Climate Change

Union of Concerned Scientists Define Benefits of Renewables

The U.S. could increase the share of electricity generated from renewable sources (wind, solar, plants and geothermal) to about 10 times current levels over the next 20 years, and still see a 13 percent decrease in electricity prices, according to Union of Concerned Scientists study, “A Powerful Opportunity: Making Renewable Electricity the Standard.” Expanding renewable electricity use to these levels would freeze power plant emissions of carbon dioxide at about year 2000 levels, making a major contribution to meeting the US reduction targets under the Kyoto global warming treaty. Another report, “Powerful Solutions: 7 Ways to Switch America to Renewable Electricity,” UCS details methods to switch America to renewable electricity: renewable portfolio standards, public benefits funding, net metering, fair transmission and distribution rules, fair pollution rules, consumer information, and putting green customer demand to work. ucs@ucsusa.org The reports are available online: [sorry this link is no longer available]

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PEW Offers Method to Determine Fair Climate Change Commitments

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change released a plan to help resolve one of the most contentious issues to be debated at this month’s international climate change conference (November 2-13) in Buenos Aires – the relative obligations of countries. It divides the obligations of countries into tiers based on three criteria: responsibility for emissions, standard of living or ability to pay for mitigation, and the opportunity countries have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “We cannot begin to address the climate change issue until we resolve what is fair to expect of each country,” said Eileen Claussen, Pew Center executive director. “Until now, people assumed there would be one standard for the industrialized countries and another for developing countries. Tier one: 30 countries with the greatest obligation to act because of their high emissions, standard of living, and opportunity to improve energy efficiency. It includes most industrialized countries including the U.S. and European nations, but also countries like Argentina and South Korea. Tier two: 52 countries with a standard of living below the world average. Both developed and developing countries fall into this tier including China, India, Brazil, Russia, and Bulgaria. Tier three: 74 countries which contribute less to the […]

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Clean Energy Must Increase 10-Fold by 2050

A team of New York University researchers conclude the Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) content can be stabilized only with a tenfold increase in non-carbon emitting power sources over the next 50 years. The current 1.5 terawatts of clean power generation must increase to 15 terawatts by 2050, from its current 15 percent of the global total to at least 50 percent. “Stabilizing CO2 at twice pre-industrial levels without untenable economic disruptions implies a massive shift to carbon-free power, particularly in developing nations,” said physicist Matin I. Hoffert, leader of the research team. “There are no energy systems technologically ready at present to produce the required amount of carbon-free power. Fission and fusion concepts now at early research and development stages could, in principle, provide the needed carbon-free power. Without policy incentives to overcome socioeconomic inertia, these could take more than 50 years to penetrate to their market potential. He called for an international effort pursued with the same urgency as the Manhattan Project or the Apollo space program.

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U.S. Fuel Cell Council Forms

14 firms which produce or purchase fuel cells or components formed the U.S. Fuel Cell Council. On the organization’s board are representatives from 3M, the American Methanol Institute, Ballard Generation Systems, Daimler-Benz, DuPont Fluoroproducts, Energy Partners, Energy Research Corp., EPYX Corp., Ford Motor Co., International Fuel Cells/ONSI Corp. (United Technologies Corp. subsidiary), M-C Power Corp., Plug Power, W.L. Gore & Associates and Siemens/Westinghouse. Helmut Petri, a member of Daimler-Benz’s Board of Directors overseeing passenger-car development, predicted to attendees of “Convergence 1998,” the International Congress on Transportation Electronics, that the pace of automobile development over the next 15 years will exceed that of the previous 50 years, in part because of changes spurred by integrated electronics and fuel cells. U.S. Fuel Cell Council: [sorry this link is no longer available]

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GM Joins WRI But Still Waffles on Climate Change

General Motors is collaborating in the World Resources Institute’s “Safe Climate, Sound Business” initiative – a partnership with British Petroleum and Monsanto based on the premise that “Leadership and commitment to action are necessary now to address the climate challenge.” The partners commit to measure emissions from their operations, develop new technologies to control them, educate employees, customers, and suppliers about climate-change issues, include “global climate considerations” in new investment decisions and encourage the government to eliminate fossil-fuel subsidies. When a Detroit News headline proclaimed “Global warming is real, GM says,” the automaker responded by toning down the wording of its message and calling the article “inaccurate.” GM’s response states, “there is enough cause for concern to take moderate cost actions to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions and the risk from potential change.” Source: Calstart News

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Shell Moves on Green Programs

On the heels of BPs announcement that it will cut its greenhouse-gas emissions 10 percent by 2010, Shell pledged the same cuts by 2002. BP is making a major commitment to solar energy, and now, so is Shell. Both companies plan to improve efficiency throughout operations, and reduce venting and flaring of natural gas in exploration and production activities. Shell is making a $500 million investment in renewable energy resources, and, according to Willem-Jan van Wijk, director of Shell’s solar power division, the company aims to capture about 20 percent of the international commercial market for rural solar electricity systems, worth an estimated $1.1 billion, over the next five years. Eskom, the South African national electricity utility, and Shell International Renewables, are cooperating on a R130 million solar power project which will provide electricity to 50,000 rural households in South Africa over the next two years. Customers will pay R180 (about US$30; worth US$864)) for installation and R48 (US$8) for a monthly maintenance fee to power the equivalent of four lights and a black a[nd white TV for six hours. “This is the largest commercial, solar rural electrification project ever, he said. At a local level, it will provide opportunities […]

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Global Warming Impacts State-by-State

Created by EPA’s Office of Policy, Climate Change Impact Sheets detail the potential effects of climate change by state. Impacts on state climate, human health, water resources, agriculture, forests, and coastal areas are among the topics included. To receive any or all of the 50 impact sheets, visit [sorry this link is no longer available] or call 800-490-9198 with #s: EPA 230-F-97-008 and EPA-236-F-98-007. EPA has a global warming website: [sorry this link is no longer available] For information on EPA’s State and Local Climate Change Program: [sorry this link is no longer available] For details about each state’s activities, check out EPA’s State Climate Database

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Keep Up With Climate Change Conference

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), will provide comprehensive coverage of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Fourth Conference of the Parties, November 2-13. IISD will publish daily 2000-word issues of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin in French and English on the state of negotiations. IISD’s bi-lingual multimedia climate change website will carry photos, RealAudio broadcasts of interviews and conference side events, and links to official documents and analyses. [sorry this link is no longer available] To subscribe to free e-mail reports from Buenos Aires, go to: [sorry this link is no longer available]

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