Ivan Chan

Ivan Chan

Keep the climate in mind this Election Day. How do you know where your candidates stand on fighting climate change? The nonprofit, nonpartisan Project Vote Smart has launched an interactive tool, VoteEasy, that matches you with candidates based on your view of climate change and other current issues. Enter your zip code and get a local report of your candidates' positions. You can use VoteEasy at http://votesmart.org/voteeasy. No doubt this election will affect how the nation addresses climate change at home—where Congress has yet to pass comprehensive climate legislation—and abroad, with the next major round of U.N. climate talks in Cancun, Mexico later this month. As The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin notes, the U.S. could be in a bind should Congress become further deadlocked on the issue of climate change, despite the fact that the administration says it is not backing away from the pledged 17 percent reductions in greenhouse gas emissions vis-a-vis 2005 levels. The elections will affect whether or not, and how, Congress or the EPA acts, and how the administration will act in the international arena. If you care about climate change, know how your vote affects the issue and be sure to get out and vote.
Three out of the four US companies with the largest carbon-reduction programs with Carbonfund.org—Dell, Staples and Motorola—are ranked in the top of Newsweek’s 2010 Green Rankings for US companies. Carbonfund.org partners Samsung and Unilever are ranked in the top global companies. As the leading nonprofit climate solutions organization, Carbonfund.org has helped these top-ranked companies and over 1,700 other partners reduce their climate impact. The rankings take into account companies’ climate change policies and performance. Dell ranked #1 for US companies. The company partnered with Carbonfund.org in establishing its Plant a Tree Program to reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere and engage consumers on environmental sustainability. Dell’s Plant a Tree Program enables consumers to plant trees to reduce emissions, restore habitats and protect the biodiversity of animal and plant species. The program was launched in 2007 and is restoring ecologically critical areas like the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley of the US. Eric Carlson, President, Carbonfund.org said, “Carbonfund.org’s partners represented on the Newsweek rankings are outstanding examples for other US and global corporations in addressing their climate impact as part of their sustainability initiatives. These companies are setting the pace in reducing the carbon footprint of their businesses and demonstrating leadership in fighting climate change—the greatest environmental problem facing the world today.” Carbonfund.org’s business programs help reduce the carbon footprint of operations, products, shipping, events and websites, and can be customized for specific goals and needs. For example, Staples has partnered with Carbonfund.org to further reduce the carbon footprint of certain ENERGY STAR qualified products by offsetting the average energy consumed over three years of use in support of reforestation. Motorola has certified products carbon neutral, including the manufacturing, distribution and operation of phones like the new Motorola CITRUS™, with Carbonfund.org’s CarbonFree® Product Certification Program. Meanwhile, Samsung, which received a Corporate Climate Leadership Award for making the World Cyber Games Grand Final carbon neutral this year, and Unilever have reduced the carbon footprint of company-sponsored events by offsetting in support of Carbonfund.org’s carbon-reduction projects. Carlson said, “We’re seeing more inquiries about carbon-reduction projects every year, with the strongest consistent interest from the transportation and electronics sectors. It’s not just about the rankings; the more interesting story is that corporate climate programs are going mainstream.” The complete rankings can be viewed here. You can learn more about Carbonfund.org's business programs at www.carbonfund.org/business.
Scientists have found that malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and even the human plague may be advancing northward with rising temperatures. An independent group of 26 national science academies in the European Union, the European Academies Science Advisory Council issued a report, saying, "fundamental influences of climate change on infectious disease can already be discerned.” The spread of disease is from insects that are maturing faster and producing more offspring in higher temperatures. While the European scientists cautioned against assuming a direct causal link between the diseases advancing and global warming-- the Council’s chairman said the risk was undeniable, and he called for further study based on this research. Moreover, the Council noted that “it is likely that new vectors and pathogens will emerge and become established in Europe within the next few years.” With global temperatures rising, the spread of disease is but one of the serious public health concerns. So are flooding, heat waves, scarcity of drinking water in more places on our planet, not to mention rising sea levels and its problems that affect large cities and populations. Climate change is occurring and will affect everyone in all corners of the planet, unless we further our efforts to fight it together. You can do your part today by reducing your carbon footprint. To read more about the Council’s research,  please see this Reuters article.
