you can multiply your supply of water many, many times,” Madhavan said.

“The water that you drink today is the same water that dinosaurs drank. We don’t create or destroy water. It just goes around. So we are using engineering to shorten the loop.”

Beware of crocodiles

Following independence on August 9, 1965, the new 700 sq km country relied on three reservoirs and water imported from neighbouring Malaysia.

Today, it collects rainwater through an 8,000-km drain network that empties into 17 reservoirs, and reclaims used water from a deep tunnel sewerage system up to 60 metres below ground.

Singapore, which is recognised as a global leader in water technology, set up a water planning unit in 1972. Unlike Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo, it does not have land outside the city to act as huge catchment areas.

Eleven government agencies joined up from 1977 to 1987 to clean the heavily polluted Singapore River and Kallang Basin in the main commercial area.

The city relocated 610 pig farms and 500 duck farms (later barring such farms), transferred 5,000 street hawkers to food centres, and moved boats east to the Pasir Panjang area.

Madhavan said the biggest challenge was relocating 46,000 squatters living in squalid conditions without sewers into housing blocks.

More than 260 tonnes of rubbish were removed, the area was landscaped, and in 1987, fish returned to the waters.

Worried about pollution, authorities initially kept people away from the waterways.

“We even had warning signs about crocodiles (which had been spotted in the reservoirs) to keep people away,” Madhavan said.

Singapore has since shifted its stance, opening waterfront areas such as Marina Reservoir, where people kayak, bike and fly kites against a backdrop of the city’s highrise skyline.

Holy grail of desalination

Singapore’s “four national taps” supply 400 million gallons each day for 5.4 million people.

The island’s two natural sources are rain and, through an agreement that expires in 2061, up to 250 million gallons per day from Malaysia’s Johor River.

As climate change makes nature’s sources less reliable, Singapore is focusing on its reclaimed and desalinated water taps.

NEWater, introduced in 2003, is the name for used water from the sewerage system, treated and further purified through microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection.

Meeting 30 percent of demand, NEWater is potable but mainly used by industries and during the dry season to top up reservoirs. Singapore aims for NEWater to meet 55 percent of demand by 2060.

The island’s first desalination plant opened in 2005, and desalinated water meets a quarter of demand.

Desalinated water and NEWater are fairly independent of the weather but on the downside, require more energy to produce, Madhavan said.

Conventional reverse osmosis requires 3.5 to 4 kilowatt-hours (kWh) to squeeze seawater through a membrane to make 1,000 litres of freshwater.

Singapore is now building a demonstration plant to scale up tests on electrochemical desalting, which uses an electric field to pull salt out of seawater. Madhavan said PUB hopes to halve energy use.

University researchers are also developing “the holy grail of desalination” – technology that imitates the kidneys, he said.

“This will take some years … They more or less understand how the kidney works to do desalting. But it’s now how to engineer it, how to build it, the enzymes that are key to this process.” More

 

Friday, August 7, 2015

ATTEND A CLIMATE REALITY TRAINING WITH AL GORE

The Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Miami, Florida, which will be held September 28-30, will bring together a select group of individuals committed to addressing the impacts of climate change and implementing the solutions that will define us to future generations. This training is an opportunity to join a global network of leaders committed to solving the climate crisis.

Over the course of three days, you’ll have the opportunity to hear from experts who will share information about the science behind the climate crisis as well as their experiences educating and engaging diverse networks and communities. You will also have the chance to connect with a group of extraordinary leaders from a variety of sectors and countries around the world.

"Life changing," "re-affirming," and "empowering" are just some of the ways past participants have described their experience. Come as a leader, leave as a Climate Reality Leader. More

 

What is holding back the Cayman Islands from implementing more solar and wind energy?

The Caribbean appears to be the ideal location for renewable energy development. Petroleum resources are scarce and renewable resources such as solar, wind and geothermal are plentiful. Energy prices are high as there is no opportunity for economy of scale benefits that large land masses enjoy. Added to that, climate change impacts pose a major threat to the region’s small-island economies that are largely dependent on tourism and agriculture.

