Back to the United States: Smaller Scope, Bigger Hope?

Lately I have been looking at Canada’s progress in the stuttering energy transition, however the United States might be a better focal point for assessing the impact that bottom-up policies (from smaller regions below the level of sovereign states) can have on the global energy transition to a more sustainable mix of sources. The IPAT identity might be a good place to start with such scenario building. Searching CCF for the term IPAT yields nearly a quarter of the blogs; clearly I think it is incredibly important. I discussed it in some detail in the November 26, 2012 post:

There is a useful identity that correlates the environmental impacts (greenhouse gases, in Governor’s Romney statement) with the other indicators. The equation is known as the IPAT equation (or I=PAT), which stands for Impact Population Affluence Technology. The equation was proposed independently by two research teams; one consists of Paul R. Ehrlich and John Holdren (now President Obama’s Science Adviser), while the other is led by Barry Commoner (P.R. Ehrlich and J.P. Holdren; Bulletin of Atmospheric Science 28:16 (1972). B. Commoner; Bulletin of Atmospheric Science 28:42 (1972).)

The identity takes the following form:

Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology

Almost all of the future scenarios for climate change make separate estimates of the indicators in this equation. The difference factor of 15 in GDP/Person (measure of affluence), between the average Chinese and average American makes it clear that the Chinese and the rest of the developing world will do everything they can to try to “even the score” with the developed world. The global challenge is how to do this while at the same time minimizing the environmental impact.

Up until now, I have mainly confined the discussion about IPAT and scenario building to the efforts and actions of sovereign states, but I’d like to extend that to sub-sovereign levels – applying it not only to individual US states, but even further down to major global cities. I did a similar exercise a few years ago with two of my students (See “Intensive and Extensive Parametrization of Energy Use and Income in US States and in Global Urban Environments” by Yevgeniy Ostrovskiy, Michael Cheng and Micha Tomkiewicz; The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.97-109.)

There are important differences in the identity between sovereign states and sub-sovereign states. One can get an idea of some of these differences by reading the original publication. Generally, the identity holds true for both levels of governments. But does my analysis comparing British Columbia and Alberta following the former’s implementation of a carbon tax hold water when we move out of Canada?

In the last few blogs we saw one important sign that the carbon tax was effective in moving British Columbia away from fossil fuels to alternative energy sources: relative to the rest of Canada, BC reduced its use of fossil fuels in its energy mix. This is an important indicator, but is it the only one that is significant?

To explore that, we need to expand the Technology term in the IPAT identity:

Technology = (Energy/Affluence) x (Fossil/Energy) x (Carbon Dioxide/Fossil)

The first term (Energy/Affluence) is the energy intensity, or how much energy we need to produce a unit of affluence – as measured by GDP, national, or state income.

The second term (Fossil/Energy) measures the fraction of the energy needs that are met by fossil fuels.

The third term (Carbon Dioxide/Fossil) measures the type of fossil fuel being used. Coal emits more than twice the amount of carbon dioxide as natural gas does to produce the same amount of energy.

For British Columbia we saw that after the carbon tax, the fraction of energy sourced from fossil fuels was reduced, compared to the rest of Canada. However, we did not see direct impacts on either the amount of energy used to produce a given amount of affluence or the carbon emissions levels.

Using the same carbon pricing global map from previous blogs (May 5, 2015), let’s move our attention back to the United States. California and the RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative), which includes the East Coast states of Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, have been notably active in creating greenhouse gas regulations. Texas and Hawaii are not among this list, but the two states have also featured prominently in recent news about the issue.

Global Carbon Pricing Map

This brings me back to last year’s TV series “Years of Living Dangerously” (April 22, 2014 blog ). Don Cheadle, who narrated the first episode, showed the different local responses to the droughts in Texas and California. In California, the prevailing opinion seemed to be that climate change was an important contributing cause, while in Texas many believed that the droughts were an act of God. Cheadle went to Texas to interview Katherine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and devout evangelist. She joined the evangelists in their prayers but also explained to them that there is no contradiction between believing in God and believing in science (The Pope is now strongly presenting the same view). Through her efforts, much of the audience started to believe that not only does anthropogenic climate change have something to do with the droughts, but there are steps we (and they) can take to mitigate it. That said, just as there is much more to Texas than religious beliefs, there is much more to climate change than being an important cause of regional droughts.

One anecdotal example from Texas reflects the complexity of the transition and some of the driving forces that are completely absent from the IPAT identity – the events taking place in Georgetown, a small town in Texas (50,000 people):

In many Texas cities the electricity market is deregulated, meaning that customers choose from a dizzying variety of providers and plans. In Houston, for example, there are more than 70 plans that offer energy from entirely renewable sources.

That makes it easy to switch, so in a dynamic marketplace, providers tend to focus on the immediate future. This discourages the creation of renewable energy facilities, which require long-term investment to be viable. But in Georgetown, the city utility company has a monopoly.

When its staff examined their options last year, they discovered something that seemed remarkable, especially in Texas: renewable energy was cheaper than non-renewable. And so last month city officials finalised a deal with SunEdison, a giant multinational solar energy company. It means that by January 2017, all electricity within the city’s service area will come from wind and solar power.

In 2014, the city signed a 20-year agreement with EDF for wind power from a forthcoming project near Amarillo. Taking the renewable elements up to 100%, SunEdison will build plants in west Texas that will provide Georgetown with 150 megawatts of solar power in a deal running from 2016 or 2017 to 2041. With consistent and reliable production the goal, the combination takes into account that wind farms generate most of their energy in the evenings, after the sun has set.

Even on a sub-sovereign level the world is far from being homogeneous and many localities are now experimenting with major changes. Interestingly, these experiments didn’t end in 2014 when the price of oil dropped globally by more than 50%. In fact, prices don’t seem to be the dominant driving force behind the transition; we will continue to explore some of other dominant forces as they take shape during this important period, but suffice it to say that some of these smaller trials could well become great models for the rest of the world.

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British Columbia and the Stuttering Transition

Last week I focused on various localities worldwide that are taking steps to limit the use of fossil fuels through carbon pricing – either in the form of Emission Trading Systems (ETS), also known as cap and trade, or by directly taxing carbon. Carbon pricing is often a leading indicator of governments’ commitments to transitioning toward the prominent use of sustainable energy sources. Such intentions were recently put to severe testing when the price of oil and other fossils dropped by more than 50% in a very short time (it is now in an increasing trend again), while the prices of alternative energy sources stayed largely unchanged.

As I mentioned, the University of British Columbia’s Prof. Kathryn Harrison, in detailing the reasons why Canada finds itself at the bottom of the performance among the 10 largest CO2 emitters, referred to Canada as the “Fossil of the Day.” Following Prof. Harrison’s speech, a slew of reports at the Vancouver conference described British Columbia’s efforts to change that. The essence of these reports was that in spite of the country’s lag, BC is actually doing rather well. In what seems to be a battle between British Columbia and Alberta, the latter appears to be winning. Looks can be deceiving, though.

(A note to the reader:  In case you’re wondering why I’m bringing Alberta into a post about British Columbia, it’s helpful to know that while the two provinces border each other, Alberta is Canada’s largest producer of oil and gas. As you can imagine, there has been a lot of back and forth about what to do with gas, oil, sustainability and the future, and it’s become quite a political issue. For instance, one large point in Alberta’s recent election was whether it was a priority to “stop Alberta’s heavy reliance on fluctuating oil prices for its revenue.”)

Map of Canada's ProvincesHere is how Wikipedia describes the “average” citizen of Alberta:

Alberta’s per capita GDP in 2007 was by far the highest of any province in Canada at C$74,825 (approx. US$75,000). In 2006 Alberta’s per capita GDP was higher than all US states, and one of the highest figures in the world. Alberta’s per capita GDP in 2007 was 61% higher than the Canadian average of C$46,441 and more than twice that of all the Maritime provinces. In 2006, the deviation from the national average was the largest for any province in Canadian history.

All of that wealth was oil driven. Not surprisingly, citizens of Alberta cited a sharp drop in revenue from fossil fuels for the realization that the economy had to diversify. We will continue to keep an eye on the developments in the new government’s anticipated policy changes in Alberta.

Here are the data that compare between the provinces:

Canada Provincial and Territorial GHG and per Capita Emissions 2005-2011As we can see in the table above, the difference between Alberta and British Columbia in per capita emissions is a factor of 5. This marks Alberta as the “fossil” in Canada – both in terms of its commitment to antiquated technology and its continued usage of said dirty fuels.

The main reason that British Columbia is ranked so high in its shift to sustainable energy sources is that it introduced a carbon tax in 2008. The tax started at a relatively low level of C$10/ton. This was intentional, as the first 5 years were intended to be a learning experience for the anticipated impacts. The plan was that the tax would gradually be raised to C$30/ton in 2012 and stay frozen at that price until 2018. The carbon tax continues to enjoy the support of the majority of the province’s citizens and the changes in the rate remain on schedule. Since the introduction of the tax, the BC economy has grown just as fast as that of the rest of Canada, while petroleum use per person is decreasing. The five years of gradual transition are already changing behavior.

Figure 1 shows petroleum sales in British Columbia as compared with the rest of Canada, before and after the introduction of the carbon tax.

Comparative sale of petroleum fuels after introduction of the carbon tax. Figure 1 - Comparative sale of petroleum fuels after introduction of the carbon tax.

Sustainable energy (“Cleantech”) is the fastest growing energy sector. The tax was designed to be revenue neutral, such that the revenue would contribute to expenses usually covered by other taxes, thereby lowering tax burdens in other areas. Many regard BC’s carbon tax structure as the best designed in the world. But officials and researchers at the conference admitted that the carbon tax’s effects on shifting the weight of other taxes are still poorly understood.

The province has stated its objective is greenhouse gas reduction (2010 reference) by 80% by 2050.

Figure 2 shows how British Columbia is actually doing.

Greenhouse gas emission and energy use, two extensive parameters that strongly depend on population and economic development, peaked around the beginning of the century and have been on a mild decreasing pattern since. Over the “learning” period of the carbon tax (2008 – 2012) they remained approximately constant. The greenhouse gas emission per unit of energy demand is an intensive parameter that depends primarily on the mixture of energy that is being used. This parameter remained approximately constant from 1990. There is no indication from this data that the energy mix that BC is using changed because of the implementation of the carbon tax. The two other intensive parameters, emission per capita and emission per unit of GDP show decrease in various rates from about 2000, well before the introduction of the carbon tax.

Figure 3 shows the trends in carbon emission per capita of some of the other major global emitters. The two global emitters that can be compared to Canada – the United States (which has no carbon pricing) and the European Union (whose carbon pricing is still a work in progress) – show similar trends to that of British Columbia.

As the data below show, the use of carbon pricing to help mitigate climate change by influencing our use of different sources of energy is still a work in progress.

GHG Emission Indicators 1990-2012 British ColumbiaFigure 2 – Greenhouse gas emission and energy use in British Columbia

 Figure 3 – Carbon dioxide emission per capita of major global emitters.

 

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Back to the Stuttering Transition – One Scale Down from Sovereign States: British Columbia

One of the lessons that I learned at the Vancouver conference was to start thinking a bit smaller when talking and writing about the global energy transition. From the beginning, I have referred to this as a stuttering energy transition because of all the obstacles that such a changeover encounters. The transition has to be global; the current trends of energy use affect us all, but the world doesn’t operate globally in a way that policy can be universally enforced. Even our global institutions such as the UN can only enforce behavior through its sovereign member states.

The energy transition, like all such evolutions, involves winners and losers. The clear winners (or so we hope) are future generations, but they don’t have a vote on how we conduct our business. The clear losers are individuals and corporations that have financial stakes in the present energy mix and are going to lose money in the process. In our current system of governance these individuals and corporations have a lot of power to influence governments in sovereign states. Developing countries, which often rely on abundant, low cost fossil fuels as they strive to close the gap between themselves and more developed nations seem similarly likely to lose out. One stumbling block has been that these developing countries which so desire – and deserve – accelerated progress have yet to find proof that alternative fuels can help them achieve that goal. So the global transition is bound to stumble. However, local governments under large sovereign states are starting to develop pressures that might serve as experimental field tests for the broader adaptation of the transition.

