Solar Homes Offer New Hope for Renewable Energy
WASHINGTON, Oct 4, 2011 (IPS) – As a light drizzle fell Saturday, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu pointed to solar houses constructed by students on the National Mall park in Washington as evidence that the U.S can compete internationally in the renewable energy market to create jobs and win “the war against climate change”.
Alexander Ochs, director of the energy and climate programme at the WorldWatch Institute, said the solar industry was actually one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S., with 5,000 companies employing more than 100,000 people. He said Solyndra failed because it made poor investment decisions and was buffeted by price fluctuations in the raw materials market – not because solar power industry is in trouble. “Solyndra is now used as a scandal to set an example that solar is not working in the U.S. or that it cannot compete on the international market. It is basically used as an attempt to kill the industry as a whole,” Ochs told IPS.
In fact, Ochs said the solar industry grew at a rate of 69 percent in the last year alone, more than doubling in size, and at a rate much higher than the fossil fuel industry, which grows only in the low single digits, or nuclear, the only energy sector with a negative growth rate. Notwithstanding those facts, Ochs said criticisms of government support for renewable energy did not take into account the comparatively large cost of fossil fuel subsidies.
“bridges” Lecture Series 2010: Debate on Global Climate-Change Policy with Roger Pielke, Jr., David Goldston, and Alexander Ochs
bridges vol. 28, December 2010 / Noteworthy Information
The challenge of addressing climate change inspires fierce, divisive debates, pitting science against politics, environmentalism against commerce, and the most powerful nations in the world against their less-developed neighbors. Roger Pielke, Jr. , professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado , bridges columnist, and a renowned expert on science and public policy, attempts to take on this challenge. In his new book, The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming , he seeks to propose a novel, alternative way of looking for solutions for the climatic changes the earth is experiencing.
The Office of Science and Technology at the Embassy of Austria chose the occasion of the publication of this book to invite Roger Pielke, Jr., and two more experts on the issue – David Goldston and Alexander Ochs – for a debate with the audience on global climate-change policy. David Goldston is the director of Government Affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council and previously served as chief of staff for the chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Science and Technology. Alexander Ochs works for Worldwatch Institute, directing its Climate and Energy Program.
[Read the rest of the event report on the bridges website]
Energie rinnovabili: a che punto è il mondo?
Intervista ad Alexander Ochs, direttore del Climate & Energy Program del Worldwatch Institute.
di Alessandra Viola
La domanda energetica mondiale nel 2030 può essere ridotta di un terzo semplicemente puntando sull’efficienza. E la metà della rimanente domanda potrà essere garantita dalle rinnovabili, con una diminuzione delle emissioni di gas serra pari al 52%. Ma a patto che modifichiamo il nostro stile di vita.
Vent’anni di tempo per dimezzare le emissioni globali di gas serra e provvedere alla metà del consume energetico mondiale con le rinnovabili. O sarà un disastro. Vent’anni per contenere il global warming entro livelli accettabili per il Pianeta, ma anche vent’anni per essere tutti un po’ più felici. Detta così sembra un’enormità, una cosa assurda o al meglio semplicemente un’utopia. Al Worldwatch Institute di Washington però fanno sul serio. E nello State of the World 2010, insieme al rapport Renewable Revolution, hanno messo a punto uno scenario future tutt’altro che campato in aria. Secondo le nostre proiezioni, che sono diverse da quelle elaborate dall’Agenzia internazionale per l’energia e che abitualmente si usano come scenario di riferimento- spiega Alexander Ochs, direttore del Climate & Energy Program del Worldwatch Institute- la domanda energetica mondiale nel 2030 può essere ridotta di un terzo semplicemente puntando sull’efficienza. E la metà della rimanente domanda energetica, sempre nel nostro scenario, potrà essere garantita dale rinnovabili con una diminuzione delle emissioni di gas serra pari al 52%. Naturalmente, a patto che introduciamo un efficace sistema di regolamentazione e modifichiamo il nostro stile di vita: se ognuno dei 6,8 miliardi di abitanti della Terra conducesse una vita simile a quella di un nordamericano medio, il Pianeta sarebbe già collassato.
[Read the full article published in Oxygen 11 (10/2010): “Green Power”]
CrossTalk on Heat: Freak Weather or Hot Trend?
On this edition of CrossTalk on RT (Russia Television’s International Broadcast), Peter Lavelle asks his guests about the on-going heat wave: freak weather or evidence of global warming? I was one of them.
