Monday, July 31, 2006
Five years ago I went to northern India and stayed in tiger country. I never saw a tiger. The villagers in the area I stayed reported one night that a tiger was on the prowl. I ventured into a national park that was closed because of tiger poachers -- I was escorted by a ranger. He showed me where they live and the ungulates that are tiger food. Just to be in an area where tigers roam was exciting and a bit of an adrenaline rush. I hope to return and spend time with tigers some time in the future. Unfortunately, I may not make it in time. Tigers are disappearing at a tremendous rate, as the results of this study make clear.
The most comprehensive scientific study of tiger habitats ever done finds that the big cats reside in 40 percent less habitat than they were thought to a decade ago. The tigers now occupy only 7 percent of their historic range. The report and related materials can be downloaded at www.tigermaps.org
This landmark study, commissioned by the Save The Tiger Fund and produced by some of the world's leading tiger scientists at World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, the Smithsonian's National Zoological Park and Save The Tiger Fund, calls for specific international actions to safeguard remaining populations. The study finds that conservation efforts such as protection from poaching, preservation of prey species, and preservation of tigers' natural habitat have resulted in some populations remaining stable and even increasing. But it concludes that long-term success is only achieved where there is a broad landscape-level conservation vision with buy-in from stakeholders.
"This report documents a low-water mark for tigers, and charts a way forward to reverse the tide," said John Robinson of the Wildlife Conservation Society. "We can save tigers forever. However, tiger conservation requires commitment from local partners, governments and international donors, along with effective, science-based conservation efforts to bring the species back to all parts of its biological range."
Synthesizing land use information, maps of human influence, and on-the-ground evidence of tigers, this study identifies 76 "tiger conservation landscapes" -- places and habitats that have the best chance of supporting viable tiger populations into the future. Large carnivore populations like tigers are highly vulnerable to extinction in small and isolated reserves. Half the 76 landscapes can still support 100 tigers or more, providing excellent opportunities for recovery of wild tiger populations. The largest tiger landscapes exist in the Russian Far East and India. Southeast Asia also holds promise to sustain healthy tiger populations although many areas have lost tigers over the last 10 years.
"As tiger range spans borders, so must tiger conservation," said Eric Dinerstein, chief scientist and vice president of conservation science at World Wildlife Fund. "Asia's economic growth should not come at the expense of tiger habitat and the natural capital it protects."
The group's key conclusion from the study is that to safeguard remaining tigers, increased protection of the 20 highest priority tiger conservation landscapes is required. The group also stands ready to support the 13 countries with tigers in a regional effort to save the species. The report's authors suggest that the heads of state of those countries convene a "tiger summit" to elevate tiger conservation on their countries' agendas.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
The US blocks a UN resolution deploring the Qana attack, softening the language. The US opposes an immediate, unconditional cease-fire. Lebanon says thanks, but no thanks to a visit by US Secr. of State Rice. Deadly Israeli Air Strike
July 30, 2006 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Thursday, July 27, 2006
This proposal is not only political suicide, it would lead to wild economic inefficiencies. It is far more efficient to internalize the social cost of carbon emissions in vehicles, at the pump and in the power grid.
Last week, UK environment secretary David Miliband suggested issuing all British adults with an annual carbon allowance. Advocates say the system is fair and would focus people's attention on conserving energy. But could it ever succeed?
Here is how the system would work. For transactions that involve direct purchases of energy, such as buying petrol or paying fuel bills, a person would hand over money and some of the carbon credits he or she had been allocated by government. If those credits ran out, the person would have to buy extra when paying for the fuel or electricity. By regulating the amount of personal credits handed out each year, the government could cap total carbon emissions and help tackle climate change.
"Instead of banning particular products, services or activities — or taxing them heavily — a personal carbon allowance enables citizens to make trade-offs," said Miliband as he floated the idea on 19 July.
Civil servants will look into the proposal and report back to government next year. Researchers who have studied the idea say domestic quotas are a sensible way to extend emissions trading to the personal level — such trading is already used to limit emissions from some European industries. And unlike a blanket carbon tax, it encourages individuals to think about their emissions. "It makes carbon more visible," says Richard Starkey, a carbon-policy expert at the University of Manchester, UK. Starkey also points out that low-income families, which tend to use less energy than higher earners, could save and then sell carbon credits. At current UK emission levels, he reckons each individual would receive around 1.25 tonnes of carbon. For an idea of scale, a 200-km journey in a car that uses petrol would use about 1% of that. The allowance would be worth only a few tens of pounds (or US dollars) at today's prices, but if policies are enacted to meet the ambitious UK target of reducing emissions to 60% below 1990 levels by 2050, that would rise significantly.
Record Heat Wilts Europe, Strains Power Supply and Hurts Crops
By THOMAS CRAMPTON
Published: July 27, 2006
PARIS, July 26 — With Paris, London and Berlin experiencing peak temperatures, matching those of Bangkok, Hong Kong and New Delhi, Europe’s heat wave this summer has already headed for the record books. The severe and prolonged heat has prompted the authorities across Europe to issue advice on everything from personal safety to power use.
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Russia and the Post-Soviet Nations
Russia and the Post-Soviet Nations
Wide-ranging coverage of Russia and the former Soviet republics, updated by The Times's Moscow bureau.
A 1911 record for the highest July temperature in Britain was broken last week when Wisley, a village in Surrey, hit 97.7 degrees.
Mark Vance, an entertainer at Warwick Castle who wears a full suit of armor and was named the man with the hottest job in Britain by The Daily Express, was photographed frying an egg on the breastplate of his outfit.
In the Netherlands, July will probably qualify as the hottest month since temperatures were first measured in 1706, the Dutch meteorological institute, KNMI, said Tuesday.
Many parts of Germany have hit the highest July temperatures since records began to be kept.
The French health minister, Xavier Bertrand, urged that medical students and retired doctors volunteer for hospital work as more than half the country was placed under the second-highest level of heat-wave alert.
Most of the 40 heat-related deaths in Europe in the last two weeks were in France, recalling the 2003 heat wave, in which 15,000 died in the country.
“The temperatures have not been so high in France as they were in the first weeks of August 2003, but the heat wave has lasted much longer,” said Bernard Strauss, head of forecasting for M�t�o-France. “In the last six weeks we have had one of the longest stretches of higher than normal temperatures since we started records.”
Temperatures along the west of France will probably rise in coming weeks, Mr. Strauss added.
The newspaper Le Parisien dedicated five pages to the heat wave, including tips for keeping cool, like wetting feet and hands as often as possible while walking the city.
A second type of warning was also issued in Europe — about strained electricity supplies, along with destroyed crops and forest fires.
Europe’s increased demand for air-conditioning could make summer a greater challenge than winter for electricity suppliers, a report by the Datamonitor Group warned.
Nuclear power stations in France and Spain have been forced to cut output because the river water normally used to cool reactors is too warm.
Low water levels in the Po River in northern Italy affected hydroelectric supplies, prompting power shortages in Rome that knocked out air-conditioning and left people trapped in elevators.