Supporters of action on climate change can look to the defeat of Proposition 23 in California as another example that voters support a strong response to global warming. A divided Congress was apparent from the contentious midterm elections, but that didn't faze voters who defeated what would have suspended California's climate change law, the Global Warming Solutions Act. The law established a timetable to bring California's greenhouse gas emissions down to 1990 levels by 2020 and has been supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as well as Jerry Brown, who won the seat on Tuesday. Brown also wants to bring about investment in the state to create about 500,000 green jobs and 20,000 megawatts of clean power. Over 60 percent of Californians voted to defeat Prop 23. This underscores national polls by The Washington Post and Stanford University from the summer which show that over two-thirds of Americans support action on climate change by the country.
The main theme at this year's Green Intelligence Forum in Washington, DC presented by The Atlantic magazine is climate change- perhaps the greatest environmental challenge to face the world, as the problem affects every nation and ways of life. Industry, NGO and government representatives participated in today's discussion on both policy and pragmatic approaches to solving climate change. I attended on behalf of Carbonfund.org. Was2045486Most participants see the value of cap-and-trade as a policy and economic solution. A good analogy of cap-and-trade was expressed by Phil Sharp, president of the policy organization Resources for the Future. "Cap-and-trade is like a budget on how much carbon is allowed to be emitted into the atmosphere." Bills such as the American Clean Energy and Security Act, which passed the House, use the mechanism to cost-effectively reduce emissions over time. Timing-wise, while healthcare is currently debated in Congress, some see a climate bill debated in the Senate this year. Maggie Fox, president and CEO of the Alliance for Climate Protection, said the momentum to move legislation exists this year, and that's necessary for political will. World Resources Institute (WRI) President Jonathan Lash said, "Congress will decide that doing nothing is worse than doing something." A lot of the momentum will come from the Administration, which over the summer has engaged key Midwestern states on the issue of global warming and why proposed legislation would benefit farmers and other stakeholders. The chairman of the Clinton Climate Initiative of the former president's foundation, Ira Magaziner, said that what motivated the foundation to get involved on climate change pilot projects is the sheer avoidance of the problem by many. The US and other countries have to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or "our children and grandchildren will pay very serious consequences." The Initiative has worked with cities such as Los Angeles on ways to reduce energy consumption, such as by street lighting. 80 percent of the electricity used for street lighting in many cities is wasted as heat; whereas new approaches such as using light-emitting diodes (LED's) can result in up to 60 percent energy savings. Some of the major needs cited in addressing climate change are more access to capital and financing for research & development (R&D), and more focus on energy efficiency by companies as well as individuals to reduce energy consumption. Google's director of climate change and energy initiatives, Dan Reicher, said it will take a commitment by the US to invest in clean energy and other technologies to address climate change. A wind farm, for example, can take $500 million to build. By comparison, it took about $25 million in venture capital to start Google. If the US doesn't invest in R&D to address climate change, technologies will be developed in other countries rather than here. Siemens Industry sees a lot of opportunities for energy savings from buildings. Daryl Dulaney, the appointed president & CEO of the company, estimates that 38 percent of all carbon emissions come from buildings. Institutions, commercial building owners and lessees will need to do what they can to reduce this substantial carbon footprint. The country's commitment to addressing climate change doesn't have to cost a lot. In fact, notes WRI's Jonathan Lash, from the carbon trade part of cap-and-trade, states as well as the federal government can realize savings and revenues; about $12 billion a year could be realized by states from carbon credits allocated for renewable energy and energy efficiency. As we know at Carbonfund.org, carbon offsets are supporting innovative projects in renewables, energy efficiency and reforestation that are making emissions reductions today and help the transition to a clean energy future. Offsets are part of current bills such as Waxman-Markey to help achieve emissions reductions.
