NewEnergyNews: PLANNING TO BEAT CLIMATE CHANGE

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    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY,:

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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

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  • New Energy Beating Coal, Nuclear In 2020

    Monday, November 30, 2009

    PLANNING TO BEAT CLIMATE CHANGE

    Tropical Rainforests At Tipping Point
    November 28, 2009 (Society for Conservation Biology)

    SUMMARY
    Climate change is not only coming, it is coming at a rate that realizes climate scientists’ worst fears. All scientific evidence points not only to the need for action but the need for prompt action.

    In anticipation of the UN summit in Copenhagen to construct a new international agreement on how to fight climate change opening on December 7, Mitigating and Preparing For Climate Change – Eleven Conservation Principles for Decision Makers, from the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), offers a set of 11 sound, science-based guidelines that will turn the world’s fight against climate change in the right direction.

    The proposal cites ample evidence of the changes already taking place and the costs that will be incurred to reverse them and demonstrates that the longer the world community waits to implement New Energy and Energy Efficiency and end the spew of emissions, the more it will cost to protect and redeem this good earth.







    click to enlarge

    The 11 Principles:
    (1) All policies, incentives and plans should aim to cut the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions (GhG) from its present ~390 parts per million (ppm) to 350 ppm as soon as possible.
    (2) Cap and cut GhGs in every human activity (like energy production, buildings and transportation) and every sector, including agriculture, animal husbandry, and forestry.
    (3) Stop deforestation and restore ecosystems that have been lost.
    (4) Phase out everything that spews GhGs as soon as possible, starting with the dirtiest (like old coal plants).
    (5) Enact and ratify GhG-capping and cutting measures only after thorough study of their intended and unintended consequences.
    (6) Fund reforestation and wildlife habitat restoration and measure for adaptation.
    (7) Improve emission offset use with better science, better regulation and better enforcement.
    (8) Public and private investment and procurement should reflect the goal of cutting GhG concentrations to 350 ppm.
    (9) All caps and regulations should be applied with scientific validation and transparency.
    (10) Aim only for best practices to eliminate GhG spew, not compromises that protect the old ways and Old Energies.
    (11) Understand and prepare for climate change impacts.

    click to enlarge

    COMMENTARY
    The report begins with a clarification. The cornerstone studies of global climate change are those from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). There has been a fundamental misunderstanding of the IPCC’s finding that the world must keep greenhouse gas emission (GhG) atmospheric concentrations below 450 parts per million (ppm). In fact, contends SCB, the IPCC said keeping them below 450 ppm would avoid the WORST impacts of climate change by keeping the global average temperature to 2 degrees centigrade but would nevertheless result in significant losses and change.

    A more recent UN study reported that climate change is bigger and faster than the most recent IPCC analysis reported:
    (1) Ocean acidification is progressing decades faster than predicted and water so acidic it can corrode shells is appearing in increasing concentrations on the California coast.
    (2) Polar ice, other ice sheets and glaciers are melting at record rates.
    (3) Threshholds and tipping points predicted for the second half of this century (including changes in South Asian, Sahara and West Africa monsoon patterns and the climate patterns of the Amazon rainforest ecosystem) now appear years or, at best, decades away.

    From the most recent IPCC update (click to enlarge)

    Re Principle (1): All policies, incentives and plans should aim to cut the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions (GhG) from its present ~390 parts per million (ppm) to 350 ppm as soon as possible.

    Bigger, faster climate change will accelerate losses of biological diversity, changes in species’ ranges and numbers, melting of glacial and polar ice, loss of permafrost and the release of methane, ocean acidification, desertification and drought, extreme weather, flooding and forest fires. Because all these things are already happening, it is clear the present atmospheric concentration of GhGs must be reduced and ecosystems must be restored.

    From 350.org via YouTube

    Re Principle (2): Cap and cut GhGs in every human activity (like energy production, buildings and transportation) and every sector, including agriculture, animal husbandry, and forestry.

    Agriculture, animal husbandry and forestry may account for almost 40% of world GhGs. Intelligently managed pasturelands, livestock waste, croplands, fields and forests can reduce and even store emissions. Reaching the 350 ppm goal will require New Energy and Energy Efficiency on the generation side and intelligent lands management as well.

    Policies that support intelligent lands management: (1) Ecosystem management that maximizes biological sequestration; (2) Subsidies and incentives should drive GhG cuts and soil conservation and lands/ecosystem stewardship; and (3) all agencies that assess lands management should be required to include GhGs in the metrics by which they evaluate their policies and guidelines.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (3): Stop deforestation and restore ecosystems that have been lost.

