|Saudi King Salman bin Abdulazi|
Black gold hemorrhage
From riches to rags
End of the road
Last weekend, representatives of 195 countries reached a landmark accord in Paris to lower planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. On Tuesday, local leaders in San Diego committed to making a city-size dent in the problem.
With a unanimous City Council vote, San Diego, the country’s eighth-largest city, became the largest American municipality to transition to using 100 percent renewable energy, including wind and solar power. In the wake of the Paris accord, environmental groups hailed the move as both substantive and symbolic.
Other big cities, including New York and San Francisco, have said they intend to use more renewable energy, but San Diego is the first of them to make the pledge legally binding. Under the ordinance, it has committed to completing its transition and cutting its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2035.
The steps to get there may include transferring some control of power management to the city from the local utility. Officials said they would also shift half of the city’s fleet to electric vehicles by 2020 and recycle 98 percent of the methane produced by sewage and water treatment plants.
The mayor, Kevin L. Faulconer, said San Diego’s ocean, sunshine and other environmental attributes were “in our fabric, our DNA, who we are.”
The City Council is controlled by Democrats, but Mr. Faulconer is a Republican. He sold the plan to a conservative business base in part by saying that transforming the electric grid would drive the economy and create jobs.
“It’s not a partisan issue at all,” he said. “It’s about putting a marker down. It’s the right thing to do.”
Many details have yet to be determined, including how the new power sources will be delivered and managed. But the mayor said the key first step was to commit to a goal — to “make sure we set it and hold to it.”
The San Diego ordinance has been years in the making. But Nicole Capretz, an author of an earlier draft and now an environmental advocate, characterized it as a concrete step in the direction set by world leaders in Paris.
“We’re responding to that call,” Ms. Capretz said. “It’s up to cities to blaze new trails. We’re just laying out the pathway for how to get these massive reductions worldwide.”
Under the Paris accord, nations offered general, nonbinding plans to reduce their carbon emissions.
Officials in the United States envision reaching the nation’s goals mainly through higher fuel-economy standards for cars and a move to cleaner sources of electrical power, something states could help oversee.
This is where the actions of a city like San Diego fit in. As the city moves to renewable energy, the State of California can begin to build its bank of carbon reductions and contribute to global goals.
Evan Gillespie, director of the Sierra Club’s clean energy campaign in California, estimated that San Diego’s plan would lead to an annual reduction of seven million metric tons of greenhouse gases, a contribution to California’s broader effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.
Those targets are California’s own — passed by a state government that is seen as one of the most ambitious on climate change, and that is as influential as many countries given its size — and not set by the federal government.
Ms. Capretz, who wrote a version of the plan for Mr. Faulconer’s predecessor, said that much of the earlier version remained in the measure adopted Tuesday.
Echoing the mayor, she said she expected that much of the renewable energy would come from solar power. “We’re sunny in San Diego, so we’re counting on a lot of homegrown solar on rooftops and parking lots,” she said.
Mr. Gillespie said San Diego had laid down a challenge to other cities. “We need others to see this and say, ‘Game on,’ ” he added. “We need places like Los Angeles, like San Francisco and New York, to step up.” More
The Cayman Islands must set more aggressive targets on increasing renewable energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the light of the Paris agreement on climate change, green energy advocates have said.
The Paris climate deal, hailed as an historic feat of international diplomacy, established a commitment from 195 countries to contain planet-warming carbon emissions.
Cayman, as a British territory, was not involved in the talks and is not a direct signatory to the agreement, which set a goal of reducing global temperature rises to less than 2C. The final submissions to the agreement are not enforceable and carry no consequences.
However. James Whittaker, president of the Cayman Renewable Energy Association, said the Paris accord represents a “paradigm shift” in the international approach to climate change and suggested Cayman would have to get on board.
Tim Austin, deputy director of the Department of Environment, said the National Conservation Council is also pushing for clearer and more ambitious targets.
A draft national energy policy, published in 2013, sets a goal that 13.5 percent of electricity sold should be generated from renewable sources by 2030. It also targets a 19 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to a “business as usual scenario.”
Mr. Whittaker said the Paris agreement, referred to as COP 21, represents an international consensus that far more radical action is needed. He said Cayman’s targets on renewable energy are among the least ambitious of any country.
While Cayman’s net contribution to climate change is negligible, the territory is among the highest producers of carbon emissions per capita in the world, according to Mr. Austin.
Mr. Whittaker, added, “I believe COP 21 sets ambitious climate change benchmarks globally and it clearly suggests that Cayman must take a more aggressive approach to adopting renewable energy and reducing our carbon emissions. This is something CREA have been telling the government for some time now. That said, it still doesn’t appear the decision-makers in government are yet paying attention to the critical issues of renewable energy and carbon reduction.”
He added, “I am cautiously optimistic that the government will finally wake up and realize that this paradigm shift is happening all over the world for a reason and will start to ensure it happens in Cayman soon.”
Mr. Austin said the Cayman Islands could request to be included in commitments coming out of the agreement.
“At the moment, the U.K. does not push out those climate agreements to its territories, but this could potentially change with Cayman’s recent request to the U.K. government to include Cayman in its second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol (2013-2020).
“The National Conservation Council is currently working on a climate change policy and would like to see clearer, more ambitious targets, in line with what the U.K. has signed up to.”
He said the Paris summit represents a significant milestone in gaining an international consensus that something needs to be done to curb the amounts of CO2 going into the atmosphere and limit the consequences of global warming.
Mr. Austin said the ambitious targets set in Paris were driven, in part, by small-island states concerned about the consequences of climate change.
|Tim Austin - DOE|
In 2009, the Maldives, one of the flattest countries on Earth, held a Cabinet meeting underwater in scuba gear as a stunt to generate publicity for the consequences of not acting on the issue.
