Ivan Chan

Ivan Chan

k2Following months of negotiation, Senators Kerry and Lieberman on Wednesday announced their compromise climate and energy bill, the American Power Act. It's significantly different from the Waxman-Markey House bill passed last year and faces the challenge of securing 60 votes needed for passing in the Senate. Key differences from the House bill include: -carbon reductions from separate sectors of the economy, particularly utilities and energy-intensive industries, rather than a national cap -increased incentives for conventional energy sources as well as renewable sources The Kerry-Lieberman bill does, however, use the 2020 and 2050 reduction goals of the House bill: 17% emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2020. This is followed by 83% emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2050, plus accelerated mitigation of some, more potent greenhouse gases than CO2. Following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the bill's language on offshore oil drilling has been toned down to an extent. States will have the authority to opt out of drilling within 75 miles of their shores and veto drilling off shores of a neighboring state. Moreover, the Department of the Interior will need to assess which states would be affected by a spill should one occur, and those states would be able to block drilling through their state legislatures. While not dubbed a cap-and-trade bill, it does have numerous characteristics of a cap-and-trade, including recognition and use of emissions permits and carbon offsets to help achieve reductions more cost-effectively. "This is a bill for energy independence after a devastating oil spill, a bill to hold polluters accountable, a bill for billions of dollars to create the next generation of jobs and a bill to end America's addiction to foreign oil," Kerry said at a press conference. He described stakes for the legislation as "sky high." The Associated Press noted that Lieberman predicts the bill would pass, citing what he called a growing and unprecedented coalition of business, national security, faith and environmental leaders who are "energized" to work for it. To see a section-by-section summary of the bill, click here. You can also view the bill text here.
img3The Chairwoman of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee Barbara Boxer has suggested the Kerry-Lieberman climate and energy bill may be released as soon as next week. "He said it's looking good, and he hopes to have a press conference next week," said Boxer (D-CA)  speaking to reporters about Sen. Kerry. Neither Senator would confirm the timing, however, and there are still doubts that a bill would be able to muster the votes needed to pass this session. According to Darren Samuelsohn and Josh Voorhees of Greenwire:  "The Kerry-Lieberman climate bill is expected to call by 2020 for a 17 percent cut in emissions below 2005 levels, with the emission limits applying to different sectors of the economy at different times. Trade-sensitive manufacturers, for example, would start in the climate program six years after power plants... The legislation is also expected to promote increased domestic production of nuclear power and offshore oil and gas, despite the outcry from environmentalists in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil spill." Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has threatened to filibuster the legislation: "If offshore drilling off the coast of the continental United States is part of it, this legislation is not going anywhere." A lack of bipartisan support is reducing the chance of passing a bill, observed a top advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The National Journal also reported that Sen. Reid has indicated involvement by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in obtaining support for the bill may not be absolutely essential. Kerry, Lieberman and Graham originally planned to release the bill April 26 but postponed after Graham complained that Democratic leaders had pushed the issue of immigration reform onto the Senate agenda despite his opposition to moving a bill this year.
g100Congratulations to our partner JetBlue! The airline is highlighted for "True Green - Creative Conservation" in today's special Globe 100 section of The Boston Globe. JetBlue enables travelers to reduce their carbon footprint by offsetting the emissions of their flight in support of three carbon reduction projects, including wind power, landfill methane capture, and the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge Reforestation Project in Louisiana. BG100AJetBlue also offsets the business travel of its own crewmembers. “We can’t ask our customers to do something that we’re not doing,’’ said Gina Rauscher, manager of corporate social responsibility. Icema Gibbs, JetBlue's director of corporate social responsibility, noted, “We have seen a lot of pickup from our customers. People are continually saying that this is great.’’ Check out the article in today's Globe here! If you're flying JetBlue, please visit: www.carbonfund.org/jetblue to reduce your travel footprint.
"It started with a slightly puffy eyelid in early summer... The next morning, I couldn't ignore my son's symptoms when he appeared with two eyes swollen to slits, a bloated face and an itchy rash raging over his body." Laura Hambleton, writing in The Washington Post, notes that carbon dioxide—the levels of which have increased in our atmosphere by over 20 percent since 1960—may be feeding an increase in poison ivy. Jacqueline Mohan, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia's Odum School of Ecology, has been tracking poison ivy since 1998. "Tree seedlings grew 8 to 12 percent more, with more C02," Mohan says. "Poison ivy grew 149 percent more. Poison ivy is getting bigger, faster and nastier." Mohan observes, "Vines are particularly adapted to take advantage of higher CO2 in the atmosphere," as they "can increase their rate of photosynthesis to make more green leafy tissue." By contrast, trees have to devote more energy "to creating woody, non-photosynthetic support tissues such as trunks and branches, which do not lead to further increases in photosynthesis." You may also be delighted that pests like ticks and bark beetles are on the rise from warmer temperatures. Check out this earlier blog posting.
