The Dernogalizer

May 31, 2009

Natural Gas

Filed under: Energy/Climate,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 5:41 pm
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Part 1

I think a lot of people including environmentalists differ on the value of natural gas in a carbon constrained future.  What role if any should natural gas play in our efforts to reduce carbon emissions?  Some people call natural gas “clean”.  T Boone Pickens has a plan to replace the oil used for our cars with “clean burning” natural gas.  If you look at a bus powered by natural gas drive by, it says “clean natural gas” on the outside.  People argue natural gas is less carbon intensive than coal, but how much less?  There are different forms of natural gas too, including Liquified Natural Gas(LNG).  How much of a difference does that make in the environmental impact of natural gas versus coal or oil?   What impact does the extraction of natural gas have on the environment?

This is going to be the first and shortest part of a 3 part series of posts about natural gas.  The post will show the contrast in the environmental community when it comes to the role of natural gas.  The next post will investigate the facts hidden amongst all the smoke and mirrors, and look at the proclaimed facts of natural gas from an environmental and national security standpoint.  The last post will be my opinion on the matter, which will reference information from the previous posts.

I’ve been thinking about the role of natural gas for awhile now, ever since I saw the T Boone Pickens commercials.  At the Powershift 2009 conference I was at, I attended an informational session about natural gas.   It was very useful, however all the facts were brought to me by groups strongly opposed to the use of natural gas.  What’s finally convinced me to write this series is two posts I saw on different environmental blogs.  One was talking about the havoc being wrought by the third fossil fuel.  The other discussed the incredible potential for the current natural gas plants we have to supplant 93% of coal power in the country.  Completely different stories from completely dedicated environmentalists.

Here’s a couple key paragraphs from the anti-natural gas writer

“An imported fossil fuel originating in the same regions of the world as large oil reserves, LNG is extracted through essentially the same procedures used for oil drilling.  Victims of LNG extraction include salmon runs and gray whale habitat around Russia’s Sakhalin Island, and the rainforest ecosystems of the Peruvian Amazon.  Natural gas extracted from these and other parts of the globe is then super-cooled to liquid form and shipped by tanker to energy-hungry countries where it is re-gasified and pumped through underground pipelines to the plant where it will finally be burned for fuel.  This long, energy-intensive process increases the carbon footprint of LNG considerably.  According to Oregon Department of Energy, LNG shipped from far enough away comes with a carbon footprint approximately equal to that of coal.”

“Those of us in the frontline zone of natural gas’ expansion need the national and international climate movements to realize that the third fossil has the potential to wreck almost as much devastation as oil or coal.  It certainly won’t even get us close to carbon neutrality.  As Congress and the Obama Administration finally take a hard look at (maybe….someday) implementing meaningful climate policy, we’re already seeing how agrofuel giants, the nuclear industry, carbon traders, and others will try to turn any climate policy into just another economic opportunity for polluters.  The false solutions energy giants will try to use to preserve themselves are already many and varied.  You can add the third fossil fuel to that list.”

And from the pro-gas writer..

If we never built another gas-fired power plant, but simply increased the annual capacity factor of the gas fleet up to the coal fleet’s 68% capacity factor, it would generate an additional 1,845,485,000 MWh, effectively displacing 93% of our coal fleet without the construction of a single new power plant.  Looking at the comparative CO2-signatures of those two fleets, that would reduce total power sector CO2 emissions by 37%. Since the power sector is responsible for 42% of U.S. CO2 emissions, that implies a 16% reduction in total U.S. CO2 emissions, just from changing generator dispatch order.  That’s a massive opportunity. What would it take to get there?”

“Of course this isn’t a panacea. You can’t get to the end game only with gas any more than you can get to the end game only with solar. It’ll take a lot of steps. But what’s fascinating about this analysis is that the gas fleet is uniquely able to quickly and—at least initially—quite cheaply make a huge dent in our CO2 emissions. It’s a tool we ought to use, and we ought to examine our proposed CO2 regulations carefully to make sure it gets put to use. Free allowances to coal plants don’t get you there …”

**Update 6/6/09**: Part 2 is here

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May 30, 2009

Russia Shifts Stance

Filed under: Climate Change,National Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 12:14 am
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This was a pretty big deal this week.  Russia has notoriously been indifferent when it’s come to climate change.  When it came to a global treaty in Copenhagen at the end of the year, up till this point they had been completely silent.  No more!

