What to Expect: COP22 Climate Summit in Marrakech

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Nov 082016


By Brooke Cary, Desmog, find full article [here].

Today, world leaders and climate negotiators are reconvening in Marrakech, Morocco, less than a year after they hammered out the Paris Agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions through the United Nations process. Over the next two weeks, they will work out the logistics of their climate goals at the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22).  (…)

Negotiators at COP22 will need to strike a delicate balance. You want to be transparent and you want to keep countries accountable for what they are suggesting,” Alexander Ochs, Senior Director of Climate and Energy at Worldwatch Institute, said. “On the other hand, it’s important to keep it voluntary.” (…)

The burning questions are: Who will pay how much — and where will the funding go first? It will have to be seen how the funds are acquired, who pays what, what obligations are there for countries to receive it. That’s the overarching issue,” Ochs said.

Reaching the Paris Agreement’s ambitious target of 1.5°C warming — or even staying below 2°C — will require nations to up their emissions reduction targets far beyond what they have already committed to. COP21 in Paris was one, if not the most important and definitely the most successful climate conference that we’ve had historically,” Ochs said. But, “we can’t just rest with past successes which exist on paper, but have not yet been implemented.” (…)


Bernie Sanders wants to phase out nuclear power plants. Is that a good idea?

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Mar 282016

By Ben Adler

You’ve probably heard that Bernie Sanders has the most impressive climate agenda of any major-party presidential candidate in history. His proposals may be politically unrealistic, but they are bold. If Sanders were president and he had a pliant Congress, his carbon tax and investments in renewables would radically overhaul our energy system for the better. (…)

Some other green groups take a more nuanced approach. NRDC, for example, supports relicensing plants in situations where it’s safer and the plants can’t yet be replaced by renewable energy, and it calls for rejecting those — such as Indian Point in Westchester, N.Y. — that are uniquely dangerous.

Alexander Ochs, senior director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute, says we should put a moratorium on new nuclear plant construction and subject existing plants to “the closest safety scrutiny.” In the end, while these policy positions are based on a different analysis than Sanders’, they differ from his in degree more than in kind: they would hasten the natural death of nuclear energy, only more slowly than Sanders would, in the interest of limiting short-term emissions. (…)

Read full article [here].

‘Yes we can’ switch to 100 percent renewable energy

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Mar 042016

DW.ImageEuropean Union environment ministers are discussing implementation of the Paris Agreement on Friday (04.03.) A timely transition out of fossil fuels is doable, says Alexander Ochs from Worldwatch. That is, if we act now.

Protest at Eiffel Tower at COP21 in Paris (Photo: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

Can we switch from fossil fuels to renewables in time to keep temperature rise to 2, ideally 1.5 degrees Celsius?

Not only can we do a transition to truly sustainable systems – financially, economically, socially and environmentally sustainable – we are in the midst of it. There is no one global trend in that direction, but there are many places, municipalities, provinces, whole countries, regions that are transitioning away from fossil fuels toward renewable ways of producing energy, and smarter ways of consuming energy. So it is absolutely doable.

Can you name some examples?

Alexander Ochs (Photo: Irene Quaile)Ochs says renewables are fast outpacing fossil fuels

Germany has managed over the last two decades to transition away from fossil fuels. We have seen enormous growth rates of renewable electricity production. Or take Denmark, which has always been seen as a renewable energy champion. But it’s not a trend restricted any more to developed countries.

Look at Costa Rica, look at many places on all continents – you find very dramatic examples, transitions away from fossil fuel energy toward sustainable energy sources – not always at the level of nations, but often sub-federal levels like communities or provinces. We have a lot of really great examples now, best practice examples. We really have to learn from experience and share that experience internationally.

Continue reading »

Interview: Alexander Ochs Discusses the Transition to a Clean Global Economy

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Jan 142016


By Ethan Goffman, http://earthtalk.org/interview-alexander-ochs/

For the past 15 years, Alexander Ochs has been an important figure in international efforts to fight climate change and develop green energy, working with United Nations and other international agencies. Among many endeavors, he is President of theForum for Atlantic Climate and Energy Talks, is Founding Chair of the LEDS-GP Energy Working Group, and is an adviser to the German Government’s International Climate Initiative. Ochs’ academic career is also distinguished; he teaches at Johns Hopkins University and has co-edited three books and published dozens of research articles. As Senior Director of Climate and Energy at the Worldwatch Institute, Ochs has developed a series of sustainable energy roadmaps and implementation plans that are helping bring clean energy to Central America and the Caribbean, with plans to expand to new regions. Ochs also participated in the Paris climate summit. EarthTalk’s Ethan Goffman interviewed him via Skype in his Berlin, Germany office…


Or read the full transcript below…

EarthTalk: You’ve worked at the Worldwatch Institute on a series of sustainable energy roadmaps to help countries transition to a clean economy. Why are such roadmaps necessary?