Sharp Decline in EU Emissions as Europeans Debate Reduction Target
Co-author: Shakuntala Makhijani
The European Environment Agency (EEA) yesterday released its greenhouse gas inventory for 2008, showing a two-percent fall from 2007 levels across EU-27 countries and an 11.3-percent reduction from 1990 levels. The new data also show that the EU-15 (the 15 only EU members in 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was negotiated) have reduced emissions by 6.9 percent since 1990, putting those countries on track to meet their Kyoto Protocol commitment of reducing 2008-2012 emissions by an average of 8-percent below 1990 levels. The European Commission points out that the EU-15 emission reduction—a 1.9-percent drop from 2007 to 2008—came as the region’s economy grew 0.6 percent, suggesting that economic growth and emissions cuts can be compatible.
Just last month, the European Commission had announced that emissions covered under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) fell even more rapidly: verified emissions from covered installations were 11.6-percent lower last year than in 2008. EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard cautioned that these reductions are largely due to the economic crisis, as opposed to ambitious actions by covered industry. The crisis has also weakened price signals in the trading scheme and slowed business investment in emissions-reducing innovations.
Earlier this year, the European Commission began arguing that the Union should commit to deeper cuts than a 20-percent reduction from 1990 levels by 2020, calling instead for a 30-percent decrease. It released figures showing that, largely due to the economic crisis, the annual costs for cutting emissions will be lower than originally estimated by 2020. In 2008, the EU estimated that €70 billion per year would be necessary to meet the 20-percent target, but this cost estimate has now fallen to just €48 billion. For a 30-percent target during the same timeframe, the new projected annual cost is €81 billion—only €11 billion more than what EU countries have already accepted under the 20-percent target.
[Please read the rest of the blog on ReVolt]
America’s Opposite Hand: Germany’s Parties Agree on the Necessity of Environmental Protection and a Green New Deal
“The political system pushes the parties toward the middle,” “party homogeneity is rather weak” … in Germany’s antiquated libraries, students might pick up these messages from text books about the U.S. political system. We all know that today’s reality is a different one. Over the last twenty-five years or so, the U.S. electorate has drifted further and further apart. The election of Ronald Reagan marks the beginning of the U.S. drift to the right in the 1980s. The two Bush presidents and even Bill Clinton—“it’s the economy, stupid!”—continued Reagan’s doctrine of the supremacy of a preferably untamed capitalism. The chimera of “the invisible hand of the market” has become an imperative of all political action, and arguably hit the “soft issue” of environmental protection even more than others. The U.S., once an environmental leader—the country with the first national environment plan, the birthplace of the idea of national parks, the place of departure for the global spread of the green movement in early 1970s—became the epitome of subordinating environmental protection under economic priorities.
To be sure, the U.S. in the mid-1980s became a leader in brokering a global treaty for the protection of the ozone layer—after Dupont had claimed the patents for the substitutes of ozone-depleting substances. When TIME magazine chose “Endangered Earth” as Person of the Year 1988, Bush Senior began referring to himself as the environmental president—albeit with limited credibility, the 1990 reform of the Clean Air Act notwithstanding. Clinton chose the greenest senator of all times, Earth in the Balance author Al Gore, as his vice president, but his sublime green agenda for the most part collapsed already in the first few years.
Later on, he signed the Kyoto Protocol but never submitted it to the Senate for ratification because its defeat on the Hill was certain. Then Congress shifted toward a more pro-active stand on climate and green energy in the beginning of this century—mostly because even a Republican majority considered Bush Junior too much of a market radical.
Contract with America: Let ‘em Pollute! Please read my essay for Transatlantic Perspectives here.
The two gorillas in the room talking climate – Stern goes to China
US Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern just spoke at the Center for American Progress on “China and the Global Climate Challenge”. The most important news first: Stern (with Holdren, Sandalow, and others from Treasury, EPA etc.) will leave for Beijing this Saturday in order to continue talks on forging a US-CHN climate and energy partnership. started by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this year.
Linking EU and US emission trading systems
On April 24, 2009 at Hotel Jalta in Prague, Czech Republic,
Paying special attention to recent legislative developments in the
CCAP Discusses Views of Carbon Offsetting in the U.S. at Copenhagen Carbon Markets Insights Conference
from CCAP Newsletter
On March 18, 2009, Alexander Ochs, CCAP’s director of international policy, discussed “Views on Carbon Offsetting in the United States” at Point Carbon’s Carbon Market Insights Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.“International offsets like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and domestic offsets will likely play an important role in any future U.S. cap and trade program,” Ochs told delegates from around the world. “However, it is important to understand that offsets are only one mechanism that U.S. lawmakers are currently considering in their effort to contain the cost of a federal carbon market. There is also a certain contradiction in the debate between lowering the cost of mitigating emissions on the one hand, and not wanting to send money oversees to make our competitors’ economies more efficient.”Ochs agreed with co-panelist Peter Zapfel from the European Commission that the CDM alone is not sufficient for reducing rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions in the developing world. “Major emitters like the developing countries China and Mexico must contribute more to the solution than simply offsetting reduction commitments made elsewhere — and they are willing to do so,” Ochs said. “Sectoral commitments for energy-intense industries are the next important step on the staircase to a full integration of these countries into the global carbon market.”
