Paul Burman

Paul Burman

Thursday, 14 January 2010 18:44

Funds for Forest Conservation

Carbon financing has saved over 2 million hectares of forest and channeled hundreds of millions of dollars towards forest projects over the last twenty years. This has helped to preserve tens of millions of trees, improve animal habitats, and sequestered millions of tons of CO2. Ecosystem Marketplace released a new report today entitled, State of the Forest Carbon Markets 2009: Taking Root & Branching Out, that details the history of the forest carbon markets and the great progress that was made in 2009. The report outlines trends in the market, and notes recent upswings in activity. Carbonfund.org has a long history of supporting forest-based carbon offset projects. Currently, Carbonfund.org supports projects in Louisiana, Nicaragua, Brazil, and China that are reducing carbon and improving local environments. Deforestation and forest degradation account for around 20% of global warming causing greenhouse gas emissions -- more than the global transportation sector. Forest-based carbon reduction projects actually sequester emissions (or take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere) and have been an effective way to help balance out these emissions. The projects Carbonfund.org supports also help protect or restore habitats, preserve biodiversity and have other benefits for the environment and local communities.
There’s a difference between fresh and frozen, organic and conventional, and foods prepared with less fat than quick-frying. That’s Elevation Burger’s philosophy. Elevating the burger and even the fries it comes with, the company has restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic states, Florida and Texas, and will soon open in New York, Nevada and California. Though it can be challenging to source and prepare quality ingredients, Elevation Burger uses 100% USDA-certified organic, grass-fed, free-range beef. The restaurants also cook with olive oil to reduce saturated fat and avoid trans fats. Reducing the carbon footprint of the foods we eat is important because what we buy and consume can comprise a third or more of our total carbon footprint. Reducing the use of hormones in animals, chemical fertilizers and processed foods helps reduce that footprint. Elevation Burger has been praised for reducing its impact on the environment. The company is also working with Carbonfund.org to reduce its impact further by offsetting its headquarters’ energy use in support of third-party validated renewable energy projects. If you’re vegetarian or just love fries, check out Elevation Burger’s fresh fries cooked in 100% olive oil. Visit www.elevationburger.com to view their menu and learn more about the company’s philosophy. You can also learn more about reducing your carbon footprint here.
Thursday, 04 June 2009 12:11

New Forest Carbon Offsetting Survey

The IPCC estimates that deforestation and forest degradation are responsible for 20% of global warming pollution; meaning any comprehensive solution to global warming must incorporate a way to reduce our emissions and keep trees in the ground. Emissions trading schemes like RGGI and CCAR already incorporate provisions that allow for forest based carbon offsets, and in the voluntary carbon market foresty related carbon offsets have been popular for years for a variety of reason. But what does the future hold for trees in the world of carbon offsets? A new survey seeks to shed light on exactly that question. A survey released by EcoSecurities, Conservation International (CI), ClimateBiz and the Climate, Community and Biodiversity Alliance (CCBA) entitled The forest carbon offseting survey 2009 overviews the entire background of forest carbon offsets and provides great insights on what the future might hold. The highlights and insights from the survey include:
  • Avoided deforestation (91%) and reforestation with native tree species (89%) were rated the most desirable forestry projects in regards to carbon results;
  • South America (78%), Africa (71%) and South East Asia (69%) are the three most desirable regions to purchase forest carbon credits;
  • The Clean Development Mechanism (64%) and the Voluntary Carbon Standard (60%) were rated as the most desirable standards when purchasing forest carbon offsets;
  • Participants highlighted the most important factor when purchasing forest offsets are carbon standards (91%), closely followed by experience and credibility (87%);
  • In comparison to Europe (19%), companies in North America (50%) are much more willing to pay up front for carbon credits that will be generated more than five years from now;
  • Benefits to local communities (89%) and the global scale of the problem (77%) have been the key motivational factors for adopting offsets from forest carbon projects.
This survey reinforces some of the anecedotal evidence that Carbonfund.org has been compiling from its donors for years. The forest based projects that our donors choose to support have strong community co-benefits, are validated to the highest third party standards (some are validated to two!), and produce real and additional reductions in global warming pollution. By recognizing deforestation's role in global warming and understanding the preferences of the people supporting these projects, we can work to develop more projects that meet environmental goals and appeal to donors. Fighting global warming will require a lot of wind turbines and solar pannels, but it will also require us getting dirty, planting trees, and helping communities in the process.
Friday, 24 July 2009 13:47