A good indicator of local governments’ mitigation efforts against anthropogenic climate change is their steps meant to limit the use of fossil fuels. The most visible part of such attempts is the practice of putting a price on carbon – one form of this is a carbon tax. A carbon tax aims to encourage users to use alternative energy sources by making fossil fuels more expensive. Ideally, these alternative sources emit less carbon, use energy more efficiently and/or are completely non carbon-based (e.g. solar, wind, hydroelectric and biofuel). This method of mitigation changes market conditions in favor of decrease in carbon emissions but it doesn’t put a ceiling on how much carbon can be emitted in total.

The second method is based on emissions trading (ETS – Emission Trading Systems) or as it is sometimes called, cap and trade. In this system, the authorities set a ceiling for emissions and distribute certificates to corporations and individuals that give them the right to emit certain levels of carbon. These certificates become tradable, so organizations that need to emit more buy certificates from those that plan to emit less. Again, the market determines the price of the certificates. Each method has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages, but implementation of either one indicates serious efforts to confront anthropogenic climate change through limits on carbon emissions. Figure 1 shows the distribution of the global efforts in carbon pricing. The progress of some big sovereign states is obvious, but smaller local governments are important players too. Among the active local governments are many states in federal systems, including most of the Canadian states, all of the states on North America’s West Coast, and the RGGI (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) on the East Coast of the US, which includes the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The Vancouver conference gave me an excellent view of British Columbia’s efforts. The map also shows some important megacities (cities with greater than 10 million inhabitants) such as Tokyo and many cities in China.

carbon-pricing-map-900x476-cFigure 1 – Carbon pricing around the world

In a previous blog (March 25, 2015) I focused on the 10 largest carbon emitting countries when I talked about 2014’s milestone of reaching a global flat carbon emission in spite of the 3% GDP increase. I am repasting the table, Figure 2, which summarizes the results. In this compilation Canada ranked at the bottom, while it scored 58th on the overall list. The United States is not doing much better, it is ranked 5th in this grouping and 43rd in the overall list.

Canada’s bad performance was not ignored at the Vancouver conference. The second plenary speaker was Kathryn Harrison, a professor of Political Science in the University of British Columbia. She referred to Canada’s performance as deserving of the “Fossil of the Day” award. She also mentioned that Canada was the only country to ratify the Kyoto protocol but then withdraw its involvement when the government changed to a new administration, even as its carbon emission continues to rise.

Key Data For the 10 Largest CO2 Emitters 2013-14Figure 2 – Key Data for the 10 largest CO2 emitters (see March 25, 2015 blog for details)

Following her talk came a slew of reports about the situation in British Columbia.

British Columbia is already experiencing two immense impacts, both of which have been largely attributed to climate change: major deglaciation and the continuous spread of the mountain pine bark beetle – an insect that destroys the beautiful forests that span the territory. With the loss of these forests comes the corresponding decline of the livelihood that is associated with the lumber industry and tourism.

The deglaciation is already visible. We saw it on top of Mount Grouse (April 14, 2015 blog) – usually in mid-April there is an expected 12ft of snow. As we could see in the photograph, this year it was almost free of snow at that time. Computer simulations predict that both the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Coast ranges will be equally snow free as we approach the end of the century, a result that seems almost independent of the emission scenario we follow. The damage is certainly not limited to aesthetics or even the economics tied to the destruction of recreational ski slopes; it is catastrophic in terms of the fresh water management of the province.

Meanwhile, with the temperature rising throughout the region, the beetle now finds the adjusted environment comfortable year-round. As they adapt to the climate change, the beetles feed on increasingly wide swaths of forest. Once those are destroyed, they simply move on to the next patch.

In western North America, the current outbreak of the mountain pine beetle and its microbial associates has destroyed wide areas of lodgepole pine forest, including more than 16 million of the 55 million hectares of forest in British Columbia. The current outbreak in the Rocky Mountain National Park began in 1996 and has caused the destruction of millions of acres of ponderosa and lodgepole pine trees. According to an annual assessment by the state’s forest service, 264,000 acres of trees in Colorado were infested by the mountain pine beetle at the beginning of 2013. This was much smaller than the 1.15 million acres that were affected in 2008 because the beetle has already killed off most of the vulnerable trees (Ward).

For western Canada, these are not computer simulations, these are imminent threats that must be fought now. Some of the steps that they are taking are innovative enough to be used as examples for the rest of the world. More on that next week.

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Guest Blog by Denis Ladyzhensky: Blessings and Climate Change

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, April has been a very busy month for me. One of the events I attended was a celebration of my liberation – and that of many others – from Bergen-Belsen and the nightmares of the Holocaust, by soldiers from the American Army’s 30th Division. The meeting was in Nashville, Tennessee. Thirteen of the liberating soldiers showed up (with an average age of 92), as did three thankful and considerably younger survivors. The addition of second and third generation relatives of liberators and survivors that were no longer with us brought the total to around 60. The survivors were all Jewish, but none of the liberators were. During the closing banquet, one of the veterans read a short Christian religious blessing; I was in charge of delivering the Jewish one. I decided to give two short blessings: one for the food and one commemorating the dead – both soldiers and victims. I am not a religious guy so I had to prepare. In my preparation I ran into some background of the Jewish food blessing, which essentially says that since all of the world’s resources belong to God, we must say a blessing and get God’s permission when we eat. My immediate thought was that if this is the case, every activity that we conduct using world’s resources merits the same treatment. More than that, the religious authorities that construct the prayer books need to learn the consequences of giving permission to use the physical environment. My second thought was that I am certainly not an expert on this issue, and should approach somebody a bit more qualified.

Fortunately, Denis Ladyzhensky is a student in our Physics Department and is taking my course on Physics and Society. He is also an orthodox Jew. I approached him with my thoughts and asked him to write a guest blog on the topic. Here is the result.

What are blessings in Judaism? What purpose do they serve? How can we apply their wisdom to extracting and using fossil fuels from the earth?

Blessings appear in biblical scripture Deuteronomy 8:10, where it states, “you will eat and you will be satisfied and you will bless the Lord, your God for the land that is good that He gave to you.”

And scripture continues:

…be careful for yourself lest you forget the Lord, your God by not observing his commandments, his ordinances, and his decrees, which I command you today; lest you eat and you are satisfied, and houses that are good you build and you live and your cattle and your flocks increase, and silver and gold increase for you, and everything that is yours increase and haughty will your heart be and you will forget the Lord, your God who took you out of the land of Egypt from the house of slavery. Who leads you through the wilderness that is great and awesome and with snake, fiery serpent, and scorpion, and thirst where there was no water—who brings forth for you water from the rock of flint. Who feeds you manna in the wilderness, which not know did your forefathers in order to afflict you and in order to test you, to benefit you in your end. And you may say in your heart, my strength and the might of my hand made for me this wealth! Then you shall remember the Lord, your God for it is he who gives you strength to make wealth in order to establish his covenant that he swore to your forefathers as it is this day. It shall be that if you should in any way forget the Lord, your God and you should go after the gods of others, and you should worship them and you should bow to them – I testify against you today that you will certainly be destroyed, like the nations that the Lord destroys from before you, so will you be destroyed because you will not have listened to the voice of the Lord, your God. Deuteronomy 8:10-20

If we analyze this passage, we can begin to see what kind of commandments these are: God first commands that we are obligated to bless Him for feeling satisfied. Obviously God, who is infinite and omnipotent, does not require our blessings; indeed, one could ask what possible use is there in mere mortals blessing God? What follows is a warning against forgetting Him and becoming materialistic and arrogant. This is not merely good advice; rather, it is a deep psychological insight into humanity. Here we have a step by step breakdown from human being to an arrogant idol worshipper who is worthy of destruction: it begins by forgetting the commandments and forgetting God. Next comes forgetting all of the favors God did for the individual, like taking him out of slavery in Egypt, giving him water from a rock and feeding him food (manna) that appeared miraculously like dew on the ground every morning for forty years. After having fallen so low in gratitude a person will soon come to declare that in fact it is his own great strength that has given him his wealth, thereby excluding the Creator’s role in his success. Finally he will become an idol worshipper who is deserving of capital punishment.

Therefore we have been given the greatest guarantee possible – a divine promise that simply by blessing God, we are defeating a powerful and mysterious human tendency for arrogance and self-worship.

This alone would not necessarily help us in trying to apply this thinking to humility in the extraction of natural resources, especially since this section in particular only applies to blessings made after one eats to satiation. But where can we find a scriptural source for performing blessings before eating? The answer is that there is no known scriptural source for blessings before eating food. In fact, the way we know to say these special blessings is from a logical Talmudic argument found in the tractate Brachot known as “if this then [certainly] this.” This argument is used in the following way: if we have to make blessings [appreciate the source] when we are already full then isn’t it obvious that we need to make blessings [appreciate the source] when we are hungry? On the merit of this argument, which no holy Talmudic Rabbi could defeat, a variety of blessings were created to be said by all persons before partaking of any enjoyable matter in this world. These blessings apply to all foods and drinks as well as smells and they are required for special phenomena and events. Halalchipedia has a full list of different kinds of blessings one makes for different occasions.

ברוך אתה ה’ אלוקינו מלך העולם המוציא לחם מן הארץ

This Hebrew text is a blessing for bread, but what it says it actually quite surprising. Reading from right to left it says, “Blessed are you the Lord, our God, King of the world who took bread out from the Earth.” Maybe we can say that the first part is self-explanatory, acknowledging that God is the source of blessing and the master of the world. But the second part requires some more serious explanation: how did God take the bread out of the Earth? Making bread requires taking wheat, grinding it to flour, making dough, and baking it – only through numerous steps does it become bread. Whole loaves of bread do not grow directly from the ground on stems. What the authors of these blessings wanted to impart on us is that each of those intermediary steps was through God. Even when we were cutting the wheat, it was God helping us. When we were making the dough it was through God’s help, and when it was baked into the perfect final product it was all God’s will all the time.

What about something that a person simply does not make a blessing on, like extracting precious minerals and fuels from the Earth? In that case, he or she is making a valuable income, but since through that comes the danger of becoming very arrogant, shouldn’t they be warned? I would like to elaborate on this question in the following way. What if we incorporate the use of blessings and rely on rabbinical authority as arbitrator between the Earth’s resources and humans? In other words, before someone is allowed to extract the Earth’s goods, there must first be an ordained spiritual leader who advises on issues of gratitude and environmental responsibility. This seems like an idealistic solution which would perhaps only work in a utopian society where we could control all external influences from affecting the arbitrator. Consider that in a field where the needs of the many compete against the needs of the few and those in power are few in number, it is wise to empower the humblest and most prudent decision makers. Everybody would agree to that — except for those in the select group which already wields that power. Unfortunately it is often an individual’s cunning and extravagance which wins him favor from others. Power today is rarely given to someone based upon his spiritual status.

So we don’t have a blessing to say in our scenario. One possible solution that I would like to suggest is the following. The Torah (Hebrew Bible) does not delineate every possible phenomenon or event for which a person might need to say a blessing. Rather, it chooses those which are most common, the reason being that if a person is preoccupied with being thankful to God throughout the day, that mindset will extend into everything the individual does. That might be part of the reason why King David, who was king of Israel and the compiler of the Tehillim (Psalms) required the nation to recite 100 blessings a day. Click here and skip to Page 13 for a list of how to say 100 blessings a day. When contemplating the consequences of carbon dioxide emissions and climate change, saying blessings is only the beginning. We also require the ability to project the outcome of our actions into the future. When we eat something that we like, we make a blessing in the hopes that we will be able to eat it again in the future as well. No one wants their favorite fruit to disappear the next year. But if we don’t make a blessing, the Rabbis teach us that it is as if we stole from God. If we consume something without gratitude we are actually causing a shortage in that thing. I would argue that in our society today where corporations and sovereign nations ignore warning signs and expert advice on climate change, we are doing that same thing on a much larger scale: exemplifying a renegade disregard for the collaborative good; not making enough effort to frontline the planet’s wellbeing.