Cayman’s position is less grave, but Mr. Austin warns that with the majority of Cayman’s population and major infrastructure located a short distance from the coastline, increasing storm intensity and flood risk present a potentially significant challenge.
He said the impact of climate change is already evident on coral reefs around Cayman.
Mr. Whittaker said Cayman’s size should not stop it from doing its part.
“While our aggregate emissions are small compared to large economies, we emit a lot of carbon per capita on this little island. I believe it’s a hypocritical and shortsighted position to just let the rest of the world handle it when we are expecting others to do things we are not willing to do ourselves.
“We need to show leadership here, regionally and globally. If we expect the world to change we have to be part of that change.” More
George Monbiot superbly sums up the talks, saying: “By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.”
|The Path From Paris|
He writes that: “A maximum of 1.5C, now an aspirational and unlikely target, was eminently achievable when the first UN climate change conference took place in Berlin in 1995. Two decades of procrastination, caused by lobbying – overt, covert and often downright sinister – by the fossil fuel lobby, coupled with the reluctance of governments to explain to their electorates that short-term thinking has long-term costs, ensure that the window of opportunity is now three-quarters shut. The talks in Paris are the best there have ever been. And that is a terrible indictment.””
Here is 350’s Bill McKibben, following up on the Avaaz positive clarion call to arms with a powerful article in today’s Guardian titled ‘Climate deal: the pistol has fired, so why aren’t we running?’
“With the climate talks in Paris now over, the world has set itself a serious goal: limit temperature rise to 1.5C. Or failing that, 2C. Hitting those targets is absolutely necessary: even the one-degree rise that we’ve already seen is wreaking havoc on everything from ice caps to ocean chemistry. But meeting it won’t be easy, given that we’re currently on track for between 4C and 5C. Our only hope is to decisively pick up the pace . . . the only important question, is: how fast . . .
“You’ve got to stop fracking right away (in fact, that may be the greatest imperative of all, since methane gas does its climate damage so fast). You have to start installing solar panels and windmills at a breakneck pace – and all over the world. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel have to end yesterday, and the huge subsidies to renewable energy had better begin tomorrow. You have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly, so everyone gets a clear signal to get off of it . . .
“The world’s fossil fuel companies still have five times the carbon we can burn and have any hope of meeting even the 2C target – and they’re still determined to burn it. The Koch Brothers will spend $900m on this year’s American elections. As we know from the ongoing Exxon scandal, there’s every reason to think that this industry will lie at every turn in an effort to hold on to their power –
What this boils down to is not an issue of National Security, but of Global Security, of Planetary Security. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel companies must be clawed back and put towards the Clean Energy Agenda. This is particularly an issue given what we know from the ongoing Exxon scandal, there’s every reason to think that this industry will lie at every turn unless made to pay for their endangerment of humanity.
We have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly and use this income to mitigate and sequester carbon in the atmosphere.
Kevin Anderson concludes that we have to make: “Fundamental changes to the political and economic framing of contemporary society. This is a mitigation challenge far beyond anything discussed in Paris – yet without it our well-intended aspirations will all too soon wither and die on the vine. We owe our children, our planet and ourselves more than that. So let Paris be the catalyst for a new paradigm – one in which we deliver a sustainable, equitable and prosperous future for all.”
We must remember that the Montreal Treaty did work. Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations stated "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date has been the Montreal Protocol" Remember; "It always seems impossible until it's done" Nelson Mandela. More
Please go to Gaia: Defenders of Biodirversity to sign the letter
Building on solid, scientific documentation and concrete-getions on the ground, the "4%o Initiative: soils for food security and climate" aims to show that food security and combating climate climate are complementary and to ensure that agriculture provides sblutions to climate change.
This initiative consists of a voluntary action plan under the Lima Paris Agenda for Action (LPAA), backed up by a strong and ambitious research program.
The "4%o" Initiative aims to improve the organic matter content and promote carbon sequestration in soils through the application of agricultural practices adapted to local situations both economically, environmentally and socially, such as agro-ecology, agroforestry, conservation agriculture and landscape management.
* The Initiative engages stakeholders in a transition towards a productive, resilient agriculture, based on a sustainable soil management and generating jobs and incomes, hence ensuring sustainable development.
* Thanks to its high level of ambition, this Initiative is part of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda and contributes to the sustainable development goals to reach a land-degradation neutral world.
* All the stakeholders commit together in a voluntary action plan to implement farming practices
that maintain or enhance soil carbon stock on as many agricultural soils as possible and to preserve carbon-rich soils. Every stakeholder commits on an objective, actions (including soil carbon stock management and other accompanying measures, for example index-based insurance, payment for ecosystem services, and so on), a time-line and resources.
The Initiative aims to send out a strong signal concerning the potential of agriculture to contribute to the long-term objective of a carbon-neutral economy.
Our capacity to feed 9.5 billion people in 2050 in a context of climate change will depend in particular on our ability to keep our soils alive. The health of soils, for which sufficient organic matter is the main indicator, strongly controls agricultural production. Stable and productive soils affect the resilience of farms to cope with the effects of climate change.
Primarily composed of carbon, the organic matter in soils plays a role in four important ecosystem services: resistance to soil erosion, soil water retention, soil fertility for plants and soil biodiversity.
Even small changes of the soil carbon pool have tremendous effects both on agricultural productivity and on greenhouse gas balance.
Maintaining organic carbon-rich soils, restoring and improving degraded agricultural lands and, in general terms, increasing the soil carbon, play an important role in addressing the three-fold challenge of food security, adaptation of food systems and people to climate change, and the mitigation of anthropogenic emissions. To achieve this, concrete solutions do exist and need to be scaled up. More