The Dernogalizer

November 25, 2009

Obama Will Travel to Copenhagen, Announces Emissions Target

I posted a couple days ago that President Obama was going to announce a short term emissions target before Copenhagen.  That announcement came today, along with Obama’s announcement that he would in fact be traveling to Copenhagen.  The target is 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, which is likely what they think they can get in domestic US legislation.

The White House’s extensive press release is below, which includes some domestic and international accomplishments.

President to Attend Copenhagen Climate Talks

Administration Announces U.S. Emission Target for Copenhagen

The White House announced today that President Obama will travel to Copenhagen on Dec. 9 to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference, where he is eager to work with the international community to drive progress toward a comprehensive and operational Copenhagen accord.   The President has worked steadily on behalf of a positive outcome in Copenhagen throughout the year.  Based on the President’s work on climate change over the past 10 months – in the Major Economies Forum, the G20, bilateral discussions and multilateral consultations – and based on progress made in recent, constructive discussions with China and India’s Leaders, the President believes it is possible to reach a meaningful agreement in Copenhagen.  The President’s decision to go is a sign of his continuing commitment and leadership to find a global solution to the global threat of climate change, and to lay the foundation for a new, sustainable and prosperous clean energy future.

The White House also announced that, in the context of an overall deal in Copenhagen that includes robust mitigation contributions from China and the other emerging economies, the President is prepared to put on the table a U.S. emissions reduction target in the range of 17% below 2005 levels in 2020 and ultimately in line with final U.S. energy and climate legislation.  In light of the President’s goal to reduce emissions 83% by 2050, the expected pathway set forth in this pending legislation would entail a 30% reduction below 2005 levels in 2025 and a 42% reduction below 2005 in 2030.  This provisional target is in line with current legislation in both chambers of Congress and demonstrates a significant contribution to a problem that the U.S. has neglected for too long.  With less than two weeks to go until the beginning of the Copenhagen conference, it is essential that the countries of the world, led by the major economies, do what it takes to produce a strong, operational agreement that will both launch us on a concerted effort to combat climate change and serve as a stepping stone to a legally binding treaty.  The President is working closely with Congress to pass energy and climate legislation as soon as possible.

Underscoring President Obama’s commitment to American leadership on clean energy and combating climate change, the White House also announced today that a host of Cabinet secretaries and other top officials from across the Administration will travel to Copenhagen for the conference.  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson are all scheduled to attend, along with Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren, and Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner.

For the first time, the U.S. delegation will have a U.S. Center at the conference, providing a unique and interactive forum to share our story with the world.  In addition to working with other countries to advance American interests, U.S. delegates will keynote a series of events highlighting actions by the Obama Administration to provide domestic and global leadership in the transition to a clean energy economy.  Topics will range from energy efficiency investments and global commitments to renewables policy and clean energy jobs.  The following keynote events and speakers are currently scheduled:

  • Wednesday, December 9th: Taking Action at Home, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson
  • Thursday, December 10th: New Energy Future: the role of public lands in clean energy production and carbon capture, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar
  • Friday, December 11th: Clean Energy Jobs in a Global Marketplace, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke
  • Monday, December 14th: Leading in Energy Efficiency and Renewables, Energy Secretary Steven Chu
  • Tuesday, December 15th: Clean Energy Investments: creating opportunities for rural economies,Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
  • Thursday, December 17th: Backing Up International Agreement with Domestic Action, CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley and Assistant to the President Carol Browner

These events will underline the historic progress the Obama Administration has made to address climate change and create a new energy future.  In addition to passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act in the House of Representatives this summer, Administration officials will highlight an impressive resume of American action and accomplishments over the last 10 months, including:

DOMESTIC LEADERSHIP

  • Recovery Act: The U.S. is investing more than $80 billion in clean energy through its Recovery Act – including the largest-ever investment in renewable energy, which will double our generation of clean renewable energy like wind and solar in three years.
  • Efficiency Standard for Automobiles:  President Obama announced the first ever joint fuel economy/greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars and trucks in May.  The new standards are projected to save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the life of the program with a fuel economy gain averaging more than 5 percent per year and a reduction of approximately 900 million metric tons in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Advancing Comprehensive Energy Legislation: Passing comprehensive energy and climate legislation is a top priority for the Administration and significant progress has been made.  In June, The U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act that will promote clean energy investments and lower U.S. greenhouse gas emissions more than 80 percent by 2050.  The Senate continues to advance their efforts to pass comprehensive legislation and move the U.S.  closer to a system of clean energy incentives that create new energy jobs, reduce our dependence on oil, and cut pollution.
  • Appliance Efficiency Standards: The Obama Administration has forged more stringent energy efficiency standards for commercial and residential appliances, including microwaves, kitchen ranges, dishwashers, lightbulbs and other common appliances.  This common sense approach makes improved efficiency a manufacturing requirement for the everyday appliances used in practically every home and business, resulting in a significant reduction in energy use.  Altogether, about two dozen new energy efficiency standards will be completed in the next few years.
  • Offshore Energy Development:  Within the Administration’s first 100 days, a new regulatory framework was established to facilitate the development of alternative energy projects in an economic and environmentally sound manner that allows us to tap into the vast energy potential of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).  The National Renewable Energy Lab estimates that development of wind energy alone on the OCS may provide an additional 1,900 gigawatts of clean energy to the U.S.
  • Emissions Inventory Rule: For the first time, the U.S. will catalogue greenhouse gas emissions from large emission sources – an important initial step toward measurable and transparent reductions.

INTERNATIONAL LEADERSHIP

  • The Major Economies Forum (MEF): President Obama launched the MEF in March 2009, creating a new dialogue among developed and emerging economies to combat climate change and promote clean energy. At the July L’Aquila summit, MEF Leaders announced important new agreements to support the UN climate talks and launched a new Global Partnership to promote clean energy technologies.
  • Eliminating Fossil Fuel Subsidies: The President spearheaded an agreement at the Pittsburgh G20 summit for all G20 nations to phase out their fossil fuel subsidies over the medium term and to work with other countries to do the same.  Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations followed the G20 lead at their summit in Singapore, expanding the number of countries committing to these subsidies.  According to the International Energy Agency, this measure alone could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent or more by 2050.
  • Bilateral Energy and Climate Partnerships: The U.S. is accelerating its collaboration with ChinaIndia,MexicoCanada and other key international partners to combat climate change, coordinate clean energy research and development, and support the international climate talks.
  • Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas: President Obama proposed a partnership with our neighbors in the western hemisphere to advance energy security and combat climate change.  An early product of this cooperation is Chile’s Renewable Energy Center, which receives technical support from the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Phasing Down HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons): The U.S. joined Canada and Mexico in proposing to phase-down HFC emissions, a very potent greenhouse gas, in developed and developing countries under the Montreal Protocol.  This represents a down payment of about 10% of the emission reductions necessary to cut global greenhouse gas emissions to half their current levels by 2050.

In Defense of Science

Filed under: Climate Change — Matt Dernoga @ 1:44 pm
Tags: ,

A few days ago, it surfaced that e-mails hacked from a British university showed some embarrassing conversations between climate scientists, which global warming deniers have stretched and chalked up to data misrepresentation, and a massive global scientific conspiracy to trick people into reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  For more background information, check out EnviroKnow.

This is of course quite embarrassing, but for me the embarrassment should lie with the deniers and conspiracy theorists running with this fairytale.  I’ve looked at the pieces of the e-mails deniers are going ballistic about, and I really don’t see anything remotely resembling a smoking gun.  To me, the real revelation is that conservatives and deniers have openly revealed how anti-science they are with this “controversy”.  Advocates for reducing greenhouse gas emissions have accused deniers and many conservatives of being anti-science, and deniers have tried to counter that in a number of pathetic ways, largely by pointing at “scientists” who question the mainstream science.

But there is nothing more damning, and no better way to label yourself  “anti-science”, than to celebrate the illegal(yes those e-mails were hacked, and then published all around the web) character assassination of thousands of respected scientists worldwide who try their best to perform research, establish data-sets and trends, and give our policymakers and the American people the information necessary to make informed decisions.  Never mind all of the scientific discoveries and technological innovation that gives so many of us such a high standard of living.  This mindset of mass scientific conspiracy and distrust needs to be defeated, or it threatens to take our society back to the dark ages.