Perhaps here the natural law is resisting the haughty actions of the few, violating natural calm and increasing threats of extreme weather. So let us conclude that positive change does not elude us. Going carbon negative is a short-term goal and becoming carbon neutral is within our grasp if we want it to be. Being sufficiently grateful for what we have attained as a society, and appreciating what we have inherited from thousands of years of ancestral sweat, blood and tears is probably impossible. But the task of preserving it so that our grandchildren don’t inherit a self-imploding natural disaster is in our hands, dependent on our minds, and within our reach. Just like there are no implied limits to our gratitude, so there should be no limits to creating things that our children will be grateful for. Amongst those things which I think future generations will certainly appreciate are a clean and healthy ecosystem, a plethora of vibrant species with tremendous diversity and a human living condition which contributes to the good in the earth without depleting it. Do you think we will deplete the Earth and have to deal with an ever more combative and hostile environment, or do you think we can embrace humility and gratitude, thereby slowly reversing our course towards sustainability and mutual respect between human and Earth?

Denis Ladyzhensky is a Brooklyn College Undergraduate student graduating with a B.A. in Physics. He spent five years studying Talmudic law and the Hebrew Bible in Jerusalem. He hopes to get a professional degree in electrical engineering and to one day work on projects that improve life for everyone. 

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Assessment – Spring 2015 – Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day and my wife’s birthday – time to celebrate. It’s also time for the spring assessment of the blog. Everything is blossoming around me and seems to be awakening from a very cold winter. Last week I came back from a conference on climate change in Vancouver, British Columbia. I got a magnified view of Canada’s stuttering energy transition, which I plan to expand upon in future blogs. In other big news, April 13th was the 70th anniversary of my liberation from Bergen-Belsen and the nightmares of the Holocaust, by soldiers from the 30th Division of the American Army. I have just returned from a reunion in Nashville, Tennessee with these soldiers. Frank Towers, the man who organized it, is approaching his 98th birthday; all of the other soldiers are in their late 80s or early 90s. Time for a new generation to take over.

A slew of important global developments in energy transition took place this month, several of which I will likely cover here in the near future. One of the biggest factors in the present state of the global energy transition has been the recent sharp decrease in the price of fossil fuels. The price decrease is shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Recent sharp decrease in global oil prices

One might think that with such a shocking decline in the price of oil and other fossil fuels, the transition to non-fossil energy sources is dead for the foreseeable future, yet an article by Tom Randall forces us to think again. Here are some sections from this article with a figure that tells it all:

Fossil Fuels Just Lost the Race Against Renewables
This is the beginning of the end.

by Tom Randall

The race for renewable energy has passed a turning point. The world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. And there’s no going back.

The shift occurred in 2013, when the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels, according to an analysis presented Tuesday at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance annual summit in New York. The shift will continue to accelerate, and by 2030 more than four times as much renewable capacity will be added.

“The electricity system is shifting to clean,” Michael Liebreich, founder of BNEF, said in his keynote address. “Despite the change in oil and gas prices there is going to be a substantial buildout of renewable energy that is likely to be an order of magnitude larger than the buildout of coal and gas.”

The price of wind and solar power continues to plummet, and is now on par or cheaper than grid electricity in many areas of the world. Solar, the newest major source of energy in the mix, makes up less than 1 percent of the electricity market today but could be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, according to the International Energy Agency.

The question is no longer if the world will transition to cleaner energy, but how long it will take.

Recent developments and projections of global energy useFigure 2 – Recent developments and projections of global energy use.

True or not – it remains to be seen, but in the face of the recent changes in the price of fossil fuels, such trends are providing strong hope that the world is making real progress in confronting climate change.

Another recent development that provides great hope for successful mitigation is a recent polling effort by Yale University about American attitudes towards climate change. They investigate 15 indicators and present the results on four different levels: national, state, congressional districts, and counties. On the question of belief that global warming is happening, 63% of adult Americans polled answer in the positive. Breakdown on the states level is shown in Figure 3. On the question of whether global warming is mostly caused by humans, 48% of adult Americans polled answer in the positive. The distribution by state is shown in Figure 4.

For me, the conclusion from this work is clear: the belief that Americans are sharply polarized on climate change is a myth. Sure, there are differences in opinion, but the belief that these differences sharply distribute themselves between red states and blue states is simply not supported by the data.

State distribution of belief that global warming is happeningFigure 3 – State distribution of belief that global warming is happening

Yale_2Figure 4 – State distribution of belief that global warming is mostly caused by humans

On another note, in my last assessment, I included an update on my readership/ social media progress, so I will do so again here. On Twitter, since January 6th, I have gained 87 followers (bringing my total to 311). I also had 459 link clicks, 14 mentions and 20 retweets. This is all readily accessible information. On Facebook, in the same time period, my page got an additional 12,148 impressions from 8,859 users.

On my blog itself I’m happy to report that I’ve had had 1,219 visits from 515 unique computers, 425 of them new visitors. To those of you reading, I thank you and (as always) welcome your comments.

 

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Back from Vancouver

View of Vancouver from the mountaintop

A view of Vancouver, Canada from the top of Mount Grouse. Photos by my wife, Louise Hainline.

I have just returned from Vancouver, Canada, where I attended the Seventh Climate Change Symposium. This is the same forum held in previous years in Reykjavik, Iceland (July 2014), Mauritius (July 2013) and Seattle (July 2012). I attend these conferences for six reasons:

  1. These meetings are limited to a relatively small number of participants (around 250).
  2. The organizers are fabulous at selecting conference locations.
  3. I have found them to be ideal venues for my students to present their work. In Vancouver, Rui Yan Ma, a student in our Honors College, presented our work on tipping points. It was her first conference presentation and she did a great job.
  4. Each conference focuses on the synergy between local efforts to confront climate change and more global actions.
  5. It attracts participants from all over the world that are focused on the local efforts in their respective countries.
  6. Last but not least, it offers an opportunity for the speakers to publish their findings in the organizers’ fully reviewed journal – another vehicle that offers a chance for students to start their career of doing great science focused on climate change.

I have posted the detailed program of every meeting that I have attended and I am doing the same for the Vancouver meeting. It makes the blog a bit longer than usual but it provides a firsthand idea about the content of these meetings.

A wind turbine at the top of the 4,000ft Mount Grouse in Vancouver. The turbine provides a percentage of the city's power. In previous years, the mountain has been covered with approx. 12ft of snow and has been inaccessible until May. This year, it is already open to the public.

A wind turbine at the top of the 4,000ft Mount Grouse in Vancouver. The turbine provides a percentage of the site’s power. In previous years, the mountain has been covered with approx. 12ft of snow and has been inaccessible until May. This year, it is already open to the public.

I come out of each of these meetings with new perspectives on some important global issues, which I then choose to explore further and share here. This Vancouver Symposium is no exception. I continue to look at various countries and factors that will contribute to the success of the upcoming December 2015 Paris meeting. This time I was prompted to add Canada to the list of countries that I want to explore in greater depth prior to the Paris meeting.

Earth Day is next Wednesday (April 22nd). As you may know, I have profiles on both Facebook and Twitter (I hope you’re already following/liking both). For the next two weeks, I’m calling for your messages, comments and pictures. Tweet to me or post on the CCF Facebook about what you’re doing for Earth Day, what the holiday means to you, and/or just your favorite places, plants or animals that make our planet special. I will be looking out for your contributions and will post and link to them here. I look forward to seeing what you send my way!

Here are some ways to celebrate Earth Day, starting this weekend!

In NYC:
Earth Day Initiative New York
Earth Day 5K Walk and Green Tour
NYC Parks Earth Day & Arbor Day Events
Green Festival Expo NYC
Party Earth: Earth Day 2015 in New York

NYCVP: Earth Day in New York City
New Yorkled: Earth Day New York Events – NYC – New York City

Earth Day Events
Earth Day Network’s Green Cities Events
Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day
Envirolink: Earthday
Facebook: One Billion Trees/Seeds Planted – Earth Day, April 22, 2015

The program schedule of theVancouver Seventh International Conference on Climate Change: Impacts and Responses Whose Climate? Negotiating the Governance of Environmental Change is below:

 
CONFERENCE OPENING: Phillip Kalantzis-Cope, Common Ground Publishing, USA
CONFERENCE WELCOME: Thomas F. Pedersen, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, Canada
PLENARY SESSION: Kathryn Harrison, University of British Columbia, Canada
PLENARY SESSION: Alex Clapp, Simon Fraser University, Canada
BREAK AND GARDEN SESSION (Kathryn Harrison Garden Session held in C400. Alex Clapp Garden Session held in C215)

 

11:00-11:45 Talking Circle
C215 Talking Circle: Scientific Evidence & Assessing Impacts in Divergent Ecosystems
C225 Talking Circle: 2015 Special Focus: ‘Whose Climate? Negotiating the Governance of Environmental Change’
C400 Talking Circle: Technical, Political and Social Responses
C485 Talking Circle: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

11:45-12:35 LUNCH

 

12:35-13:50 Parallel Sessions
C215 Governance, Economics, and InequalitiesCalifornia’s Push to Transform to a Low Carbon Society: Is It Doomed by the Booming US Shale Market?
Dr. Nilmini Silva-Send, Energy Policy Initiatives Center, University of San Diego, San Diego, USA
Overview: California’s AB32 to reduce GHGs will “re-make California’s entire energy economy.” Will vast shale oil and gas in the US and perhaps even in California derail this transformation?
Theme: Special Theme: Whose Climate? Negotiating the Governance of Environmental ChangeCausal Responsibility, Asymmetric Opportunity and Inequality in Anthropogenic Climate Change: A Behavioral Economics Model of Climate Change Negotiations
Dr. Nicholas Alan Seltzer, Department of Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno, Reno, USA
Dr. Reuben Kline, Department of Political Science, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, USA
Overview: We introduce an experimental game that captures the interdependent social dilemma of anthropogenic climate change and its mitigation, and present the results of experiments conducted in the US and China.
Theme: Special Theme: Whose Climate? Negotiating the Governance of Environmental Change

 

Climate Change Adaptation: How Do We Know We’re Winning?
Dr. John Labadie, Seattle, USA
Overview: Adaptation is a diffuse, complex activity. Evaluation is a useful tool in managing adaptation programs. It adds value to the process. What does “evaluation” look like in the adaptation context?
Theme: Special Theme: Whose Climate? Negotiating the Governance of Environmental Change

C225 Climate Issues in Agriculture and FarmingThe Investigation of Farmers Adaptive Capacity: A Case Study in the West of Iran
Behrooz Rasekhi, Department of Agronomy, College of Agriculture, Kermanshah Branch, Islamic Azad University, Kermanshah, Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Hasan Sedighi, Department of Agricultural Extension and Education, University of Tarbiat Modares, Iran., Tehran, Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Mohammad Chizari, Department of Agricultural Extension and Education, University of Tarbiat Modares, Iran., Tehran, Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Overview: Adaptive capacity is the ability of individuals and groups to adapt or adjust to ‎climate variability and change and accommodate shock and stress to ‎systems. ‎ ‎
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on HumansTechnological Innovations in the Wake of Climate Change by Farmers in Cameroon
Nkengafah Veronica Fonya, Faculty of Lifelong Education Department of Community Deveopment, Hanseo University, Suwon, South Korea
Overview: Changes in temperature and rainfall have influenced cocoa farmers to adopt new technologies to increase the quantity and quality of cocoa production in Cameroon.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