    Old growth forests (300-to-800 years old) alone capture ~10% of world GhGs but are declining in both the tropics and temperate zones and, and as a result, biodiversity is in retreat. Recent droughts and higher temperature have caused some tropical forests to release more GhGs than they are sequestering. In 2005, the Amazon rainforest failed to sequester its normal 2 billion metric tons of GhGs AND released 3 billion metric tons, a net increase of 5 billion tons.

    Forest growth in Costa Rica, Panama and Malaysia is demonstrably slowing. Brazilian rain forest loss seems to be resulting in diminished rainfall, slowing flows of water, reduced fish populations and livelihood loss by native peoples.

    Needed policies: (1) Dial back all stresses on forests and related ecosystems (oceans, rivers, lakes and waterways); and (2) fund ecosystem restoration to maximize GhG sequestration (such as protecting old growth forests and enhancing forest biodiversity) and prevent methane release.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (4): Phase out everything that spews GhGs as soon as possible, starting with the dirtiest (like old coal plants).

    There are 2 ways to reduce dependence on GhG-spewing energies: (1) Institute Energy Efficiency with demand management and (2) Build New Energy.

    Demand management will require building Smart Grid technology and decoupling of utility profits from electricity sales.

    The primary long-term focus of New Energy development should be on the more-than-adequately abundant, affordable, minimally environmentally-impactful, emissions-free sources such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass but the effort must also be aimed at short-term GhG-reductions as well. That means phasing out coal in favor of natural gas, of which there is greater capacity.

    To drive these transitions, the external costs and subsidies that support fossil fuels must be considered. Policies must incentivize the transition by a full life cycle cost accounting of Old Energy's environmental impacts.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (5): Enact and ratify GhG-capping and cutting measures only after thorough study of their intended and unintended consequences.

    Simply the enforcement of existing international conservation treaties to which most nations are already party or signatory. This alone would go a long way toward turning back global climate change. The U.S. Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and many other foresighted environmental impact assessment and wildlife laws are examples. Bans and strict limits on products made with unsustainable methods and provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) are others.

    New laws, treaties and agreements directed at GhGs and at protecting human rights principles may also be necessary. The policies that inform them should maximize the use of existing legal and financial tools for enforcement of GhG controls and elimination.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (6): Fund reforestation and wildlife habitat restoration and measure for adaptation.

    Part of this can be accomplished through the sale of emissions allowances and efforts of non-governmental restoration funds but concern for the world’s common ground necessitates the financial participation of all governments.

    In particular, developed nations have reaped the benefits of exploiting the earth’s atmosphere for 200 years and must now acknowledge the unintended consequences of their growing wealthy at others’ expense by funding reparative efforts.

    An international policy must include funding for the restoration of degraded ecosystems by developed nations.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (7): Improve emission offset use with better science, better regulation and better enforcement.

    Few subjects are more controversial than that of emission offsets. The basic concept: GhGs know no borders. If an individual, a company or a nation is unable – because of entrenched infrastructure or practical, economic or social constraints – to cut them but can afford to pay for cuts elsewhere, such as by funding the building of New Energy or Energy Efficiency infrastructure or the protection of forests in the developing world, that is still a quantifiable GhG reduction.

    Problems arise because there sometimes is inadequate oversight and there can be self-involved actors. The result: Money changes hands that allows GhG-spewing to go on in one place but fails to cut GhGs in another. It might as well be a bribe.

    Also, funding developing world projects can have unintended consequences in the form of other environmental impacts that result, in the long-term, in worsening climate change.

    The rule on GhGs is: Eliminate them. If that’s not possible, cut them. Offset them only when the first 2 alternatives are impossible. If offsetting, make sure it is being responsibly overseen.

    Policies on offsetting should: (1) Avoid reliance on them as a primary GhG control; (2) Incentivize private, minor and voluntary use of offsets where there is ineffective mandatory elimination and reduction; and (3) Regulate to guarantee offset funding cuts GhGs.

    click thru to the to APX library on offsets and emissions trading

    Re Principle (8): Public and private investment and procurement should reflect the goal of cutting GhG concentrations to 350 ppm.

    There is a rising movement for ethical investing that now engages several trillions of dollars in pension funds and other investments. Such stewardship is more than merely environmental because it has the potential to turn the entire international economy sustaining, restorative and nurturing.

    The aim of policy to support this principle should be to direct investment to measurably and verifiably ethical projects.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (9): All caps and regulations should be applied with scientific validation and transparency.