In a dramatic shift, Russia has made a change in its climate policy, now accepting that climate change poses significant risks, and that the need for aggressive mitigation techniques is imminent.  Something about it currently costing them 2 billion a year in GDP.  This should cause a shift in Russia’s approach to energy, and it will make a deal at Copenhagen all the more likely considering Russia is a fairly big polluter that up until now had refused a seat at the table.  This is great timing considering the possibility of a US-China climate deal.  Notable excerpts from the Nature article posted below.

“Russia’s government has quietly made a drastic change to its policy on climate change, accepting that anthropogenic global warming poses severe risks and requires immediate action to limit carbon emissions.”\

“Russia’s diplomatic approach to Copenhagen was until now just one big silence,” says Kristin Jørgensen, who heads the Russian policy group of Bellona, an environmental watchdog based in Oslo that has a network of activists in Russia. “This is a totally surprising move. There were no hearings, no stakeholder discussion, no public debate — just nothing.”

“:Official recognition that anthropogenic climate change is happening and requires action by the government is an almost revolutionary shift in policy, says Anna Korppoo, an expert on Russian climate and energy policies with the Finnish Institute of International Affairs in Helsinki. “For Russia, this new climate doctrine could be comparable in political significance with that of the Stern review on the economics of climate change in Britain,” she says.”\

“The absence of an economic adaptation system to climate change leads to [a] decrease of [Russian] Gross Domestic Product by 2–5%,” he says. “It is absolutely obvious that development of measures for adapting our country’s economy to climate changes must involve every Ministry and Department.”

May 28, 2009

Exxon Wrong

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 4:51 pm
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Exxon’s CEO Rex Tillerson said today that oil will be the dominant fuel for a century.  What is it with these silly oil companies?  In case you want to know why Exxon is a pathetic company, this website exposes them well.  You didn’t really believe them and their commercials where they glowingly talk about cutting global warming pollution and conservation, and the need to protect the environment, did you?  I wonder how many people buy that PR, otherwards known as BS.  Even adding to the hilarity is one of the comments by Tillerson, where is says.. “lawmakers are hurrying to restrict greenhouse gases when many scientific questions surrounding the global warming issue remain unresolved.”  That’s what should be on their rosy commercials.  

A couple months ago, I took Shell to task over their decision to eliminate investment into renewables besides biodiesel.  I think what I said to them is what I could say to Exxon, seeing as how Exxon invests squat as well.  I’m going to take part of that post and paste it here.

“But even if you’re only thinking of your bottom line, how do you come to this conclusion that not only will we not invest much money in renewables, but we won’t invest ANYTHING.  I can see how this would’ve been a good move in 2000 when we had oilmen coming into the Whitehouse.  There were lots of calls for increased drilling, removal of environmental protections, and no action on climate change.  At this point, putting all the eggs in the oil basket might make sense.  But let’s look at what the state of things are now with the next 8 years in mind, as opposed to the last 8 years.

We’ve got an anti-drilling Democratically controlled Congress and Whitehouse.  Environmental regulations are going to be popping up all over the place.  If you look at the stimulus, the overwhelming majority of the money relating to energy was clean energy.  There was also a record amount of money invested in mass transit.  Whatever tax breaks the oil companies got during the last 8 years are likely going to be removed.  There are now new and far reaching tax breaks at the Federal level for solar, wind, geothermal, biodiesel, and plug-in hybrid-electric cars.  These kinds of credits are also showing up all over the states.  My own state of Maryland has a 10k credit for solar, similar incentives for other alternatives, and my county Prince Georges County has a 5,000 dollar property tax credit.  General Motors and Toyota are coming out with plug-in hybrids within the next few years.  Other auto companies are taking a stronger look at it them, and are introducing more hybrids.  Oh, and the US and other countries around the world either have passed or are about to pass climate change cap and trade policy that will inevitably drive up the price of gas and decrease consumption.