Fighting Global Warming and Poverty

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the midst of a five-day visit to India has not been received warmly by her hosts as she broaches the subject of carbon emissions reductions. Clinton is urging India to reduce its emissions in accord with proposed action of the rest of the world to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of global warming-causing carbon dioxide emissions. Ms. Clinton asserts “no inherent contradiction between poverty eradication and moving towards a low-carbon economy,” a claim that some officials disagree on. “There is simply no case for the pressure that we, who have been among the lowest emissions per capita, face to actually reduce emissions,” Jairam Ramesh, India’s environment minister told Ms. Clinton. Here you have the paradox - how can we fight global warming without India's participation?  How can we get India to participate when they have more pressing issues at hand?  Is there an inherent contradiction between economic and social development and clean energy? There is no clear answer to these questions, hence the paradox. But there are real steps that we can take today the fight global warming and support local communities. Live Climate is an organization that fights poverty through the use of carbon financing. Their projects not only reduce emissions, but also bring electricity to remote communities or provide work to otherwise under-employed people. Also, there are clear areas of convergence where fighting global warming will certainly help improve the quality of life of the poor. Many type of renewable energy, for example, are highly probable and can be implemented in remote locations that wouldn't otherwise have power. And a fundamental principle of fighting global warming - improved energy efficiency - should help allow everyone to do more with less.
Monday, 07 December 2009 12:24

EPA to Declare Carbon Emissions Dangerous

According to the Washington Post, the EPA is ready to declare carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases a danger to public health and welfare. This move lays the foundation for government regulation of global warming causing emissions, with or without Congress approving a comprehensive global warming bill. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson is expected to make the announcement today at 1:15pm EST. This announcement will come as the global climate change meeting is getting ready to commence in Copenhagen, Denmark. The United States has taken a number of positive steps recently to demonstrate to both domestic and international observers that America is ready to act on global warming. President Obama recently announced that the US will reduce emissions 17% by 2020. With this new EPA announcement, the Administration appears willing to back that statement up. Though the EPA will have the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, how they would actually administer a program is unclear. The current proposals in Congress use a cap-and-trade framework for reducing emissions. The EPA may choose to use the cap-and-trade model, a carbon tax, or other methods to regulate emissions. Giving the EPA this type of discretion over program creation is troublesome to certain constituencies, thus providing added impetus to pass a comprehensive global warming bill through Congress rather than regulation by EPA. The US needs to take action to reduce our country's emissions and the country appears to be well positioned to do so in the near future. With the EPA announcement today, our nation will be one step closer to a clean energy future. Hopefully that helps us in Copenhagen.
Friday, 02 April 2010 13:01

EPA Improves Fuel Economy Standards

The Obama administration and the EPA have officially moved to improve vehicle fuel economy standards, which would save drivers money on gas and reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the lifetime of a vehicle. The improvement will require automakers to provide new vehicles with a fleetwide average of 35.5 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2016, up from 27.3 MPG in 2011 - about a 30% gain in fuel efficiency. While critics of the move quickly point out that the improvements in technology would add to the prices of vehicles, the savings in fuel will more than offset the initial cost of the vehicle. The New York Times reports that owners of a new car that meets the higher fuel efficiency standard in 2016 will save about $3,000 in fuel over the life of their car - all while polluting less. In aggregate, the new vehicles sold are expected to help save roughly a billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
Thursday, 31 December 2009 09:22

Energy from Food: New Research and Potential

Food helps define societies and brings people together. As we enter the second decade of the new millennium, this will becoming increasingly true as population increases and new energy demands put added emphasis on global food supplies. ethanol1Food can be used to generate electricity. Many Americans know that corn is a vital ingredient to many current ethanol blends, but did you know that many different foods can be used to generate ethanol? Scientists are exploring the energy capacity of potatoes, yams, and onions (among other foods). The goal of all this scientific tinkering is to find a biofuel that can provide more energy per unit of input than corn cost effectively. There is also the increasing use of food byproducts or waste for energy. Carbonfund.org, for example, supports the Chino Basin Dairy Farm Biodigester in California to reduce methane emissions, which are more potent than CO2 emissions, and lessen the impact of global climate change. Combating climate change will require innovative solutions such as this. You can learn more about waste-to-energy and methane reduction projects here.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 16:35

