Energy and Global Warming News for October 20: Brazil seeks climate target for all Amazon nations

Brazil seeks climate target for all Amazon nations

Brazil wants to forge a common position among all Amazon basin countries for a global climate summit later this year, the country’s president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said on Monday.

Brazil has been seeking a growing role in climate talks designed to agree upon a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for global warming.

Lula was considering inviting the presidents of all Amazon states to discuss the issue on November 26, he told reporters after a meeting in Sao Paulo with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

Brazil, one of the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters, is expected to announce its own targets for the December summit in Copenhagen by the end of this month. It is considering freezing its total greenhouse gas emissions at 2005 levels.

Lula last week said Brazil, which harbors the vast majority of the Amazon rain forest, would cut deforestation 80 percent by 2020 from a 10-year average through 2005. Other countries of the Amazon region include Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana.

White House Announces Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program as Major Part of `Recovery through Retrofit`; Renewable Funding Envisioned the Model and is National Leader in Financing PACE Programs

Today at the White House, Vice President Biden released his `Recovery through Retrofit` plan to expand green job opportunities in the United States and boost energy savings for middle class Americans by retrofitting homes for energy efficiency. The `Recovery through Retrofit` report, which was developed by the Vice President`s Middle Class Task Force, is a roadmap to create new green jobs, provide financial relief to middle-class families, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan includes a national pilot program to provide significant federal funds to support the development and implementation of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs across the country. PACE programs, which are public-private partnerships with state and local governments, allow private property owners to pay for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements through a voluntary property tax assessment. `Recovery through Retrofit` includes a detailed policy framework for implementing pilot PACE programs ( The founders of Renewable Funding developed the PACE concept and the firm is now the national leader in administering and financing PACE programs.

“Renewable Funding is a strong supporter of the Obama Administration`s efforts to create jobs, reduce energy costs for families, and reduce our carbon footprint,” said Cisco DeVries, President of Renewable Fundingand originator of the PACE concept. “The upfront costs of undertaking clean energy projects often prevent property owners from going solar or improving the energy efficiency of their homes and businesses. By spreading the project costs over up to 20 years through a property tax assessment, PACE overcomes this hurdle and enables homeowners and businesses to make retrofits with no up-front capital costs.”

Renewable Funding provides services to programs in several municipalities in Colorado and California, with dozens more in the planning phase. To date, legislation to enable PACE programs has been adopted in 14 states. Former President Clinton recently announced an effort by the Clinton Global Initiative to push for 50 municipalities to adopt the PACE model on an accelerated schedule. Renewable Funding is part of the PACE NOW Coalition and is an “implementation partner” in the Clinton Global Initiative effort.

‘Green jobs’ supported at Senate hearing held in Pittsburgh

Clean energy and the “green jobs” attached to it enjoyed wide support in testimony at a U.S. Senate hearing in Pittsburgh yesterday, but differences remain about how and how quickly federal policies should push those goals.

Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., who hosted the hearing, acknowledged those tensions between “competing interests” in Pennsylvania coal, natural gas and alternative energy industries as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee began work on legislation titled “Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act,” introduced earlier this month.

Michael Peck, North American spokesman for Gamesa USA, a Spanish wind turbine manufacturer with factories and 850 employees in Pennsylvania, urged establishment of a national standard mandating 12 percent renewable energy by 2012. That would send a strong message to investors and boost demand and job creation, he said.

“We’re predicting a 40 percent drop in new wind projects this year and the recession has crippled demand. Our factories are idle,” Mr. Peck said. “The U.S. is at the brink of losing manufacturing jobs to India and China and implementation of a near-term renewable energy standard would send a strong message and would do the most to boost demand.”

Jason Walsh, representing Green For All, a national organization supportive of “green” economic growth, and Holly Childs, executive director of the Green Building Alliance of Western Pennsylvania, said up to 13,000 new blue-collar jobs could be created in the Pittsburgh region by federal training programs included in the draft legislation under consideration.

