Climate and population are linked — but maybe not the way you thought
By Robert Engelman and Alexander Ochs, Grist, 24 January 2015
It’s not a topic that comes up in high-level international negotiations on climate change. Yet who would disagree that when individuals and couples use modern contraception to plan childbearing according to a schedule that suits them, they tend to have fewer children than they would otherwise? Could it be that this aspect of family planning, multiplied hundreds of millions of times, might lessen the severity of human-caused climate change and boost societies’ capacity to adapt to it?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after all, recently noted that population and economic growth “continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion.” Not many analysts see “win-win” opportunities in reining in economic growth. Population growth, by contrast, might be slowed as a side effect of efforts that have multiple other benefits — such as education, empowerment of women, and the provision of reproductive health services including safe and effective contraception. And there’sreason to believe that slower population growth also makes societies more resilient to the impacts of climate change already upon us or on the way.
This line of reasoning raises concerns among some groups that are active in climate change advocacy, who argue that linking family planning to climate change amounts to blaming parents of large families in developing countries for a phenomenon caused more by smaller but high-consuming families in industrialized countries. A more pragmatic worry may be the less-than-generous pie of international funding available to address climate change. Should family planning have precedence over renewable energy and direct efforts to adapt to climate change, when the needs are so great and the financial resources to address them are already insufficient? Continue reading »
Bridging the Gap: Family Planning, Rights, and Climate-Compatible Development
January 21, 2015 By Benjamin Dills
“There is no magic bullet or solution to resolving climate change quickly,” said the Population Reference Bureau’s Jason Bremner at the Wilson Center on October 28. “Our next 100 years will be far different from the last 100 or the last 1000…and it has become clear that nations will have to pursue many strategies in order to reduce emissions, build resilience, and adapt.” (…)
Climate-compatible development has two complementary goals, said Alexander Ochs of the Worldwatch Institute: to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions while increasing the capacity of people, communities, and countries to adapt to climate change and extreme weather. (…)
The energy, transport, and climate communities were traditionally separated, said Ochs, but just as they are increasingly working together to curb emissions, the climate, health, and development communities need to do the same. That means creating regular opportunities for dialogue at all levels, from local to international negotiations and the Sustainable Development Goals.
[Please find the full article HERE.]
The Climate-Change Solution No One Will Talk About
Studies have shown that improved access to birth control can be a valuable tool in slowing global warming, but many politicians are afraid to broach the subject.
The equation seems fairly simple: The more the world’s population rises, the greater the strain on dwindling resources and the greater the impact on the environment. The solution? Well, that’s a little trickier to talk about. (…)
“We want to achieve agreement on what the climate commitments are from individual countries,” said Alexander Ochs of the Worldwatch Institute. “There’s a new opportunity here, a new approach that takes a bottom-up look at what countries want to bring to the table. … We’re just focused now on getting over the stumbling blocks.”
You can find the full article [here].
Birth Control Could Help the Environment, but Not Quickly
October 30, 2014 |By Niina Heikkinen and ClimateWire Family planning could help reduce the pressure human population puts on the planet, but not for decades. This week, a group of researchers promoted a different kind of global approach to addressing climate change: voluntary family planning.(…)
Reducing population growth and lowering fertility will improve communities’ resilience and adaptive capacity in the short term, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the long term, population reductions could reduce the risk of climate impacts, according to the working group. It presented its proposals at a forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., yesterday.
“Far too often in the past, it has been approached as giving up freedom, rather than looking at family planning as creating greater freedom and greater happiness,” said Alexander Ochs, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Worldwatch Institute.
He described the working group’s promotion of family planning as a “women-centered rights-based approach” that focused on the “urgency and right of determining the timing and spacing of having children.”
Efforts to control fertility improve maternal and child health and welfare, while also conserving natural resources, he added.
You can find the full article [here].
Bridging the Gap: A Conversation About Family Planning and Climate Change
October 28, 2014 // 12:00pm — 2:00pm
Rapid population growth can be a contributing factor to both greenhouse gas emissions and vulnerability to climate stresses. Early childbearing, high fertility rates, and short birth intervals are associated with poor maternal and child health outcomes as well as lower educational attainment and work force participation, which directly impede women’s ability to participate and invest in climate change adaptation. However, the positive benefits of voluntary family planning, either for emissions reductions or adaptation, have not figured prominently in climate policy discussions or those related to improving access to family planning.
Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream Continue reading »
The Development of the Renewable Energy Market in Latin America and the Caribbean
Here are the slides from my presentation at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) tomorrow.
- Renewable Energy for Power Generation: Global Trends
- Renewable Energy in LAC
- Barriers to the Advancement of Renewable Energy in LAC and Opportunities to Overcome Them
- Vulnerability to Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies in the Power Sector in LAC
- How the IDB Can Support Renewable Energy Development in LAC
Fossil Fuel Subsidies at $2 Trillion, Despite Global Condemnation
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.
Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap
Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy team just launched its groundbreaking Sustainable Energy Roadmap for Jamaica, a look at the measures that the country can take to transition its electricity sector to one that is socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable.
The report, Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap: Pathways to an Affordable, Reliable, Low-Emission Electricity System, is the culmination of years of intensive investigation. It analyzes the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment in Jamaica and discusses the social and economic impacts of alternative energy pathways. Click here for more information about the project and to read the report.
‘Tony Abbott’s got my baby’
Analysis: The new prime minister’s honeymoon is marred by an asylum scandal — and a host of other questionable moves.
(…) 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.” (…)
Worldwatch Institute Launches Groundbreaking Sustainable Energy Roadmap for Jamaica
“Jamaica is paying a colossal price to import polluting and health-threatening fossil fuels, even when it has the best clean energy resources at its doorstep: wind, solar, hydro, and biomass,” says Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at Worldwatch and a co-author of the study. “The Jamaican government has set a nationwide goal of 20 percent renewable energy use by 2030; our Roadmap will help to realize this goal. What’s more, our analysis shows that the bar can and should be set much higher: Jamaica can become a zero-carbon island in a matter of decades, and its people would benefit enormously from such a transition.”
Worldwatch collaborated closely on this project with the Government of Jamaica. “I am very confident that the outcome of this project will enable Jamaica to map, in more precise ways, the additional electricijamaicaty generation capacity that we seek,” says Jamaican Energy Minister Philip Paulwell. “We intend to use the Roadmap to determine the next phase of new generation capacity, and it will enable us to be far more efficient than we have in the past.” Continue reading »
Philippines’ People’s TV Network Interviews Alexander Ochs
Worldwatch Institute’s Climate and Energy Director Alexander Ochs on “Good Morning Boss” on the Philippine’s People’s Television Network talking about the potential for the nation to transition to a zero carbon economy.
3 July 2013
Beyond Coal: Obama Makes the Right Choice
Here at the Asia Clean Energy Forum in the Philippines, President Obama’s speech on climate change has been greeted with enthusiasm. In particular, his decision to redirect U.S. financing of coal fired power plants to expanding the use of clean energy in developing countries is seen as a signal that the U.S. understands that coal is risky and expensive—at a time when the costs of biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind power are declining rapidly.
The positive reaction to Obama’s initiative is hardly surprising: many Asian countries share the U.S. President’s concern about climate change: recent fires, droughts, and typhoons have devastated large areas, stirred public concern, and spurred governments to act.
The growing Asian commitment to new energy technologies reflects the fact that renewable resources are indigenous, while for many countries, coal must be imported. For most Asian countries, investment in renewable energy is an investment in their economic future, and will provide the energy needed to increase prosperity and eradicate poverty.
President Obama’s new approach to coal and clean energy is fully consistent both with his commitment to job creation and his “pivot to Asia” in foreign policy. U.S. leadership on new energy technology is a signal that the country is committed to the future of energy rather than its past—and to providing energy for people rather than subsidies for fossil fuels.
Worldwatch & REN 21 Policy Briefing 2013
U.S. Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), the Worldwatch Institute, and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) held a policy briefing on the status and future of renewable energy in the United States and around the world.