In an interview with the DAWN Media Group, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is quoted as saying, “when you have the changes in climate that affect weather that we’re now seeing, I think the predictions of more natural disasters are unfortunately being played out.” Secretary Clinton was referring to the severe flooding in Pakistan, where about 16 million people have been affected by the unusually intense monsoon rains this season. [caption id="attachment_5660" align="alignnone" width="304" caption="Image Credit: BBC"][/caption] The BBC reports that an estimated four million people have now been displaced in the city of Sukkur alone. Meanwhile, the UN has described the humanitarian situation in the country “critical,” as tens of thousands of people continue to be displaced by flood waters moving south through the country. Clinton’s remarks harken to concerned comments by the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) this summer about extreme weather events. The WMO said, referring to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:
Several regions of the world are currently coping with severe weather-related events:  flash floods and widespread flooding in large parts of Asia and parts of Central Europe while other regions are also affected by heatwave and drought in Russian Federation, mudslides in China and severe droughts in sub-Saharan Africa. While a longer time range is required to establish whether an individual event is attributable to climate change, the sequence of current events matches IPCC projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.
Wired notes that Indian subcontinent monsoons have been getting more extreme for a half-century. "The Indian Ocean’s surface waters have warmed by two degrees Fahrenheit since the late 1970s. That heats up the air, allowing it to hold more moisture, ultimately sending about eight percent more water vapor into monsoon systems over land. That extra eight percent stirs up the storms, causing them to pull in even more water."
Many East Coasters have felt some of the hottest temperatures on record for this time of the year. Washington hit 102 degrees on Weds. Jul. 7, breaking the 99-degree record for the day set in 1991. Unfortunately—results of a study that surprised even climate scientists show that long heat waves could be common in the US within the next 30 years from global warming. The Stanford University study's lead author, Noah Diffenbaugh, noted,
In the next 30 years, we could see an increase in heat waves like the one now occurring in the eastern United States or the kind that swept across Europe in 2003 that caused tens of thousands of fatalities... Those kinds of severe heat events also put enormous stress on major crops, like corn, soybean, cotton and wine grapes, causing a significant reduction in yields.
[caption id="attachment_4855" align="alignright" width="300" caption="NASA graphic on temperature deviations the past decade (click to enlarge)"][/caption] The study follows an analysis by NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies showing that the last decade, from January 2000 to December 2009, was the warmest on record. The Stanford-led study reveals that intense heat waves, equal to the longest on record from 1951-1999, are likely to occur as many as five times between 2020-2029 over parts of the US. A dramatic spike in extreme temperatures is also expected during the current decade over much of the US. The 2020's and 2030's could see even more extreme temperatures, particularly in the West. From 2030-2039, most places in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico could experience at least seven seasons as hot as those ever recorded between 1951 and 1999. "Frankly, I was expecting that we'd see large temperature increases later this century with higher greenhouse gas levels and global warming," Diffenbaugh said. "I did not expect to see anything this large within the next three decades. This was definitely a surprise." The study also raises concerns that the targeted 2-degree Celsius maximum temperature increase by policymakers may be too high a threshold to prevent extreme temperatures. The target was cited, for example, in the climate accord by the US and over 100 other countries at the UN Copenhagen climate change conference in 2009. "Our results suggest that limiting global warming to 2 degrees C above pre-industrial conditions may not be sufficient to avoid serious increases in severely hot conditions," Diffenbaugh said. Learn more about your climate impact and reducing your carbon footprint, as well as how you can offset in support of carbon reduction projects around the world by visiting www.carbonfund.org.
img10Oil from the offshore spill in the Gulf of Mexico has washed ashore including in ecologically rich areas of Louisiana. About 5,000 barrels or 210,000 gallons a day of oil are estimated to be flowing from the well, and it could take up to 90 days to stop the spill. The total amount of oil from the spill could exceed the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska. The spill followed an explosion on April 20th at an offshore drilling rig that killed 11 workers. Residents along the Gulf are preparing for disruption, including shrimp and oyster fisheries, and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has declared a state of emergency. Jindal listed at least 10 wildlife refuges in Louisiana and Mississippi in the path of the oil that are likely to be impacted, warning that billions of dollars in coastal restoration could be wasted. The President meanwhile has said he will use "every single available resource at our disposal" to contain and address the spill. The Navy has been called in to help with containment. Making it difficult is that the oil is arising from approx. 5,000 ft. below the ocean surface, and currents break apart the oil, spreading the slick out. It is now estimated to be over 100 miles wide on the ocean surface. With weekend storms in the Gulf expected, more oil will reach coastlines along Gulf Coast states.