Despite this, most Caribbean nations still use imported diesel or oil to generate 90-100% of their energy. So what has been the barrier to using renewables? Many people have pointed to the cost factor. Small economies mean that in most cases countries have difficulty in financing renewable energy projects that require high upfront capital. Also, regulations have been slow in setting clear rules for grid interconnection. These factors have led some international investors and developers to be cautious about entering the Caribbean market. http://bit.ly/1NeB0fj

 

 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Port plan to undergo economic impact assessment

An economic impact assessment for the proposed cruise berthing facility is in the works, The Cayman Reporter understands.

Minister of Finance Hon Marco Archer

Minister of Finance Hon Marco Archer confirmed that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has been contracted to carry out the assessment. The Cayman Reporter inquired if the assessment has already started and how much this assessment will cost the country, but Mr Archer has not responded at press time.

The Cayman Islands has already done an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to the tune of $2.5 million based on the current proposal of a two finger pier. The EIA indicated that dredging and its silt plume could impact 15 acres of coral reef. Now that the EIA has been completed and the Department of Environment (DoE) is the process of completing a report on the assessment to submit to Cabinet, a call for the examination of the proposal’s impact on the entire economy has been made.

Founder and Director-General at The Cayman Institute, Nicholas Robson, said to grasp the full impact of the proposal its impact on the country’s economy must be evaluated. He believes the economic impact assessment should state how financing a cruise port, that could destroy a significant part of the reef on the south-west of the island, will affect the country. He believes it should look at how many jobs will be affected in the retail sector as well as in to water sports industry.

He noted that it is also imperative to analyse the true strengths and weaknesses of the cruise tourism and stay-over tourism to these islands.

"We should be weighing up the cruise passenger industry and its per-capita spend against stay-over tourism. Should we be looking into lengthening the runway to 10,000 feet to be able to accommodate long haul flights from Europe and points east? The Persian Gulf and China have many high net worth individuals which may well want to come to the Cayman Islands. We have already had Mr. Lee Ka-Shing one of the richest men in Hong Kong residing and doing business here," he said. Furthermore, Mr Robson stated that it is important for Cayman to know how many cruise passengers it can manage. "If we try and take too many cruise passengers per day none will have an enjoyable experience," he said.

Commenting on his own stance on the port plans Mr Robson said he is for any initiative that will have the greatest benefit to the majority of the people in the Cayman Islands. "A decision made today will affect the Cayman islands for many years into the future. Furthermore, with Cuba opening up the cruise industry may find that more passengers want to go to Cuba, causing some of the cruise lines dropping Cayman," he said.

The Advancement of Cruise Tourism in the Cayman Islands (ACT) member Chris Kirkconnell told The Cayman Reporter that the ACT was formed because members involved in the cruise industry felt that the Cayman Islands Tourism Association (CITA), the tourism sector’s representative group, was only concerned about stay-over businesses. Those involved in cruise felt that in order to have a voice they had to start a group of their own.

"Once we formed ACT CITA tried to convince us that we didn’t need a separate entity and it seemed like they were trying to give us some kind of attention up until now. If you look at the member makeup of CITA its much more heavily stay-over focused than cruise," Mr Kirkconnell expressed. More

 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Climate Reality Training in Miami with Al Gore

I’m reaching out today on behalf of The Climate Reality Project, an organization started by former Vice President Al Gore focused on creating a global movement calling for action on climate. We have an upcoming training opportunity in Miami, Florida that I believe you and others who follow The Cayman Institute / The Climate War Room will be interested in.

As we are all aware, the time has come for action on climate. On September 28-30 in Miami, The Climate Reality Project and Mr. Gore will be hosting a training for new Climate Reality Leaders to help grow the movement. There has never been a better time to engage your friends and colleagues on this issue. The Miami training will not only provide attendees with cutting edge tools to most effectively communicate climate change to your community but will also enter them into a community of over 8,000 devoted individuals from 126 countries who are committed to using their voices to address the climate crisis.