CEOs no longer refute climate change

U.S. chief executives no longer reject claims of human-caused climate change, putting to rest a dispute that has raged in boardrooms for decades, said the head of PG&E on Thursday.

Members of the Business Council, a group of executives from the top 120 U.S. companies, have altered their beliefs about climate change significantly, said PG&E Chief Executive Officer Peter Darbee in an interview. Darbee was attending the Business Council’s October gathering in Cary, North Carolina.

“No one among the group was arguing the science of climate change,” said Darbee. “That debate, at least in that forum, appears to be over. The discussion was really about, ‘climate change is happening, it is a challenge of vast proportions and it will require an effort on the part of mankind to respond to this challenge.'”

Darbee also said a tangled web of state and federal laws governing energy use and conservation was delaying action.

“The greatest challenge we face getting our business done is the unintentional gauntlet of government regulation,” he said. “What renewable energy developers have to go through — the hoops and hoops and hoops.”

Largest ‘smart grid’ test hopes to shock consumers about energy use

On Sunday nights, Philip DiStefano fills up his car. In most towns, this would not be a noteworthy event, but in this campus town, it is. DiStefano is chancellor of the University of Colorado’s sprawling campus here, and his car, a hulking Ford Escape, gets 54 miles per gallon.

That’s because it is a plug-in hybrid and he fills it by plugging into the wall in his garage.

As he and most other residents here readily admit, Boulder is not a normal American city. That is one reason why Boulder and DiStefano’s embassy-like home have been selected for the first big demonstration of the value of what is called the “smart grid” concept.

While other towns may claim to be working toward a smart grid, Xcel Energy, the local utility, has rechristened Boulder “SmartGridCity,” calling it in a recent press release the “first fully functioning smart city in the world.”

The smart grid idea can mean different things to different people. On a national scale, though, it may be the most ambitious move the United States could make toward cutting its emissions from burning fossil fuels. Fifty percent of the nation’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. Americans are accustomed to using far more electricity than any other large nation on the planet. The smart grid effort is about finding ways to change the electricity grid so that utilities can help reduce peoples’ juice-guzzling habits.

Take DiStefano’s house, for example. A four-bedroom showplace designed for holding university functions, it has a big solar array on its roof and an automated wiring system that turns off unneeded lights and tweaks down the heating, the water heater and other appliances when DiStefano and his wife, Yvonne, are away. Just before they return, it turns things back on again so he can sit cozily in his office and view his electricity use through a special portal installed on his laptop.

Since this summer, the DiStefanos have cut their electric bill by 14 percent. During times of peak energy use next year, they will save more money by selling Xcel some of the electricity from the solar array on their house, or from the big storage battery in the car. “If we’re gone and there is a power outage,” DiStefano added, proudly, “the electricity we have will go to power the refrigeration, the security system, the sprinkler system and our home office.”

6 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for October 20: Brazil seeks climate target for all Amazon nations


    WASHINGTON — With the clock running out and deep differences unresolved, it now appears there is little chance that the climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in December will produce a comprehensive and binding new treaty on global warming.

    The United States and a number of other major emitting countries have concluded that it is more useful to take incremental but important steps toward a global agreement rather than to try to jam through a treaty that is either too weak to address the problem or too onerous to be ratified and enforced. Instead, representatives at the Copenhagen meeting are likely to announce a number of interim steps and agree to keep talking next year.

    “There isn’t sufficient time to get the whole thing done,” Yvo De Boer, the Dutch diplomat who heads of the United Nations climate secretariat and serves as the de facto overseer of the negotiations, said late last week. “But I hope it will go well beyond simply a declaration of principles. The form I would like it to take is the groundwork for a ratifiable agreement next year.”

