Wednesday, December 19, 2007

French Company to Build 32MWp of Solar Parks

French photovoltaic utility Solaire Direct and a leading French bank, Caisse des Depots, announced a JV company, Solaire Durance, which will build 32MWp in the South of France (Var region). The 32MWp will be split among 5 different solar parks, and the first solar park is expected to come online in the second half of 2008.
The installer, Solaire Direct was established in October 2006, and they raised €6.1 million of funding in June 2007 (from companies including TechFund, Schneider Electric Ventures, and Demeter Partners). They are now investing €3.81 million of that money in this JV, while Caisse des Depots is investing €4.44 million. Solaire Direct will own 50.25% of the new company.
The total spend on the 32MWp of solar parks is expected to be €140 million. 20% of this will be from direct investment (€28 million), and 80% will be borrowed.

PG&E signs first U.S. agreement to buy ocean energy

Utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company became the country's first utility on Tuesday to agree to buy renewable electricity made by the ebb and flow of ocean waves.
The energy will be captured by several buoys bobbing 2.5 miles off the California coast and then transmitted to shore by an undersea cable. At peak times, the electricity will light at least 1,400 homes.
"This is a first," said Robert Thresher of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the U.S. Department of Energy. "It implies that someone with money and experience is willing to invest and take a chance on this technology, which could be as popular as wind technology in only a few decades."
There is enough ocean wave energy surging off U.S. coasts to match the power generated from the country's hydroelectric dams, which account for 6.5 percent of its electricity use, said Roger Bedard, a specialist at the Energy Power Research Institute.
Harnessing the power of the ocean has been difficult and power obtained from tides and waves is, to date, barely measurable, according to the International Energy Agency. Yet demand for non-carbon and sustainable energy is growing.
"We are very optimistic about the potential for wave energy," said Jennifer Zerwer, a spokesperson for PG&E, which currently produces about 12 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. "We are even interested in generating tidal energy from the San Francisco Bay."
In this small program, PG&E has agreed to buy 3,854 megawatt-hours annually from Finavera Renewables Inc., a Canadian firm building the buoy system. The two-megawatt system expected to come online in 2012 off the coast of Eureka in northern California, a particularly windy and wavy area.
Neither company would disclose how much the installation will cost, how long the contract lasts, or how much PG&E will pay for the power. Industry experts say wave energy costs about $8-$12 million per megawatt.
"We believe the price will be significantly lower than that," said Myke Clark, a spokesman for Finavera Renewables. "But the reason this agreement is important is that it proves there is a demand out there for wave energy."
Local environmentalists say they will be watching what effect the installation has on the local habitat for Dungeness crab or on the ability of whales to migrate up the coast.
"On the other hand, as an environmentalist, I also see the advantage of weaning ourselves off fossil fuels," said Pete Nichols, executive director of Humboldt Baykeeper, an environmental organization. "I would say I'm a skeptical optimist."

Green Technology Investments to Boom in 2008

Venture capitalists are expecting to see green in the technology sector this coming year, and that is not just inside their wallets, as clean efficient technologies in the life sciences and the Internet are predicted to explode.
In fact, the industry is expected to invest about $27 billion in the industry, according to the consensus estimate of 170 venture capitalists polled by the National Venture Capital Association.
The news is good for budding green-leaning technology companies, as some in the investor expect even bigger numbers. The study found 25 percent of survey respondents forecast investments of $30 billion to $39 billion. That would be the most VC money poured into the tech sector since the 2000 bubble year.
“There are major opportunities for venture capitalists to totally reshape the energy market throughout the world as governments, consumers, and companies are demanding innovation in this space,” said NVCA president, Mark Heesen. “However, as has been demonstrated in the IT and life science arenas, investing in new technologies can be fraught with pitfalls and is not for the inexperienced or the faint of heart. Prudent, long-term, knowledge based investment in cutting edge technologies has been the hallmark of venture capital in the past and should be the mantra in the CleanTech space as well. Short-term ‘tourists’ should steer clear.”
In the survey, 80 percent of respondents said they will increase investments in this clean tech sector in 2008. In 2007, VCs invested $2.5 billion in CleanTech companies, or 9 percent of all funds invested. The percentage has risen steadily from 2 percent in 2003.
Source: TMCnet

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Prime Minister Rudd playing hard ball with US

KEVIN Rudd has demanded the US join the rest of the developed world in embracing targets to slash carbon emissions, insisting all developed nations must accept their responsibility for fighting climate change.

The Prime Minister told the UN climate change conference in Bali that global warming was threatening Australian natural wonders such as the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and rainforests, killing rivers and exposing people to more frequent and ferocious bushfires.