Our training in Miami will highlight the unique challenges that climate change poses to the state of Florida and what some local governments are already doing to tackle them; Florida’s huge untapped solar energy generating capacity; and the role of the ever strengthening Latino voice and vote in driving climate action. At the training, Mr. Gore, and experts and influencers from across the climate sphere will present in panels, take questions, and host breakout sessions.

We encourage you to recommend outstanding leaders in your personal and professional life who would be well suited for giving presentations and helping to build strong support for action on climate change. They can apply for the Climate Leadership Corps Training here. I’ve also attached a document you can share with your network, which has a little more information about who we are and what the Miami training will cover. The deadline to apply is August 26th, 2015.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

Warm regards,

Joseph Moran | Program Assistant-Climate Reality Leadership Corps

750 Ninth Street, NW, Suite 520 | Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE OF CONFIDENTIALITY & DISCLAIMER
The information contained in this e-mail and any attachments is CONFIDENTIAL and is intended only for the use of the addressee. Any unauthorized use, disclosure, distribution, dissemination, or copying is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you are not the intended recipient, you are prohibited from any further viewing of the e-mail or any attachments or from making any use of the e-mail or attachments. If you believe you have received this e-mail in error, notify us immediately and permanently delete the e-mail, any attachments, and all copies thereof from any drives or storage media and destroy any printouts of the e-mail or attachments and any copies of such printouts. Although this e-mail and any attachments are believed to be free of any virus or other defect that might negatively affect any computer system into which it is received and opened, it is the responsibility of the recipient to ensure that it is virus-free and no responsibility is accepted by the sender for any loss or damage arising in any way in the event that such a virus or defect exists. Thank you for your cooperation.

UNFCCC’s Internship Programme - General Information and Governing Conditions

Purpose

The objective of the internship programme is to provide a framework through which postgraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds may be assigned to the UNFCCC secretariat to enhance their educational experience through practical work assignments. It allows selected candidates to gain insight into the work of the United Nations and provides assistance and training in various professional fields.

UNFCCC secretariat’s internship programme is coordinated by the Administrative Services Programme and a designated focal point is responsible for liaising with the relevant substantive programmes for placement of interns. At the end of an internship period, both the intern and the staff member acting as his/her supervisor are required to submit an evaluation report to the designated focal point of the Internship Programme.

Eligibility requirements

i) An undergraduate degree should have been completed with work on a Master degree in progress. Applicants should therefore be enrolled in a recognized university course of study in fields related to the work of the UNFCCC secretariat (including economics, environmental sciences, international law, international relations, natural sciences, political science, human resources and/or public administration, event management, IT/computer sciences, and communication) at the time of application and during the entire period of internship.

ii) Applicants should be able to work in English.

Applicants pursuing their studies in countries where higher education is not divided into undergraduate and postgraduate stages should have completed at least four years of study and be a student at the time of application and during the internship.

Terms and conditions

a) The normal duration of an internship is two months, which can be extended for an additional period of two months by mutual consultation and consent. The total duration may exceptionally be extended to a maximum period of six months when there are special academic requirements or special needs of the receiving programme.

b) Applicants may not be related - i.e. spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son - to a staff member of the UNFCCC secretariat.

c) Upon selection for an internship placement, an ‘Internship Agreement’ is forwarded to the confirmed candidate for signature and returned together with proof of medical insurance coverage for the entire duration of the internship. This must be done prior to the agreed starting date.

d) There is no promise of employment either during or upon completion of an internship with the UNFCCC secretariat.

e) An intern with UNFCCC secretariat is not a staff member of the UNFCCC secretariat, therefore the privileges and immunities agreed between the UNFCCC secretariat and the host Government do not apply to interns.

f) An intern undertakes to conduct himself/herself at all times in a manner compatible with his/her responsibilities as an intern of the UNFCCC secretariat.

g) The intern is required to keep confidential all unpublished information made known during the course of the internship, and must not publish any reports or papers on the basis of information obtained, except with the prior written authorization of the UNFCCC secretariat. These obligations will not lapse upon the expiration of the internship period. More

 

UNFCCC’s Internship Programme - General Information and Governing Conditions

Purpose

The objective of the internship programme is to provide a framework through which postgraduate students from diverse academic backgrounds may be assigned to the UNFCCC secretariat to enhance their educational experience through practical work assignments. It allows selected candidates to gain insight into the work of the United Nations and provides assistance and training in various professional fields.