    Scientific validation avoids the mistake of investing in projects and sources that turn out to be climate damaging when their full life cycle costs are clarified. Transparency prevents the mistake of investing in projects and sources that turn out to do social, human and/or environmental harm. Scientific validation and transparency allow best practices to emerge and technologies that are too risky or costly to be identified.

    Treaties, statutes and regulations should include mechanisms that give science and transparency a sure place in evaluating compliance and success where remedies and penalties are prescribed. Existing treaties, laws and regulations should be brought in line with this principle. Independent methods of review should be built into the decision-making processes.

    Policies should: (1) Establish rules and systems to identify and incorporate the best science and full life cycle costs accounting; (2) Include updatable goals with a timely process that reviews advancing scientific and technological information; and (3) Applies laws and price signals in a balanced way to get the best subsidies, taxes and/or cap&trade system revenues, informed resource management, regulations, and fair, rebated tariffs to fund New Energy, Energy Efficiency and ecosystem restoration.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (10): Aim only for best practices to eliminate GhG spew, not compromises that protect the old ways and Old Energies.

    The transition to the New Energy economy will, according to an enormous and growing body of statistically validated evidence, likely bring with it the biggest economic boom of this century. The countries that act first will reap enormous benefits and become the energy technology suppliers to the world. Those that dawdle will become energy technology-dependent.

    The transition will, however, require investment. The developed nations of the world must, therefore, lead the way. They can use tariffs, incentives, taxes, aid, trade, and similar tools to drive the transition. The rewards will begin with the jobs and technology that will benefit their economies, lead to the reduction of GhGs and culminate in the turning back of global climate change.

    The policies that will drive this transition must: (1) Create legal standards that are based on science and enforce best practices; and (2) Make ongoing effectiveness assessments of new technology and prescribe remedies when necessary.

    click to enlarge

    Re Principle (11): Understand and prepare for climate change impacts.

    Mitigation of the worst is still possible but impacts are already being felt and adaptions must take place. It begins with reducing current stressors to ecosystems and species diversity but goes much farther. The resilience of ecosystems must be maintained where possible and restored necessary.

    Adaptive management should put a priority on protecting water and GhG sequestration capacity. It also should aim to restore diversity because diverse ecosystems are more resilient. Large intact watersheds and road-less areas should be protected as means to alleviate ongoing droughts and intermittent floods. Ecosystems should be left intact for the benefit of surviving wildlife.

    Policy can (1) Support adaptive management of both public and private lands; and (2) Integrate existing treaties, laws and plans into new climate agreements and laws.

    click to enlarge

    QUOTES
    - From the introduction to the Principles: “New research across physical and social sciences over the past several years indicates that climate change is progressing much more rapidly than previously anticipated. Major ecosystems once thought capable of absorbing and offsetting more greenhouse gases are losing their ability to do so due to increasing heat and drought. In 2005, for example, the Amazon forest failed to sequester its usual 2 billion metric tons of CO2 and released 3 billion metric tons from dying trees for a net 5 billion ton addition to the atmosphere – an amount greater than the combined annual emissions of Europe and Japan…While the evidence that climates are changing is overwhelming, the policy response has been slow. The longer real action is delayed, the greater the procrastination penalty that will need to be paid…”

    click to enlarge

    - Robert Goodland, former environmental economist, World Bank and staff
    Director, World Bank Extractive Industries Review: “Forests have four major roles in climate change: they currently contribute about one-sixth of global carbon emissions when cleared, overused or degraded; they react sensitively to a changing climate; when managed sustainably, they produce wood fuels as a benign alternative to fossil fuels; and finally, they have the potential to absorb about one-tenth of global carbon emissions projected for the first half of this century into their biomass, soils and products and store them - in principle in perpetuity.”
    - John Fitzgerald, Policy Director, SCB: “The Obama Administration already has an array of legal tools under the Clean Air Act, power transmission and natural resource laws that they should use to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to conserve ecosystems here and abroad. The Congress should not limit these powers to respond to science, as the House bill would. The President could also reduce the sales of coal and timber from Federal land, require faster pollution reductions, and consider vetoing any bill that would not allow his agencies to respond to new scientific findings.”

    click to enlarge

    - From the Principles: “Studies in the U.S. and elsewhere have shown that major economies and some developing nations have several times the renewable energy capacity that they need at practical prices when external costs and subsidies are considered… The Chairman of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission declared in 2009 that the U.S. is likely to need no new traditional base-load (coal or nuclear) power plants if better efficiency standards and related initiatives are implemented…”

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