Scorching temperatures and drought could destroy up to 20 percent of Poland’s grain harvest, warned the country’s agriculture minister, Andrzej Lepper. “It is quite simply dramatic, and if the weather does not change we could have a disaster,” he said on Polish Radio.
Germany is facing crop losses of up to 50 percent in the worst-hit regions, according to Gerd Sonnleitner, the president of the national farmers association.
Forest fires affected regions as far afield as Corsica, in the Mediterranean, where homes near the capital, Ajaccio, were threatened, and the Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The NPS responded to the outcry about its draft policy (8/05 draft NPS policy post ) by restoring conservation as its fundamental mission. But no good deed ever goes unpunished:
Latest NPS management policies draft examined
Serious questions remain over what NPS views as its fundamental mission
Washington - The House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks today held an oversight hearing on the final draft of the National Park Service Management Policies.
"I believe the development of these management policies are critical to the vitality of the National Park System," Subcommittee Chairman Stevan Pearce (R-N.M.) said. "I am very concerned that the final draft, while making some notable improvements, appears to retreat back to the 2001 management policies, which failed to provide an effective balance between enhancing visitor enjoyment and conservation. Achieving such a balance remains a critical priority."
The primary purpose of the management policies is to help direct National Park Service (NPS) managers in their day-to-day operations. In October of 2005, the NPS released a new draft of the policies for public comment. The subcommittee held a hearing on that version in March 2006. Today's hearing was called in reaction to the changes made in the final version of the draft.
Chairman Pearce called attention to many of the sections and themes in the current version that differed from that of 2005, especially those that recognized the mission of the NPS to conserve and provide for enjoyment in the 2005 draft, but reverted to the 2001 language that focused only on conservation.
Researchers have identified, in theory, a new storage system to hold large quantities of hydrogen fuel, which could power cars in a more cost-effective, consumer-friendly, and environmentally sound way. The new system is described in the Bulletin of the American Chemical Society to be published August 6th (published online July 6). Science Daily posted this from Virginia Commonwealth University's press release: SD post
A lithium-coated fullerene, also known as a C60 cluster, as a potential material for hydrogen storage. Yellow represents lithium atoms, and black represents carbon atoms. (Photo courtesy of Qiang Sun, Ph.D., and Puru Jena, Ph.D. / VCU)
Researchers have identified, in theory, a new storage system to hold large quantities of hydrogen fuel, which could power cars in a more cost-effective, consumer-friendly, and environmentally sound way. The new system is described in the Bulletin of the American Chemical Society to be published August 6th (published online July 6).
Science Daily posted this from Virginia Commonwealth University's press release: SD post
This theoretical research moves scientists another step closer in the exploration of alternative fuel sources and methods to store hydrogen fuel.
"We are going to face an energy crisis at some point in the future. It's not a question of if, but when. There is a high demand on oil, particularly due to a growing global population," said lead author Puru Jena, Ph.D., a professor of physics at VCU.
"We need an energy source that is abundant, cost effective and renewable, burns clean and does not pollute," he said. "Today, approximately 75 percent of the oil currently available is used for transportation alone. Any solution to the energy crisis has to take into account the amount of energy we spend on transportation."
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and considered an ideal energy carrier. When hydrogen burns, it produces only water and thus, does not pollute the atmosphere. For this reason, it is considered an ideal alternative when discussing theoretical alternatives to fossil fuels.
... Jena and his team describe the theoretical composition of a material -- a lithium-coated buckyball -- that may have the potential to serve as a storage vessel for hydrogen atoms. A buckyball is a soccer ball-shaped nanoparticle containing 60 carbon atoms. Essentially, the lithium buckyballs absorb the hydrogen, which means that one lithium atom can store five hydrogen molecules. According to Jena, the theoretical buckyball, which was designed using computer modeling, has 12 lithium atoms and can store 60 hydrogen molecules.
"The biggest hurdle in a hydrogen economy is to find materials to store hydrogen," Jena said. "The storage materials in question need to have the ability to store hydrogen and allow us to take it out, which means the system must be reversible and operate under moderate temperatures and pressures."
Theoretical and experimental work by other researchers has proposed using titanium-coated buckyballs for hydrogen storage. However, those researchers observed that the titanium atoms had a tendency to react with each other and form clusters on the surface of the buckyball. Once clustering takes place, the properties of the buckyball are no longer effective for storing hydrogen in large quantities.
Industry standards require materials that store hydrogen to have a high gravimetric density of 9 weight percent, and high volumetric density of 70 grams/liter.
"The material that we have designed is capable of storing hydrogen at a gravimetric density of 13 weight percent -- so it exceeds the industry target. Also, the volumetric density is approximately twice that of liquid hydrogen. This theoretical work has promise, provided one can make it in large enough quantities," said Jena.
....Jena is currently collaborating with scientists who will conduct experiments to prove that hydrogen can be stored in the lithium buckyballs. Furthermore, these investigators will determine the necessary temperature and pressure conditions for storage and removal of hydrogen from the lithium buckyballs, and how to produce these materials in large quantities.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Weather-related disasters like Hurricane Katrina—or the intense heat wave now hitting the United States—are on the rise. The toll of these catastrophes is exacerbated by growing ecological stresses and the future health of the global economy. The stability of nations will be shaped by our ability to address the huge imbalances in natural systems that now exist. While governments and businesses around the world are beginning to take action to stem the damage, our future demands more aggressive responses.
Earlier this month, we at the Worldwatch Institute released a new report, "Vital Signs 2006-2007," examining trends that point to unprecedented levels of commerce and consumption, set against a backdrop of ecological decline in a world powered overwhelmingly by fossil fuels. In 2005, the average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increased 0.6 percent over the high in 2004, representing the largest annual increase ever recorded. The average global temperature reached 14.6 degrees Celsius, making 2005 the warmest year ever recorded on the Earth’s surface.
Our report shows that some 40 percent of the world’s coral reefs have been damaged or destroyed, water withdrawals from rivers and lakes have doubled since 1960, and species are becoming extinct at as much as 1,000 times the natural rate. While ecosystems can be overexploited for long periods of time with little visible effect, many ultimately reach a “tipping point” after which they begin to collapse rapidly, with far-reaching implications for all who depend on them.
Abrupt change was evident in southern Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005. For decades, the flow of the Mississippi River had been altered, the wetlands at its mouth destroyed, and massive amounts of water and oil extracted from beneath the delta. Only an unheeded minority noticed that this gradual destruction of natural systems had left New Orleans as vulnerable as a sword-wielding soldier on today’s high-tech battlefields. Thanks to a combination of human and geological causes, a city that was at sea level when the first settlers arrived in the 18th century had sunk as much as a meter below that level when the hurricane season began in 2005.
Weather-related catastrophes have jumped from an average of 97 million a year in the early 1980s to 260 million a year since 2001. This mounting disaster toll has several causes, including rapid growth in the human population and the even more dramatic growth in human numbers and settlements along coastlines and in other vulnerable areas.