I could go on.  Hopefully you get the point.  What are you thinking Shell?  The problem I see with this when you’re purely looking at a bottom line is that the trends are moving in the opposite direction of Shell’s actions.  It’s not smart investment to put none of  the $$$ into renewables when you consider the trends I listed above.  I predict that Shell is going to find itself at a big competitive disadvantage a few years from now when they suddenly realize they “want in” on this clean energy economy, but other companies beat them to the investment, research, start-up and have achieved greater economies of scale and efficiency.  At this point, entry into the clean energy market will hurt Shell, and they will look back on their decision in 2009 to cease renewable energy investment as poor planning.”

Your time is running out, and you’re off by a good 90 years Rex.

China Raises MPG

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 4:30 pm
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A couple weeks ago, the US raised fuel economy standards, with the new standard for the average of the fleet being 35.5 mpg, and for passenger cars 39 mpg for 2016.  It appears China is about to step up its game and increase its fuel economy standards as well.  China already gets the equivalent of 35.8 mpg for the average of the fleet, and well be boosting that to 42.2 mpg in 2015.  This is still in the proposed planning stages, but once there is comment from Chinese automakers, it’s very likely this will be the new standard.  The article I linked above gives very good insight into how China’s system is different than ours, and what the effect of these new standards will likely be.  Also, one shallow criticism I have seen of the new US fuel economy standards is that people will be driving lighter, smaller cars, therefore risking our safety.  There are a lot of holes in that argument, and I noticed an article on a new study in Europe where smaller cars earned top safety marks.  I reject the notion that safety vs fuel economy is a choice we have to make.  Have your cake, eat it too(otherwards translated as getting off of foreign oil imports and combating global warming).  

” Worried about heavy reliance on imported oil, Chinese officials have drafted automotive fuel economy standards that are even more stringent than those outlined by President Obamalast week, Chinese experts with a detailed knowledge of the plans said on Wednesday.”

“Cars with small fuel-sipping engines are now subject to a 1 percent sales tax, while sports cars and sport utility vehicles with the largest engines are subject to a 40 percent sales tax. Stricter fuel economy standards have won support from four interest groups within the Chinese government, said a Chinese government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue.”

“Adjusting for these differences is difficult and controversial. Mr. An estimated that the average new car, minivan or sport utility vehicle in China already gets the equivalent of 35.8 miles a gallon this year based on the American measurement system of corporate averages and will be required to get 42.2 miles a gallon in 2015.”

“The details of China’s new fuel economy standards may favor domestic automakers at the expense of multinationals, several auto industry officials said. That is because the new rules call for the steepest increases in fuel economy — as much as 26 percent — for midsize and compact cars, market segments where multinationals are strong. Subcompacts, a market where domestic automakers are stronger, will be required to increase their gas mileage by as little as 9 percent compared with the existing standards, which took effect on Jan. 1.”

May 27, 2009

Small Steps, Big Problems

          

  Typically, the health care industry, the automotive industry, and the energy industry have teamed up with Republicans on major issues in Washington.  For many years, these alliances have derailed health care reform, bold fuel economy standards, and significant legislation to combat climate change.  It would appear these special interests have done a complete 360.

            President Barack Obama gathered at the White House with the health care industry on May 11th announcing a commitment to cut 2 trillion in costs in 10 years.  A week after, Obama appeared with the major car companies, announcing an increase of fuel economy standards of passenger cars to 39 mpg by 2016.  Days later, a climate change bill passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee.  The bill was supported by energy companies including Duke Energy and Excelon.  Well, this is a change.  Contrary to what Obama would have us believe, the change is smaller in reality than it’s written on paper.

            For some strange reason, the Republicans have decided to stop making sense.  Their arguments over health care, fuel efficient cars, and global warming amongst other issues are so blatantly irrational, they’ve reduced their party to an irrelevance.  Even worse, they’re attempting to legislate as though the American people have given them control of the entire government.  Not surprisingly, big business bolted.  Their once reliable and seemingly rational ally lost all sense of reality.  Facing the prospect of universal health care, strong fuel economy mandates, and a tough cap on greenhouse gas emissions, they crossed the isle.