You can find my presentation here: ochs-futureofoffsetsinus_carbonmarketinsights2009.pdf
Transatlantic Climate and Energy Cooperation: The Way Forward
1, 2 oder 3 – letzte Chance: Vorbei!
Nach Ansicht der meisten amerikanischen Kommentatoren hat sich der republikanische Präsidentschaftskandidat John McCain im letzten Fernsehduell mit seinem demokratischen Herausforderer Barack Obama besser geschlagen als in den beiden vorangegangen Debatten. Das lag mit Sicherheit auch daran, dass die beiden Kontrahenten bei diesem Gespräch an einem Pult Platz nehmen durften. In der zweiten Debatte war McCain während der Redezeit Obamas mehrfach im Hintergrund zu sehen gewesen, wie er scheinbar orientierungslos auf und abschritt. Wenige Tage später ließ die Comedy-Show Saturday Night Life daher ein McCain Double 45 Minuten lang immer und immer wieder ziellos durchs Bild schleifen – neben den Parodien auf McCains Vize Sarah Palin ein klares Highlight der bisherigen Wahlsatiren. Weiter zum Blog auf Deutsche Welle
Think Tank Analysis: The World Needs a Third Industrial Revolution
Feature on, and summary of, my July 2008 study Overcoming the Lethargy: Climate Change, Energy Security, and the Case for a Third Industrial Revolution on Atlantic Community
Der Klimawandel in der amerikanischen Wirtschaft: Immer mehr Unternehmen befürworten die Regulierung von Treibhausgasen
The times they are a-changing, die Zeiten ändern sich, sang Bob Dylan in den 1960ern, und heute, da der Liedermacher ein großes Revival erlebt, gilt dieser Satz für eine Akteursgruppe, auf die die Emanzipations-, Friedens- und Umweltbewegung von einst so gar nicht abhob: die amerikanische Industrie. Noch vor nicht allzu langer Zeit meuterte eine selbsternannte Global Climate Coalition (GCC) von vorwiegend US-amerikanischen Unternehmen gegen jede Form verpflichtender Maßnahmen zum Klimaschutz und stellte selbst die wissenschaftlichen Grundlagen des Klimawandels trotzig in Frage. Doch fast zeitgleich mit dem Ausstieg der Bush-Regierung aus dem Kyoto-Protokoll liefen der GCC die Mitglieder davon, 2002 schließlich löste sich die Vereinigung auf. Heute gehören einige der Opponenten von einst zu den größten Befürwortern nationaler und internationaler klimapolitischer Maßnahmen. HEINRICH BÖLL STIFTUNG
Amerika geht der Sprit aus
Ausnahmsweise war sich Hillary Rodham Clinton mit ihrem Senatskollegen und republikanischen Präsidentschaftsgegner John McCain einmal einig: Bei bald vier Dollar pro Gallone Sprit müsse der amerikanische Autofahrer entlastet, die bundesweite Benzinsteuer von 18,4 Cents pro Gallone daher für die Hauptreisemonate im Sommer gestrichen werden. Und Obama? Der inzwischen im Kampf um das Präsidentschaftsticket der Demokraten praktisch uneinholbare Senator aus dem Mittleren Westen enttarnt den Vorschlag als das, was er in Wirklichkeit ist: Populismus pur. Und er nennt die falsche Signalstellung und die konkreten negativen Konsequenzen eines solchen Vorhabens beim Namen. DEUTSCHE WELLE
Towards a Transatlantic Consensus on Climate Change
With contributions from Fabrizio D’Adda, Kevin Baumert, Corrado Clini, Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, Michael Grubb, Benito Müller, Friedemann Müller,
A Century of Climate Protection: How Global Warming Will Change Politics and Economics
I delivered this presentation on 12 March 2008 at the German Embassy,
I.a., my discussion included a climate policy snap shot, a focus on transatlantic disunity, a focus on power shifts in international (climate) relations, the question whether there is a new transatlantic climate looming, and an outlook of the challenges for future climate and energy policy in the search of a post-Kyoto framework. Please find the presentation here.
Please find the presentation here.