The Vulnerability of Small-holder Agriculture to Climate Change in Boset Woreda, Oromia Region, Ethiopia
Emebet Bekele, Institute of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
Overview: This research paper examined vulnerability of smallholder agriculture to climate change by comparing vulnerability indicators. It also assessed the perceptions of farmers on climate change and adaptation measures.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

C400 Global Tipping PointsPredicting Global Tipping Points
Micha Tomkiewicz, Dept. of Physics, Brooklyn College of CUNY, Brooklyn, USA
Rui Yan Ma, Dept. of Physics, Queens College, Queens College, CUNY, Queens, USA
Overview: The study will focus on our attempts to predict tipping points in the climate system through critical slowdown and increase variability in time series data.
Theme: Scientific EvidencePhenological Mapping for Climate Change Research
Prof. Vit Vozenilek, Dept. of Geoinformatics, Palacky University, Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic
Dr. Radim Tolasz, Climate Change Department, Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Praha 4 – Komořany, Czech Republic
Dr. Lenka Hajkova, Meteorology and Climatology Division, Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Usti nad Labem, Czech Republic
Dr. Alena Vondrakova, Dept. of Geoinformatics, Palacky University, Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic
Ales Vavra, Dept. of Geoinformatics, Palacky University, Olomouc, Olomouc, Czech Republic
Overview: The authors employed spatial analysis of twenty-year series of phenological observations. They came to the conclusion that there was a shift in the onset of phenological phases in 1991-2010.
Theme: Scientific Evidence

 

Regional Differences of the Dust Events in Mongolia
Amgalan Ganbat, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Central University of Taiwan, Jhongly, Taiwan
Prof. Gin-Rong Liu, Center for Space and Remote Sensing Research, National Central University, Jhongli, Taiwan
Overview: We discuss the regional differences in the characteristics of relationships among frequencies of dusty day(sum of dust storm and drifting dust), surface wind and precipitation during 2000-2013 in Mongolia.
Theme: Scientific Evidence

C485 Social ResponsesENGOs, Informal Social Networks, and Mobilizing the Public to Deal with Climate Change
Dr. David B. Tindall, Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Georgia Piggot, Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Overview: This study examines the social influence of environmental movement members on climate change attitudes in the Canadian general public.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social ResponsesBlame Canada: Environmental Movements, National Media, and Canada’s Reputation as a Climate Villain
Dr. Mark CJ Stoddart, Department of Sociology, Memorial University, St. John’s, Canada
Jillian Smith, Department of Sociology, Memorial University, St. John’s, Canada
Dr. David B. Tindall, Department of Sociology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Overview: We examine how Canadian national news coverage provided space for environmental organizations to use the 2009 Copenhagen COP-15 meetings to “name and shame” Canada for its poor environmental performance.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Challenges in Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation into Local Land Use Planning: Evidence from Albay, Philippines
Sining C. Cuevas, School of Geography, Planning, and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Dr. Ann Peterson, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Dr. Tiffany Morrison, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Dr. Catherine Robinson, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Brisbane, Australia
Overview: This study offers empirical evidence on the barriers and opportunities for mainstreaming climate change adaptation into local land use planning in Albay, Philippines.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

Theatre Late Additions 1 (Check board for additions)The Effect of Climate Change on the Occurrence of Pests and Diseases on Potatoes in Benguet Province
Ms. Hilaria Badival, Research, Department of Agriculture-Cordillera Administrative Region, Baguio City, Philippines
Overview: This paper is focused on the effect of climate on the occurrence of pests and diseases in the production of the potato.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social ResponsesAnalyzing the Mitigation Potential of Climate Change through Soil Organic Carbon Sequestration in a Corn Belt Watershed
Mukesh Bhattarai, Environmental Resources and Policy Program, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC), Carbondale, USA
Overview: The sequestration of carbon through facilitating the retention of the soil’s organic carbon constitutes one of the main possibilities for climate change in mitigating agriculture’s contributions to global warming.
Theme: Special Theme: Whose Climate? Negotiating the Governance of Environmental Change

 

13:50-14:05 BREAK

 

14:05-15:45 Parallel Sessions
C215 Political ResponsesUrban Climate Action Planning: Demonstration of GHG Mitigation Tool for Analysis of Local Energy and Climate Policies
Elizabeth Johnston, Energy Policy Initiatives Center, University of San Diego, San DIego, USA
Dr. Nilmini Silva-Send, Energy Policy Initiatives Center, University of San Diego, San Diego, USA
Overview: California cities must do their fair share to reduce GHGs from local policies. We will demonstrate our mitigation tool used to help cities analyze local policies.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social ResponsesThe Implications of a US Border Tax Adjustment on Carbon Intensive Goods for Treaty Formation
Dr. Ross Astoria, Department of Politics, Philosophy, and Law, Kensoah, USA
Overview: This paper consider the best way to design a US border tax adjustment on imported carbon intensive goods so as to facilitate effective treaty formation.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Making Carbon Pricing Work without Global Agreement
Dr. Jane N. O’Sullivan, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Overview: Choice of carbon pricing system is critical to mitigation. International carbon trading presents many barriers to sufficient and equitable change. A consumption-based tax is explained which enables strong unilateral action.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

C225 Impacts on Human HealthPlanning for the Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health: A Focus on Cities
Sabrina Dekker, School of Geography, Planning, and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin, Coquitlam, Canada
Overview: The objective of this paper is to determine how cities are planning for the impacts of climate change on human health, especially as they strive to make cities resilient.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on HumansClimate Challenges: Development of Heat Adaptation Strategies for the Elderly
Assoc. Prof. Hans-Peter Hutter, Institute of Environmental Health, Center for Public Health, Medical University Vienna, Austria, Vienna, Austria
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Arne Arnberger, Institute of Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Brigitte Allex, Institute of Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Dr. Renate Eder, Institute of Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Prof. Franz Kolland, Institute of Sociology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Anna Wanka, Institute of Sociology, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria
Prof. Beate Blaettner, Department of Nursing and Health Science, University of Applied Sciences Fulda, Fulda, Germany
Prof. Annette Grewe, Department of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Applied Sciences Fulda, Fulda, Germany
Prof. Michael Kundi, Institute of Environmental Health, Center for Public Health, Medical University Vienna, Austria, Vienna, Austria
Dr. Peter Wallner, Medicine and Environmental Protection, Vienna, Austria, Vienna, Austria
Overview: The STOPHOT-project is the first investigation in Austria to establish a comprehensive knowledge base on heat perception, awareness of heat risks and adaptive/coping behaviors among older adults.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

The Health Impacts of Severe Climate Shocks in Colombia
Mauricio Giovanni Valencia-Amaya, Faculty of Economics, Universidad del Rosario & Universidad de Antioquia, Bogotá D.C., Colombia
Dolores de la Mata, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Overview: This paper studies the link between severe weather shocks in Colombia and municipality-level incidence of dengue and malaria, using a differences-in-differences strategy.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

Impact of Climate Change on Seniors’ Health in Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
Aina Thompson Adeboyejo, Department of Urban and Regional Planning Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology,Ogbomoso Nigeria., Ogbomoso, Nigeria
Aluko Oluwapelumi Esther, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, : Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria
Olamiju John Kehinde, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Ogbomoso, Nigeria
Overview: This study examines the impact of climate change on seniors’ health in Ibadan, South-Western Nigeria. The incidence and variations of climate related diseases were correlated with climatic parameters.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

C485 ColloquiumIdentifying Climate Change Mitigation Pathways in Canada
Catherine Potvin, Department of Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Ashlee Cunsolo-Willox, Nursing, cross-appointed in Indigenous Studies, Cape Breton University, Canada
Lauchlan Fraser, Natural Resource Sciences and Biological Sciences, Thompson Rivers University, Canada
Alain Bourque, Founder and Coordinator of Impacts and Adaptation program, Canada
John Robinson, Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability, and Dept. of Geography Organization, University of British Columbia, Canada
Dr. Stephen Sheppard, Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) Dept. of Forest Resources Management/School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Sally Aitken, Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Canada
Dr Fikret Berkes, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada
Rosine Faucher, Political Science, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Tarah Wright, Environmental Science, Dalhousie University, Truro, Canada
Natalie Richards, Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Laura Cameron, Biology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Dr. Mark CJ Stoddart, Department of Sociology, Memorial University, St. John’s, Canada
Aerin Jacob, Geography, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada
Overview: Visioning, visualization and scenario building has been used in rural/urban settings across Canada, identifying desired technology, policy, community responses to climate change to suggest socially acceptable mitigation pathways.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses
Theatre Featured ColloquiumImpacts of Climate Change on Health: A Growing Challenge for Health Systems
Dr. Tim Takaro, Faculty of Health Science, Simon Fraser University and Climate Change Health Policy Group, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Sarah Henderson, Centres for Disease Control and University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Carl Lowenburger, Dept Biological Science, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
Bimal Chhetri, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University and BC Center for Disease Control, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Maya Gislason, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
Stacy Barter, BC Healthy Communities Society, Vancouver, Canada
Overview: This colloquium will describe health system response needed to address the impacts of climate change, including heat-related mortality, infectious diseases and the identification of vulnerable populations.
Theme: Special Theme: Whose Climate? Negotiating the Governance of Environmental Change

 

15:45-16:45 CONFERENCE RECEPTION

 

Saturday, 11 April

 

8:30-9:00 REGISTRATION DESK OPEN

 

9:00-10:40 Parallel Sessions
Theatre The BC Experience with Climate Change Action
Matt Horne, Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Werner Kurz, Canadian Forest Service (Natural Resources Canada), Canada
Suzanne Spence, BC Climate Action Secretariat, Canada
Malcolm Shield, City of Vancouver, Vancouver, Canada
Tom Pedersen, The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, Vancouver, Canada
Overview: This session will explore several topics and describe successes as well as issues that have arisen after the days of climate action in 2007 and 2008.
Theme: Special Theme: Whose Climate? Negotiating the Governance of Environmental Change

 

10:40-10:50 Break

 

10:50-12:05 Parallel Sessions
C215 Technical ResponsesUtilization of Natural Gas Capacity in Response to US Clean Power Plan
Kelly Ann Stevens, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, Syracuse, USA
Overview: This study evaluates the factors that have influenced utilization of natural gas power plants in order to make policy recommendations for state-level compliance with the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social ResponsesImpacts of Sea Level Rise on Wastewater Infrastructure
Dr. Phillip Thompson, Center for Environmental Justice and Sustainability, Seattle University, Seattle, USA
Overview: This paper discusses mitigation strategies for protecting wastewater infrastructure in Seattle from sea level rise.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Applying the PMBOK Response Planning Standards to Sea-Level Rise in Florida: Risk Mitigation Solutions for Florida Infrastructure
Dr. Maryam Mirhadi Fard, Powell Center for Construction & Environment, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA
Hamed Hakim, Powell Center for Construction & Environment, University of Florida, USA
Prof. Charles J. Kibert, Powell Center for Construction & Environment, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA
Overview: This paper proposes a methodology for assessing both the risks to Florida infrastructure posed by sea level rise and proposed engineering and relocation mitigation strategies.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

C225 Infrastructures and SustainabilityImpact of Climate Change on Critical Infrastructure and Security
Dr. Linda Kiltz, School of Public Policy and Administration, Walden University, Silverdale, USA
Overview: This paper analyzes how climate change vulnerability will impact critical infrastructure in the U.S. and how it is linked to security.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on HumansClimate Change Effects on Growth and Development: A Case Study of the East African Region
Douglas Kazibwe, SAGE Africa – Sustainable Community Research Committee, Allied Network for Policy, Research and Actions for Sustainability, Lessebo, Sweden
Overview: What are the responses that are being taken at regional, national and local government levels to ensure sustainable development?
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

Biodiversity and Climate Change in Central Africa: Perceptions, Attitudes and Policies
Dr. Trevon Fuller, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA
Anthony Trochez, Department of Education, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA
Thomas P. Narins, Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA
Dr. Thomas Smith, Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA
Dr. Walter Allen, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA
Overview: This study develops a framework for conserving the biodiversity of the Central African rainforest under climate change that is informed by the socioeconomic constraints of the region.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

