6 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for October 20: 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 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/assets/documents/PACE_Principles.pdf). 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.
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.
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.”
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.”