Tuesday, 22 September 2009 10:56 Written by Amy Givler
Today marks a full day of climate negotiations that lead off the UN’s annual meeting in New York. President Obama will make an opening speech, in which he will acknowledge the previous administration’s climate stance by saying that his administration “understand[s] the gravity of the climate threat. We are determined to act. And we will meet our responsibility to future generations.” This year’s challenge is getting the issue in front of and debated in the US Senate. Without a strong climate commitment from the US, Obama’s efforts will be seriously hamstrung in any international negotiations. He highlights what has been done through investment and tax incentives in the US. “The United States has done more to promote clean energy and reduce carbon pollution in the last eight months than at any other time in our history.”
We’re making our government’s largest ever investment in renewable energy – an investment aimed at doubling the generating capacity from wind and other renewable resources in three years. Across America, entrepreneurs are constructing wind turbines and solar panels and batteries for hybrid cars with the help of loan guarantees and tax credits – projects that are creating new jobs and new industries. We’re investing billions to cut energy waste in our homes, buildings, and appliances – helping American families save money on energy bills in the process. We’ve proposed the very first national policy aimed at both increasing fuel economy and reducing greenhouse gas pollution for all new cars and trucks – a standard that will also save consumers money and our nation oil. We’re moving forward with our nation’s first offshore wind energy projects. We’re investing billions to capture carbon pollution so that we can clean up our coal plants. Just this week, we announced that for the first time ever, we’ll begin tracking how much greenhouse gas pollution is being emitted throughout the country. Later this week, I will work with my colleagues at the G20 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies so that we can better address our climate challenge. And already, we know that the recent drop in overall U.S. emissions is due in part to steps that promote greater efficiency and greater use of renewable energy.If the Senate and the House could come to an agreement on the climate bill, Obama would certainly be in a stronger position to push a stronger climate treaty. But in order to avoid being a disappointing collection of platitudes, calls for action need to include strong, science-based targets on emissions reductions so that we can get back to a sustainable level of CO2 in our atmosphere. Read the full released speech here.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009 10:43 Written by Paul Burman
Tuesday, 22 September 2009 09:45 Written by Ivan Chan
In the DC metro area, it's Car Free Day, encouraging commuters to consider alternatives to driving. If more people biked, took transit or walked, not only would it free up some room on the highways and roads, it would reduce air pollution and encourage exercise. In fact, the DC metro area has some of the lowest air quality in the country. Although as a region DC has some avid runners and great trails, more people could take advantage of the area's outdoor offerings especially on weekends. The events are in conjunction with World Car Free Day, each Sept. 22. Learn more about the events around Car Free Day here. Also, you can offset your carbon footprint with Carbonfund.org in support of outstanding projects that are reducing carbon emissions in the US and abroad. Get started- calculate your carbon footprint!
Monday, 21 September 2009 12:33 Written by Ivan Chan
Newsweek released its 2009 Green Rankings of America's largest companies, and Carbonfund.org partners including Dell, Staples and Motorola came out among the leading companies! Dell was recognized for its renewable energy use as well as having its operations carbon neutral through carbon offsets. In addition, Newsweek recognized the company for its product take-back and recycling programs. Carbonfund.org has worked with Dell on its Plant a Tree for Me campaign. You can learn more about it and donate here. We've also worked with Staples on in-store/point-of-purchase and other efforts of the company. In addition, the company has increased the use of recycled content in the paper it sells and energy efficiency at its stores. Motorola, which also purchases renewable energy, launched the world's first carbon neutral mobile phone after working with Carbonfund.org to certify the MOTO W233 Renew phone carbon neutral, earning the CarbonFree® Certified label-- the first label in the US for carbon neutral products. Motorola will soon be launching a carbon neutral mobile phone certified by Carbonfund.org in Latin America as well. We applaud our partners for earning the Newsweek honors and look forward to continue working with our partners in helping them achieve their environmental & climate goals. Congratulations!! Learn more about Carbonfund.org's business programs, for small and large businesses.
Monday, 21 September 2009 11:49 Written by Ivan Chan
As we've been writing on the Carbonfund.org blog, there's a growing view that action, and strong action, need to be taken on global warming- perhaps the greatest environmental challenge facing the world today. Although countries remain split on how best to arrive at an international agreement on climate change at the upcoming COP15/Copenhagen climate talks, upcoming events such as the UN General Assembly meeting this week give diplomats and national leaders the chance to iron out differences. Jim Tankersley of the Los Angeles Times writes that President Obama and the Administration are expected to refocus on climate change. This could mean, for example, balancing the current healthcare discussions in Congress, with discussions on climate change. Among the challenges are time, given that the climate talks are slated for December. Tankersley notes,
If the US Senate fails to pass a climate bill before Copenhagen, 'it would open the United States to the charge that it does not take its international commitments seriously, and that these commitments will always take second place to domestic politics,' Ambassador John Bruton, head of the European Commission Delegation to the United States, warned last week.Obama is expected to give a speech at the United Nations General Assembly tomorrow addressing, among other topics, global warming. Separately, Reuters reported that the President will stress at the COP15 climate talks that climate change is a shared problem and every nation must respond, according to US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice.
Fashion Fights Poverty is causing waves in the fashion community by making this year’s Annual Benefit CarbonFree®. Every year Fashion Fights Poverty brings the top eco and ethical high-end fashion designers to the nation’s capital. In what the Washington Post describes as “one of the largest fashion fundraisers in Washington, DC,” the Annual Benefit raises money to combat poverty in some of the poorest parts of the world. By focusing on sustainability, eco friendly, and ethical designs, Fashion Fights Poverty sets the bar for responsibility in the fashion industry. This year’s Annual Benefit exemplifies that commitment, as Fashion Fights Poverty has offset the event's carbon footprint with Carbonfund.org. Take their message to heart – know where your clothes come from, who makes them, and what they’re made out of. We can all make an impact and help better the world through fashion.
Thursday, 17 September 2009 10:18 Written by Shira Silberg
[caption id="attachment_2397" width="199" caption="Increased temperatures and unpredictable rainfall can compromise our food supply."][/caption]What is the biggest global health threat of the 21st century? Is it swine Flu? AIDS? Obesity? According to a group of 18 leading doctors from around the world in a recent letter to the British Medical Journal & Lancet it is climate change. Here are some of the ways that climate change affects human health: 1) Food Supply: Increased temperatures and unpredictable rainfall can reduce crop yields, affect livestock and compromise our food supply. 2) Extreme Weather Events: Climate change may cause more heat waves, cold waves, storms, floods and droughts. This can increase the risk of food and water shortages and water- and food-borne diseases. Heat waves can claim the lives of the weak, and elderly as in Europe’s 2003 summer heat wave which claimed the lives of over 30,000 people. 3) Disease: Many diseases carried by insects such as malaria, and dengue fever thrive in warmer climate conditions and climate changes can prolong and intensify the transmission of these diseases. 4) Air Quality: Warmer temperatures mean a higher frequency of smog which exacerbates respiratory conditions such as asthma and other chronic lung diseases. In recent years the polar bear has become the prominent face of climate change, but we need to refocus on the human faces affected by the changes in our environment. We must emphasize the children, families and communities whose health will be affected by these changes and concentrate less on the polar bears.
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 17:23 Written by Ivan Chan
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. Most 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.