C400 Issues in the EnvironmentThe Carbon Capturing Mechanism Using Peat Treatment in Cameron Highland Malaysia
ShunYing Kwang, KC Kwang & Sons Ltd., Cameron Higland, Malaysia
EeFu Kwang, 33, Lorry Store Main Road Kampong Raja, 39010, KC Kwang & Sons Pte Ltd, Cameron Highland, Malaysia
Davis Tee, R&D & HSE, KC Kwang & Sons Pte Ltd, Cameron Highland, Malaysia
Dr. Ching Seong Tan, R&D, K. C Kwang & Sons Pte Ltd & Multimedia University, Cameron Highland, Malaysia
Overview: We aim to reduce CO2 emission and develop best management practices for highland agricultural activities in Cameron Highland Malaysia. We propose to infuse peat treatment into the current land use.
Theme: Assessing Impacts in Divergent EcosystemsHow Traveling Athletes Affect the Environment
Adekunle Dosumu, School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester, UK
Overview: Running is among the popular sports in the UK. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from travel of participants to running clubs, parks and the gym could have significant environmental impact.
Theme: Scientific Evidence

 

Modeling Greenhouse Gas Emission in Evacuation Traffic: The Case of Hurricane Rita Evacuation in 2005
Dr. Praveen Maghelal, Department of Public Administration, University of North Texas, Denton, USA
Dr. Xiangyu Li, Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, West Texas A&M University, Canyon, USA
Overview: This is one of first studies that estimates the CO2 emission resulting from mass evacuation during natural disasters.
Theme: Assessing Impacts in Divergent Ecosystems

C485 Social Responses to Climate ChangePsychological Barriers to Climate Change Mitigation in Canadians: The Importance of Powerlessness, Perceived Risk, Uncertainty, and the Commons Dilemma
Prof. Gary Pickering, Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Brock University, St Catharines, Canada
Overview: This study establishes the contribution of perceived powerlessness, perceived risk, uncertainty, and the commons dilemma in influencing inaction on climate change in Canadian adults.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social ResponsesA Web Platform for Capitalizing on High-resolution Projections in Applications on Regional Climate Change Adaptation Planning
Dr. Yingjiu Bai, Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Fujisawa, Japan
Prof. Ikuyo Kaneko, Graduate School of Media and Governance, Keio University, Fujisawa, Japan
Prof. Hiroaki Nishi, Graduate School of Science and Technology, Keio University, Yokohama, Japan
Dr. Hidetaka Sasaki, Atmospheric Environment and Applied Meteorology Research Department, Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan
Dr. Akihiko Murata, Atmospheric Environment and Applied Meteorology Research Department, Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan
Kazuo Kurihara, Atmospheric Environment and Applied Meteorology Research Department, Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan
Dr. Izuru Takayabu, Atmospheric Environment and Applied Meteorology Research Department, Meteorological Research Institute, Tsukuba, Japan
Overview: This methodology could be transferred to developing countries via the Internet.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Increased Temperature Affects Human Skin Cells Increasing Skin Cancer Risk: Increased Temperature Exacerbates UV Mediated Risk of Skin Cancer
Prof. Melanie Ziman, School of Medical Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
Leslie Calapre, School of Medical Science, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
Dr. Elin Gray, School of Medical Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
Dr. Pascal Descargues, Genoskin, Toulouse, France
Overview: Investigation of the effects of increased temperatures and UV exposure on skin cells in vitro and ex vivo show cellular and molecular changes associated with increased risk of skin cancer.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

Theatre WorkshopLocal Government and Transformation to Address Climate Change in British Columbia Communities
Meg Holden, Urban Studies Program and Geography Department, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Ann Dale, School of Environment and Sustainability, Royal Roads, Victoria, Canada
Dr. Stephen Sheppard, Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) Dept. of Forest Resources Management/School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. John Robinson, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Alastair Moore, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester/Royal Roads University, Vancouver, Canada
Eric Brown, Urban Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Mark Stevens, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Overview: We reflect on policy innovation and action at the local government level in BC communities. Hear case study research on BC community leaders of particular climate change policy and action.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

12:05-12:50 LUNCH

 

12:50-13:35 Parallel Sessions
C400 Featured WorkshopWhat Works in Fostering Behaviour Change on Global Warming? A Synthesis of Social Mobilization Research in British Columbia
Dr. Stephen Sheppard, Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) Dept. of Forest Resources Management/School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Deepti Mathew Iype, Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP) Department of Forest Resources Management, Faculty of Forestry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Overview: This synthesis will summarize and showcase success stories, lessons learned, and implications revealed by a cluster of Social Mobilization research projects supported by the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions.
Theme: Scientific Evidence
Theatre Lobby PostersThe Impacts of Climate Change on the Aquatic Ecosystem of Cuatro Cienegas Basin, Mexico
Dr. Marina Herrera-Pantoja, Department of Information Technology, Queretaro Water Commission, Queretaro, Mexico
Overview: A GIS model is used to map stress tolerance levels of Cuatro Cienegas wetlands plants to dryness and wetness conditions simulated for the B1 and A1B future emissions scenarios.
Theme: Assessing Impacts in Divergent EcosystemsPredicting Korean Pine Distribution under Climate Change
Ahn Yoonjung, Landscape Architecture and Rural System Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
Dong Kun Lee, Landscape Architecture and Rural System Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
Ho Gul Kim, Landscape Architecture and Rural System Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea
Jae Uk Kim, Environmental Information Research, Korea Environment Institute, Seoul, South Korea
Overview: This study analyzed the distribution of Korean pine (Pinus koraiensis) which is one of major and vulnerable species under climate change in South Korea.
Theme: Assessing Impacts in Divergent Ecosystems

 

Optimization of a Carbon Footprint Calculator: Regional Energy Use and Offset Considerations
Anna Kelly, School of Public Policy, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA
Patrick Kelly, Corvallis, USA
Julian Preciado, Corvallis, USA
Dr. Sally Duncan, Oregon State University Policy Analysis Laboratory, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA
Dr. Frederick Colwell, Department of Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, USA
Overview: We present an optimization of a detailed carbon calculator applied at the local level, and connected with local NGOs to establish feasible carbon offsets through energy efficiency and conservation efforts.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

The Number of Storms Modeled as a Poisson Random Variable to Northeast Coast of South America
Prof. Lazaro Nonato Vasconcellos de Andrade, Departamento de Ciências Exatas e da Terra (Department of Earth’s Science)., Universidade do Estado da Bahia – UNEB., Salvador, Brazil
Ronaldo Santos Guedes, Departamento de Ciências Exatas e da Terra (Earth’s Science Department), Universidade do estado da Bahia – UNEB., Salvador, Brazil
Overview: Return periods of continental northwest coast of South America storms were estimated from Poisson processes and extreme value techniques. The hypothesis that storm frequencies are increasing in time is tested.
Theme: Scientific Evidence

 

Lifecycle Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Mining and Milling of Uranium in Saskatchewan
David Parker, Civil & Geological Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
Overview: This study presents a detailed study of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions during the uranium mining-milling phase of the nuclear fuel cycle for three paired mine-mill operations in northern Saskatchewan.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Effects of Climate Change Considerations in Environmental Impact Assessment: The Case of British Columbia’s Natural Gas Sector
Lindsay Luke, Department of Geography, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
Dr. Bram Noble, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada
Overview: This research examines the effects of climate change considerations on the environmental impact assessment process with a focus on British Columbia’s natural gas industry.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Nursing Educators and Climate Change: An Attitudinal Study
Dr. Phyllis Eide, College of Nursing, Washington State University, Spokane, USA
Overview: Incorporating knowledge about climate change’s health impacts into nursing education curricula requires understanding about educators’ attitudes regarding the topic, which will drive decisions as to course content.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

The Soil Profile Temperature under Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems
Dr. Abdirashid Elmi, Environmental Technology Management Department, Kuwait University, Kuwait, Kuwait
Overview: This study attempts to answer the question of whether or not soil temperature changes can be used as a reliable indicator of global climate change under hot and desert ecosystems.
Theme: Assessing Impacts in Divergent Ecosystems

 

Emergence of No-analog Bioclimates in British Columbia: New Methods for Measuring Analog Goodness-of-fit in Bioclimate Envelope and Species Distribution Modeling
Colin Mahony, Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Overview: We propose a new method for detection of novel bioclimates in climate change projections. Preliminary results indicate emergence of substantially novel climates in coastal British Columbia.
Theme: Assessing Impacts in Divergent Ecosystems

 

Fracking Field Trips
Matthew Jenkins, Department of Art, Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver, USA
Overview: This study offers a collection of photographs of field trips to hydraulic fracturing sites in Colorado.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

Forest Development and Removal of Environmental Pollutants through Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions
Zahra Zakeralhosseini, Department of Environment, Tehran, Iran (Islamic Republic of)
Overview: This is a multi-purpose solution using Multi-Criteria Approach (MCA)to remove environmental pollutants caused by increasing greenhouse gases through NAMAs.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

Impacts of Climate and Sea-level Changes on the Mangroves from Brazilian Littoral
Prof. Marcelo Cancela Lisboa Cohen, Institute of Geoscience, Federal University of Pará, Belem, Brazil
Overview: Based on multi-proxy analyses of sediment cores from Brazilian littoral, I identified the impacts of climatic and sea-level changes on mangroves during the last centuries.
Theme: Assessing Impacts in Divergent Ecosystems

 

Stakeholder Involvement in Understanding the Economic Impacts of Climate Change and Storm Events on Maritime Infrastructure: Rhode Island Pilot Study
Eric Kretsch, Department of Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, USA
Dr. Austin Becker, Departments of Marine Affairs and Landscape Architecture, University of Rhode Island, USA
Overview: Often it is difficult to understand the impacts of climate change and storm events on the economy. This project attempts to clarify impacts using stakeholder involvement.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

Assessing the Impact of Irrigation on Global Warming
Tayler McPeak, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, USA
Vijendra Boken, Department of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, USA
Overview: Irrigation tends to increase the concentration of water vapor, one of the greenhouse gases. This study examines the relationship between irrigated acres, soil moisture, and the temperatures in Nebraska.
Theme: Assessing Impacts in Divergent Ecosystems

 

13:35-13:45 BREAK

 

13:45-15:00 Parallel Sessions
C215 Natural Resources and Change ScenariosAnalytical Study of Rate Volume Annual Liquid Water Content: Water in Clouds
Dr. Neamah Mohsen Lafta Al Fatla, Atmospheric Science Department, in Al-Mustansiriyah University, Science College, Al-Mustansiriyah University, Baghdad, Iraq
Dr. Layth M.M. Zangana, Department of Social Science, Garmyan University, Iraq
Dr. Basim Ibrahim Al-Temimi Wahab, Atmospheric Science, Al-Mustansiriyah University, Iraq
Overview: Iraq suffers from a severe declining we can call catastrophic in water resources, due to disagreement Share water with the neighboring countries Turkey, Syria and Iran.
Theme: Scientific EvidenceThe Link between Altered Soil Processes Due to Rising Atmospheric CO2 and Global Tree Decline
Barbara Czerniakowski, This research was conducted by the Bioscience Research Division, Department of Primary Industries, Victoria (Australia) where I was a principle researcher investigating causes of Australian native tree decline. At present, an Independent Scientist holding DPI’s research licence to present and to publish the results of this research., Melbourne, Australia
Overview: The proposed influence of rising CO2 on the Australian native tree decline and its potential link with other tree declines will be presented.
Theme: Scientific Evidence

 

The Irreversibility of Sea Level Rise
Kirsten Zickfeld, Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
Overview: Sea level will continue to rise even if greenhouse gas emissions will be halted completely. Can artificial removal of carbon dioxide form the atmosphere reverse and stabilize sea level rise?
Theme: Scientific Evidence