Climate change may be contributing to the rising tide of disasters as well, according to several scientific studies published in 2005. Three of the 10 strongest hurricanes ever recorded occurred last year, and the average intensity of hurricanes is increasing, recent research concludes. This is not surprising, considering the main “fuel” driving hurricanes is warm water. Temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico were at record-high levels in the summer of 2005, turning Hurricane Katrina in just over 48 hours from a low-level Category 1 hurricane to the strongest Atlantic storm ever recorded. (In September 2005, Hurricanes Wilma and Rita each broke Katrina’s record as the strongest storm ever in that region.)
Yet all of this is merely a foreshadowing of what is to come. The concentration of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that is driving climate change, has reached its highest level in 600,000 years, and the annual rate of increase in cardon dioxide levels is accelerating, according to atmospheric measurements taken in 2005.
Scientists are beginning to shed their usual reserve in the face of ever-more alarming evidence. In early 2006 James Hansen, the lead climate researcher at NASA, and five other top climate scientists warned that “additional global warming of more than 1 degree C above the level of 2000 will constitute ‘dangerous’ climate change as judged from likely effects on sea level and extermination of species.”
If either the Greenland or the West Antarctic ice sheet were to melt, hundreds of millions of coastal residents would be displaced—effects a thousand times the scale of the New Orleans evacuations. In the Shanghai metropolitan area alone, 40 million people could lose their homes. Large sections of Florida’s peninsula would simply disappear.
If melting ice and catastrophic storms are not enough to bring on an energy transition, the oil market is offering a helping hand. Oil prices in 2005 and early 2006 gyrated wildly, flirting several times with over $70 a barrel, the highest prices in real terms in more than 20 years. The cause is simple: geologists are no longer finding enough oil to replace the 83 million barrels being extracted each day. However, the reality of a new energy era has begun to sink in. In the United States, sales of large sport utility vehicles have plummeted, while those of hybrid-electric cars have doubled in little more than a year. And in China, government leaders have responded to rising fuel prices by increasing the tax on large vehicles and mandating higher levels of efficiency.
None of this has yet been sufficient to bring energy markets into balance. But signs are now growing that the world is on the verge of an energy revolution. The already-rapid growth of renewable energy industries has accelerated in the past year, with ethanol production increasing 19 percent, wind power capacity 24 percent, and solar cell production 45 percent. The energy technology growth surge is propelled by scores of new government policies and by surging private investment. And it is attracting major commitments by multinational companies such as General Electric, Siemens, and Sharp, while also becoming one of the hot¬test fields for venture capitalists, who are financing scores of small start-up firms. Even oil companies are getting into the act: BP and Shell are both investing in solar energy and wind power. These developments are impressive and are likely to provoke far-reaching changes in world energy markets within the next five years. But the change is still not fast enough to bring on the broader changes in the global economy that could stave off imminent ecological and economic crises. Government leaders and private citizens will have to mobilize in an unprecedented way if we are to have any chance of passing a healthy and secure world on to the next generation.
|IMHO, it is the height of political irresponsibility for members of Congress to continue publishing the lie that global warming is not real or that it is not caused by human actions. Just in case anyone has missed the last year or two of scientific evidence confirming those facts, here is an article published in the LA Times today, written by Naomi Oreskes, discussing the scientific consensus on this issue:|
A group of 19 preeminent biodiversity scientists are seeking to move biodiversity off of the environmental back burner and engender public appreciation of the catastrophic loss of biodiversity that is occurring. They recently published a compelling joint statement in Nature: Biodiversity Crisis
One suggestion is creating a global biodiversity science panel akin to the IPCC or the Millenium Project:
One of the reasons the issue of biological diversity remains on the back burner of environmental concern is perhaps linked to the fact that that it is more complex than issues such as the stratospheric ozone hole or global climate change. Scientists say they understand that biodiversity cannot be measured by simple universal indicators such as temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide because it involves several levels of organization, such as genes, species, and ecosystems. On the other hand, however, statistical facts on the loss of biodiversity suggest the imminent dangers of inaction, as two thirds of the services provided by nature to humankind are already in decline, with 12 percent of bird species, 23 percent of mammals, 25 percent of conifers, 32 percent of amphibians, and 52 percent of cycads (a type of evergreen plant similar to palms and ferns) continuing to face serious threats of extinction. Moreover, according to scientific calculations, within the next 50 years, it is quite likely that up to another 37 percent of currently existing species might be gone due to climate change.
About 14 years ago, the world community created a treaty on biodiversity setting out three main goals that include the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources. Under the treaty, which has been signed by 188 countries, governments are required to take certain steps that would "significantly reduce" the biodiversity loss by the year 2010. But many countries continue to lag behind in implementing plans on biodiversity protection, in large measure because their policy makers have no close and coordinated links with the scientific researchers in the field. Though comprehensive in various ways, the treaty on biodiversity has no clear-cut structural means to organize scientific opinion on a global level, according to the group that is currently engaged in efforts to create unity among its own rank and file first.
"For the sake of the planet, the biodiversity science community has to create a way to get organized," says Dr. Robert Watson, chief scientists at the World Bank, who led the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Millennium Ecosystems Assessment (MEA). Watson thinks that the global panel on climate change and other similar forums on international environmental issues could prove to be good models for biodiversity experts to help policy makers with advice on how to halt the catastrophic loss of species. "Each model has strengths and weaknesses," he says, "but essentially they all serve as a reliable source of information and advice for the public, their government and decision makers." Michel Loreau, a biology professor at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and one of the leading members of the group, fully agrees with Watson's proposal, but for other reasons as well. "We need diversity of opinions and approaches," he says, "but we also need unity behind this collective effort, to speak with one voice collectively when it comes to recognizing key issues and how they can best be addressed." Additionally, "biodiversity provides ecosystem services such as disease and climate regulation, storm protection, and habitat for useful species," says Charles Perrings of Arizona State University, who also signed the statement issued by the group. In his view, since biodiversity imposes "real economic costs on society, we need to develop clear science guidance for policy options accordingly."
For their part, officials in some parts of the world, it seems, have no objection to the idea that Watson and his colleagues are floating. The French government, for example, has not merely agreed, but also provided funds for talks to create a global panel. The ongoing consultations are likely to be concluded shortly before the ninth international conference of the parties to the treaty on biological diversity takes place in Berlin, Germany in 2008. The ongoing talks will determine what kind of biodiversity information is needed by decision makers in many relevant areas, including fisheries, transportation, industry, and parks management, in order to design a panel that addresses those requirements. The group says it wants the panel to be objective, independent, transparent, and representative, which includes official experts, as well as independent scientists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and private sector representatives. Source: OneWorld HT Common Dreams
Unfortunately, such a panel seems less likely to achieve the visibility and the attention it deserves, as compared to the Millenium Assessment project or the IPCC. First, the Millenium project created a scientific baseline that did not previously exist, while we already have a good notion that we are sustaining major biodiversity losses. Similarly, with the IPCC, there was a real need to achieve scientific consensus about the science of global warming, due to widespread doubt about the existence, extent, and human contribution to global warming. There seems to be less scientific uncertainty about biodiversity losses.
Second, the major question with biodiversity is "who cares?" Many, if not most, biodiversity issues boil down to value conflicts. Do we want to restore wolf populations to the American west? Do we want to create African animal reserves at the seeming expense of indigenous peoples? Do we want to protect whales even if they might be hunted "sustainably?" Why do we need tigers? Unless and until we care either about the rest of God's creation in a spiritual way or we recognize dangers to humanity from massive biodiversity losses, policy makers simply lack the political incentives to pay attention to advice from a global biodiversity science.