            This involved making compromises and meeting Democratic lawmakers halfway on major issues.  In their eyes, corporations would rather bite the bullet than swallow the grenade.  Democrats would prefer easily won battles over hard fought wars.  Why expend your political capital on a single issue you might lose on when you can make it appear to the public you’ve won big while holding hands with longtime opponents?     

            The new 39 mpg fuel economy standards by 2016 may appear bold.  Compare them to the rest of the world.  China’s average cars had to meet a standard of 35.8 mpg in 2008, nevermind passenger!  In Japan and the EU, the standards are even greater right now.  Somehow, some way, our automakers will find the “technological innovation” to meet the standards in 2016 that foreign companies are meeting right now.  In order to get off foreign oil, we must do better.

            Consider the climate change bill.  The most effective way to manage a cap and trade bill is to auction off 100% of the pollution permits, as President Obama originally called for.  This forces the polluting industries to pay, and then the revenues can be returned to the American people to offset higher energy costs.  On the condition that companies such as Excelon and Duke Energy support the bill, the vast majority of the permits are being given away for free to the polluters.  Democratic lawmakers on the Energy and Commerce Committee such as Rick Boucher of Virginia have taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from the coal industry.  Not surprisingly, he has led the charge on weakening the bill, and will continue to do so in a way that threatens to render it ineffective at preventing catastrophic climate change.

            Since the EPA has declared carbon dioxide is a health hazard, the executive branch has the authority to regulate the pollutant if it so chooses.  If Obama truly wanted a strong climate bill, he could use this possibility to bully lawmakers and big business into supporting a stronger bill that places American interests above the coal interests.  The alternative to a weak climate bill could be the EPA taking matters into its own hands.  Obama has been very hands off, fine with allowing the coal industry to write the bill.                      

            The battle over health care will come soon in Congress, and progressive advocates will face their own hardships in achieving meaningful legislation.  How $2 trillion dollars in savings would be achieved was left to the imagination of the public.  As the AP noted “the specifics, industry officials said, would come later.”  When put into context, the specifics of the fuel economy standards and the climate bill are far from welcome. 

            The small steps President Obama is taking on these issues are far preferable to the backwards thinking of the previous administration.  What’s not right is painting the picture to the American public that Washington is taking major steps to confront global warming, energy independence, and health care.  This is simply a political game being used to keep the approval ratings steady.  It’s working, and Obama along with the Democratic party will likely be reelected in 2010 and 2012.   Much to Rush Limbaugh’s dismay, Obama will succeed.  But given the monumental challenges we face, and the half-hearted measures being used to confront them, will we?

May 26, 2009

Protect the Mattawoman Creek

One important local issue that has been taking place in Maryland involves the Mattawoman Creek.  There’s a proposal in Charles County for the Cross County Connector(CCC) a 6.5 mile four land highway that would plow across the full width of the sensitive Mattawoman Creek Watershed.  However, before the highway can be built, the Maryland Department of Environment(MDE) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have to issue a wetlands destructions permit.  

The Mattawoman Creek is a very important habitat.  It’s the healthiest fish nursery in the Chesapeake Bay since it’s protected by surrounding forests and wetlands.  This highway proposal would destroy the Mattawoman Creek by increasing traffic, development, and pavement in its watershed.  The creek has also been ranked as the fourth most endangered river in the country.  There is some very good and informative press about this issue here and here.  If you would like to give input on the preservation of Mattawoman Creek, please email MDE Secretary Shari Wilson today at stwilson@mde.state.md.us <mailto:stwilson@mde.state.md.us> (or call 410-537-3084) and ask MDE to deny the permits for the proposed Cross County Connector extension in Charles county.  I’m going to put some notable excerpts below from the articles I’ve cited to give a sense of what’s at stake.  If you’d like to do more, check out the Mattawoman Watershed Society\’s website.

“The opponents say they have yet to see anyone build a road without damaging a stream.”