C225 Geopolitics and Adaptive MeasuresComparative Study on Municipal Emissions Trading Schemes in Asia: China, India, and Japan
Dr. Kenichi Imai, Research Department, Asian Growth Research Institute, Kitakyushu, Japan
Overview: This paper compares and analyses municipal emissions trading schemes of China, India, and Japan, and their expected impacts on the abatement targets, the abatement costs, and the abatement technologies.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social ResponsesHow Does Sovereignty of Arctic Russia Canada Reflect Realism Theory?
Miss Fazolatkhon Nasretdinova, American Graduate School in Paris, France, American Graduate School in Paris, France, Massy, France
Overview: In this paper I illustrates how a claim of sovereignty over the Arctic by Russia and Canada can reflect Realism theory?”
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Climate Protection and Adaption: Towards A Natureorientated, Climatefriendly Metropolitan Region 2050
Dr. Kristin Barbey, KIT, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Lecturer, Researcher City of Karlsruhe, agency of urban planning, Architect, Karlsruhe, Germany
Overview: This research project develops an integrative concept, which connects spatial strategies climate protection & adaptation and offers an overview about required transforming processes towards a Nature‐orientated, Climate‐friendly Metropolitan Region 2050.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

C400 Anthropogenic Factors in Climate ChangeThe Ground-Level Ozone-related Social Welfare Impact of Climate Change
Dr. Jin Huang, Environment and Resources, Abt Associates, Mountain View, USA
Dr. Anna Belova, Environment and Resources Division, Abt Associates Inc., Pittsburgh, USA
Dr. Jonathan Dorn, USA
Dr. Frank Divita, USA
Overview: We estimate the magnitude and composition of social welfare impacts associated with climate-change induced ground-level ozone changes, explicitly taking into account the intervention of existing U.S. air quality standards.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on HumansThe Impact of Urban Areas on Development of Urban Heat Island: The Case of Rawalpindi City in Pakistan
Khuram Shahzad, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan
Dr. Hussain Sajjad, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan
Sadaf Hussain, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan
Rabia Batool, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Sargodha, Sargodha, Pakistan
Overview: The study focuses on the development of urban heat islands due to the impact of urban areas. The study is mainly concern to the city of Rawalpindi in Pakistan.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

Municipal Solid Waste Management in Greater Jos, Nigeria
Gwom Peter, School of the Built Environment Heriot Watt University Edinburgh United Kingdom, Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
Prof. Colin Jones, School of the Built Environment, Heriot -Watt University, Edinburgh, UK
Prof. Adebayo Adeloye, School of the Built Environment, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK
Overview: Municipal solid waste management is an integral system. The current status of Greater Jos has been affected by unfavourable economic, institutional, legislative, technical and operational constraints.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

C485 Institutional Responses and StrategiesTeaching Climate Change in a Business School Curriculum: The Case of an Intermediate-level Financial Management Course
Dr. John B. Mitchell, Department of Finance and Law College of Business Administration, Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, USA
Overview: A simple method incorporating teaching of climate change in a business curriculum including assignment, grading rubric, and source material links. Project increases student awareness and conformity with climate change science.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social ResponsesSustainability Education Across the Curriculum: Higher Education Strategies
Dr. Srijana Bajracharya, Health Promotion & Physical Education, Ithaca College, Ithaca, USA
Overview: This proposal describes a process of designing and integrating a course on sustainability theme to satisfy a long term goal of combating overall climate change.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Scientists’ Views and Stands on Global Warming and Climate Change: A Content Analysis of Congressional Testimonies
Dr. Xinsheng Liu, Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy in the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA
Dr. Arnold Vedlitz, Institute for Science, Technology and Public Policy in the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University, College Station, USA
Dr. James W. Stoutenborough, Department of Political Science, Idaho State University, Pocatello, USA
Dr. Scott Robinson, Department of Political Science, University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA
Overview: Empirical research of climate scientists’ congressional hearing testimonies shows a clear message that there is a climate change problem, its cause is at least partially anthropogenic, and support for policies.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

Theatre Change AdaptationA Facilitative Tool for Finding Common Ground on Climate Policy in the Face of Uncertainty and Disagreement
April Danae Presler, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, USA
Overview: I discuss testing risk management approaches to discussing climate change and how this enables diverse groups to find common ground on climate policy.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social ResponsesHousehold Vulnerability to Climate Change Impacts in Eastern Cape, South Africa: Implications of Socio-economic Settings
Dr. Kenneth Nhundu, Risk & Vulnerability Science Centre, University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa
Overview: The communities in the rural South Africa are predominantly rural, resource-based and understanding their characteristics will ensure that targeted climate change interventions are localised and target the most vulnerable.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Farmer Perceptions of Climate Change and Responses in Danish Agriculture
Bryndis Woods, Environment and Natural Resources, University of Iceland and Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Helle Ørsted Nielsen, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Dr. Anders Branth Pedersen, Aarhus University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Daði Már Kristófersson, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland
Overview: This paper investigates perceptions of climate change and elicits the importance of such perceptions as a determinant of past crop choice and future willingness to adapt.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

15:00-15:10 BREAK

 

15:10-16:25 Parallel Sessions
C215 The Policies and Politics of Changing ClimatesStructural versus Cultural Influences on National Climate Change Policies
David Goetze, Political Science Department, Utah State University, Logan, USA
Chong Chen, Political Science Department, Utah State University, Logan, USA
Jenna Williams, Political Science Department, Utah State University, Logan, USA
Jessica Andreasen, Political Science Department, Utah State University, Logan, USA
Scott Winslow, Political Science Department, Utah State University, Logan, USA
Overview: In this study, the authors examine and compare cultural and structural influences on climate change policies in Brazil, China, Germany, and the United States.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social ResponsesMNCs’ Human Rights Responsibility under International Climate Change Governance
Tsung-Sheng Liao, Department of Law, National Chung Cheng University, Chiayi, Taiwan
Overview: MNCs’ responsibility for human rights infringement under climate change might be the cornerstone to bring MNCs into structures of climate change governance. Also, a new Protocol of MNCs is suggested.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Framing Community Climate Change Adaptation: Challenges and Implication for Physical Planning in Caribbean Small Island Developing States
Dellarue Howard, School of Planning, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada
Overview: This is a critique of the conceptual thinking and development of climate change adaptation related policies in the Caribbean and their impact on adaptation outcomes at the community level.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

C225 Mitigation and ReparationClimate Reparations and Scientific Uncertainty: The Role of Computational Models in International Climate Change Liability
Georges Alexandre Lenferna, Philosophy Department, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
Overview: This paper examines whether despite scientific uncertainty computational models of climate change can provide sufficient evidence in support of compensation claims by least developed countries harmed by climate change.
Theme: Special Theme: Whose Climate? Negotiating the Governance of Environmental ChangeSynergy between Population Policy, Climate Adaptation and Mitigation
Dr. Madeline Weld, Population Institute Canada, Ottawa, Canada
Dr. Jane N. O’Sullivan, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
Overview: Population growth multiplies the climate challenge. Enhanced support for voluntary family planning could reduce adaptation and mitigation burden by over 40% this century while improving development outcomes.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

Climate Change Governance in Megadiverse Countries: The Case of REDD+ in Latin America
Alicia Guzmán León, Tec de Monterrey, Mexico City, Mexico
Overview: REDD+ is currently implemented in 56 countries. Its effectiveness resides on its capacity to adapt to each context. What are the implications of REDD+ to governance locally, nationally, and globally?
Theme: Special Theme: Whose Climate? Negotiating the Governance of Environmental Change

C400 Impacts on HumansThe Regulatory Uphill Battle of Reducing Ground-Level Ozone in a Changing Climate
Dr. Christian Reuten, Air Quality, RWDI AIR Inc., Calgary, Canada
Dr. Bruce Ainslie, Environment Canada, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Douw G. Steyn, Department of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Dr. Peter L. Jackson, Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Institute, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, Canada
Dr. Ian McKendry, Department of Geography, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
Overview: Future temperature increases in urban centres might increase ground-level ozone concentrations and require additional regulatory reduction efforts.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on HumansEvidences of Climate Change and Residents’ Vulnerability in Lagos Mainland, Nigeria
Dr. Olajoke Abolade, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology,Ogbomoso Nigeria., Ogbomoso, Nigeria
Dr. Folasade Oyenike Adigun,
David Oyinlade Adejumobi, Department of Urban and Regional Planning Faculty of environmental Sciences, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Nigeria
Mohammed Hussani, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria, Igbaja, Nigeria
Overview: This paper examines evidences of climate change and residents vulnerability in Lagos Mainland, Nigeria.
Theme: Human Impacts and Impacts on Humans

 

The Distributional and Welfare Effects of the Emission Trading Scheme on Australian Households
Trang Tran, UNE Business School, University of New England, Armidale, Australia
Overview: Effects of emission trading between sectors in Australian economy on price of goods and services, them on distribution and welfare of households. Five simulations of revenue-recycling are examined.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

C485 Climate Change ResponsesA University’s Role in Responding to Climate Change
Nelson Cainghog, Padayon Public Service Office, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines
Dr. J. Prospero de Vera, Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines
Overview: Using data from documents, the University of the Philippines’ role in responding to climate change in the Philippines is examined using models of scholarship as discovery, integration, application and teaching.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social ResponsesThe Long Shadow of Disasters: Impacts of Framing Contests on National-Local Power Relations and Decentralized Disaster Governance
Dr. Kristoffer Berse, National College of Public Administration and Governance, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Dr. J. Prospero de Vera, Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs, University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines
Overview: The paper examines the impacts of national-local power relations and decentralized disaster governance policies on the role of the private sector, international institutions, and civil society in post-disaster policymaking.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

 

Environmental Health Risk Assessment as a Solution to Climate Change “Policymaking Failure”
Dr. Peter Carter, Environmental Health, Climate Emergency Institute, Pender Island, Canada
Overview: A solution to what we term “policymaking failure” is using the IPCC AR5 science in an environmental health risk assessment with recommendations, which is not done by the AR5.
Theme: Technical, Political and Social Responses

Theatre Late Additions 2 (Check board for additions)

 

16:25-16:30 BREAK
16:30-17:00 CONFERENCE CLOSING (Held in the Theatre
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What Do I Think of the World Bank Data? What Do You Think?

If you look at the World Bank database’s website, there is a section under Data called Indicators. Scrolling down that page gets us to the section on those that apply to climate change:

Climate Change

Access to electricity (% of population) Investment in energy with private participation (current US$)
Agricultural irrigated land (% of total agricultural land) Investment in telecoms with private participation (current US$)
Agricultural land (% of land area) Investment in transport with private participation (current US$)
Agriculture, value added (% of GDP) Investment in water and sanitation with private participation (current US$)
Annual freshwater withdrawals, total (billion cubic meters) Land area where elevation is below 5 meters (% of total land area)
Cereal yield (kg per hectare) Malnutrition prevalence, weight for age (% of children under 5)
CO2 emissions (kt) Methane emissions (kt of CO2 equivalent)
CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita) Mortality rate, under-5 (per 1,000 live births)
CPIA public sector management and institutions cluster average (1=low to 6=high) Nitrous oxide emissions (thousand metric tons of CO2 equivalent)
Ease of doing business index (1=most business-friendly regulations) Other greenhouse gas emissions, HFC, PFC and SF6 (thousand metric tons of CO2 equivalent)
Electric power consumption (kWh per capita) Population growth (annual %)
Energy use (kg of oil equivalent per capita) Population in urban agglomerations of more than 1 million (% of total population)
Energy use (kt of oil equivalent) Population living in areas where elevation is below 5 meters (% of total population)
Foreign direct investment, net inflows (BoP, current US$) Population, total
Forest area (% of land area) Poverty headcount ratio at $1.25 a day (PPP) (% of population)
Forest area (sq. km) Primary completion rate, total (% of relevant age group)
GDP (current US$) Ratio of girls to boys in primary and secondary education (%)
GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$) Roads, paved (% of total roads)
Improved sanitation facilities (% of population with access) Urban population
Improved water source, rural (% of rural population with access) Urban population (% of total)
Improved water source, urban (% of urban population with access)

At my last count this list included 41 indicators. I have often discussed the straightforward connections between a few of these and climate change, especially with regards to the IPAT identity (see almost all of my recent blogs, starting at the beginning of February). These have included carbon dioxide emissions, GDP, GNI, methane emissions, other greenhouse gases, population, and population growth. What about the rest? Why are they there?