With the healthcare debate in full swing, the climate change debate is on the back burner. But work on legislation and getting it passed in the Senate continues. Politics Daily Columnist Jill Lawrence interviewed former Sen. John Warner, who had some interesting remarks. As for the status of legislation in the Senate, he said, "The leadership of the Senate, primarily [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid, made a very wise decision at this time. All the committees that have a part of the jurisdiction are putting in their own recommendations for legislation. Therefore six committees are now preparing a bill to be submitted to Senator Reid the last week or so in September." Warner, who had co-sponsored an earlier bill while in the Senate, also referred to the loss of white pine forest in the western US from climate change. "I went to Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, to give a speech... I was just absolutely heartbroken. The old forest, the white pine forest in which I worked [as a Forest Service firefighter], was absolutely gone, devastated, standing there dead from the bark beetle. I said to the forest ranger." As the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Warner's concerns about global warming includes national security. He cites the example of Somalia, where prolonged drought conditions further destabilized the country, already experiencing political and economic instability. "Where you have fragile nations... a serious climactic problem will come along, with a shortage of food or water, and often those governments are toppled... This political instability and weakness is given the final tilt by a problem associated with climactic change." You can read more of the interview here.
With offices in five New England states, CLF-Conservation Law Foundation is the oldest regional environmental advocacy organization in the nation. Earlier this spring, they launched the 2009 Great Green Giveaway, recognizing individuals and families for their environmentally responsible actions. We're happy to be a partner for their contest, and want you to vote now for your favorite finalist. cllogoJust go to www.clf.org/contest and vote by midnight, June 19. Check out the great energy saving actions on that page.
Over 2,000 more products than last year are being sold with some kind of green attribute. It's critical to avoid greenwashing. Labeling helps, but labels should themselves be clear and credible. Credibility means being backed by transparent, accepted standards each step of the way. So that companies can relate their product's climate impact clearly and credibly, Carbonfund.org in 2007 established the CarbonFree® Certified product label. The label means what it says, that a product is carbon neutral, and is backed by a publicly available protocol based on accepted standards on how a product's carbon footprint is determined. The rigorous program requires a third-party conducted product life-cycle assessment and has an expert technical advisory board. By going carbon neutral, a product's footprint is reduced to zero in support of third-party validated carbon reduction projects that are helping fight climate change today. Labeling can be the antidote to greenwashing, if it is clear and credible, which can be important also with regard to the FTC's proposed revisions to its Green Guides. For consumers, labeling also differentiates brands and products that have valid environmental benefits. This makes choosing and buying products that are better for the environment easier and encourages more companies to make better products. To learn more about how you can avoid greenwashing, view this user-friendly guide. You can also learn more about product certification here.
Logo-color2If you, a family member, or someone else you know is an employee of the federal government, donations can still be made to the Combined Federal Campaign to approved charities. Carbonfund.org is an approved charity of the government’s donations drive. It’s a great way to support our carbon offset projects, in renewable energy, energy efficiency as well as reforestation, located in different areas of the country. Our CFC# is 62681. Make your donation today to fight global warming, and remember to keep us in mind for your future CFC donations. You can learn more about the CFC campaign at www.opm.gov/CFC.
China's Vice Premier, Li Keqiang, said today that the international community needs to work together to overcome the challenges of climate change, working within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC/Copenhagen) and Kyoto Protocol while respecting the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities." Li was referring to China having signed on earlier this year to the Copenhagen Accord, which essentially calls for limiting the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius beyond pre-industrial levels. China has said it plans to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide per unit of economic growth, or "carbon intensity," by 40 to 45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels. India also signed on to the Accord and set an intensity reduction target of 20 to 25 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels, excluding its agricultural sector. The United States has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 17 percent by 2020 (a target that is not tied to economic growth or carbon intensity) from 2005 levels. Li made his remarks in conjunction with briefing UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres in Beijing on the country's present policies and measures to reduce energy consumption, develop green jobs and promote environmental protection. China will host a session of the follow-up U.N. climate change talks in Tianjin this October. Currently, China’s energy consumption is growing faster than any other country’s, but on a per-person basis, China still consumes far less energy than other leading economies such as the U.S. To produce more clean energy and mitigate climate impact, China, already the world's largest manufacturer of solar panels, aims to produce 20,000 megawatts of solar energy by 2020. Together with wind power and biomass, renewable energy in China is expected to contribute about eight percent, or double the current level, of electricity generation in less than a decade. However, improvements have come with substantial costs. Upgrading the country's electricity grid alone cost China last year about $45 billion.
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