Greenwire reported that since Goldman Sachs announced the banking industry's most aggressive environmental policy less than a year ago,it has invested more than $1.5 billion in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects:
... And with big plans to become a major liquidity provider in emerging energy markets, reduce its carbon footprint and support a federal emissions cap-and-trade regime, Goldman appears to be just warming up.
Wall Street is watching closely just how far Goldman's new Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein will take the world's largest investment bank in an unprecedented green direction. While environmental and free-market advocates are divided whether Goldman should stay the course and whether other investment banks should follow, Goldman's most recent investments are clearly in the black. For the second quarter that ended May 26, Goldman reported net earnings of $2.3 billion, up from $865 million in the year-earlier quarter, but off slightly from a record first quarter.
The strong performance this year puts Goldman first in worldwide announced and completed mergers and acquisitions; equity and related offerings; public common stock offerings and initial public offerings, according the New York-based firm. Investment banking produced net revenues of more than $1.5 billion last quarter, Goldman's best quarterly performance in six years, according to the company's balance sheet. Net revenues from the firm's Trading and Principal Investments unit, which reflects a slew of investments in alternative energy companies, were $6.96 billion -- up a robust $4.15 billion from the year-earlier quarter. Also notable, net revenues from the firm's Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities trading unit soared to a record $4.3 billion, up 15 percent from the previous record level set in the first quarter of 2005. Revenues from the unit were boosted by a $700 million gain from the sale of East Coast Power LLC, which operates a 940 megawatt gas cogeneration power plant in Linden, N.J. Goldman still has major stakes in more than two-dozen power-producing entities and operates an energy-trading unit, spurring the online magazine Slate to ask whether Goldman was "the new Enron."
....The firm, which is the nation's second-largest U.S. securities firm by market value, can inflame market passions easily. Such was the case last November when Goldman published its environmental policy framework that said the company would invest up to $1 billion in renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects, as well as encourage its employees and clients to promote activities that guard against climate change and environmental degradation. The policy followed a media campaign by the Rainforest Action Network to persuade Goldman and other large investment banks to develop comprehensive environmental policies. A mere eight months after unveiling its sustainability manifesto, Goldman has invested upwards of $1.5 billion in such projects, confirmed Lucas van Praag, a managing director with Goldman and head of its global corporate communications. "We saw opportunity beyond the $1 billion, so we pursued it," added van Praag, who would not specify which investments for competitive reasons. What is clear is Goldman has invested heavily during the past year in wind farms, biofuels and solar energy.
Khosla's kause: ethanol<>
Vinod Khosla is a highly successful venture capitalist who is betting on next-generation ethanol. Khosla supports>
tax and regulatory policies to persuade people to adopt ethanol. He advocates (1) requiring car manufacturers to provide more flex-fuel vehicles, (2) requiring large gasoline distributors to make ethanol available, and (3) a variable ethanol subsidy that falls as oil prices increase. Khosla's policy fixes are cheap: flex-fuel cars do not cost appreciably more than gas cars, ethanol could be available at every tenth gas station for $ 1 billion, and a variable subsidy could cost no more than the current subsidy.
Interestingly enough, Khosla's ethanol advocacy comes at a time when the market seems likely to achieve his goals even without policy reforms. Car makers are flocking to flex-fuel vehicles and gas distributors seem likely to meet the demand for ethanol -- it's just a matter of time. And if oil prices stay high, the current ethanol subsidy seems likely to fuel conversion to ethanol.
How does Khosla's ethanol proposal rate on the criteria for a serious global warming solution?
(1) dramatic and attention-compelling
For a US program to have the desired global leadership effect, it must convince the rest of the world of the magnitude of the crisis and the US commitment to an effective response. Imposition of ethanol related requirements on car manufacturers and gasoline distributors and reform of the ethanol subsidy are hardly dramatic and attention compelling. They are little more than priming the already functioning ethanol pump. In addition, the proposals address only the vehicle problem.
(2) contains incentives for global responses that mirror the level of US commitment
Khosla's solutions do not include such incentives
(3) market based
Khosla's solutions are command and control requirements and subsidies. They do not meet the market-based criterion -- and they privilege one technological solution over others -- which does not encourage innovation or provide a relatively
economically efficient regulatory system.
(3) grandfathers portions of existing emissions through allotments or entitlements
This criterion need not be met because the proposal is not based on marketable rights or taxes.
The proposal is easy to understand, so it meets the transparency criterion.
(5) effectively monitored and enforced
The proposal would be extremely easy to monitor and enforce. We can readily count flex-fuel cars and ethanol pumps.
(6) politically sustainable
The proposal is politically attractive because it doesn't do much and doesn't cost much. But is it sufficiently effective in addressing the problem that it can withstand political pressures down the road? I think not. It is not sufficiently broad to effectively deal with the problem. Its just another subsidy program, privileging ethanol and flex-fuel vehicles. When entrepreneurs seeking support for another emerging fuel mobilize, ethanol may well lose its privileged status under the proposal.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
According to the U.S. National Climate Data Center, hot weather enveloped much of Europe during mid-July, with temperatures surpassing 32°C (90°F). In Britain on the afternoon of the 19th, temperatures reached 36.3°C (97.3°F) at Charlwood, or the hottest temperature ever recorded in Britain in July." (NCDC link). Temperatures on London's underground reached 47-52C (117-126F) and the drought in the south of England is the worst in a century. For a great graphic, see MSN News European Temperature Map Reuters reported today that the heatwave in France has killed 21 people. Additional heat-related deaths have been reported in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Bosnia. Temperatures in Italy reached over 39C (102F). Temperatures were expected to rise over the weekend and continue well into next week. Madrid forecast; London forecast; Paris forecast Some scientists make the standard disclaimer that no one weather event can be tied to global warming. See Reuter foundation analysis But, on the other hand, Stott reported in Nature on the risk that human induced global warming added to the probability of extreme heat waves such as the European heat wave of 2004 -- it doubled the risk of such events and Stott predicted then that by 2040, over half of the European summers would include heat waves as severe as 2003. Well, 2006 appears likely to break the 2003 record.
Friday, July 21, 2006
|Middle East Crisis: |
Who backs an immediate ceasefire?
21 July 2006
Source: The Independent
Monday, July 17, 2006
TIAA-CREF does not follow the Principles for Responsible Investing. It fails to do so on the grounds that it offers a social choice account and for other accounts it believes the sole investing principle is maximizing financial return. Interestingly enough, it just released a participant survey on socially responsible investing. The survey appeared designed to (1) ratify the organization's refusal to incorporate responsible investing principles into its mainstream investment decisions and (2) suggest that all TIAA-CREF really should do is inform its participants about the social choice option. I read the results differently. Most participants want to incorporate social and environmental values into their investing (including 67% of those who do not participate in the social choice account). Adopting the Principles of Responsible Investment would do just that.