Are there any indicators missing, such as loss of diversity, desertification, frequency of extreme events such as flooding, fires, draughts, etc..?

I’m issuing a challenge worthy of the approaching Earth Day (April 22nd) – either select one of the indicators from above that is not part of the IPAT identity and write a comment that justifies its inclusion or identify and try to justify an indicator that you think is missing from the list.

To make this challenge more interesting I have opened this blog up to my students and have asked them to contribute comments. I have also “promised” them that the connection of some of these indicators to anthropogenic climate change will be part of their upcoming final exam. They can use any comment material that they desire (but they will not have computers available to them during the exam, so they’ll have to read up on the comments beforehand). Please help them by writing out your own thought process.

Bonus in honor of Earth Day: as you may know, I have profiles on both Facebook and Twitter (I hope you’re already following/liking both). For the next two weeks, I’m calling for your messages, comments and pictures. Tweet to me or post on the CCF Facebook about what you’re doing for Earth Day, what the holiday means to you, and/or just your favorite places, plants or animals that make our planet special. I will be looking out for your contributions and will post and link to them here. I look forward to seeing what you send my way!

Next week I’ll also be posting a list of Earth Day Events, both here in NYC and across the country. Feel free to comment here or through social media if you have any suggestions for that list.

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Game Theory and Climate Change

I am a scientist and a professor; I teach physics and I publish original research – mostly in physics-related publications. My degrees are actually in chemistry but I have changed my focus over time. I use mathematics often, both in my teaching and in my research, so I am proficient in areas of math that relate to those endeavors, but I have never learned or used game theory. In this area I am as amateurish as most of you. That said, this blog is dedicated to game theory. Some, especially economists, advocate using game theory to analyze optimal strategies for mitigating climate change.

A few years ago, I made contact with a mathematician – an expert in game theory, to try to explore applications of game theory in a game-simulation that I am developing together with Prof. Lori Scarlatos from Stony-Brook University that I have mentioned in earlier blogs (July 31, 2012; February 18, 2013; July 2, 2013). I have treated all these efforts as interesting academic exercises with little prospect for immediate applications. That assessment started to change after reading Tracy Tullis’ seemingly unrelated New York Times article, “How Game Theory Helped Improve New York City’s High School Application Process”:

Tuesday was the deadline for eighth graders in New York City to submit applications to secure a spot at one of 426 public high schools. After months of school tours and tests, auditions and interviews, 75,000 students have entrusted their choices to a computer program that will arrange their school assignments for the coming year. The weeks of research and deliberation will be reduced to a fraction of a second of mathematical calculation: In just a couple of hours, all the sorting for the Class of 2019 will be finished.

To middle-school students and their parents, the high-school admissions process is a grueling and universally loathed rite of passage. But as awful as it can be, it used to be much worse. In the late 1990s, for instance, tens of thousands of children were shunted off to schools that had nothing going for them, it seemed, beyond empty desks. The process was so byzantine it appeared nothing short of a Nobel Prize-worthy algorithm could fix it.

Which is essentially what happened.

Before the redesign, the application process was a mess. Or, as an economist might say, it was an example of a congested market. Each student submitted a wish list of five schools. Some of them would be matched with one of their choices, and thousands — usually the higher-performing ones — would be matched with more than one school, giving them the luxury of choosing. Nearly half of the city’s eighth graders — many of them lower-performing students from poor families — got no match at all. That some received surplus offers while others got none illustrated the market’s fundamental inefficiency.

In 2003, New York City changed its method for matching eighth graders to high schools with a system, called a deferred acceptance algorithm, that was designed by a team of professors, including one who later won a Nobel prize in economic science. The key feature was mutuality: Students submit a list of preferred schools in order, and schools prepare an ordered list of students whom they want or who meet their standards. After rounds of computer matching, schools and students are paired so that students get their highest-ranked school that also wants them. Here, in simplified form, is how it works. In this example, each school can take three students, although it can list more, and each student can list up to three choices.

This effort describes a practical solution to a big, messy, issue in the city where I live. The school admissions process affects almost everybody here.

My thought process on the connection between deferred acceptance, game theory, and climate change relates directly to the following articles. I will explain later how I think this can help us reach a global agreement in Paris.

The first paper, “The collective-risk social dilemma and the prevention of simulated dangerous climate change,” emphasizes the difficult balance between the need for cooperation and the reluctance to participate in such a cooperative activity at one’s own expense:

Will a group of people reach a collective target through individual contributions when everyone suffers individually if the target is missed? This “collective-risk social dilemma” exists in various social scenarios, the globally most challenging one being the prevention of dangerous climate change. Reaching the collective target requires individual sacrifice, with benefits to all but no guarantee that others will also contribute. It even seems tempting to contribute less and save money to induce others to contribute more, hence the dilemma and the risk of failure.

Peter Wood wrote the second article, “Climate Change and Game Theory,” which is more of a review about the connection between the two areas:

Abstract: This survey paper examines the problem of achieving global cooperation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Contributions to this problem are reviewed from non-cooperative game theory, cooperative game theory, and implementation theory. Solutions to games where players have a continuous choice about how much to pollute, games where players make decisions about treaty participation, and games where players make decisions about treaty ratification, are examined. The implications of linking cooperation on climate change with cooperation on other issues, such as trade, is examined. Cooperative and non-cooperative approaches to coalition formation are investigated in order to examine the behavior of coalitions cooperating on climate change. One way to achieve cooperation is to design a game, known as a mechanism, whose equilibrium corresponds to an optimal outcome. This paper examines some mechanisms that are based on conditional commitments, and could lead to substantial cooperation.

The connection between game theory and the IPCC efforts in gathering an international support for a global agreement has also been covered in the more popular press. Here is one example from the Guardian:

German academics have used the mathematics behind the strategic behaviour of countries to propose a way though the myriad impasses

America will never sign up, but the EU will if China does, which is unlikely if Africa doesn’t. No nation wants to go it alone but Russia doesn’t want to do anything, and the poor want the rich to absorb all the costs but the rich will only agree to sign if the poor do more.

Yes, I’m talking about the great game of the UN global climate talks, which resume in a few weeks’ time in Panama – the last gathering before the big annual meeting, this year in Durban, South Africa, at the end of November.

Once the details have been worked out, the same deferred acceptance algorithm that was implemented in the NYC school admissions process could be instrumental in attempts to implement global environmental agreements. One of the key obstacles to reaching such an accord is the ever-infamous NIMBY issue. The previous operating agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, restricted its scope of emissions reductions to developed countries. At the time, the US was the leading emitter. While the Clinton administration signed the Protocol, it never submitted it for ratification by the US Senate. The main reason was the argument that since China and India were not compelled to commit to change, the US would not ratify its inclusion either.

I was visiting Australia a few years ago when carbon tax had just been implemented there and it was a very lively discussion topic. The main argument that I heard was that Australia is a small country (23 million people as of 2013), meaning that what it does or doesn’t do wouldn’t make much difference in the global context. The argument that if Australia, a rich country, does not go along with a certain plan, then large developing countries such as China and India with much higher growth rates, will follow suit, didn’t carry much weight. Shortly after, the opposition party won the election there and abolished the tax as soon as it was feasible.

Deferred acceptance might be a great solution here. In most cases, the representatives of the countries that formulate such treaties don’t have the power to authorize them directly. They do, however, have the full power to formulate a working algorithm for the process. If the whole world made an agreement but its finalization was conditional upon ratification by large emitters such as the US, US politicians would be held to a considerably higher degree of accountability than usual. The blame for failure of such a global agreement would be clear. America is a strong leader in global policy. If Australia were to vote down a similar measure, there might be fewer ramifications – the rest of the world would likely still follow the new rules.

Incorporation of a game theory technique such as deferred acceptance in the coming Paris agreement has a decent chance of preventing the instances of abstention that severely limited the Kyoto Protocol, and might increase the likelihood of success.

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2014 – Flat Carbon Emissions Rate With a 3% GDP Increase: One Year is Not a Trend Maker But Can be an Attractive Candidate for a Reference.

Dear Readers: We apologize for the delay in this week’s post. We were experiencing technical difficulties with the website, but are now back up and running thanks to Brooklyn College’s excellent support staff.

Recently, a number of publications came out with great news: in the last year, global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions remained steady, even as global economic activity grew at a rate of 3%. The numbers come from a recent IEA (International Energy Agency) report:

Global energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide stalled in 2014

IEA data point to emissions decoupling from economic growth for the first time in 40 years

13 March 2015

Data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicate that global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn.

“This gives me even more hope that humankind will be able to work together to combat climate change, the most important threat facing us today,” said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, recently named to take over from Maria van der Hoeven as the next IEA Executive Director.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide stood at 32.3 billion tonnes in 2014, unchanged from the preceding year. The preliminary IEA data suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.

The IEA attributes the halt in emissions growth to changing patterns of energy consumption in China and OECD countries. In China, 2014 saw greater generation of electricity from renewable sources, such as hydropower, solar and wind, and less burning of coal. In OECD economies, recent efforts to promote more sustainable growth – including greater energy efficiency and more renewable energy – are producing the desired effect of decoupling economic growth from greenhouse gas emissions.

“This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one,” added Birol. “It provides much-needed momentum to negotiators preparing to forge a global climate deal in Paris in December: for the first time, greenhouse gas emissions are decoupling from economic growth.”

In the 40 years in which the IEA has been collecting data on carbon dioxide emissions, there have only been three times in which emissions have stood still or fallen compared to the previous year, and all were associated with global economic weakness: the early 1980’s; 1992 and 2009. In 2014, however, the global economy expanded by 3%.

More details on the data and analysis will be included in an IEA special report on energy and climate that will be released on 15 June in London. The report will provide decision-makers with analysis of national climate pledges in the context of the recent downturn in fossil fuel prices, suggest pragmatic policy measures to advance climate goals without blunting economic growth, and assess adaptation needs, including in the power sectors of China and India.

“The latest data on emissions are indeed encouraging, but this is no time for complacency – and certainly not the time to use this positive news as an excuse to stall further action,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.

To put the achievement into context, let’s go back to the IPAT identity that I originally introduced in November 2012, which I have also referred to recently with regards to the energy policy in India (Feb. 24, 2015 blog):

There is a useful identity that correlates the environmental impacts (greenhouse gases, in Governor’s Romney statement) with the other indicators. The equation is known as the IPAT equation (or I=PAT), which stands for Impact Population Affluence Technology. The equation was proposed independently by two research teams; one consists of Paul R. Ehrlich and John Holdren (now President Obama’s Science Adviser), while the other is led by Barry Commoner (P.R. Ehrlich and J.P. Holdren; Bulletin of Atmospheric Science 28:16 (1972). B. Commoner; Bulletin of Atmospheric Science 28:42 (1972).)

The identity takes the following form:

Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology

Indeed, as the IEA mentioned, this is the first time in 40 years that a halt or reduction in emission of greenhouse gases was not tied to an economic downturn (the affluence term in the identity).

However, almost immediately after the IEA announcement, many voices pointed out that “one year is not a trend setter.” In this case, the skeptics are absolutely right. That said, it is great that this one example came out before the scheduled United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) convenes to (finally) draft a global agreement on mitigation. This marks a great global reference point; the “only” thing that we have to do is to continue the trend and draft it into an agreement. Since this phenomenon has already happened, it can no longer be said to be impossible, a fact that the new head of the IEA highlights in the announcement. To make it a trend we need an agreement that all countries will be committed to following; not just an accidental development.