UNFCCC secretariat’s internship programme is coordinated by the Administrative Services Programme and a designated focal point is responsible for liaising with the relevant substantive programmes for placement of interns. At the end of an internship period, both the intern and the staff member acting as his/her supervisor are required to submit an evaluation report to the designated focal point of the Internship Programme.

Eligibility requirements

i) An undergraduate degree should have been completed with work on a Master degree in progress. Applicants should therefore be enrolled in a recognized university course of study in fields related to the work of the UNFCCC secretariat (including economics, environmental sciences, international law, international relations, natural sciences, political science, human resources and/or public administration, event management, IT/computer sciences, and communication) at the time of application and during the entire period of internship.

ii) Applicants should be able to work in English.

Applicants pursuing their studies in countries where higher education is not divided into undergraduate and postgraduate stages should have completed at least four years of study and be a student at the time of application and during the internship.

Terms and conditions

a) The normal duration of an internship is two months, which can be extended for an additional period of two months by mutual consultation and consent. The total duration may exceptionally be extended to a maximum period of six months when there are special academic requirements or special needs of the receiving programme.

b) Applicants may not be related - i.e. spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son - to a staff member of the UNFCCC secretariat.

c) Upon selection for an internship placement, an ‘Internship Agreement’ is forwarded to the confirmed candidate for signature and returned together with proof of medical insurance coverage for the entire duration of the internship. This must be done prior to the agreed starting date.

d) There is no promise of employment either during or upon completion of an internship with the UNFCCC secretariat.

e) An intern with UNFCCC secretariat is not a staff member of the UNFCCC secretariat, therefore the privileges and immunities agreed between the UNFCCC secretariat and the host Government do not apply to interns.

f) An intern undertakes to conduct himself/herself at all times in a manner compatible with his/her responsibilities as an intern of the UNFCCC secretariat.

g) The intern is required to keep confidential all unpublished information made known during the course of the internship, and must not publish any reports or papers on the basis of information obtained, except with the prior written authorization of the UNFCCC secretariat. These obligations will not lapse upon the expiration of the internship period. More

 

Fossil Fuels: Four Big Reasons for Hope

The fossil-fuels crowd seems to have a thing for China and India. It feels like at least in the US, at least half the discussions of clean energy and climate change you see on television end with the anti-renewable voice saying, “Well what about China and India? It doesn’t matter what we do if they keep polluting.”

The rest tends to go to script as, almost without fail, a satisfied smirk the size of Texas then creeps into view as our fossil-fuels friend then leans back in his or her chair. Job done. Mission accomplished. Time to head home and light up a victory-lap Cuban.

But here’s the thing. When we think about the biggest reasons for hope that humanity is finally getting its act together to protect this precious planet of ours from climate change, what comes to mind isn’t the Gigafactory that Tesla CEO Elon Musk is building to revolutionize electric vehicles and energy storage. Or how Costa Rica is committed to going carbon-neutral by 2021. Or the fact that Norway is dropping coal investments from its sovereign wealth fund.

It’s China and India.

The world’s first and third-largest economies in 2015 (measured by purchasing power parity) are both stepping up their commitment to renewable energy and China in particular is also working to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 – and aiming to do so sooner. Maybe the most exciting part of all is the fact that this choice isn’t driven by any kind of misguided idealism. It’s a clear-eyed business decision made by leaders looking at the realities of fossil fuels and what they mean for the health of millions of citizens and their respective economies – and recognizing that clean energy is the smart long-term bet.