Featuring commentary by:
Mohamed El-Ashry, Senior Fellow, UN Foundation
Christine Lins, Executive Secretary, REN21
Eric Martinot, Author, Renewables Global Futures Report
Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy, Worldwatch Institute
You can find the event announcement [here]
Sustainable Energy Roadmaps – Presentation at COP 18 in Doha, Qatar
Sustainable Energy for Island Economies:
A High Impact Opportunity of SE4ALL – Vision 20/30
This session, moderated by Nasir Khattak, Climate Institute, presented the global programme “Sustainable Energy for Island Economies,” launched in 2000 and included in 2012 as one of the “high impact opportunities” under the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, with some panelists showcasing projects from their island states. Continue reading »
Amid Gloomy Climate News, Doha Talks Enter Final Week
December 04, 2012
Developing Countries Want Wealthier Ones To Increase Climate Finance Pledges in Doha
By Avery Fellow, Bloomberg Daily Environment Report, 3 December 2012
Developing countries are seeking increased pledges from wealthier countries for climate mitigation and adaptation financing at international climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar, observers of the talks said Nov. 30. The G77, or group of 77 developing countries within the United Nations, proposed at the 18th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-18) that developed countries raise $60 billion a year starting in 2013 for “medium-term” climate assistance as they scale up to offering $100 billion a year by 2020, observers said. (…)
Developed countries initially promised to direct at least 50 percent of pledged funds to climate adaptation, said Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute. (…)
Ochs said he did not expect a global deal on climate finance in Doha. “I do not think in this negotiation round we will see a full agreement on how to bridge the gap between 2012 and 2020,” he said. “I’m hoping that countries fill the current gap … [and] individual countries start putting money on the table for 2012 to 2020. But I do not expect a global deal on the issue.” (…)
You can find the whole article [here].
More Energy for the Negotiations
Published in Outreach | COP-18, Doha | 28 November 2012
Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy, Worldwatch Institute
More than half of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions result from the burning of fossil fuels for energy supply. Even excluding traditional biomass, fossil fuel combustion accounts for 90 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Against this background, it is surprising how limited a role energy is playing in the ongoing climate negotiations. And yet this discussion could be instrumental in refocusing the debate about what is necessary and what is possible in both the areas of climate mitigation and adaptation—bringing it back down from the current inscrutable spheres of negotiation tracks, subsidiary bodies, parallel sessions, ad-hoc working groups, and special meetings (which, let’s be frank, nobody outside the negotiators understands anymore).
First, a focus on energy shows how far we are from solving the climate crisis. Energy-related CO2 emissions grew 3.2 percent in 2011 to more than 31 gigatons—despite the economic crisis. We know that if we don’t want to lose track of the 2-degree Celsius threshold of maximum warming that would hopefully avoid major disasters, energy emissions must decline by at least one third to 20 gigatons in 2035, despite expectations that energy demand might double in the same time frame. .
So the challenge is enormous. But—and this is where the good news starts—clean energy solutions are at hand, ready to be implemented. The costs for wind, solar, sustainable hydro, biomass and waste energy technologies all continue to fall rapidly, and, in many markets, they are becoming price competitive with fossil fuels—even if externalities and fossil fuel subsidies are not internalized. If they are, the cost that our societies pay for our continued reliance on fossil fuels becomes truly outrageous: Coal, responsible for 71 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions, causes more than US$100 billion in local pollution and health care costs annually in the United States alone, in addition to the personal hardships of those suffering from these impacts. Add the costs for climate change, and it becomes incomprehensible why our societies continue down the fossil path despite the availability of alternatives.
New Report Highlights Link Between Climate Change, National Security
On Climate and Human Change – What Hurricane Sandy Tells Us
Re|Volt, 1 November 2012
By now, the heartbreaking photos of neighborhoods swept to sea and a climbing death toll have reminded us all of the immeasurable pain and tragedy our environment can incur. We think of the millions of people who continue to be affected by the storm, the tens of thousands who have lost all that they own, and the hundreds who have lost their lives.
Sandy also tells us a lot about ourselves. From a pessimistic standpoint, it shows human failure: our failure to listen to those who understand far better than most of us do the impact of human behavior on the atmosphere, our climate system, and the ecosystems that surround us. While it is true that no singular weather event can be directly linked to human-caused global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – since its establishment in 1988 arguably the most thorough and meticulous scientific undertaking in human history – has reported with increasing confidence that weather extremes will become more frequent, more widespread, and more intense with rising greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC’s assessments, and those of many other leading scientific bodies, have led prominent commentators—among them Nobel laureates, prime ministers, presidents, secretary-generals, and even movie stars—to call out global warming as this century’s greatest threat. But Sandy demonstrates in dramatic fashion our inability to take more profound steps to tackle global challenges, despite our knowledge that we endanger ourselves if we don’t. Sandy reveals our refusal to take responsibility for our actions and our skepticism that real change (of natural systems as well as of our own behavior) is possible. Continue reading »