Table 1 below summarizes the efforts of the 10 largest CO2 emitters, based on the latest findings of the 2014 Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), compiled annually by the German organization Germanwatch. These 10 countries are responsible for 2/3 of all global emissions. The table shows their global share of the four factors that appear in the IPAT identity, with the resulting global share of the emission.

Key Data For the 10 Largest CO2 Emitters 2013-14
Table 1 –
Key Data for the 10 largest CO2 emitters.

The CCPI ranking in the table above shows the 2013 and 2014 Climate Change Performance Indexes that Germanwatch compiled for these countries.

The report then uses Poland (not one of the 10 largest contributors, but still among the worst in the EU) to illustrate the criteria for the ranking. These numbers reflect the CCPI’s new methodology (restructured after 7 years of operation), which includes weighting of the individual indicators with a much stronger focus on renewable energy and efficiency as the most prominent mitigation strategies.

Indicators Weighting Score Rank
Primary Energy Supply per Capita 7.5% 75.84 25
CO2 Emissions per Capita 7.5% 67.74 38
Target-Performance comparison 10% 63.55 35
Emission from Deforestation per Capita 5% 72.91 17
Development of Emissions
CO2 Emissions from Electricity and Heat Production 10% 69.84 29
CO2 Emissions from Manufacturing and Industry 8% 70.59 29
CO2 Emissions from Road Traffic 4% 12.62 58
CO2 Emissions from Residential use and Buildings 4% 22.48 56
CO2 Emissions from Aviation 4% 26.46 55
Renewable Energy
Share in Renewable Energy in Total Primary Energy Supply 2% 14.27 32
Development of Energy Supply from Renewable Energy Sources 8% 51.92 16
Efficiency
Efficiency Level 5% 47.24 52
Efficiency Trends 5% 86.16 9
Policy
International Climate Policy 10% 15.31 51
National Climate Policy 10% 41.87 33

Table 2 - Criteria and results for the Climate Change Performance Index for Poland

As these tables show us, the 10 largest emitters are not doing very well in terms of improvement. Only Germany and India, both of which we have examined here in previous series of blogs, rank as moderate with regards to progress. The rest are marked poor and very poor. In order to be able to convert the global 2014 flat emission rates from an incidental event to a trend, the 2015 Paris meeting will have to result in commitments dedicated to significant improvements in all of these countries. Let’s hope that can happen.

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India – Energy Policy and Climate Change

Last week I summarized India’s current energy policy in terms of three objectives: access, security and climate change. While I looked into the challenges and apparent contradictions in the first two objectives, I left the discussion of its policy on climate change for today’s post. My information source for all three objectives was the IEA report. Here is what they wrote about climate change:

Climate change

There is well-accepted recognition of the impacts of climate change among Indian policy makers and the general public, although priority is given to economic and social development. India is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), but is not obliged to contain its carbon emissions as an Annex II country. Regarding international attempts to establish an internationally-binding regime to curb carbon emissions, India finds it unacceptable, stating that most emissions were produced by developed countries and that India needs economic development and industrialisation. India’s per-capita emissions are only one-third of the world average and 14% of per-capita emissions of OECD member countries. India took a leading role in the G77 during the COP 15 in 2009, denouncing any attempt by industrialised countries to impose carbon reduction targets on developing countries.

That said, India is increasingly engaged in reducing carbon emissions and alleviating environmental degradation. India announced its National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008, and during COP15 in Copenhagen in 2009, India’s environment minister reconfirmed India’s goal to reduce carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 20% to 25% below 2005 levels by 2020. Frequent flooding and droughts, deforestation and desertification as well as possible glacial melting in the Himalayas have focused on climate change and provide strong impetus towards India’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

National Action Plan on Climate Change

The National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) was prepared under the guidance and direction of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change and released in 2008 to achieve “a sustainable development path that simultaneously advances economic and environmental objectives”(PIB, 2008a). The NAPCC formed through India’s realisation of the necessity of comprehensive and urgent initiatives to address climate change and environmental issues at the national level. It also reflected India’s intention to behave as a responsible member of the international community, as well as its rejection to be burdened with emission reductions on par with developed countries.

The NAPCC argues that its success would be enhanced if “developed countries affirm their responsibility for accumulated greenhouse gas emissions and fulfil their commitments under the UNFCCC, to transfer new and additional financial resources and climate friendly technologies to support both adaptation and mitigation in developing countries” (PC, 2008).

One concept presented in the NAPCC is based on per-capita carbon emission, stating that each person in the world has “an equal entitlement” to the global atmosphere and committing that India’s per-capita emission will not exceed the level of developed countries at any point (PC,2008). The idea of equality and one of India’s key energy policy objectives – energy access – were reiterated in the NAPCC that called for protection of the poor and vulnerable parts of society through an inclusive and sustainable development strategy.

The NAPCC has eight Missions to achieve these principles, two of which are directly energy related: the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission (JNNSM) and the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE). The JNNSM, implemented by the MNRE, is a supply-side effort aiming to significantly increase the share of solar energy in the total energy mix. The NMEEE, implemented by the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, is based on demand-side management. It expects that a series of programmes and schemes would result in a saving of 10 gigawatt (GW) by the end of 11th Plan in 2012. The NMEEE initiatives to enhance energy efficiency include a market-based mechanism, energy efficient appliances and financial mechanism to support demand-side management programmes. Other Missions also have indirect implications on energy sector. For instance, the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat aims to improve energy efficiency in the building sector.

India’s newly elected Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, was sworn in on May 26, 2014. President Obama made a brief visit to India at the end of January this year, shortly after his newsworthy visit to China. At that time, he established an agreement with China about concrete steps that both countries must take to try to meet mitigation targets in preparation for the December 2015 Paris meeting. By many accounts, if a similar commitment had been announced as a result of the meetings in India, the prospects for a successful Paris meeting would have been considerably enhanced.

Here is the relevant fact sheet that was announced by the White House following that meeting:

Fact Sheet: U.S. and India Climate and Clean Energy Cooperation

To further support the achievement of our ambitious climate and clean energy goals, the United States and India have pledged to enhance our cooperation in this area.  The United States welcomes India’s intention to increase the share of renewable energy in electricity generation consistent with its intended goal to increase India’s solar capacity to 100 GW by 2022, and intends to support India’s goal by enhancing cooperation in clean energy and climate change.  Our two countries already have a robust program of cooperation, including the highly successful U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy (PACE) umbrella program, and we will expand policy dialogues and technical work on clean energy and low greenhouse gas emissions technologies.

The United States and India agreed on:

  • Enhancing Bilateral Climate Change Cooperation: President Obama and Prime Minister Modi, stressing the importance of working together and with other countries on climate change, plan to cooperate closely this year to achieve a successful and ambitious agreement in Paris.
  • Cooperating on Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs): Building on their prior understandings from September 2014 concerning the phasedown of HFCs, the leaders agreed to cooperate on making concrete progress in the Montreal Protocol this year.
  • Expanding Partnership to Advance Clean Energy Research (PACE-R): Both sides renewed their commitment to the U.S.-India Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center (PACE-R), a $125 million program jointly funded by the U.S. and Indian governments and private sector.  The renewal includes extending funding for three existing research tracks of solar energy, building energy efficiency, and advanced biofuels for five years and launching a new track on smart grid and grid storage technology.
  • Accelerating Clean Energy Finance: Prime Minister Modi emphasized India’s ongoing efforts to create a market environment that will promote trade and investment in this sector. USAID will install a field investment officer in India this summer, backed by a transactions team to help mobilize private capital for the clean energy sector.  In February, The United States will host the Clean Energy Finance Forum and government-to-government Clean Energy Finance Task Force to help overcome strategic barriers to accelerating institutional and private financing.  The Department of Commerce will launch a trade mission on clean energy.  The Export-Import Bank is exploring potential projects for its MOU with the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency for up to $1 billion in clean energy financing.  OPIC plans to build on its existing portfolio of $227 million in renewable energy and continue to identify potential projects to support utility-scale growth and off-grid energy access.
  • Launching Air Quality Cooperation: The United States will implement EPA’s AIRNow-International program and megacities partnerships, focused on disseminating information to help urban residents reduce their exposure to harmful levels of air pollution, and enable urban policy planners to implement corrective strategies for improving ambient air quality in cities, allowing for estimates of health and climate change co-benefits of these strategies.
  • Starting Technical Cooperation on Heavy-Duty Vehicles and Transportation Fuels: Both countries will discuss how to reduce the environmental and emissions impact of heavy-duty vehicles and transportation fuels by working to adopt cleaner fuels, emissions, and efficiency standards in India.
  • Initiating Climate Resilience Tool Development: Jointly undertaking a partnership on climate resilience that will work to downscale international climate models for the Indian sub-continent to much higher resolution than currently available, assess climate risks at the sub-national level,  work with local technical institutes on capacity building, and engage local decision-makers in the process of addressing climate information needs and informing planning and climate resilient sustainable development, including for India’s State Action Plans.
  • Promoting Super-Efficient Off-Grid Appliances: Strengthening our joint commitment to promote super-efficient off-grid appliances that can dramatically extend the range of energy services available to those lacking electricity, the United States and India intend to support the deployment of these resources to help meet India’s energy access goals.
  • Transforming the Market for Efficient and Climate-Friendly Cooling: The United States will develop an Advanced Cooling Challenge to catalyze the development of super-efficient, climate-friendly, and cost-effective cooling solutions optimized to perform in India’s climates.
  • Demonstrating Clean Energy Initiatives on the Ground: The United States will work with India on additional pilot programs and other collaborative projects, including developing an innovative renewable energy storage project and hosting a smart grid workshop.

The two countries concluded negotiations on a five-year MOU on Energy Security, Clean Energy and Climate Change to carry this work forward, to be signed as early as possible at a mutually-agreed upon date.

Shortly after the Modi–Obama meeting, a summary of the extent and practicality of India’s commitments appeared in a piece by Rakteem Katakey and Chisaki Watanabe, two Bloomberg contributors from New Delhi:

New Delhi – India’s audacious plan to create solar industry on the scale of China’s almost from scratch gained credibility with President Barack Obama’s pledge to lend U.S financial support for the program.

Without giving any detail or making any specific grant, Obama said the U.S will “stand ready to speed this advancement with additional financing.” The remark was made at a press conference on Sunday in New Delhi as Prime Minister Narenda Modi reiterated his aim for India to install by 2022 as much photovoltaic capacity as the U.S has now.

India’s ambition would require $160 billion, according to Arunabha Ghosh, chief executive officer at the New Delhi-based Council on Energy, Environment & water. It would spread solar panels across an area the equivalent of three times the size of India’s most populous city, Mumbai, and require the government to cut back on thickets of regulation holding up projects.

China vs India

China has 33.4 gigawatts of solar capacity installed now and custody of most of the top 10 panel makers worlwide. India has 3.3 gigawatts of capacity and no major PV manufacterers, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Though India may struggle to reach its solar goal, the government’s backing increases the prospect of success and, in any event, the target makes the country an attractive market, said Xie Jian, president of Chinese solar panel supplier JA Solar Holding Co.

JA Holding sees India as a key market, Xie said. His view is echoed by Shawn Qu, chief executive officer of Guelph, Ontario-based Canadian Solar Inc., who said in November during an interview in Wuxi, China, that he expects India to become one of the fastest-growing solar markets in the world.

Money remains an issue. For now, India is attracting a fraction of the funds heading to China, the U.S and Japan, which were the largest solar markets last year.

In spite of the challenges, my personal feeling is that if China goes along with the global commitment that they made during President Obama’s visit, India will not be an obstacle to a successful commitment for global mitigation of climate change during the upcoming Paris meeting in December. We will be closely following developments in India – especially with regards to their response to the recent major reduction in the price of fossil fuels.

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