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Archive for March, 2010

Cross posted at The Real Ewbank.

Of all the news and commentary I read about Earth Hour in Australia, not once did I see a mention of the billions of people that now live in energy poverty. Event organizers and commentators failed to discuss the fact that while millions of people around the world symbolically switched off their lights for one hour, billions are desperate to turn their lights on.

According to the Baker Institute at Rice University:

“…roughly 1.6 billion people, which is one quarter of the global population, still have no access to electricity and some 2.4 billion people rely on traditional biomass, including wood, agricultural residues and dung, for cooking and heating. More than 99 percent of people without electricity live in developing regions, and four out of five live in rural areas of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.”

For an event that professes to support climate change solutions, one would think that addressing energy poverty without wrecking our climate would feature prominently in Earth Hour campaigning. So why was energy poverty ignored? And what does this say about the environmental thinking that informed Earth Hour?

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By Shreya Indukuri – ACE Youth Advisory Board Member

Last Monday, I had the great opportunity to go listen to our country’s Secretary of Energy, Steve Chu. After a brief overview of climate change and the reality of global warming due to the human race’s contribution of GHG emissions to the atmosphere, the secretary of energy laid down his thoughts for how the US can transform energy to combat the effects of climate change along with numerous other benefits.

Chu believes that “tens of billions of dollars as a minimum per year [should be] invested [to develop new energy technologies that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.]” The US is only allotting 3 billion dollars TOTAL to be invested in these technologies compared to China, who is investing 9 billion dollars MONTHLY to revolutionize their energy industry!!! Talk about scale.

When asked what students can do to resolve energy issues, he suggested “putting your computer to sleep”, “becoming better informed” and here’s my favorite “turning off the water tap!”

YES, I agree we must all do those things but seriously, there is SO MUCH MORE that we can do! He should be inspiring students to take leadership and discover and implement already existing energy solutions that can transform their school and community. Does he really expect a catalyst for change among this generation if the only suggestion he can give us is to “turn off the water tap and put your computer on hibernate mode?”

Though I was disappointed in the his advice to students, fortunately, Chu understands that the US is lagging very behind in this new upcoming energy revolution and he is eager to change that.

I thoroughly enjoyed the secretary’s new spin of famous hockey player’s Wayne Gretzky’s quote on how he is such a successful athlete “I skate to where the puck will be, not where it’s been.” Chu believes that “we have to get people in the United States to skate to where the world will be” in terms of implementing new energy technologies, not pray for oil prices to decrease.

I certainly will continue assisting students in my community implement a smart energy solution I found to be thoroughly effective but, I hope I can inspire students everywhere to take leadership and transform their community as well. “Turning of the tap” is simply not enough.

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Originally published by Clean Edge

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the United States faces serious questions about the future of its economy and jobs market. Where will the good jobs of the future come from, how do we prepare the American workforce, and what is our strategy to maintain economic leadership in an increasingly competitive world?

A growing consensus suggests that clean tech will be one of our generation’s largest growth sectors. The global clean-tech market is expected to surpass $1 trillion in value within the next few years, and a perfect storm of factors – from the inevitability of a carbon-constrained world, to skyrocketing global energy demand, to long-term oil price hikes – will drive global demand for clean-energy technologies.

That is why the national debate about global clean-tech competitiveness is so important, sparked by the rapid entry of China and other nations. My colleagues and I recently contributed to the discussion with “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant,” a large report providing the first comprehensive analysis of competitive positions among the U.S. and key Asian challengers. In order to compete, we found, “U.S. energy policy must include large, direct and coordinated investments in clean-technology R&D, manufacturing, deployment, and infrastructure.”

But even if the United States adopts a real industrial policy for clean energy, there is little evidence that our workforce is skilled enough to compete. Unfortunately, according to the Department of Energy, “The U.S. ranks behind other major nations in making the transitions required to educate students for emerging energy trades, research efforts and other professions to support the future energy technology mix.”

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Originally posted at LeadEnergy.org

This week, the youth energy and climate movement achieved a victory when Johns Hopkins University — one of the largest research universities in the world — announced a major new climate and energy plan, resulting in large part from student activism and leadership.

Announced by JHU President Ron Daniels, the plan includes (1) a $73 million energy investment to cut university carbon pollution over 50% below projected levels by 2025, (2) a new Environment, Sustainability, and Health Institute to promote new research and education in climate, energy, and sustainability, (3) a new Master’s Degree in Energy Policy and Climate, and more.

“Global climate change is one of humanity’s greatest challenges,” declared President Daniels in his statement. “Facing this challenge head-on is our shared responsibility, especially as residents of the developed world. But universities have a special role in our society and a special responsibility. We are institutions that discover, that educate and that, often, set an example. When it comes to global climate change, Johns Hopkins will be a leader in all three.”

The plan results from recommendations by the JHU President’s Task Force on Climate Change, formed by former President Brody largely in response to student activism by the Hopkins Energy Action Team (HEAT) in 2007. HEAT began as a handful of energy activists, and over the course of a year, it grew to represent over 20 student groups, 2500 students, and dozens of faculty, constituting one of the largest concerted student movements in Hopkins history. As a former JHU student, I had the honor of co-founding and directing HEAT with my colleague Blake Hough, and I served on the Task Force to help develop its recommendations, which included the former JHU Provost and current U.S. Under Secretary of Energy at the Department of Energy, Dr. Kristina Johnson.

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Cross posted at The Real Ewbank.

It’s official: “cap-and-trade is dead” in the United States. The frank declaration was made by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham during a private meeting with environmental leaders at the weekend. The Washington Post report that the Senators spearheading national climate legislation have rejected an economy-wide cap-and-trade scheme. Senators Lindsey Graham, John Kerry (Democrat), and Joe Lieberman (Independent) are “engaged in a radical behind-the-scenes overhaul of climate legislation” and are “preparing to jettison the broad ‘cap-and-trade’ approach that has defined the legislative debate for close to a decade.”

The collapse of cap-and-trade in the United States has implications for Australian climate policy, making the Rudd Government’s mission to pass a cap-and-trade scheme even more difficult. The Australian Senate has twice rejected Labor’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) and is set to reject the bill for a third time in May. Unlike the previous rejections, the stakes are higher this time around. A third strike for the proposal just months out from a national election would be a demoralising blow for the Labor Party.

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