For a report on the findings from the survey, please visit http://www.tiaa-cref.org/newsroom/pdf/sri_memo.pdf.
Sunday, 16 July, 2006
09:20 GMT 13:20 Moscow
Local Time: 13:20
Global Energy SecuritySt. Petersburg, July 16, 2006
Global Energy Challenges
1. Energy is essential to improving the quality of life and opportunities in developed and developing nations. Therefore, ensuring sufficient, reliable and environmentally responsible supplies of energy at prices reflecting market fundamentals is a challenge for our countries and for mankind as a whole.
2. To tackle this overarching goal we have to deal with serious and linked challenges such as:
- high and volatile oil prices;
demand for energy (estimated to rise by more than 50% by the year 2030,
approximately 80% of which would still be met by fossil fuels, which
are limited resources);
- increasing import dependence in many countries;
- enormous investment requirements along the entire energy chain;
- the need to protect the environment and to tackle climate change;
- the vulnerability of the critical energy infrastructure;
- political instability, natural disasters and other threats.
The global nature of these challenges and the growing interdependence between producing, consuming and transiting countries require strengthened partnership between all stakeholders to enhance global energy security. We agree that development of transparent, efficient and competitive global energy markets is the best way to achieve our objectives on this score. We recognize that governments and relevant international organizations also play an important role in addressing global energy challenges.
3. Neither global energy security, nor the Millennium Development Goals can be fully achieved without sustainable access to fuels for the 2.4 billion people and to electricity for the 1.6 billion people currently without such access in developing countries. They cannot be forgotten or marginalized.
Response of the International Community
4. Given political will, the international community can effectively address three interrelated issues: energy security, economic growth and environmental protection (the "3Es"). Applying fair and competitive market-based responses to the global energy challenges will help preclude potentially disruptive actions affecting energy sources, supplies and transit, and create a secure basis for dynamic and sustainable development of our civilization over the long term.
5. We will pursue energy security through a comprehensive and concerted approach consistent with our common environmental goals. Last year in Gleneagles, we agreed to enhance our work under the Plan of Action for Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development and resolved to take forward the dialogue on these issues whose results will be reported at the 2008 G8 Summit in Japan. We reaffirm this commitment.
We also reaffirm our commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to meet our shared multiple objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the global environment, enhancing energy security, and cutting air pollution in conjunction with our vigorous efforts to reduce energy poverty. We also agree to work to improve access to energy in developing countries.
Statement on Global Energy Security Principles
6. Recognizing the shared interest of energy producing and consuming countries in promoting global energy security, we, the Leaders of the G8, commit to:
- strong global economic growth, effective market access, and investment in all stages of the energy supply chain;
transparent, efficient and competitive markets for energy production,
supply, use, transmission and transit services as a key to global
- transparent, equitable, stable and
effective legal and regulatory frameworks, including the obligation to
uphold contracts, to generate sufficient, sustainable international
investments upstream and downstream;
- enhanced dialogue on relevant stakeholders' perspectives on growing interdependence, security of supply and demand issues;
of energy supply and demand, energy sources, geographical and sectoral
markets, transportation routes and means of transport;
- promotion of energy saving and energy efficiency measures through initiatives on both national and international levels;
sound development and use of energy, and deployment and transfer of
clean energy technologies which help to tackle climate change;
- promotion of transparency and good governance in the energy sector to discourage corruption;
- cooperative energy emergency response, including coordinated planning of strategic stocks;
- safeguarding critical energy infrastructure; and
- addressing the energy challenges for the poorest populations in developing countries.
7. Based on the above objectives, principles and approaches, we will implement our common global energy security strategy through the following Plan of Action. We invite other states, relevant international organizations and other stakeholders to join us in these efforts.
ST. PETERSBURG PLAN OF ACTION GLOBAL ENERGY SECURITY
1. We reaffirm our commitment to implement and build upon the agreements related to energy reached at previous G8 summits. We will enhance global energy security through actions in the following key areas:
- increasing transparency, predictability and stability of global energy markets;
- improving the investment climate in the energy sector;
- enhancing energy efficiency and energy saving;
- diversifying energy mix;
- ensuring physical security of critical energy infrastructure;
- reducing energy poverty;
- addressing climate change and sustainable development.
I. Increasing Transparency, Predictability
and Stability of Global Energy Markets
2. Free, competitive and open markets are essential to the efficient functioning of the global energy system. Efforts to advance transparency; to deepen and spread the rule of law; to establish and strengthen predictable, efficient fiscal and regulatory regimes; and to encourage sound energy supply and demand policies all play significant roles in maintaining global energy security. By reducing uncertainty these efforts improve understanding of energy market developments, and therefore sound investment decisions and competitiveness. Regular exchanges of timely and reliable information among all market participants are also essential for the smooth functioning of world energy markets. Transparent, predictable national energy policies and regulatory environments facilitate development of efficient energy markets. We invite the International Energy Forum (IEF) to study ways of broadening the dialogue between energy producing and consuming countries on these issues including information exchange on their medium- and long-term respective policy plans and programs.
3. We welcome the beginning of implementation of the Joint Oil Data Initiative (JODI) and will take further action to improve and enhance the collection and reporting of market data on oil and other energy sources by all countries including through development of a global common standard for reporting oil and other energy reserves. In this respect, we will invite the IEF to work on the expansion of JODI membership and to continue to improve the quality and timeliness of data.
4. As a critical tool in the fight against corruption, we will also take forward efforts to make management of public revenues from energy exports more transparent, including in the context of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and the IMF Guide on Resource Revenue Transparency (GRRT).
5. Clear, stable and predictable national regulatory frameworks significantly contribute to global energy security, and multilateral arrangements can further enhance these frameworks. We support the principles of the Energy Charter and the efforts of participating countries to improve international energy cooperation.
6. Concerted actions of energy producers and consumers are of critical importance in times of supply crises. We encourage further efforts under the IEA aegis to promote international best practices related to emergency response measures, including establishment, coordination and release of strategic stocks, where appropriate, as well as measures to implement demand restraint and fuel-switching. We note constructive steps by major producing countries to increase oil output in response to recent tight market conditions and support additional actions.
II. Improving the Investment Climate in the Energy Sector
7. Ensuring an adequate global energy supply will require trillions of U.S. dollars in investment through the entire energy chain by 2030, a substantial share of which will be needed by developing countries. We will create and maintain the conditions to attract these funds into the energy sector through competitive, open, equitable and transparent markets. We understand that governments' environmental and energy policies are critical for investment decisions. In producing, consuming and transit states, therefore, we will promote predictable regulatory regimes, including stable, market-based legal frameworks for investments, medium and long-term forecasts of energy demand, clear and consistent tax regulation, removal of unjustified administrative barriers, timely and effective contract enforcement and access to effective dispute settlement procedures.
