Conference on climate change in Poland

December 1, 2008 at 3:30 am | Posted in Climate and economy, Climate and politics | Leave a comment
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Photo by Marcin Wichery.

Coal, cars and climate. Photo by Marcin Wichery.

This week delegates from more than 190 countries will meet in Poland to discuss climate change and a successor treaty for the expiring Kyoto Protocol.

In a sign of the challenges associated with forging any international agreement about how to act, they will find a country – and a region – that are torn by internal quibbles over climate change policies.

The Poznan meeting has been organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and takes place in preparation for a planned climate change conference in Copenhagen in 2009.  At the Copenhagen meeting, a new international climate change treaty may be ratified to replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.  

Bridging the differences of opinion about how to respond to climate change, however, could take at least another year or longer.

On the eve of next week’s Poznan conference, The New York Times’ blog Green Inc. has reported a squabble in Poland over the economic costs of implementing an emissions permitting system proposed for the European Union.  

The tiff began with the release of a September report that argued the permitting system would curb the country’s economic growth.  

Along with Italy, Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk campaigned at a EU meeting in October against a new package of climate change policies, including the more stringent permitting platform.

Continue Reading Conference on climate change in Poland…

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Busy week for climate change

November 20, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Posted in Climate and economy, Climate and politics | Leave a comment
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It’s been another busy week for pronouncements and announcements about climate change.  Indeed, it seems with each passing day since Senator Barack Obama was declared President-elect, the Google alert lists for ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ grow longer.

At the start of the week, President-elect Obama signaled that climate change is a priority issue for his administration by addressing via video message an international conference on global warming hosted by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. 

In his message, Obama reiterated his plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and pave the way for deeper reductions by 2050 with investments in clean energy. 

According to The Boston Globe, Obama said in his message:

“Few challenges facing America – and the world – are more urgent than combating climate change,” he said in the video. “Climate change and our dependence on foreign oil, if left unaddressed, will continue to weaken our economy and threaten our national security.”

Obama continued that “too often, Washington has failed to show the same kind of leadership. That will change when I take office. My presidency will mark a new chapter in America’s leadership on climate change that will strengthen our security and create millions of new jobs in the process.”

Continue Reading Busy week for climate change…

Adding climate change into the economic forecasts

November 3, 2008 at 1:36 am | Posted in Climate and economy | Leave a comment
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Once again it’s been a week of numbers.  The Dow Jones stock index rallied 11.3 percent over the last week, along with other stock measures around the world.  The Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan cut interest rates to grease lending and spending.  Consumer spending declined in the U.S. for the first time in 17 years, and a bailout’s now being considered for Detroit’s Big Three automakers. 

Courtesy of thisbluedot.net.

Courtesy of thisbluedot.net.

Despite – and perhaps because of – the maelstrom of mostly dark economic news over the last few weeks, there is now more and more talk about how dealing with climate change should figure into economic planning. 

On Monday former World Bank economist Nicholas Stern issued a warning that ignoring the risks posed by climate change could result in far greater consequences than ignoring risks in the financial system. 

Stern is famous for a 700-page economic report he released in 2006, which claimed inaction on climate change could result in disasters on the scale of the Great Depression or World Wars I and II. 

Continue Reading Adding climate change into the economic forecasts…

PBS Gets “Heat”

October 22, 2008 at 5:44 am | Posted in Climate and economy, Climate and politics, Climate solutions | 1 Comment
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This is so HOT. 

And I almost missed it.  But I took a minute to visit SolveClimate, an excellent blog about climate change, earlier tonight and found a notice about the new PBS documentary “HEAT” just in time to tune in. 

The full program, which was produced by the Frontline producer Martin Smith, is available to watch for free on the PBS Web site. 

“I have reported on the Cold War, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the rise of Al Qaeda, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,” says Smith. “But nothing matches climate change in scope and severity.”

The report, split into four chapters, investigates how governments and major companies, such as Exxon Mobil and General Motors, are responding to the threat of climate change. 

Continue Reading PBS Gets “Heat”…

Florida releases a climate-change action plan

October 19, 2008 at 11:46 pm | Posted in Climate and economy, Climate solutions | Leave a comment
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While the U.S. Congress has failed to pass legislation that would establish CO2 emissions reduction goals, individual states have been getting busy. 

According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, at least 31 states have created plans that outline climate-change “mitigation” goals.  The plans outline a mix of policies directed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, from forest restoration efforts to energy-efficiency improvements. 

Last week, the state of Florida became the latest to jump on this new climate-planning bandwagon.

Continue Reading Florida releases a climate-change action plan…

Going green with an economy in the red

October 18, 2008 at 11:41 pm | Posted in Climate and economy | 2 Comments
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With the markets in the midst of a crisis that many are comparing to the Great Depression, some environmentalists are starting to worry that the go-green wave may lose its momentum in the face of more pressing economic concerns.

From bloggers to scientists, a new speculative trend has now begun, with thinkers placing their bets on just what the economic downturn will mean for the environment.  And in the truly free market of ideas, there are always a lot of answers to choose from:

It will be bad: how will we ever find the capital to invest in green technology after handing out $700 billion to the financial industry?

It will be good: people will start wasting less, recycling more, and using less energy.

It will be bad: commodity prices are plummeting and, without a pinch at the gas station, interest in alternative energy sources will flag. 

It will be good: green jobs and the green industry will lead the rebirth of our economy. 

It’s about as much of a yo-yo as the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been in the last few weeks.  To get some perspective on the issue of how economic policies and the environment – specifically climate change – are related, I recently sat down with the University of Chicago geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert.

Geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert.

Geophysicist Raymond Pierrehumbert.

A geophysicist, you ask?  It’s true, Pierrehumbert is not an economic expert, but he is a climatologist who is involved in a new effort to bring scientists and economists together to talk about climate, energy and economics at the University of Chicago. 

Continue Reading Going green with an economy in the red…

Florida sizes up climate risks to investments

October 6, 2008 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Climate and economy | Leave a comment
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Given the events of the last few weeks, it’s little wonder the public’s confidence in the validity of investor confidence has taken a nosedive.  After all, it’s hard to have faith in their risk assessments when it looks like they made a miscalculation on the order of $700 billion plus. 

Yet, Florida’s chief financial officer, Alex Sink, recently made a bet that fund managers will play a critical role in protecting taxpayer dollars from risks associated with climate change. Check out the release.

He’s not going to trust the fund managers to do their own reporting, though. Instead, he’s partnered with RiskMetrics Group, an international risk management company, to analyze how well 21 different investment funds do when it comes to assessing climate risks.

Continue Reading Florida sizes up climate risks to investments…

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