Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:24

Copenhagen Update: From Green to REDD

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“We do not have another year to deliberate, nature does not negotiate.” -Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General
The pessimism in Copenhagen is growing as rifts between nations solidify. As the world watches and thousands continue to protest demanding action, the prospect of a binding treaty diminishes, seemingly by the minute. Rich nations want poorer nations to commit to verifiable and enforceable emissions reductions - a clause that developing nations are reluctant to agree to and is a provision that has not been included in other climate negotiation such as Kyoto and Bali. Developing nations may be more likely to act if the developed nations such as the United States, the world's leader in per capita carbon emissions, committed to binding emissions reductions targets first. But the US as of now refuses to commit to an international treaty until a bill is passed in Congress. Though I am remiss to trivialize the fate of our climate to this, it appears as though we are in the midst of a great global stare down. But there is hope of real progress coming out of Copenhagen in relation to how the world deals with biological carbon sequestration and trees. Deforestation currently accounts for over 20% of global carbon emissions. Preserving and managing forests can help to significantly cut carbon emissions and potentially help buy the world some time as we figure out how to actually reduce emissions from their dirty sources. A report from the New York Times states:
A final draft of the agreement for the compensation program, called Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD, is to be given on Wednesday to ministers of the nearly 200 countries represented here to hammer out a framework for a global climate treaty. Negotiators and other participants said that though some details remained to be worked out, all major points of disagreement — how to address the rights of indigenous people living on forest land and what is defined as forest, for example — had been resolved through compromise.
Though we all want comprehensive and binding agreements to come out of Copenhagen, that may not be in the cards this year. But through the proper management of our forests we can reduce emissions now as well as preserve biodiversity, improve local environments and support local communities. Laying the groundwork for the reductions of more than 20% of global emissions would be no small accomplishment - lets hope that, at a minimum that victory will be the legacy of Copenhagen. Want to support forest based projects that are reducing emissions today? Click here for more info.
Monday, 14 December 2009 13:36

Copenhagen Update: December 14, 2009

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As we enter the final week of the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen, the world is preparing for the final show down to save our climate. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people protested in the streets of Copenhagen, demanding action now. But the potential for inaction is great. The divide between rich and poor nations is starting to grow, according to recent reports, over the demands by developed nations for developing nations to reduce emissions. The Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 UN agreement for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, required emissions reductions from developed nations and not from developing nations. Faced with the technological and financial challenges of reducing emissions in the developing world, Mama Konat�, a member of Mali's delegation said, "The killing of the Kyoto Protocol, I can say, will mean the killing of Africa... Before accepting that, we should all die first." By Wednesday, heads of state from all over the world should be in Copenhagen, and by Friday it is expected that about 116 leaders, including President Obama will be present. The challenge of this final week of negotiations will be how to strike an emissions reductions accord that reduces emissions without compromising developing nations tenuous grasp on economic growth. The world must engage all nations, including China, Brazil, India and others if our climate has a chance to stabilize temperatures at the 2.0 degree Celsius mark of warming. But if we want developed nations to actually reduce emissions, some say that it will require $100-200 billion dollars of annual subsidies, a check that developed nations don't want to foot. Over the next few days, it will be the job of the ministers and administrators that are currently present in Copenhagen to flesh out the details of an agreement. In many regards, the work that gets done today and tomorrow will determine how effective the heads of state can be when arriving later this week. Image Credit: Washington Post
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 16:50