“One of the Chesapeake Bay’s few remaining healthy streams could soon be seriously degraded if a plan to build a major highway moves forward.  This threat landed Mattawoman Creek in the number four spot in America’s Most Endangered Rivers: 2009 edition. The listing was announced today in a press conference on the banks of the creek by American Rivers, the nation’s leading river conservation organization, and by local advocates.”

” The Army Corps of Engineers stated that intense development of the watershed would have “severe repercussions on the biological community and would decrease the habitat quality within the estuary.” Also at risk is the economic loss of the county’s “natural” infrastructure — the healthy forests, wetlands and floodplains that filter water, provide natural flood protection, and contribute to the overall health of the Bay.”

“Nestled among still-extensive forests in this growing region, Mattawoman Creek sustains a thriving recreation industry and is one of the region’s largest tourist draws. Kayaking and canoeing are prized experiences on the creek’s quiet tidal waters, while scores of bass fishing tournaments are launched from its shores every year as part of the Potomac River’s internationally-renowned, multimillion-dollar largemouth bass fishery.”

“You have to ask yourself, are we willing to sacrifice Mattawoman Creek?” said Bonnie Bick, an outspoken member of the Mattawoman Watershed Society who has opposed the road since the plan’s inception. “The value of the creek outweighs the county’s need for infrastructure in that area. … The future of the Chesapeake is in danger.”

“It’s a poster child situation,” Long said. He said that if the county and the state cannot save the Mattawoman, one of the bay’s most productive fish hatcheries and one of the last in anything approaching pristine condition, “then where are you ever going to protect the Chesapeake Bay?”

Ban Ki-moon’s Speech

A couple days ago, I made a post about how UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Al Gore addressed over 500 business leaders about the need for them to be involved in pushing for a global climate treaty in Copenhagen in December.  The UN has posted Ki-moon’s speech on their website, and I think that Ban makes an extraodrinary case.  I’m posting the speech below.

Your Majesty, Royal Highness, Excellencies, Distinguished guests,

I am delighted to be here. Perhaps more important, I am glad you have chosen to take the time to be here today.

We meet at a critical moment in human history.  Our planet is warming to dangerous levels. In December, the UN Climate Change Conference will meet here in Copenhagen to find solutions to this grave global threat.

As business leaders, you are crucially placed to ensure that government negotiators seal a deal.

We are enduring the worst economic downturn since [the] 1930s. It is essential that we do not allow this to hold back the political momentum, investment and innovation that we need to combat climate change.

Climate change is the defining challenge of our time. I also believe it is the most potent game-changer for business over the next century. It is an opportunity we must seize.

Today, I want to challenge you. I want to see you in the vanguard of an unprecedented effort to retool the global economy into one that is cleaner, greener and more sustainable.

You and your colleagues have the ingenuity and vision to lead by example where others – including governments – are lagging behind.

With your support, and through your example, we must harness the necessary political will to seal the deal on an ambitious new climate agreement in December here in Copenhagen.

This will not be easy. Fundamental change never is. But, if we get it right, we can reasonably look forward to sustained growth and prosperity.

If we get it wrong we face catastrophic damage to people, to the planet – and to the global marketplace.

Excellencies, dear friends,

Our excessive reliance on a fossil fuel-based economy is destroying our planet’s resources. It is impoverishing the poor. It is weakening the security of nations. And it is choking global economic potential.

The science is clear. Global emissions must peak in less than a decade to avert the worst consequences of climate change.

Many scientists are saying that worst-case projections are already being realized – indeed surpassed. This was the message from the International Scientific Congress, held here in Copenhagen in March.

We know that the safest way of reducing climate risks is to reduce emissions. We know that taking early action makes good business sense. And we know the cost of inaction will be much bigger than the cost of action now.

Some estimates say that rising greenhouse gas emissions could cause a decline of 5 per cent or more in global GDP.

Compare that with what it would take to bring down greenhouse gas emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, estimates that it could cost as little as 0.1 per cent of global GDP each year until 2030. And that does not factor in the multiple extra benefits to health and development.

Most importantly, we know we have the tools to change course.

What we need is political will, at the highest level, coupled with the right policy signals and market incentives.

In September I am convening a summit meeting on climate change at the UN headquarters in New York to galvanize this political will among the political leaders.