  2. ecostew says:

    Wind, water and solar energy resources are sufficiently available to provide all the world’s energy. Converting to electricity and hydrogen powered by these sources would reduce world power demand by 30 percent, thereby avoiding 13,000 coal power plants. Materials and costs are not limitations to these conversions, but politics may be, say Stanford and UC researchers who have mapped out a blueprint for powering the world.

  3. C. Vink says:

    Coal’s Huge Hidden Costs – Report: Pollution from Burning Coal Costs $62 billion a year
    Charleston Gazette, October 19, 2009 – Coal industry lobbyists and coal-state politicians like to remind us that coal is a relatively cheap source of energy. But in a major new report out today, the National Academy of Sciences details some of the huge “hidden costs” of coal: More than $62 billion a year in “external damages” – that is, premature deaths from air pollution.

    Arctic lake undergoing unprecedented changes due to warming
    Mongabay, October 19, 2009 – The Arctic should be growing cooler, but a new sediment core taken from an Arctic lake reveals that the lake’s ecology and chemistry has been transformed by unnatural warming beginning in the 1950s. The sediment core proves that changes happening in the lake during the Twentieth Century are unprecedented over the past 200,000 years.

    Fossil Fuel Production Up Despite Recession
    Worldwatch Institute, October 15, 2009 – World production of fossil fuels-oil, coal, and natural gas-increased 2.9 percent in 2008 to reach 27.4 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) per day, the highest ever recorded.

    New Study Says Arctic Could Become Emitter of Carbon Dioxide
    Alaska Public Radio Network, October 15, 2009 – Alaska Public Radio Network: A study that looks at the Arctic’s role in absorbing carbon dioxide finds that the job of storing CO2 could be over in coming decades and the Arctic may become an emitter of carbon dioxide and methane.
    Also see here and here.

    The Spread of New Diseases: The Climate Connection
    Environment 360, October 15, 2009 – As humans increasingly encroach on forested lands and as temperatures rise, the transmission of disease from animals and insects to people is growing. Now a new field, known as ‘conservation medicine’, is exploring how ecosystem disturbance and changing interactions between wildlife and humans can lead to the spread of new pathogens.

    Climate change may mean slower winds, hurting wind industry
    Scientific American, October 14 – This summer scientists published the first study that comprehensively explored the effect of climate change on wind speeds in the U.S. The report was not encouraging. Three decades’ worth of data seemed to point to a future where global warming lowers wind speeds enough to handicap the nascent wind industry.

    Author says climate change causes droughts, storms in Southeast
    Tennessean, October 14 – Forests are burning and being devastated by insects and the Southeast is suffering droughts alternating with severe storms as climate change grows, said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. He is in Nashville to promote solutions and talk about his new book, Last Chance: Preserving Life on Earth, on the global-warming-driven situation.

    ‘Monsoon style’ floods to hit Britain
    Telegraph, October 14 – The Royal Academy of Engineers said torrential downpours, like those experienced in tropical countries, have already been seen in the last few years in Boscastle, Morpeth, Tewkesbury and Crewkerne. As temperatures rise due to global warming the UK will have to be prepared for ‘monsoon style’ storms by building open drainage ditches beside urban roads, pourous pavements and storing water in reservoirs under car parks.

  4. Stephan says:

    Good to see that the country that makes up the biggest part of the Amazon is also taking the lead in maintaining it. Although Brazil has a bad record over the past regarding deforestation and their green house gas emissions, they are making a lot of efford right now to fight against climate change.

    For more positive info on the environment, have a look at this Green News.

  5. Remi says:

    A large hybrid SUV and a large house with a few controls and a solar panel is what we need! We need to keep the american dream alive where everyone can buy large things without feeling guilty, even though they consume lots of resources to build and operate even with a few green tweeks.

  6. Midwest says:


    I think the reporter either got the model of the vehicle wrong or chose a poor word in “hulking”. The Ford Escape is the smallest Ford SUV and the regular (non-plug-in) hybrid version gets 35mpg. But, point taken.