Admittedly, China’s further along this path than India and both have some ways to go before their power plants are no longer belching dirty coal soot and carbon pollution by the metric ton. But when nations of this size and aspiration begin shifting to new models of development increasingly powered by renewables and seeing it pay off as their economies keep growing, it sends a clear signal to other emerging countries that clean energy can work.

After highlighting some of the countries with a track record of embracing renewables and flourishing today we’re looking at how recent converts to the clean-energy cause are showing over and over that the way to economic success in the twenty-first century is powered by smart technologies like wind and solar. So the next time someone says, “Well what about China and India,” you can say, “Well let me tell you about China and India. And Brazil and Mexico too . . .” More

 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Obama to Unveil Tougher Climate Plan With His Legacy in Mind

WASHINGTON — In the strongest action ever taken in the United States to combat climate change, President Obama will unveil on Monday a set of environmental regulations devised to sharply cut planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from the nation’s power plants and ultimately transform America’s electricity industry.

The rules are the final, tougher versions of proposed regulations that the Environmental Protection Agency announced in 2012 and 2014. If they withstand the expected legal challenges, the regulations will set in motion sweeping policy changes that could shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants, freeze construction of new coal plants and create a boom in the production of wind and solar power and other renewable energy sources.

As the president came to see the fight against climate change as central to his legacy, as important as the Affordable Care Act, he moved to strengthen the energy proposals, advisers said. The health law became the dominant political issue of the 2010 congressional elections and faced dozens of legislative assaults before surviving two Supreme Court challenges largely intact.

"Climate change is not a problem for another generation, not anymore," Mr. Obama said in a video posted on Facebook at midnight Saturday. He called the new rules "the biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken to combat climate change."

The most aggressive of the regulations requires the nation’s existing power plants to cut emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, an increase from the 30 percent target proposed in the draft regulation.

That new rule also demands that power plants use more renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power. While the proposed rule would have allowed states to lower emissions by transitioning from plants fired by coal to plants fired by natural gas, which produces about half the carbon pollution of coal, the final rule is intended to push electric utilities to invest more quickly in renewable sources, raising to 28 percent from 22 percent the share of generating capacity that would come from such sources.

In its final version, the rule retains the same basic structure as the draft proposal: It assigns each state a target for reducing its carbon pollution from power plants, but allows states to create their own custom plans for doing so. States have to submit an initial version of their plans by 2016 and final versions by 2018.

But over all, the final rule is even stronger than earlier drafts and can be seen as an effort by Mr. Obama to stake out an uncompromising position on the issue during his final months in office.

The anticipated final climate change regulations have already set off what is expected to be broad legal, legislative and political backlash as dozens of states, major corporations and industry groups prepare to file lawsuits challenging them.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, has started an unusual pre-emptive campaign against the rules, asking governors to refuse to comply. Attorneys general from more than a dozen states are preparing legal challenges against the plan. Experts estimate that as many as 25 states will join in a suit against the rules and that the disputes will end up before the Supreme Court.

Leading the legal charge are states like Wyoming and West Virginia with economies that depend heavily on coal mining or cheap coal-fired electricity. Emissions from coal-fired power plants are the nation’s single largest source of carbon pollution, and lawmakers who oppose the rules have denounced them as a "war on coal."

"Once the E.P.A. finalizes this regulation, West Virginia will go to court, and we will challenge it," Patrick Morrisey, the attorney general of West Virginia, said in an interview with a radio station in the state on Friday. "We think this regulation is terrible for the consumers of the state of West Virginia. It’s going to lead to reduced jobs, higher electricity rates, and really will put stress on the reliability of the power grid. The worst part of this proposal is that it’s flatly illegal under the Clean Air Act and the Constitution, and we intend to challenge it vigorously."

Although Obama administration officials have repeatedly said states will have flexibility to design their own plans, the final rules are explicitly meant to encourage the use of interstate cap-and-trade systems, in which states place a cap on carbon pollution and then create a market for buying permits or credits to pollute. The idea is that forcing companies to pay to pollute will drive them to cleaner sources of energy.