I am inviting all Heads of State and Government.

Business leaders will also be a part of the conversation.

A strong message from the business community to governments worldwide may make all the difference.

As business leaders, you must make it clear to your leaders that doing the right thing for the climate is also the smart thing for global competitiveness and long-term prosperity.

We may never get a better opportunity. And if the world’s scientists are right, we may not get a second chance.

Your Majesty, Excellencies, distinguished guests,

We have seen how a local crisis – a bank failure, a disease outbreak – can quickly go global.

We live in an interconnected world. An effective agreement in Copenhagen would be a powerful vote of confidence in multilateralism. By the same token, failure would be bad news for everyone.

But there is yet another vitally important reason why we must seal a deal in December in Copenhagen.

We know that the right kind of deal will provide the regulatory certainty and long-term price signals that businesses are demanding. We know that a deal can unleash investment, stimulate innovation and facilitate the global spread of low-carbon technologies.

What is often overlooked is the impact a deal could have on global trade. Success in Copenhagen could set a powerful example: if Member States can find a way forward on an issue of such tremendous complexity, surely they can do the same in other areas, most notably the stalled Doha round of trade talks.

On the other hand, failure in Copenhagen could lead countries to turn inward in a misguided effort to handle the climate challenge on their own. We could see new, climate-related protectionist barriers.

But such go-it-alone policies simply cannot work, for climate or for trade. They would undermine the core principles of non-discrimination that the international trading system has been building over the past six decades. They could lead to trade anarchy.

So we need to seal a deal in December for these reasons, too. To protect the trading regime. To enable trade to underpin development, spread green solutions and usher in the green economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Climate change affects every aspect of society, from the health of the global economy to the health of our children. It is about the water in our wells and in our taps. It is about the food on the table.

It is about energy security and international security. It is at the core of nearly all the major challenges we face today

That is why it is an issue for Heads of State. And that is why it is an issue for business.

So far, only a small portion of the business and investment community has made climate change a strategic priority. Too many are sitting on the fence, waiting for others to act, or waiting for the clear policies that will signal a level playing field.

Others are defenders of the old order. For those who are directly or implicitly lobbying against climate action I have a clear message: your ideas are out of date, and you are running out of time.

What the fence sitters and the skeptics fail to understand is that climate change fundamentally changes the 21st century balance sheet.

Sooner or later there will be a higher price on carbon – imposed either by policy or by market forces.

Any multinational business that doesn”t have a strategy in place to deal with climate change will end up on the losing side of history.

That is not where you plan to be.

Investing now in green solutions is cheaper – and ultimately more profitable – than spending more, later, in a catch-up race for global competitiveness.

Polluting industries have successfully cleaned up their act in the past. That is part of the dynamic tradition of private-sector innovation. There are good examples today of industries in the developing and developed worlds cutting emissions.

I welcome such steps, and call for more.

We must also invest in the lower-carbon economic winners of the future.

I know that some argue that we cannot afford to act on climate change during a global recession.

I disagree. What we cannot afford is more short-sighted approaches. The global economy needs more than a quick fix. It needs a fundamental fix.

If we have learned anything from the financial crisis, it is that we must put an end to unethical and irresponsible behaviour and the tyrannical demand for short-term profit.

The price of a global bail-out may seem high, but it will pale next to the enormous human and economic costs of delaying action on climate change.

Continuing to pour trillions of dollars into fossil-fuel subsidies is like investing in sub-prime real estate. Our carbon-based infrastructure is like a toxic asset. that threatens the entire portfolio of global goods – from public health to food security.

We must direct investment away from dirty energy industries. It is time to create market incentives that reward long-term investment in clean energy and innovation.

Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,

The smart money is on the green economy. Many of you are already showing the way.

You have shown that energy efficiency and green technologies can drive profitable performance.

Many of you are deeply engaged in the UN Global Compact. You are building a community of businesses, which I hope will show that “caring for the climate” can be a new paradigm for business success.

Many of your good examples are featured in a series of new studies that will be unveiled today under the “Caring for Climate” banner.

Throughout this meeting you will share important lessons. You will showcase solutions in construction, energy, transportation, manufacturing, and many more.