There have also been some recent statements by top scientific agencies that only highlight how dire the science is.  It’s irresponsible to disregard these warnings, such as this statement by the UK MET office, Natural Environmental Research Council, and the Royal Society, which reinforces the scientific consensus of man-made global warming.

“The 2007 IPCC Assessment, the most comprehensive and respected analysis of climate change to date, states clearly that without substantial global reductions of greenhouse gas emissions we can likely expect a world of increasing droughts, floods and species loss, of rising seas and displaced human populations. However even since the 2007 IPCC Assessment the evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened. The scientific evidence which underpins calls for action at Copenhagen is very strong. Without co-ordinated international action on greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts on climate and civilisation could be severe.”

Because world leaders are not taking the issue seriously enough, we are now on track for the 6 degrees celcius doomsday scenario.

A few e-mails of out thousands sent by a few scientists out of thousands taken out of context by global warming deniers does not come within a light year of collapsing all of the scientific research, data, and current events that point to a warming planet caused by greenhouse gas emissions.  It’s why record highs of outnumbered record lows by an ever increasing ratio, which reached 2:1 in the last decade.  It’s why NASA recently reported the hottest June to October on record.  It’s why every each decade is considerably hotter than the last, and why ocean surface temperatures are the warmest on record.  It’s why declassified US spy satellites show the impact of warming on our ice caps, and East Antarctica is losing ice mass.  Increased wildfires and pine bark beetles moving North.  Australia being pushed to the breaking point by drought.  That’s all happening now.

Collectively, present events and the scientific consensus put the deniers to shame, and that is where the embarrassment should lie.

Below are comments by some UK scientists regarding the e-mail “controversy”.

Dr Chris Huntingford, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), said:

“Using the very comprehensive set of temperature measurements available to us, we do know that there has been significant warming over the last hundred years. These datasets have been compiled by independent research laboratories in both the UK and the USA.

“Computer model descriptions of the climate system are increasing in their predictive skill, and there are now very good reasons to believe that their output is accurate and can be trusted. These simulations provide compelling evidence of the link between global warming and increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide due to the burning of fossil fuels.

“Such state-of-the-art computer models of how the climate functions do also account for natural cycles in the Earth system. However, when the additional influence of humans is not considered, they are unable to explain the rapid rate of warming that has been observed over the last Century. The implication is that to a very high level of certainty, the warming observed in the last Century is not part of a natural cycle.

“Almost all current scientific understanding of how the climate system operates suggests that humankind is having an influence on our climate system.”

Professor John Burrows, Director of the Biogeochemistry Programme, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), said:

“The peer review scientific process was created to try to avoid conspiracies from any side on an issue. Despite the adverse reaction in some quarters the current discussion is a perfect example that whilst it doesn’t always look perfect, an open debate, backed up by peer review, is what science is all about.

“Whilst not ignoring “emailgate” we should not inadvertently move the public attention from the established scientific consensus to the attempt at character assassination being made by these climate change sceptics.

“The basic physics of global climate change has been known since Arrhenius at the end of the 19th century if not before. The four Assessment Reports from the IPCC are consistent, however, the data since 1990 seems to follow worst case scenarios. To me this is evidence that the scientific community is behaving responsibly and rather cautiously with respect to the science of climate change.”

Professor Piers Forster, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, said:

“Scientists at the Climate Research Unit are leading experts in the world’s temperature record. They do an amazingly hard job of collecting data from lots of counties, looking at errors and putting the different datasets together. They have been under increasing pressure from a few individuals to respond to multiple FOI calls. Like all us scientists they are short of man-power and stretch their resources to the maximum to do as much new science as possible. The need to respond to FOI requests are often too large to make them feasibly achievable and whilst some of the emails show scientists to be all too human, nothing I have read makes me doubt the veracity of the peer review process or the general warming trend in the global temperature record. I know that when errors in their global temperature product have previously been found (e.g. Thomson et al., 2008, Nature), they responded as all scientists should, researching the source of the error with true scientific enthusiasm. “

Dr Stephan Harrison, Associate Professor in Quaternary Science, School of Geography, University of Exeter, said:

“The emails from the Climatic Research Unit which have been published on the internet have been seized upon by climate change sceptics as evidence that scientists are involved in a global warming conspiracy, suppression of dissenting voices and making data up to support a global warming agenda. We shouldn’t get too carried away, however. Irrespective of what may or may not have been said in some private emails, this doesn’t change the physical properties of carbon dioxide, and doesn’t change the fact that human activity is warming the planet. There’s a lot of politics in all of this debate, but it is the science that has to drive policy.”