That new rule also demands that power plants use more renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power

Mr. Obama tried but failed to push through a cap-and-trade bill in his first term, and since then, the term has become politically toxic: Republicans have attacked the idea as "cap and tax."

But if the climate change regulations withstand legal challenges, many states could still end up putting cap-and-trade systems into effect. Officials familiar with the final rules said that in many cases, the easiest and cheapest way for states to comply would be by adopting cap-and-trade systems.

The rules take into account the fact that some states may refuse to submit plans, and on Monday, the administration will also unveil a template for a plan to be imposed on such states. That plan will include the option of allowing a state to join an interstate cap-and-trade system.

The rules will also offer financial benefits for states that choose to take part in cap-and-trade systems. The final rules will extend until 2022 the timeline for states and electric utilities to comply, two years later than originally proposed. But states that begin to take actions to cut carbon pollution as early as 2020 will be rewarded with carbon reduction credits — essentially, pollution permits that can be sold for cash in a cap-and-trade market.

Climate scientists warn that rising greenhouse gas emissions are rapidly moving the planet toward a global atmospheric temperature increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, the point past which the world will be locked into a future of rising sea levels, more devastating storms and droughts, and shortages of food and water. Mr. Obama’s new rules alone will not be enough to stave off that future. But experts say that if the rules are combined with similar action from the world’s other major economies, as well as additional action by the next American president, emissions could level off enough to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Mr. Obama intends to use the new rules to push other countries to commit to deep reductions in their own carbon emissions before a United Nations summit meeting in Paris in December, when a global accord to fight climate change is expected to be signed.

Mr. Obama’s pledge that the United States would enact the climate change rules was at the heart of a pact that he made last year with President Xi Jinping of China, committing their nations, the world’s two largest carbon polluters, to substantially cut emissions.

"It’s the linchpin of the administration’s domestic effort and international effort on climate change," said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, a research organization. "It raises the diplomatic stakes in the run-up to Paris. He can take it on the road and use it as leverage with other big economies — China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia."

While opponents of the rules have estimated that compliance will cost billions of dollars, raise residential electricity rates and slow the American economy, the administration argues that the rules will save the average American family $85 annually in electricity costs and bring additional health benefits by reducing emissions of pollutants that cause asthma and lung disease.

The rules will be announced at a White House ceremony on Monday and signed by Gina McCarthy, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator. While the ceremony is scheduled to take place on the White House’s South Lawn, officials said it might be moved indoors to the East Room after forecasters predicted that the weather would be too hot.

 

 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Nuclear Nonproliferation

Our 70th Anniversary Homework: Confronting the Myths and Learning the Lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Seventy years ago, two nuclear weapons targeted against cities which met the criteria of having “densely packed workers’ homes,” killed more than 200,000 people in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the years that have followed, many more have suffered and died from cancers, radiation disease, genetic damage and other fallout from the atom bombings.

The myths that the A-bombings were necessary to end the war against Japan and that they saved the lives of half a million US troops remain widely believed. The myths serve as the ideological foundation for continuing U.S. preparations for nuclear war, which in turn has served as the primary driver of nuclear weapons proliferation and the creation of deterrent nuclear arsenals

It is no accident that this wartime propaganda took on a life of its own. Japanese and other journalists’ film footage and photos of the devastation wrought by the A-bombs taken within days of the A-bombings, were seized by U.S. Occupation forces and were locked away in Pentagon vaults for more than two decades. In 1995, the Smithsonian Museum’s initially excellent 50th anniversary exhibition was censored beyond recognition to prevent people from seeing what the A-bombs inflicted on human beings. Also removed were the facts that U.S. Secretary of War Stimson had advised Truman that Japan’s surrender “could be arranged on terms acceptable to the United States” without the atom bombings. (That arrangement was later deemed acceptable – even necessary – by U.S. military occupation authorities.) Indeed, before it was sterilized, the exhibit included quotations from senior US wartime military leaders including Admiral Leahy and General (later President) Eisenhower who thought, “It wasn’t necessary to hit [Japanese] with that awful thing.”