These examples show that a transformation is possible.

But to seize this transformation, we need the regulatory certainty and market signals that only a binding global climate change agreement can provide.

We need an agreement with clear long-term goals and mid-term targets.

And we need your voice, your influence, and your example.

You can help to seal a deal in December, and this is how you can do it:

I ask all of you to support the “Copenhagen Call” that we will issue at the end of this meeting. Use your influence as business leaders to bring climate change to the attention of policy makers and the public.

Instruct your government affairs teams to lobby vigorously and relentlessly for a successful outcome in Copenhagen in December. Do it now. And do it in every capital where you are represented.

Mobilize employees, partners, clients and customers to take a stand and demand climate action from governments.

Work with your trade associations and interest groups to ensure their lobbying supports an effective Copenhagen agreement.

Join the UN’s “Seal the Deal” campaign. Add your stamp to the global movement for action.

Above all, I encourage all of you to continue on the path of innovation and collaboration.

Continue to spread green solutions through your supply chains. Continue to push for private-sector solutions that reduce climate risks– in health, water and natural resources, in insurance and investment and economic development.

This, my friends, is the essence of business statesmanship in the 21st century. Send a strong message to the governments that hold the keys to success in December.

Tell them to seal the deal.

Seal the deal to power green growth. Seal the deal to protect our planet. Seal the deal to build a more sustainable, prosperous global economy that will benefit all nations.

Your customers and your shareholders will reward you. And your children will thank you one day.

Thank you for your time. I wish you a most productive meeting.

May 25, 2009

Save The Bay!

Image that is a finalist in CBF "Save the Bay" Photo Contest. Credit - Eugene Huskey

Image that is a finalist in CBF "Save the Bay" Photo Contest. Credit - Eugene Huskey

Hey everyone!

I don’t think I mentioned it in my introduction post, but I do freelance photography.  As a matter of fact, my website is one of the links on the right side of this page. (Eugene Huskey Photography) The reason I am posting about my website and photography is I have entered into a  “Save the Bay” photo contest sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation was seeking images from around the watershed that illustrate the beauty, benefits, and bounty of the Bay and its surrounding areas. I entered several pictures into the contest. One of my images has been selected as one of 10 finalists. There are 3 prizes that are determined by the judging panel.  A 4th picture that receives the most votes by viewers on the contest’s website will also win a prize. I am asking that you go to this website and vote for my image. You can vote as many times as you like and for as many of the pictures as you like. However, I am asking that you exclusively vote for my picture!

Here is a link to the photo contest’s web page:

“Save the Bay” Photo Contest

I hope you all are enjoying your Memorial Day Weekend!

Thanks!

Gene

I also want to thank Matt for giving me the permission to post the info about the contest and my site on his blog!

Getting Down to Business

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 12:18 am
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I’ve made some posts before about major businesses getting involved in pushing for strong action on global warming.  There have also been a few other posts on progress made by Microsoft and Wal-Mart.  I think that proactive businesses are a very key component of US and international action on climate change.  A lot of corporations have larger revenues than many countries, are very much involved in the political process, and have the resources to influence negotiations that non-profits do not.  Unfortunately in the past few decades, too many corporations have used these resources to stall action.  If some of them can be engaged and convinced to support global action, that makes the struggle for a treaty easier.  Much of the global economy is powered by consumerism, but if the producers are doing more to ensure that the supply chain has a smaller environmental impact, that makes a big difference.  I just came across an article about Al Gore and UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon meeting in Copenhagen with over 500 business leaders about the need for them to be proactive in the process of negotiating a global climate treaty.  I think it’s a very good thing that these leaders are becoming involved in the process for the right reasons I outlined above.  Hopefully as we move closer towards Copenhagen I’ll have more news like this with greater steps being taken in the right direction by all parties involved.  Notable excerpts below.

“Climate-change heavyweights U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and Nobel prize winner Al Gore urged more than 500 business leaders on Sunday to lend their corporate muscle to reaching a global deal on reducing greenhouse gases.”

“The three-day World Business Summit on Climate Change is a precursor to the negotiations to determine what will succeed the Kyoto climate treaty that expires in 2012.”