Copenhagen Update: Dec. 9, 2009

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"...Emissions are emissions. You've just got to do the math. It's not a matter of politics or morality or anything else. It's just math." - US State Department envoy Todd Stern
As the U.N. Climate talks in Copenhagen heat up, some predictable arguments are starting to play out in real time. There are still major questions as to whether an agreement is going to be reached, and moreover how that agreement should look and function. Tensions at Copenhagen are rising between nations, and particularly between the U.S. and China. Todd Stern, a top U.S. State Department negotiator in Copenhagen sums up the American point of view quite well: "If you look around at what countries in the world, they're actually doing a lot. China has put down a number. It might not be the number everyone would like to see. But it is a significant proposal." Mr. Stern diplomatically states that though commitments have been made by nations, they are not quite enough yet (I assume that he is including the U.S. in his assessment). But currently, the world appears to be waiting for the U.S. to lead, both in terms of action and financial support for green initiatives in developing nations. Developing nations feel as though developed nations have an obligation to do more to reduce emissions, considering developed nations have been spewing massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere for centuries now. The U.S. does not believe that developed nations should be penalized for historical emissions because the world was 'ignorant' to the problem of global warming up until modern times. How the world decides to reconcile these disparate positions is the challenge of Copenhagen. Stay tuned to the Carbonfund.org blog for regular Copenhagen updates. Carbonfund.org will reporting live from Copenhagen starting next week so check back regularly and follow us on twitter!
Friday, 18 December 2009 17:45

Copenhagen Update: Deal Sealed, but More to be Done

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"This is going to be hard. This is hard within countries, it is going to be even harder between countries." - President Obama
President Obama spoke today before leaving the Copenhagen climate conference to announce that a deal has been brokered. What the deal actually means or will accomplish is still a little unclear, but the fact that leaders from countries all over the world are still talking is a good sign. The deal provides a means to monitor and verify emissions cuts by developing countries but has less ambitious climate targets than some governments had initially sought, reports the Washington Post. Moreover, industrialized and developing nations agreed to list their national actions and commitments in their fight against climate change, while vowing to take action to prevent the Earth's temperature from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius. They also agreed to provide information on the implementation of their actions, which would be subject to international review and analysis. The deal that was reached at the zero hour of the conference included the heads of state of the United States, China, India and South Africa - some of the world's largest emitters. Though a binding agreement was not reached at Copenhagen, the door to future success is not closed yet. As the US inches closer to domestic climate legislation, our role in international negotiations may grow. What the Copenhagen conference may have proven is that the world needs more political leadership by governments on global warming to result in an international treaty. With every nation afraid to take steps out of fear of falling behind, it will take countries to stand up and say enough is enough and let actions finally match the rhetoric. Follow Carbonfund.org's blog and Carbonfundorg on Twitter for updates.
Thursday, 17 December 2009 17:01

Copenhagen Update: Is 2 Degrees Possible?

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Today, the US pledged to support a fund of up to $100 Billion annually to help developing nations adapt to and mitigate climate change. This staggering financial figure has been a major stumbling block for the negotiations so far, and the US committment (as well as that from other governments, such as the European Union and Japan) should show the world that the developed nations are willing to bend to get a deal done. But on the same day that progress was made, some stunning news was leaked, and then confirmed. Efforts of the Copenhagen climate meeting, if implemented, would lead to an increase in temperatures of 3 degrees C, not 2 degrees C as initially anticipated. According to a posting in the News section of the COP15 website, this could cause:
...a warming of three or four degrees Celsius will result in tens to hundreds of millions more people being flooded each year due to rising sea levels. "There will be serious risks and increasing pressures for coastal protection in Southeast Asia (Bangladesh and Vietnam), small islands in the Caribbean and the Pacific, and large coastal cities, such as Tokyo, New York, Cairo and London,"
Does this mean that the yet to be agreed upon targets are too weak? Probably. But should we throw the baby out with the bath water? Absolutely not. We have done nothing for too long, and as the whole world knows the time for action is now. I think that all of us that understand the sciene want ambitious action now and a zero carbon world in the near future. But that was never really in the cards. One of the best outcomes of Copenhagen may be that for the first time ever, the entire world may finally be able to agree on something having to do with carbon emissions. Whether that is codifying the rules for forest protection or coming to an accord on real emissions reductions targets - the agreement is what matters. Targets can be strenghtened and improved. But if the fear of doing too little leads us to doing nothing, then this conference will be viewed as a failure by many. (Image Courtesy of the AP)
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 13:23