Kathy Maskell, Spokesperson, & Professor Rowan Sutton, Walker Institute, University of Reading, said:

“Throughout the Earth’s history there have been natural changes in climate caused by many factors, including variations in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, volcanic eruptions, and changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. The scientific evidence now shows that people are changing the global climate.

“Climate scientists look at both natural factors that cause climate to change and they look at the effect that people are having on climate. There is no doubt that human activity, such as burning fossil fuels and agriculture, is increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This increase in greenhouse gases is causing the globe to warm.

“The current warmth is unusual in the context of the last 1000 years (at least) and is not just part of a natural cycle. Past changes are also thought to have occurred much more slowly than the warming over the 20th century.

“The majority of scientists agree that much of the warming since the mid-20th century is very likely due to increasing greenhouse gases being produced by human activity. Scientists have looked at different possible causes for the warming. Natural changes (like changes in the Sun’s output) cannot explain 20th century warming. The only way to reproduce the warming over the 20th century is to include the effects that people are having on the climate.

“Over the 20th century as a whole there has been a warming trend of 0.7 degrees centigrade and the warming has accelerated since the mid-20th century. The warming has not been steady and there have been periods of cooling. This is exactly what climate scientists would expect. As well as increasing greenhouse gases, natural factors (such as volcanic eruptions and changes in sea surface temeprature in the Pacific called El Nino) are also affecting global temperature. So scientists would expect there to be short periods where there is less warming and even cooling, but overall the trend is towards higher global temperatures. “

Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science, said:

“Once appropriate action has been taken over the hacking, there has to be some process to assess the substance of the e-mail messages as well. The selective disclosure and dissemination of the messages has created the impression of impropriety, and the only way of clearing the air now would be through a rigorous investigation. I have sympathy for the climate researchers at the University of East Anglia and other institutions who have been the target of an aggressive campaign by so-called ‘sceptics’ over a number of years. But I fear that only a thorough investigation could now clear their names.

“There needs to be an assurance that these e-mail messages have not revealed inappropriate conduct in the preparation of journal articles and in dealing with requests from other researchers for access to data. This will probably require investigations both by the host institutions and by the relevant journals. There may also be a role for the UK Office of Research Integrity to advise on any investigation.

“The e-mail messages I have seen posted on ‘sceptics” websites do not cast doubt on the basic physical fact that the Earth is warming in response to rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. ‘Sceptics’ may seek to wrongly portray these e-mail messages as a smoking gun from a worldwide conspiracy to create a global warming hoax, but that is simply a ridiculous fantasy.”

Dr Andy Challinor, lecturer in Climate Change Modelling, University of Leeds, said:

“Scientists are frequently faced with choices about methods of presenting data. The aim is to represent the underlying facts clearly, and there is rarely a single correct way of doing this. The mechanisms for anthropogenic climate change are established science that is well-understood. The idea that the many scientists across the globe working on climate change could collude in misrepresenting the fundamentals of the science is ludicrous, since it would be both counter-cultural to science and logistically impossible.”

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald, Industrial Fellow, University of Cambridge BP Institute, said:

“The evidence base for climate change continues to be debated. However, what is disappointing is that there is less debate about what we should be doing morally regardless of the strength of the case for or against climate change being driven by mankind. Even if some people want to dismiss the evidence base, what do they think we should do as responsible citizens? Clearly we should be seeking ways of reducing our impact on the planet – this is irrefutable.

“Improving energy efficiency and switching to non/low-carbon energy sources are vital. In the case of improved energy efficiency, there are strong economic arguments today as to why this should be done now. In the case of switching to non/low carbon energy sources, the economic arguments are longer-term and may involve consideration of the cost of climate change as per the Stern report. In summary, I fail to understand why people want to debate the evidence base for climate change rather than debate what we should be doing anyway to reduce our impact on the planet. The technological advances in energy efficiency need to be adopted by more people, and more quickly, before we invest more time debating climate change! “



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