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On Capitol Hill, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) said he would introduce legislation to block the Interior Department from acting on the administration's recently announced proposal to expand offshore drilling. He also called for a halt to test wells and other exploratory operations in coastal waters. Two House panels, including the Committee on Energy and Commerce, plan to investigate or hold hearings on the accident. The oil spill is also affecting the proposed Senate bill on energy and climate. In garnering votes, backers of the proposed bill included provisions for expanding offshore oil exploration and drilling. The provisions have now come under increased scrutiny and should require Congress to rethink whether they should be part of a bill to increase domestic energy production while addressing environmental impacts of energy including climate change. Images Courtesy of Reuters, AP
holidaygraphic2This year many people are looking for meaningful gifts and flexibility in how much to spend. Giving Carbonfund.org's carbon offset certificates let you help someone reduce their carbon footprint meaningfully while supporting renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects. Choose to reduce from 1 ton to 50 tons, or take care of someone's annual carbon footprint and the planet with a ZeroCarbon™ Individual or ZeroCarbon™ Family gift. The average carbon footprint of an American is a whopping 24 tons of emissions a year. There are also options to offset the carbon footprint of someone's car or home. Your recipient gets a framable e-certificate in recognition of this support, and this year Carbonfund.org offers a Tree Bonus and Chico Bag Bonus. For every $20 you donate to support carbon reductions from the Carbonfund.org holiday page, Carbonfund.org will plant a tree in your honor. Also, for every $50, you receive a Carbonfund.org Chico Bag, which are lightweight and reusable for shopping or use as a tote for books and other items. This year, give something that's meaningful and at a price you can afford. Give the gift of a cleaner planet. Earn your tree and Carbonfund.org Chico Bag bonuses today. Visit the Carbonfund.org holiday page.
From the latest green home innovations to technologies making work and life more climate-friendly, this year's Green Festival in the nation's capital had a climate focus. Carbonfund.org was on hand to help individuals and businesses reduce their climate impact, including speaking on the role of offsetting in solving climate change, and serving as the official carbon offset provider of the DC and upcoming San Francisco festivals. The festival in DC, held on Oct. 23-24 at the Washington Convention Center, drew thousands from the region and visitors from around the world. Many visitors were intrigued by the CarbonFree® Certified products, like the MOTO™ W233 Renew mobile phone—the first to be made from plastics comprised of recycled water bottles, requiring 20 percent less energy to create the phone compared to standard plastic processes. Carbonfund.org also held a popular guess the number of CarbonFree® Certified coffee bean contest. The actual number in the jar—over 2,800 beans—was nearly guessed by some lucky visitors at the Carbonfund.org booth, earning them some prizes like a ZeroCarbon™ Individual offset or a special edition T-shirt. If you're on the West Coast, Green Festival San Francisco is just around the corner, Nov. 6-7, at the city's Concourse Exhibition Center. While Carbonfund.org won't be on hand to exhibit there, you can calculate your carbon footprint and learn how you can reduce your climate impact by visiting our website 24/7 at www.carbonfund.org. You can learn more about Green Festival San Francisco by visiting: www.greenfestivals.org/sf.
You've heard the term energy independence associated with getting the nation to produce more clean, renewable energy. A family in Washington, D.C. is trying to become energy independent on their own, installing 52 solar panels at their home with Astrum Solar to generate over 13,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year. The solar power will provide between 75-85 percent of the home's electricity use. The home solar panel system is the largest in the nation's capital. The homeowners, Shelley Cohen and Mike Gala, used available federal and municipal incentives in D.C. and ended up paying about 10 percent of the $60,000 cost for the system. As it will cover most of their home's energy needs, the couple anticipates the system will pay itself back in a couple of years. “Our family is committed to living a green urban lifestyle and to reducing our carbon footprint by making our home energy efficient, using renewable energy, and reducing consumptive behavior,” said Cohen. “Our project benefited from a partnership with the D.C. government, and we encourage others in the District to take advantage of the incentives being offered for renewable energy project development in the city.” Cohen and Gala have used their background in architecture and environmental project development to make their urban dwellings greener since they married in 2001. Steve Thomas from the TV show Renovation Nation helped the couple with their renovation, which included a concrete countertop made of recycled glass and planting trees in the backyard to add natural shade. The couple wants their home to ultimately be carbon neutral. Learn about everyday ways that you can reduce, offset your carbon footprint by visiting www.carbonfund.org. Also, you can learn more and check out photos from the couple's home renovation effort here. Photo Credits: Washington City Paper and Planet Green/Renovation Nation
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