Continue reading »

Tips for living green in 2016

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Jan 112016

January 10th 2016 NationalObserver_160111

In December global leaders met in Paris to hammer out an agreement to try and hold global warming to a 1.5 Celsius degree rise in temperature. But while we hold our elected officials responsible for greenhouse gas emission reductions, what can we and what do we do ourselves to contribute to that goal? National Observer asked a number of experts for tips on how you can reduce your personal carbon footprint. (…)

Alexander Ochs, senior director of climate and energy for Worldwatch Institute, questions the ideal of the typical North American, two-garage home with a large lawn. “Is it really worth the two hours commute you do every day to get to your workplace?” he rhetorically asks. Continue reading »

What to expect after the Paris climate talks: A quick survey

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Nov 272015


Claudia Delpero
Road To Paris – Science for Smart Policy


From 30 November to 11 December, representatives of over 190 countries gather in Paris to reach a global agreement on how to deal with climate change after the expiry of Kyoto Protocol. The talks take place in a city that has been shaken by the Nov 13 terrorist attacks, under a state of emergency, and high security detail for a COP. (…)

We asked experts from a variety of sectors what they expected to see after COP21. We’ll continue to update this from the conference in the next two weeks. (…)

Alexander Ochs, Director Climate and Energy Program, Worldwatch Institute. Washington – Berlin:

“We will continue helping individual countries and municipalities transform their energy systems, including in Africa, Latin America and Asia. Why the focus on developing countries? Because this is where the development needs are the strongest and the pressure not to embark on a development path dependent on fossil fuels is the greatest. In Haiti, for example, 10% of Gross Domestic Product is squandered on fossil fuels while two thirds of the populations still do not have reliable energy access. In at least four out of five countries worldwide there is now a clear economic argument to move from conventional fuels to renewables and to boost efficiency. There are challenges also in North America and Europe, but the most suffering from today’s unjust, unaffordable, and unsustainable energy system is in the regions less developed.”

Full text [here]

Is Africa’s Nuclear Power Renaissance Heading Into An Abyss?

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Mar 212014


By D.A. Barber AFKI Original

South Africa, which currently relies on coal for more than 85 percent of its electricity, wants to wean itself off fossil fuels by using more nuclear power by 2030. Kenya, Nigeria, and other sub-Saharan countries have similar aspirations and are not far behind. (…)

Nuclear power plant construction has stagnated worldwide, according to an October 2013 report from U.S.-based Worldwatch Institute. 

Nuclear is the only mainstream power source – including all of the renewables and all the fossil fuels – that is stagnant and has actually had negative growth, said Alexander Ochs, director of the Climate and Energy Program at Worldwatch Institute, in an AFKInsider interview.

The reason for that stagnation of nuclear? It’s not that countries are forbidden to build them — it’s simply economics, Ochs said. Utilities are unwilling to carry the high costs and the high risks. (…)

“I’m just not sure why you would go down a nuclear route, which is extremely expensive,” Worldwatch Institute’s Ochs told AFKInsider. “You’re not building a nuclear power plant in a couple years. It’s a 15-year project. South Africa has a lot of coal left. I’m not a huge fan of getting the coal out of the ground and burning it, but it gives you time for a transitional strategy towards renewable technologies that are actually using the enormous potentials that you have in the country. To me it doesn’t make any sense.” (…) Continue reading »

Fossil Fuel Subsidies at $2 Trillion, Despite Global Condemnation

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Jan 302014

Despite a growing consensus that support for the oil and gas industry is unfair, inefficient and globally dangerous, there’s no actual implementation of plans to change it.

By Carey L. Biron | January 30, 2014
WASHINGTON – Global tax breaks, incentives, and various other consumption and production subsidies for the fossil fuel industry are likely topping $2 trillion each year, amounting to 2.5 percent of total gross domestic product for 2012. After a dip in the immediate aftermath of the global financial recession, these figures have risen in recent years, according to a new report from Worldwatch, a Washington-based think tank. Incentives for renewable energy sources remain tiny by comparison, estimated at just $88 billion for 2011. (…)
“In the U.S., a lot of this is just lip service. The country is really not yet walking the walk,” Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute, told MintPress. “Both nationally and internationally, we have not made any significant progress toward the goal of reducing subsidies, which was actually declared quite a long while ago. In my view, it’s outrageous that we’re not making any more progress.”
[You can find the whole story here]

‘Tony Abbott’s got my baby’

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Nov 192013

GlobalPostLogoAnalysis: The new prime minister’s honeymoon is marred by an asylum scandal — and a host of other questionable moves.

Global Post, 19 November 2013

(…) On Sunday, tens of thousands of Australians took to the streets to protest against what they see as government climate change denial.

Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, slammed the announcement last week that Australia would downgrade its emissions reduction targets from 25 percent to just 5 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.“Emissions in Europe and the United States are [already] decreasing,” he told GlobalPost. “The position of the new Australian government is shameless and irresponsible. And it makes no sense — economically, socially, environmentally, politically.”

He said the policy could have dire consequences for other countries, too. “Abandoning that pledge could be a deal wrecker for the international community and any meaningful international agreements,” he says. “The Australian government is also considering cutting commitment to the Green Climate Fund, an international fund to help developing countries cope with the impact of climate change. At the same time, it complains about the environmental refugees that arrive at its shore every day because they no longer see a future in their own countries.”

With severe cuts also in store for Australia’s premier federal scientific research institute, CSIRO, it is unclear how Australia will nurture the talent needed to fight climate change. Ochs says that instead of leading the world in the development of green energy sources, Australia will have to “rely on an economic model from the last century that is dirty, ugly, uneconomic and kills Australians every day.” (…)

Renovables pueden ser vía al desarrollo centroamericano

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Oct 152013
by Melissa Gómez Arce

[CARTAGO, COSTA RICA] “Una rápida transición a la generación eléctrica 100 por ciento renovable es técnicamente posible y socioeconómicamente beneficiosa en todos los países centroamericanos”, destaca un estudio del Centro Latinoamericano para la Competitividad y el Desarrollo Sostenible (CLACDS/INCAE) y el Worldwatch Institute.

El informe ‘La Ruta hacia el Futuro para la Energía Renovable en Centroamérica’ –cuya versión en español se lanzó en agosto– evaluó la situación de las energías renovables, las deficiencias y las mejores prácticas para su desarrollo en la región.

Alexander Ochs, director de Energía y Clima del Worldwatch Institute, comenta a SciDev.Net que “las inversiones en energías renovables están aumentando en la región, pero los mecanismos de apoyo financiero ypolíticas existentes siguen siendo insuficientes para desarrollar todo su potencial”.

Añade que Centroamérica podría hacer frente a sus retos de desarrollo si alimentara sus economías en su totalidad con las fuentes de energía renovables, para lo cual se necesita un esfuerzo continuo de colaboración entre los investigadores, el gobierno y sector privado.

“Las inversiones en energías renovables están aumentando en la región, pero los mecanismos de apoyo financiero y políticas existentes siguen siendo insuficientes”.

Alexander Ochs

Continue reading »

Amid Gloomy Climate News, Doha Talks Enter Final Week

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Dec 042012
Rosanne Skirble

December 04, 2012

High level officials from more than 200 countries are in Doha, Qatar, for talks that began last week on the next steps after the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. climate change treaty expires this year. The ministers arrive in the face of bad news for the planet. A spate of new scientific studies finds worldwide greenhouse gas emissions rising and ice sheets melting rapidly, and predicts a planetary warming of as much as five degrees Celsius by the end of this century unless nations act immediately to reduce their industrial emissions of CO2 and other climate-changing greenhouse gases.  (…)
While hopes are high that the U.S. will take the lead in Doha with new emission pledges, some experts doubt if the Obama Administration has the political support at home to significantly alter its climate policies.  Alexander Ochs, an energy and climate analyst with the World Watch Institute in Doha says the U.S. has its hands bound.
“On the one hand, having this high expectation here of other countries that the United States should be  in a leadership role and on the other hand not being able to move more ambitiously to fulfill those targets and those commitments because of domestic resistance.”
Find the full article [here] and on VOA Online.
You can find the full radio report [here].

New Report Highlights Link Between Climate Change, National Security

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Nov 132012
by Brian Padden, Voice of America, November 09, 2012 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Research Council released a report Friday on the link between global climate change and national security. The scientific study details how global warming is putting new social and political stresses on societies around the world and how the United States and other counties can anticipate and respond to these climate-driven security risks. The report by the congressionally-chartered research group begins with an assertion that global warming is real, and that the mainstream scientific community believes that heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are being added to the atmosphere faster today than they were before the rise of human societies.  (…)
Alexander Ochs, the Climate and Energy Director at the non-profit Worldwatch Institute, says the report is an important reminder to world leaders of the complex problems posed by climate change: “So any investment we can make today in reducing emissions will make the problem smaller and it will pay out multi-fold in terms of the costs we have to pick up in the future,” Ochs said.The report, however, does not deal with how nations should go about reducing carbon emissions in the future.  It focuses on the present and how the U.S. and the world can better manage potentially disruptive climate events.
You can find the full article [HERE].

