Friday, October 9th, 2009
Renewable energy and energy efficiency are key to solving crises in the economy, climate and security, said Al Gore on Friday (videos below).
The former vice president lauded fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Barack Obama for efforts including an economic stimulus package with a significant renewable energy component.
“One way or another the reductions in emissions are about to accelerate,” said Gore at the conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists in Madison, Wis. “What is important, directly or indirectly, is that we put a price on carbon.”
He expressed hope that the U.S. Senate will pass a bill similar to that of the House, even in advance of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. “There is much more bipartisan dialogue behind the scenes than is publicly visible,” he added.
Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
Did you know that America’s largest installed solar power plant is located on Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada? The 14-megawatt solar array (shown at left) went live in late 2007 and remains the largest solar power plant in the United States.
While First Solar’s recent announcement of two 250-megawatt solar power plants in California dwarfs the military’s solar array, the fact remains that for a considerable amount of time the military will have operated the largest solar array in the United States. Why would the military take this step? The answer is energy security.
Wednesday, October 7th, 2009
The world stands to gain 6.9 million jobs by 2030 in the clean energy sector if a strong deal is reached in Copenhagen, according to a report released recently by Greenpeace International and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).
A switch from coal to renewable electricity generation will not just avoid 10 billion tons of CO2 emissions, but will create 2.7 million more jobs by 2030 than if we continue business as usual. Conversely, the global coal industry — which currently supports about 4.7 million employees worldwide — is likely to contract by more than 1.4 million jobs by 2030, due to rationalization measures in existing coal mines.
Friday, October 2nd, 2009
Biofuels offer a unique opportunity for the developing world. Almost 80 percent of the remaining land that has cultivation potential resides in South America and Africa, according to research supported by the United Nations.
However, without a standard method for determining the impact of biofuels on the environment, international bodies like the U.N. will tread carefully when discussing the role of bioenergy in mitigating the effects of climate change, despite the potential economic benefits for the developing world.
The future of bioenergy from algae and bioengineered feedstocks is an exciting and promising opportunity for life science to take a larger role in sustaining our energy needs.
Thursday, October 1st, 2009
A couple of years after former Sierra Club President Adam Werbach founded ActNow, a sustainable business consultancy, he signed up Walmart as a client. This brought Werbach considerable notoriety in eco-activist circles. Walmart’s record of environmental responsibility had previously been spotty, to put it mildly. Werbach retorted to his critics that Walmart, with almost two million employees and 127 million customer visits per week, had the potential to do far more to save the world than the Sierra Club ever had.
I had the opportunity to visit Werbach’s company (now named Saatchi S) in San Francisco and attend a staff meeting. The participants sat on the floor and passed around a plate of organic banana bread. Yet despite the trappings of informality, the conversation had a focus, drive and ingenuity about it that I had rarely experienced in the non-profit world. The Saatchi staff certainly looked like the young, idealistic types whom I knew from environmental NGOs. But dropping a profit incentive into the motivational mix seemed to release a different level of creative zing.
Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
Two U.S. senators will release on Wednesday a draft climate bill that calls for slightly higher greenhouse gas cuts by 2020 than an earlier version approved by the House of Representatives, but that also includes provisions designed to ease the financial burden of cap-and-trade legislation on business and industry.
The bill unveiled by Senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Kerry (D-Mass.) calls for a 20 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions below 2005 levels by 2020, as opposed to a 17 percent cut in the House version.
Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
Rapid population growth in the developing world does not significantly contribute to rising greenhouse gas emissions and focusing on the population explosion in poor countries diverts attention from the far more serious issue of over-consumption in rich countries, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by the International Institute for Environment and Development, analyzed population growth and CO2 emissions from 1980 to 2005 and concluded that rising populations in sub-Saharan Africa and other poor regions have had a negligible impact on global warming.
Sunday, September 27th, 2009
The United States has entered a new energy era, ending a century of rising carbon emissions. As the U.S. delegation prepares for the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December, it does so from a surprisingly strong position, one based on a dramatic 9 percent drop in U.S. carbon emissions over the past two years and the promise of further huge reductions.
Prominent among these carbon-cutting initiatives are stronger automobile fuel-economy standards, appliance efficiency standards, and the potential to heat, cool and light buildings with carbon-free sources of electricity.
On the supply side are efforts supporting the development of U.S. wind, solar and geothermal energy resources.
Thursday, September 24th, 2009
Several interesting CleanTechies articles on LEED have covered the topic from different angles — this one will add a new perspective by giving a commercial example (and make a strong case for going green).
What is LEED?
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The certification is given based on an exam facilitated by the Green Building Certification Institute on behalf of the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Multiple structures and projects are eligible for LEED certification and each is judged based on a set of criteria. LEED ratings are available for New Construction, Existing Buildings, Commercial Interiors, Core and Shell (total building minus interior), Homes, Neighborhood Development, Schools and Retail. Points are given in six categories including: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation & Design Process. Based on the score a structure receives, it will receive a label which allows an easy understanding for just how many of the LEED features the project incorporates.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
Warning that the global climate threat could produce “an irreversible catastrophe,” President Obama told world leaders gathered at the United Nations that developed nations should take the lead in finding solutions, but that emerging countries must also be ready to act.
And while conceding that the economic recession has added to the challenge, he vowed that the U.S. “will meet our responsibility to future generations.”
Obama urged leaders to find a compromise as the world approaches global climate talks in Copenhagen in December.