Emissions Up 29 Percent Since 2000

A new study published in the journal Nature Geoscience states that global CO2 emissions have risen 29% since 2000 and 41% since 1990. Moreover, in spite of the global economic downturn, emissions still rose 2% globally in 2008, the most recent year of record. The increase in emissions is attributable to many factors, but most notably the increased emissions of developing nations. The graph indicates that whereas developed nations emissions have basically plateaued over the last 19 years, developing nations emissions have risen dramatically. Emissions from countries like China and India have more than doubled since 1990. To contextualize some of the growth of developing nations emissions, a quarter of developing nations emissions can be attributed to increased international trade. Whereas most of this new study reinforces suspicions that we all already had (namely, we haven't done a darn thing to reduce emissions, so naturally they would rise), it also sheds light on a newly observed trend of the global carbon cycle. Terrestrial and oceanic carbon sinks are disappearing. 45 percent of the global carbon stocks are currently in our atmosphere - up from about 40 percent 50 years ago. This is probably the result of two factors:
  • We are emitting more carbon, outpacing the land and ocean's natural ability to absorb CO2
  • We are destroying natural carbon sinks like trees, meaning that there are fewer places for atmospheric CO2 to go
This increased carbon load our atmosphere now bears is highly disturbing and indicative of the fact that we need to not only reduce emissions but preserve natural carbon sinks in order to avoid the most extreme effects of global warming. Take control of your climate. Offset your emissions today.
Thursday, 19 November 2009 14:52

How Far Will the Electric Car Go?

The US auto market should have two electric cars to choose from in the near future - the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. These vehicles could start the revolution towards zero direct emission cars that are more efficient and less harmful to the environment. But questions are starting to mount over how far these cars can really take you. NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. LEAF ELECTRIC CARAccording to an article in the Washington Post, the Leaf has an all-electric engine that can take you 100 miles on one charge, and the Volt has a gas-electric engine that will take you 40 miles on a charge and then run off its gas engine. Even though many people drive significantly less than 100 miles per day (particularly in urban settings), the fear of having an empty battery with no where close to charge it can strike concern for some. To preemptively combat this fear, a coalition of forces is calling on the government to spend billions of dollars to help build the infrastructure to give drivers the ability to fuel their batteries on-the-go. Though most people will be able to get all the charge they need at home when the car is parked, an on-the-go infrastructure would certainly help. What do you think? Would you buy an electric vehicle even without a vast fueling station infrastructure? Image of the Nissan Leaf; also read this blog posting about the Volt when it was announced.
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 17:41

Economists Agree: Fight Global Warming

A survey of some of the nation's top economists has revealed that nearly all of them favor taking action to fight global warming. Specifically, economists agree that global warming threatens the American economy and that cap-and-trade legislation will spur investment and be good for the economy. Of the 144 economists surveyed by New York University of Law, some of the key findings include:
  • 84 percent of the economists agreed that climate change “presents a clear danger” to the United States and global economies;
  • 80.6 percent agree that a market-based approach of auctioning emissions allowances to limit carbon emissions;
  • 94.3 percent said the United States should agree to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through an international climate treaty. 57 percent said the country should make such a commitment even without any agreement;
  • 97 percent said that measures to reduce emissions would increase energy efficiency and promote innovation;
  • the "social cost" of carbon dioxide - the potential damage of warming on society - ranged from $20 to $100 a ton, with one estimate at $10 million.
What this survey indicates is that consensus regarding the impacts of global warming goes far beyond the scientific community. An economist's agenda is generally to support rational policy that most benefits society. So this survey confirms what many of us have believed for years - that the potential cost of global warming far outweighs the benefits of coordinated actions to reduce emissions. By increasing energy efficiency, businesses and individuals will not only reduce emissions but will also have more money to spend on more important things. Further, by spurring investment in clean energy technologies jobs will be created in strategic growth areas. Moreover, health care costs will be reduced when our air is cleaner - fewer asthma attacks means people are spending less on inhalers and spending more time at work. Support a strong and vibrant economy. Fight global warming now.
Page 4 of 7