8. We shall take measures both nationally and internationally to facilitate investments into a sustainable global energy value chain to:
- further save energy through demand-side measures as well as introduce advanced energy-efficient technologies;
- introduce cleaner, more efficient technologies and practices including carbon capture and storage;
- promote wider use of renewable and alternative energy sources;
the hydrocarbon proven reserves in a way that would outpace their
depletion and increase the recovery of energy resources;
- increase the efficiency of oil and gas production, and develop resources on the continental shelf;
- establish, expand and improve the efficiency of oil-refining, petrochemical and gas processing industries' capacity;
- develop global LNG market;
- establish or upgrade infrastructure for energy transport and storage;
- develop efficient power generating facilities; and
- expand and improve the efficiency, safety and reliability of electricity transmission facilities and power grids and their international connectivity including, where appropriate, in developing countries.
9. We encourage construction and development of hydrocarbon-processing facilities to increase energy market flexibility and confidence, as well as expansion, where economically viable, of trade in hydrocarbon products. We will work with all stakeholders to improve energy regulatory regimes, inter alia, through feasible technical standards harmonization. We will ask the International Standards Organization to study ways and means of harmonizing relevant standards in this context.
10. We consider it important to facilitate capital flows into power generation, including to build new, more efficient power plants, upgrading existing plants to include wider use of renewables, and to construct transmission lines, develop interregional energy infrastructure and facilitate exchange of electrical power, including trans-border and transit arrangements. We encourage the development of competitive power markets, interregional energy infrastructure, and exchange of electrical power.
11. Rapidly growing LNG trade is gradually supplementing the existing regional systems of pipeline gas supplies. To reduce huge investment risks and facilitate smooth functioning of the emerging global LNG market, we will seek to create appropriate investment conditions.
12. High and increasing investment exposure calls for better risks sharing between all stakeholders in energy supply chain which will ensure reliable and sustainable energy flows. Economically sound diversification between different types of contracts, including market-based long-term and spot contracts, could contribute to such risks mitigation, as would timely decision-making and appropriate adherence and enforcement of contractual agreements.
13. We will work to reduce barriers to energy investment and trade. It is especially important that companies from energy producing and consuming countries can invest in and acquire upstream and downstream assets internationally in a mutually beneficial way and respecting competition rules to improve the global efficiency of energy production and consumption. Market-based investment flows between and among nations will also enhance energy security by increasing confidence in access to markets or sources of supply.
14. Ensuring the long-term availability of skilled workforce throughout the energy sector is critical to energy security. We encourage institutions of higher learning and the private sector to take the necessary steps in providing appropriate training to adequately develop human resources in the energy sector, including new and innovative energy sources and technologies needed for ensuring longer-term energy security.
III. Enhancing Energy Efficiency and Energy Saving
15. Energy saved is energy produced and is often a more affordable and environmentally responsible option to meet the growing energy demand. Efforts to improve energy efficiency and energy saving contribute greatly to lowering the energy intensity of economic development thus strengthening global energy security. Increased energy efficiency and conservation reduce stress on infrastructure and contribute to a healthier environment through decreased emission of greenhouse gases and pollutants.
16. We will move forward with timely implementation of the Gleneagles Plan of Action. We have instructed our relevant ministers to continue the Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development and report its outcomes to the G8 Summit in 2008. We call upon other states, especially fast-growing developing economies, to join the corresponding G8 initiatives. These outcomes can also be relevant to the dialogue on long-term cooperation to address climate change under the UNFCCC. Those of us who have ratified the Kyoto Protocol recognize the role of its flexibility mechanisms in promoting energy efficiency. It is important to engage the private sector and other stakeholders in achieving these ends.
17. A comprehensive approach within the international community to energy saving, energy efficiency and the extension of relevant efforts, including sharing best practices, to the entire energy value chain are important in this respect. For this purpose, we shall undertake to:
- strengthen and elaborate the system of national and multilateral energy efficiency statistics;
- consider national goals for reducing energy intensity of economic development to be reported by the end of the year;
energy intensive products, encourage the development, extension and
deployment of best practice energy efficiency labeling programs, and
increase efforts to adopt the most stringent energy efficiency
standards that are technically feasible and economically justified.
Individual countries should set these standards taking into account
national conditions. In this context the IEA initiatives on standby
power ("1 Watt" initiative), minimum efficiency standards for
television set-top boxes and digital television appliances, energy
efficient lighting and fuel-efficient tire program are promising and
should be examined in more detail;
- take necessary
measures, including financial and tax incentives at home for the
promotion of energy-efficient technologies, and the actual use of those
available technologies on a wide-scale basis;
leadership at the national level by incorporating energy efficient
technologies and practices in government buildings and drawing upon
alternative energy resources to help power them;
- raise public awareness about the importance and benefits of energy efficiency and energy saving.
- encourage relevant actions taken by multilateral development banks (МDBs), including EBRD and the World Bank;
- increase the Global Environment Facility's involvement in energy efficiency projects.
18. We will invite the World Bank, the IEA, and other organizations as appropriate to work on improvement of internationally accepted standards, labeling and best practices, and public awareness campaigns, in accordance with their respective mandates and comparative advantages.
19. As part of an integrated approach to the entire resource cycle we reaffirm our commitment to comprehensive measures to optimize the resource cycle within the 3Rs Initiative (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). In furthering these efforts, we will set targets as appropriate taking account of resource productivity. We will also raise awareness of the importance of energy efficiency and environmental protection through national as well as international efforts.
20. Increasing energy saving and efficiency we will pay more attention to the energy sector itself, which can contribute significantly to this end by reducing losses in production and transportation. Our priority measures in this area will include:
- raising the environmental and efficiency levels for processing hydrocarbons;
- reducing gas flaring to minimal levels and promoting utilization of associated gas;
energy infrastructure, including minimizing oil and oil products losses
in transportation and gas emissions from gas systems;
- using methane otherwise released in the atmosphere from coal mining, landfills, and agricultural operations.
21. Since 2/3 of world oil is consumed by the transportation sector and its fuel consumption is outpacing general energy consumption we will pay special attention to this sector of energy demand. For making transportation more energy efficient and environmentally advanced we shall:
- share best practices to promote energy efficiency in the transportation sector;
programs in our respective countries, consistent with national
circumstances, to provide incentives for consumers to adopt efficient
vehicles, including clean diesels and hybrids; and introduce on a large
scale efficient public hybrid and/or clean diesel transportation
systems, where appropriate;
- promote diversification
of vehicle energy systems based on new technologies, including
significant sourcing from biofuels for motor vehicles, as well as
greater use of compressed and liquefied natural gas, liquefied
petroleum gas and synthetic liquid fuels;
wider use of modern technologies, materials and devices on traditional
vehicles, leading to lighter, more aerodynamic and more efficient
engines and other transport components such as transmission and
steering systems, tires, etc.;
- increase research to develop vehicles using gasoline/hydrogen fuel and hydrogen fuel cells to promote the "hydrogen economy";
- facilitate the development of trans-modal and trans-border transportation, where appropriate;
- study further the Blue Corridor project by the UN Economic Commission for Europe;
- continue to consider the impact of the air transport sector on energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions noting international cooperation on these issues.
22. We call upon all countries to offer incentives to increase energy efficiency and to promote energy conservation.
IV. Diversifying Energy Mix
23. Diversification of the energy mix reduces global energy security risks. We will work to develop low-carbon and alternative energy, to make wider use of renewables and to develop and introduce innovative technologies throughout the entire energy sector.