Copenhagen Climate Pledges May Not Be Enough

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The January 31 deadline for nations to submit their emissions reduction pledges has passed, but the UN feels that it may not be enough to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising beyond the approximately two-degree target temperature established during the Copenhagen climate conference held in December. Fifty-five nations, including China, the US, India, as well as the European Union, have submitted their goals in reducing emissions. Together they produce about 78 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and have varying commitment letters pledging to reduce emissions anywhere from 17 percent to 45 percent by 2020. Developed countries also made commitments supporting financial assistance to less developed countries to adapt to climate change. Despite the efforts being made by nations worldwide, some analysts believe that efforts have fallen short as a result of emissions not being cut enough and the lack of a legally binding treaty. Regardless of both the positive and negative reviews, UN climate chief Yvo de Boer believes that the pledges sent in by the January 31 deadline should at least help to reinvigorate negotiations toward a stronger agreement on climate and hopes that a more binding pact can be completed at the UN climate conference in Mexico City at the end of this year.
Tuesday, 15 February 2011 16:00

How Cool is Your Roof?

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When it comes to roofing, sure it's hip to be "weatherproof " and "sans leaks," but if you want your roof to be really cool then you need to consider the hue. PPG Industries launched an online tool that helps architects and building owners select the best cool roof coating color based on reflectance. A highly reflective paint job means more of the sun's rays are bouncing off the house, keeping it cooler and requiring less air conditioning. By cranking down the A/C, you're reducing the amount of energy your house is consuming while also shrinking your utility bill. Pretty neat. Many of the colors in the Cool Colors Database have even been many registered with ENERGY STAR or the Cool Roof Rating Council, which is an EPA-recognized certification body for the ENERGY STAR program. “We understand how difficult it is for architects and specifiers to sort through manufacturers’ catalogs and industry listings to find the right colors and products for their projects,” said Scott Moffatt, PGG’s director of marketing for coil and extrusion coatings. “This tool enables them to expand the search process and accelerate it at the same time.” Tres cool.
Thursday, 21 April 2011 09:59

Cool California : Cool Small Business!

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Tropical Traders Specialty Foods, LLC- the company behind the Royal Hawaiian Honey brand- is a 2011 recipient of a CoolCalifornia Small Business Award, administered by the California Air Resources Board. The program recognizes small California businesses (under 100 employees) that have demonstrated exceptional leadership and taken action to reduce their energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions and made notable, voluntary achievements towards reducing their climate impact. Royal Hawaiian Honey is certified CarbonFree® by Carbonfund.org.  In order to qualify for this certification, Tropical Traders commissioned a rigorous product life-cycle analysis on its Royal Hawaiian Honey line to determine its carbon footprint. This calculates how much energy is consumed in the production, shipping and distribution of all of the components that go into each container of Royal Hawaiian Honey; including glass jars and plastic tubs, the production and printing of its label, the amount of energy used in bottling the honey, and shipping from the Big Island to markets on the U.S. mainland all the way to product use and disposal phase.   Once this figure was determined, the energy used is mitigated through the support of Carbonfund.org’s portfolio of certified carbon offset projects. By taking responsibility for its carbon footprint and neutralizing its emissions, the Royal Hawaiian Honey label is working within its industry to make a difference. The Royal Hawaiian Honey brand is comprised of three single-origin varietals, all harvested on the Big Island of Hawaii: Organic Christmas Berry Honey, Organic Lehua Honey, and Macadamia Nut Blossom Honey. The honeys are available is 12oz. glass jars and 44oz. PP containers. Royal Hawaiian Honeys are:
  • 100% raw
  • Certified organic
  • Certified CarbonFree®
  • From a family-owned and operated apiary, 100% Hawaii-made
  • Single-origin varietals- honeys are from particular blooms and distinctive in color, flavor and aroma.
The honeys are available nationwide at  http://www.shop.royalhawaiianhoney.com