“Xie Zhenhua, vice chairman of China’s national development and reform commission, pledged to play “a positive and a constructive” role to reach a global climate treaty, and already is putting in place its climate plan for 2015 and beyond.”

**Update 5/27/09** At the end of the conference the CEO’s declared their support for a global treaty with specific targets.  Also, here is Ban Ki-Moon’s speech.

May 24, 2009

Shame on the EPA

Filed under: Energy/Climate — Matt Dernoga @ 3:10 pm
Tags: , ,

Obama’s EPA has done some good things already, but there is one really big black mark on their record which is extremely disappointed.  With the commotion of the climate bill moving through Congress, I hadn’t had a chance to comment on the EPA’s ruling that 42 of the 48 Mountaintop Removal mining permits were \”environmentally responsible\”.  I’ve documented plenty of reasons why coal use needs to be phased out, and “clean coal” is a joke. In case you need a recap…..The coal industry has gotten a lot of much deserved negative press ever since the coal slurry dam disaster that happened a few months ago. This brought to light that, maybe we should regulate our coal ash. Of course, no amount of regulation will ever make \”clean coal\” a reality, especially considering that it’s extraction often involves the very destructive mountain top removal. Oh..and coal is getting more expensive.  

The notion that anything in the process of mountaintop removal is environmentally responsible is a joke.  I’ve written about the destructiveness of this.  I wanted to reference part of my column…

“Billions of tons of coal slurry are stored all over the destruction sites in dams, right within the communities of the people who live there. There have been incidents near coal slurry dams with large numbers of residents having ailments such as asthma, diarrhea, vomiting, shortness of breath, blisters in the mouth, and nausea. These can be linked to the coal dust that floats around in the air like pollen and high levels of contaminants such as mercury, nickel, and cadmium which leak into the drinking water from the coal slurries. The long term implication of what these people are ingesting is fatal.”

A friend of mine went and visited the communities in West Virginia affected by mountaintop removal.  He said that this is absolutely true.  The air in the area is extremely toxic and filled with particulate matter.  A lot of the people there are coming down with respiratory ailments, and by ingesting a lot of this particulate, they’re experiencing numbness in their extremities.  He also met people who are refusing to sell their land to the coal companies so that they can extract the coal, and that people have received countless death threats because of this.  What’s very mind numbing about all of this is that when the EPA was conducting a study of the effects of mountaintop removal, they found these same problems.  Let me quote the main summary finding of their study…

“An EPA risk assessment documents excess cancer risks of up to 1 in 50 for residents living near unlined ash ponds.  The study also shows risks to fish and wildlife may exceed known safe levels by a factor of 1,000 or more.  Risk estimates first identified in 2002 were blacked out by the Bush Administration in Freedom of Information Act responses.”

The press release by Earth Justice regarding this assessment is here.

The ray of hope in all of this is that the citizens being impacted by mountaintop removal are fighting like hell for their communities.  This is in my opinion boiling down to the civil rights battle of the 21st century thus far.  There is a very moving letter which residents sent to Lisa Jackson and the EPA regarding the abuses the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.  I won’t post the whole thing, but I think the opening paragraph sums things up.

Dear Ms. Jackson and Mr. Salazar:

We are grassroots groups and citizens that have a stake in the areas of West Virginia that are being destroyed by steep slope strip mining/mountaintop removal and other forms of irresponsible mining. Some of us live and work in the affected area. Ms. Jackson and Mr. Salazar, you are our last hope for justice at this point. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is not doing its job in protecting the environment here in West Virginia, and as a result the people are suffering from Environmental Injustice. We are asking that the EPA and/or OSMRE take primacy from the WV DEP to protect us, the people of West Virginia.

So far, their “last hope for justice” has given them nothing.  As a result, the situation is escalatiing.  Just yesterday, there was word of many arrests made during a direct action protest.  I think if all Americans knew what was happening with mountaintop removal in their country, it would be halted in an instant.  Beyond lending your support to the activists fighting off big coal, the most important thing we can all do is spread the word about what is going on here to as many people as possible.  

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