Alternative, Cleaner Low-Carbon Energy24. We shall further encourage the activities of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) aimed at preparing and implementing demonstration projects on CO2 capture and storage and on the development of zero emission power plants. In this context we will facilitate development and introduction of clean coal technologies wherever appropriate.
25. We encourage all oil producing states and private sector stakeholders to reduce to minimal levels natural gas venting or flaring by facilitating the use of associated gas, including its refining and processing into fuels and petrochemical products. In this respect we support the efforts of Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) and Methane-to-Markets Partnership (M2M) to implement projects on the production of marketable methane from landfills, agriculture waste and coal-bed methane, particularly in developing countries.
26. We support the transition to the Hydrogen Economy, including in the framework of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE). A critical part of this effort is to develop common international standards in the field of commercial development of hydrogen power, infrastructure and security requirements.
27. We recognize that G8 members pursue different ways to achieve energy security and climate protection goals.
28. As we meet on the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, we reiterate the commitments made during the 1996 Moscow Summit on Nuclear Safety and Security, and the paramount importance of safety, security and non-proliferation.
29. Those of us who have or are considering plans relating to the use and/or development of safe and secure nuclear energy believe that its development will contribute to global energy security, while simultaneously reducing harmful air pollution and addressing the climate change challenge:
- The development of innovative nuclear power systems is
considered an important element for efficient and safe nuclear energy
development. In this respect, we acknowledge the efforts made in the
complementary frameworks of the INPRO project and the Generation IV
- Until advanced systems are in
place, appropriate interim solutions could be pursued to address
back-end fuel cycle issues in accordance with national choices and
- Benefits will stem from improving the economic viability of nuclear power. We recognize that independent effective regulation of nuclear installations is essential for the development of infrastructure supporting safe and secure nuclear energy.
30. We are committed to:
- further reduce the risks associated with the safe use of
nuclear energy. It must be based on a robust regime for assuring
nuclear non-proliferation and a reliable safety and security system for
nuclear materials and facilities;
- ensure full
implementation of the international conventions and treaties in force
today which are a prerequisite for a high level of safety and a basis
to achieve a peaceful and proliferation-resistant nuclear energy use.
The responsibility of all nations to support the work of the IAEA and
all measures to implement these conventions and treaties in these
fields is emphasized;
- continue to consider nuclear safety and security issues in the Nuclear Safety and Security Group (NSSG).
31. We reaffirm the objective set out in the 2004 G8 Action Plan on Non-Proliferation to allow reliable access of all countries to nuclear energy on a competitive basis, consistent with non-proliferation commitment and standards. Building on that plan, we intend to make additional joint efforts to ensure reliable access to low enriched uranium for power reactor fuel and spent fuel recycling, including, as appropriate, through a multilateral mechanisms provided that the countries adhere to all relevant international non-proliferation commitments and comply with their obligations.
32. In this respect, we take note of recent potentially complementary initiatives put forward in the IAEA framework regarding multilateral fuel supply assurances, as well as the proposals made by Russia and the U.S., aimed at further development of peaceful nuclear energy, in a manner that promotes proliferation resistance of the nuclear fuel cycle, including preventing the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies.
33. A large-scale use of renewable energy will make a significant contribution to long-term energy supply without adverse impact on climate. The renewable solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal energy resources are becoming increasingly cost competitive with conventional fuels, and a wide variety of current applications are already cost-effective. Therefore, we reaffirm our commitment to implement measures set out in the Gleneagles Plan of Action.
34. We welcome the work of interested parties in international mechanisms and programs dealing with renewable energy, including the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program (REEEP), the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), and the Mediterranean Renewable Energy Partnership (MEDREP). We welcome the establishment of the Global Bio-Energy Partnership (GBEP). We will work in partnership with developing countries to foster the use of renewable energy.
35. We will continue enhancing international cooperation in using the potential of biomass, and advanced sustainable forest management practices. Both help to diversify local energy consumption and make an important contribution to carbon sequestration, as well as furthering a wide range of economic and environmental benefits.
36. We shall promote international cooperation in the area of forest management, primarily in addressing deforestation and forest degradation, the trade in illegally harvested timber and forest fires. We note that deforestation has a significant impact on climate change (resulting, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in an actual 25% increase in yearly greenhouse gas emissions). We reaffirm the importance of tackling illegal logging and agree to take further action, with each country taking steps where it can contribute most effectively. This should include the promotion of sustainable forest management and the incorporation of appropriate measures to address illegal logging in relevant national policies of both timber-producing and consuming countries. We welcome recent international forest-related policy initiatives including the St. Petersburg Ministerial Conference Declaration on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance in Europe and North Asia, and initiatives of the United Nation Forum on Forests (UNFF), UNFCCC, the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) and Asia Forest Partnership (AFP).
Innovative Energy Technologies
37. We will work in partnership with the private sector to accelerate market entry and utilization of innovative energy technologies by supporting market-led policies that encourage investments in this area.
38. Despite the increased role of alternative sources in the energy mix, hydrocarbons are expected to continue to play a leading role in total energy consumption well into this century. Therefore we will work with the private sector to accelerate utilization of innovative technologies that advance more efficient hydrocarbon production and reduce the environmental impact of its production and use. These include technologies for deep-sea oil and gas production, oil production from bitumen sands, clean coal technologies, including carbon capture and storage, extraction of gas from gas-hydrates and production of synthetic fuel.
39. We will take measures to develop other promising technologies including construction of advanced electricity networks, superconductivity, nanotechnology, including nanobiotech, etc. We welcome recent initialing ITER agreement by the participating countries and take this opportunity to encourage R&D programs on fusion energy within its framework.
40. We shall facilitate closer ties between fundamental and applied research to promote the earliest economically viable market entry of these technologies.
V. Securing Critical Energy Infrastructure
41. The security of the world's energy infrastructure is connected and mutually dependent. Given the global nature of the energy infrastructure, we recognize that no country can insulate itself from danger elsewhere. Hence, we are committed to ensuring the security of the global energy network, and will work to gain a better understanding of its vulnerabilities and ways to improve our efforts to prevent disruptions by deliberate attack. We support a coordinated, international process to assess risks to energy infrastructures, and a more effective means of sharing energy infrastructure security best practices and expertise.
42. We commit ourselves to address threats and vulnerabilities to critical energy infrastructures, and to promote international cooperation in this regard. We instruct our experts to meet as necessary to examine and make recommendations on addressing the many challenges in securing energy infrastructure and deliver to the Russian Presidency at the end of this year a comprehensive report on:
- defining and prioritizing the most important vulnerabilities
among energy infrastructure sites, and share methodologies for
assessing and mitigating them;
- assessing potential risks of terrorist attacks;
- developing a compendium of effective security response best practices across all energy sectors within our countries;
implementing, and providing to other countries a checklist for the
physical security of critical energy infrastructure;
- encouraging international cooperation on R&D for technologies to enhance critical infrastructure protection;
- establishing points of contact for coordination of technical assistance in this area;
- continuing to advocate the adoption of export controls on radioactive sources and new initiatives to prevent terrorists' access to radioactive sources.
