Archive for category Global

Global Climate Deal and the Missing Link

The climate deal fleshed out in Lima, Peru, is that all countries can set their own climate goals [1,2,3]. But will this be effective in preventing dangerous greenhouse gas emissions? Very unlikely, writes Delton Chen (Geo-Hydrologist, Civil Engineer):

deltonDuring the past 250 years of industrial and technological revolution, the primary catalyst for innovation and the fundamental driver of economic growth has been the availability of fossil fuels (i.e. coal, oil and gas). To avoid extremely dangerous climate change, the global economic system must be re-organised at a fundamental level, and the new order must include a social transformation that grows exponentially; otherwise the required mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will be too slow to avoid a climate catastrophe.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was put into effect in 1994, and civilisation officially acknowledged that it was ‘addicted’ to fossil fuels. The ultimate aim of the UNFCCC is to prevent “…dangerous human interference with the climate system”[4]. The recent UNFCCC’s meeting in Lima, Peru, provides the latest update on civilisation’s de-carbonisation program, but the results of the Lima meeting signify global action will be further delayed given that nations are only obliged to make voluntary commitments. 

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Jigar Shah’s Creating Climate Wealth (2013)

jigar-shahJigar Shah has a disarmingly powerful message for today’s young capitalists: fixing the climate crisis is the biggest financial opportunity of our lifetimes. Indeed, Shah is on track to become a role model for a new generation of entrepreneurs who are committed to leveraging mainstream investment for social transformation.

In Creating Climate Wealth, Shah makes the case that clean energy represents a ten trillion dollar investment opportunity—if we are just willing to look at what already makes economic sense in addressing the impacts of climate change. The premise of his book, as he states it in a recent video interview, is that 50% of the climate challenge can be tackled profitably with existing technologies, if we have the right business models.

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Beyond Lingering Problems in Haiti, Progress and Vision Spark Hope

Sustainable Haiti Conference, April 4-6, Miami Convention Center to Feature Sustainable Haiti Coalition

n the face of cholera outbreaks, political turmoil and faltering development efforts in Haiti, can individuals in America impact the long-term prospects for Haitians? Tamara Apollon, president of Mon Pays Mon Cuisine (i.e. My Country, My Cuisine) (Piscataway, NJ), told a United Nations commission on the status of women on February 22 that more help is needed.

She for one is doing her part. In the past several years, Apollon has traveled to Cuba and Spain, and is also meeting with companies in the U.S., to open new markets for novel Haitian-based products such as mango juice, squash puree and dried fruits. The products support a community cooperative of 300 women fruit growers in Lascoabas, about 90 minutes from Port au Prince. Apollon can generate demand for the products, but further investment is needed to buy generators, processing and storage equipment to bring the cooperative to its full potential, she says.

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Toward a Sustainable Future for Haiti

JCloudStorerSmThe earthquake in Haiti has been many things – including both a wakeup call for Americans, and an opportunity to demonstrate our compassion – but it has above all been a human tragedy that has revealed the weaknesses and deficiencies that were there before. A 7.5 magnitude earthquake will no doubt cause some damage no matter where it occurs, but it does not always need to cause the extent of devastation that has occurred in Haiti, or to leave the population as unaided.

Some colleagues of ours at the Institute for Sustainable Enterprise met last week to discuss what we could do to contribute to a longer-term recovery, that would try to address the social, environmental, and economic challenges facing this troubled nation. We talked about a great many things, including the fact that many of us feel powerless in the face of such catastrophes, especially those that afflict human beings in distant places. We are all “overcommitted” to many worthwhile and challenging tasks already, and taking on such a monumental task as helping to chart the way forward in Haiti clearly seems to require that we steal time and energy from other causes. But if we can make even a small difference, while honoring our other commitments, this seems a compelling goal. Read the rest of this entry »

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An Open Letter to the President

The Road Not Taken:
A Letter to President Obama
from a Concerned Democrat,
and a Concerned Citizen

Jonathan Cloud (Publisher)

Jonathan Cloud (Publisher)

Dear Mr. President:

I write out of deep concern as to the state of our nation today.

I believe that in the year since your inauguration, an important opportunity has been missed to unify and mobilize the American people in the service of their highest ideals.

I acknowledge the many pressures and challenges that have been thrust upon you by circumstances, and I applaud you for the intelligent and courageous actions you have taken. Your actions have, as almost all economists now recognize, averted an outright collapse of the financial system. And this is but one of many remarkable accomplishments, not the least of which has been changing the tone around America’s role in the world. Read the rest of this entry »

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Will Cap and Trade Work?

JCloudStorerSmA couple of years ago I suggested to Frank Felder, Director of Rutgers’ Center for Energy, Environmental, and Economic Policy (CEEEP), that we co-sponsor a debate on the relative merits of cap-and-trade vs. a carbon tax. The idea went nowhere, because the conventional wisdom, then as now, is that anything with the word “tax” in it is a political nonstarter.

I thought this was shortsighted then, and think it is still short-sighted now. If we fail to discuss what may be better alternatives because they are not politically popular, they will never get the chance to become widely considered, and we will have allowed a self-fulfilling prophecy to dictate our fate. Political acceptability is an important factor in choosing a course of action. But it is not the only one. If a carbon tax (or, as some prefer to call it, a “fee”) is a better approach, then we need to figure out how to make it palatable. And if cap-and-trade will, as others claim, do more harm than good, then we need to consider how to de-legitimize it. Read the rest of this entry »

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