Sản xuất năng lượng phải đối phó với tình trạng khan hiếm nước

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Mar 212012

Zulima Palacio, 21.03.2012 20:00 

Gần như mọi hình thức sản xuất năng lượng đều cần tới những khối lượng nước rất lớn. Chẳng hạn như than, giúp sản xuất 50% điện sử dụng tại Mỹ, cần có nước để khai mỏ cũng như chuyên chở, và làm nguội hay làm trơn thiết bị. Nước cũng được sử dụng để làm nguội những thanh năng lượng tại các nhà máy hạt nhân và tạo hơi nước cho các tuốc bin điện. Công nghệ nhiên liệu sinh học thì cần nước để tưới tiêu, dùng cho tiến trình lên men và sản xuất ethanol cũng như các loại nhiên liệu diesel sinh học.

Ông Alexander Ochs, giám đốc về khí hậu và năng lượng tại viện Worldwatch, nói tất cả những chuyện này khiến người ta phải cần tới thật nhiều nước: “Cứ mỗi megawatt giờ, than dùng từ 500 tới 1.000 ga lông nước [1 ga lông tương đương với 3.785 lít], chỉ để sản xuất 1 megawatt giờ điện năng. Nếu chúng ta gộp tất cả các cơ xưởng tại Mỹ, tất cả các nhà máy nhiệt điện tại Mỹ chỉ trong năm 2008, thì những cơ xưởng đó cần từ 60 tỉ tới 170 tỉ ga lông nước mỗi năm.”

[Find the full article, in Vietnamese, HERE]


US Energy Production Facing Limits of Water Scarcity

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Jan 082012

Zulima Palacio, Voice of America, January 08, 2012 7:00 PM

Scientists, climatologists and energy experts share a growing concern: the need for water in the production of energy, especially in regions that are experiencing serious drought.  Generating power – whether it be from fossil fuels or renewable energy sources – requires large amounts of water.

Nearly all forms of energy production use large amounts of water.  Coal, which generates nearly 50 percent of the electricity in the U.S., needs water for mining and transport, and to cool and lubricate equipment. Water is also used to cool fuel rods at nuclear plants and to generate steam to power  turbines. The biofuel industry needs water for irrigation, fermentation and the production of ethanol and biodiesel fuels.

Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute, says that adds up to a lot of water. “Per megawatt hour, coal uses 500 to 1000 gallons of water for the production of just one megawatt hour of electricity,” said Ochs. “If we look at all the plants combined in the U.S., all the thermo-electric plants [powered by steam] in the U.S. in 2008 alone, they drew 60 billion to 170 billion gallons of water, per year.”

Without water, most types of energy could not be produced. Even renewable energy, like geothermal and solar, use water to cool equipment and to clean the collector panels.  Those requirements have led California, Massachusetts and several Midwestern states to halt the operations of some power plants.“Places like the Midwest where water is a very scarce resource already today, a number of power plants have actually been halted, and this is actually true for across the United States,” said Ochs.

[please find the full article HERE]

Big failures, small successes mark Obama’s environmental record

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Nov 032011

Deutsche Welle, 3 November 2011 [original source]

As presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on a bold green agenda. He vowed to reverse the climate change policy of his predecessor and push for green jobs. But one year before the election the results are mixed at best.

Barack Obama in Copenhagen (…)

Alexander Ochs, director of the climate and energy program at the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, isn’t all that surprised about Obama’s reactions to the Fukushima and Deepwater Horizon accidents. He notes that Obama upon becoming president considered nuclear energy a clean technology and it doesn’t seem Fukushima changed his stance.

What’s more, says Ochs, energy security for most key players in the US simply trumps environmental protection. By continuing or even expanding domestic drilling for oil, those players hope to decrease US dependency on imported oil, which in the long run is impossible because of decreasing reserves.

And yet, despite many shortcomings, it wouldn’t be fair to label Obama as an abject failure on the environment. While it wasn’t hard to beat the environmental record set by his predecessor, Obama does deserve credit for some important green initiatives, argue the experts.

As part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Obama administration has made available investments in renewable energy projects totaling $90 billion (65 billion euros), explains Ochs. He adds that the so-called Cafe standard, i.e. the fuel standard for cars and light trucks, has been raised substantially. And the way in which federal agencies analyze environmental impact of green house gas emissions has also been improved.

While these efforts sound mundane compared to a sweeping international climate mandate they are important and do produce clear environmental change, says Ochs.


“Environmental protection could indeed play a role in the election to the extent that it can be cast by Republicans as a job killer,” says Ochs. “If Republicans are successful in framing it this way it can become quite a liability for Obama and Congress Democrats.”

Author: Michael Knigge, Editor: Rob Mudge

Feature of me in Atlantic Faces, atlantic-community.org

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Oct 202008

In the interview section I addressed the following questions:

1. What are your priorities in your work at the Center for Clean Air Policy?
2. Do you expect significantly more transatlantic agreement on climate policy after the election of a new US president and Congress? What kind of common initiatives would you like to see?
3. What is the single greatest challenge facing the transatlantic alliance today?

Read the full feature here