43. We call upon governments to fully implement the International Ships and Ports Facility Security Code and encourage attention to the management of maritime security.
VI. Reducing Energy Poverty
44. We confirm our commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goals, including through facilitating a better access to energy. It is impossible to drastically reduce general poverty, support health services, provide clean drinking water and sanitation, promote more productive agriculture and food yields, and secure investment in job-creating enterprises in developing countries without addressing the challenge of energy poverty. We will help vulnerable countries overcome the macroeconomic shocks related to energy prices, and the longer term challenge of facilitating access to energy for the poorest populations.
45. A sound strategy to address energy poverty should be linked with:
- development of national and local institutional capacities
and management improvements in the area of energy policy and related
infrastructure needs, including training of local staff;
- facilitation of public participation in and public understanding of, energy policies and practices;
- national energy investment and access targets linked to poverty reduction policies;
of existing frameworks, such as the EU Energy Initiative (EUEI), the
MEDREP, GBEP, the Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP); the
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), for
private-public partnerships to foster investment that increases access
to affordable energy services;
- establishment of an
energy efficiency program and development of decentralized
technologies, where economically justified, and geared toward reducing
the cost of energy for the poor;
- a targeted and transparent social safety net system that can help poor and vulnerable customers pay for energy.
46. The majority of energy investment will need to come from the private sector. Assistance programs for developing countries should work towards promoting the improved policy and regulatory structures necessary to attract that capital.
47. The international financial institutions (IFIs) have an important role to play in tackling these challenges. We welcome the progress of the multilateral development banks to re-invigorate their efforts to promote investment in alternative energy sources, increased energy efficiency and adaptation in developing countries. We also welcome the launching of the International Monetary Fund's Exogenous Shocks Facility, and invite other non-G8 countries to contribute to it. We call upon other countries and IFIs to facilitate access to energy in the poorest countries by promoting private-public partnerships.
48. To improve access to reliable, modern, and sustainable energy services to the populations of energy poor developing countries, we will enhance existing bilateral and multilateral development mechanisms. We welcome the EU's Energy Facility, which will use grants to co-finance projects aimed at filling the energy gap, especially in Africa, as well as activities by Japan in partnership with AfDB to promote the "Enhanced Private Sector Assistance" (EPSA) for Africa. We look forward to the outcome of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development's two-year cycle of work (2006-7) devoted to the review/policy discussion of the Energy for Sustainable Development issue.
49. We will facilitate development of local energy resources, including those based on core generation technologies and on renewable energy, such as hydropower, wind power, geothermal power, biomass, and the effective use of solar energy, to contribute to poverty reduction and long-term energy sustainability in developing countries. These measures include developing energy infrastructure capable, inter alia, of reducing vulnerability to energy shocks.
50. We instructed our experts to work together with other countries, international and regional financial institutions (World Bank, Regional Development Banks, UN agencies, etc.), the private sector and other stakeholders to facilitate technology transfer in the areas of energy efficiency, energy saving, renewable energy and decentralized local sources to reduce energy poverty thereby improving energy access and enhancing energy efficiency in developing countries. Building on the Gleneagles Plan of Action, such concerted efforts may help improve energy efficiency and promote energy conservation in developing countries through the following actions:
- supporting the development of infrastructure to improve
energy access tailored to specific needs and targeted towards energy
- assisting in policy and institutional
capacity building for improving energy access, enhancing energy
efficiency and promoting energy conservation and diversification of
- promoting renewable energy;
- encouraging rural electrification, using both grid and non-grid connected solutions;
- developing human resources in cooperation with the private sector.
51. We look forward to the completion and implementation of the World Bank Clean Energy Investment Framework and underline that it should give increased attention to improving access to energy services.
52. We share the view that strengthening national financial management and accounting systems, making government budgets, procurement procedures and concessions more transparent, taking specific measures to combat corruption, ensuring good governance, mobilizing domestic resources and progressively improving the business climate for private entrepreneurs and investors are essential for resolving effectively the above mentioned challenges in developing countries. In this context we also refer to the Gleneagles decision concerning Africa.
VII. Addressing Climate Change and Sustainable Development
53. We reaffirm our intention to deliver on commitments made in Gleneagles in order to meet our shared and multiple objectives of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving the global environment, enhancing energy security and cutting air pollution in conjunction with our vigorous efforts to reduce poverty. We also affirm our commitment to the UNFCCC's ultimate objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that prevents dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
We will continue to work to reduce greenhouse gas and deal effectively with the challenge of climate change.
We are undertaking a number of approaches to deal with the interrelated challenges of energy security, air pollution control, and reducing greenhouse gas associated with long-term global climate change. With respect to climate change, we reaffirm our shared commitment under the UNFCCC and its related mechanisms.
Those of us committed to making the Kyoto Protocol a success underline the importance we attach to it, view Clean Development Mechanism and the Joint Implementation Mechanism as central elements of this, and look forward to the process to develop it further.
Some or all of us are participating in the following other initiatives to address these challenges: Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, the Methane to Markets Partnership, the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy, the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership and the Global Bio-Energy Partnership.
We welcome the progress made at the XI Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (Montreal, December 2005) where we committed to engage in a dialogue on long-term cooperative action to address climate change by enhancing implementation of the convention; and the progress made at the UN Climate Change meeting last May in Bonn.
We reaffirm the importance of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and look forward to its 2007 report.
All these undertakings are the foundation of our current efforts to address climate change, and will form the basis of an inclusive dialogue on further action in the future, including the period beyond 2012.
54. We welcome the progress made by the World Bank and the IEA on developing a framework for clean energy and sustainable development and on identifying alternative energy scenarios and strategies to support and implement elements of the Gleneagles Plan of Action.
55. We welcome the progress made at the first meeting of the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, held on 1 November last year. We look forward to the next Ministerial meeting in Mexico in October 2006, where we will continue to identify opportunities for greater collaboration to tackle climate change, while pursuing energy security and sustainable development through deployment of cleaner, more efficient and low-carbon energy technologies, finance and market mechanisms, including, as appropriate, Clean Development Mechanism, Joint Implementation, emissions trade, and adaptation.
Sometimes, it's not that hard to connect the dots. Westerling draws a convincing correlation between wildfires and climate change. See 7/6/06 Environmental Law Prof Blog post on Westerling wildfire study But, just in case you're "skeptical," look at this year's data. The National Weather Service reported that the first half of 2006 has been very hot. See 7/14/06 Environmental Law Prof Blog post on US weather Now, look at the wildfire figures for thus far in 2006. So far, we have had this year 64,155 fires that have burned 4,281,825 acres. That compares with a 10 year average to date of 46,617 acres that burn 2,479,710 acres.
Green Power Network reports that Duke University has become the latest institution to break into the U.S. EPA Green Power Partnership’s (GPP) list of the “Top 25” green power purchasers. Duke now purchases 54 million kWh per year of renewable energy certificates (RECs).
The most recent commitment by a Duke program came from the Fuqua School of Business, which committed to offset 100% of its electricity usage with REC purchases. It would seem that renewable energy certificates are a good business decision. Combined, the Top 25 purchases now amount to 3.7 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of green power annually. HT After Gutenberg