Scholars now know that numerous factors contributed to Truman’s decision to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki and their civilian populations. These include Truman’s political calculations as he looked to the 1948 presidential election, vengeance, racism, institutional inertia, and the callousness that came with already having burned more than sixty Japanese cities to the ground.

But, as General Leslie Groves, the commander of the Manhattan Project, told senior scientist Joseph Rotblat, the bombs came to be designed for the Soviet Union. The determinative reasons for the A-bombings were to bring the war to an immediate end so that the US could avoid sharing influence with the USSR in Northern China, Manchuria and Korea and to intimidate Stalin and other Soviet leaders by demonstrating the apocalyptic power of nuclear weapons and Washington’s willingness to use them – even against civilians. Little Boy and Fat Man, as the bombs were named, announced the beginning of the Cold War.

Americans also continue to suffer from the misconception that nuclear weapons have not been used since the Nagasaki A-bombing on August 9, 1945. In fact, the US, and to a lesser degree the other nuclear powers, have repeatedly used their nuclear arsenals. Long ago, Daniel Ellsberg, a senior Pentagon nuclear war planner for Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, explained that the US has repeatedly used nuclear weapons “in the way that you use a gun when you point it at someone’s head in a confrontation….whether or not you pull the trigger...[and] You’re also using it when you have it on your hip ostentatiously.” During wars and international crises, the US has prepared and/or threatened to initiate nuclear war on at least thirty occasions - at least 15 times during the Korean and Vietnam Wars and crises with China, and at least 10 times to reinforce US Middle East hegemony. And each of the other eight nuclear powers has made such threats or preparations at least once.

Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control, reported last December to the International Conference on the Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, attended by representatives of 158 governments that luck, not state policies and regulations, best explains why humanity has survived nuclear blackmail, reckless dependence on deterrence, miscalculations and nuclear accidents.

Still more sobering are the recent scientific studies demonstrating that even a “small” exchange of 50-100 nuclear weapons targeted against cities would result in fires, smoke that would cause global cooling, and up to two billion deaths from famine.

All of which lead to a series of existential questions: As we race against time to save our civilizations from the impending ravages of climate change, why are our governments preparing to inflict nuclear annihilation? Why do we tolerate the continued deployment and stockpiling of nearly 16,000 nuclear weapons, 90% of them in U.S. and Russian arsenals? Why have the P-5 nuclear powers (US, Russia, Britain, France and China) refused to implement their 45 year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligation to begin negotiations for the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals? And why did the US condemn this past spring’s NPT Review Conference to failure by refusing to honor its long-standing commitment to co-convene a conference to lay the foundations for a nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East?

There are high costs to denying history and reality. In a worst case scenario, the failure of the US and the other nuclear powers to heed the warning of A-bomb survivors that human beings and nuclear weapons cannot coexist is the end to life on earth as we know it.

The majority of the world’s governments are not in similar denial. The NPT Review Conference’s one achievement was the commitment of the vast majority of the world’s governments the Humanitarian Pledge. Initiated by Austria, 113 governments pledged “to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders, states, international organizations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, parliamentarians and civil society, in efforts to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks.” The gulf between the non-nuclear weapons states and the nuclear powers has widened, and in time the former may use their economic, political and other power in the struggle to secure humanity’s future.

On August 6, many in Japan will appreciate the silent presence of U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy at Hiroshima’s official 70th anniversary commemoration, but there will be no apology. And, even as we celebrate and work for the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran, the sorry truth is that the US is now on track to spend one trillion dollars to “modernize” its nuclear arsenal and delivery systems, with the other nuclear powers following the U.S. lead. And, despite his pledge in Prague, President Obama has retired fewer nuclear weapons that any other US post-Cold War President.

As the US-Russian confrontation, marked by implicit and explicit nuclear threats remids us, we are living on borrowed time. Seventy years after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bombings, human survival still hanging in the balance. Midst the carnival of the 2016 presidential election, let us insist that those who seek to rule us and the world finally learn the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Never again to anyone! No more Hiroshimas! No More Nagasakis! No more nuclear weapons!