Mr Rudd's comments yesterday came as the US became a focus of increasing criticism at the conference, with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono warning that the push to tackle climate change would fail without a greater commitment from the world's richest nation, which is the only developed country yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol for cutting carbon emissions.

Mr Rudd, whose cabinet ratified Kyoto last week in its first decision after its victory in last month's election, did not mention the US by name yesterday but left no doubt as to his expectations of the world's largest carbon emitter.

"We need all developed nations - all developed nations - those within the framework of Kyoto and those outside that framework - to embrace comparable efforts in order to bring about the global outcomes the world now expects of us," Mr Rudd said.

"We expect all developed countries to embrace a further set of binding emissions targets and we need this meeting at Balito map out the process andtimeline in which this will happen."

Hundreds of delegates from around the world are meeting in Bali to establish a road map for the negotiation of a new emissions reduction deal, which will take effect after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Negotiations must be complete by 2009.

Mr Rudd, in his first international outing as Prime Minister, continued to refuse to quantify his preferred targets yesterday, despite a push within the conference for participants to agree to adopt emission reduction targets of between 25 per cent and 40 per cent by 2020.

A reference to this medium-term target is likely to be removed from a statement being negotiated at the conference after pressure from the US, Japan and Russia.

Mr Rudd has committed to only a 60 per cent reduction by 2050, but has reserved the right to delay a decision on short- and medium-term action until he receives a report from economist Ross Garnaut next year.

However, Mr Rudd significantly hardened his climate-change rhetoric, leaving no doubt he will embrace further cuts and warning that the consequences of inaction on climate change would be more serious than the cost of action.

"For Australians, climate change is no longer a distant threat, it's no longer a scientific theory," Mr Rudd said.

"Its an emerging reality. Our rivers are dying, bushfires are more ferocious and more frequent, our unique natural wonders - the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, our rainforests - are now at risk."
He said the challenges of climate change transcended "the old ideological, political and developmental divide" and demanded global action.

"The community of nations must reach agreement. There is no plan B. There is no other planet that we can escape to. We only have this one," he said.

He also acknowledged the legitimacy of the aspirations of developing nations to improve the lives of their citizens, committing his Government to fighting global poverty and assisting the developing world on climate change with financial incentives and sharing of new technologies.

After warm applause from the conference in recognition of his decision to reverse the Howard government's refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, Mr Rudd said his Government would revive Australia's long tradition of involvement in multilateral engagement.

"In the past we've been willing to put our shoulder to the wheel," Mr Rudd said. "What I say to this conference is that under the Government that I lead, we are doing so again."

Dr Yudhoyono, host of the conference, said all developed countries must be involved in the post-Kyoto framework.

"We must ensure that the United States of America, as the world's biggest economy ... and the world leader in technology is part of such a post-2012 arrangement," Dr Yudhoyono said.

"Because, otherwise we will not be able to effectively address the climate-change issue."

He also called on developed nations to accept that poorer nations must continue to develop.

While developing nations had to do their part in tackling climate change, advanced nations needed to understand their difficulty, he said.

"We must keep in mind that many in developing countries worry not about cars, airconditioning or cell phones, but whether they will have food on their plates," he said. "We must all do something differently and do something more."

Dr Yudhoyono said Indonesia was devoting its efforts to preserving 22 million hectares of rainforest to provide carbon sinks. It had planted 89 million trees this year and was cracking down on illegal logging.

To the source

Keeping Up the Power Shift: Senate Set to Take Second Stab at Energy Bill

Bits and pieces of information are coming in today indicating that the Senate is gearing up to take a second stab at passing an energy bill later this week.

After failing to pass the full energy bill passed by the House last week, Senate leaders negotiated over the weekend to seek a compromise that would net the bill the crucial 60 votes to overcome a Republican-led filibuster threat.

It appears they are nearing that compromise and a second attempt to end debate and pass the bill is scheduled for Thursday, December 13th. If it passes the Senate, the bill will return to the House for passage on Friday before heading to President Bush's desk. Whether or not the President will veto a bill expected to save Americans billions at the pump and on their utilities bills at a time of record high gas prices remains to be seen...

Word has it that the renewable energy standard has been dropped from the bill and that the bill will include a stripped down package of tax incentives for renewable energy. The final makeup of that tax package is still under negotiation and details are sparse, although it is expected to include a two-year extension of critical credits for renewable energy generation, enough to get us into a new President's term and a new Congress.

Clearly losing the renewable energy standard, which would have required large utilities to acquire 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, is a major disappointment (although Reid has pledged to try to pass it as a stand-alone bill in 2008).

The fact that the Senate has had such difficulty passing an energy bill with strong support for clean, domestic renewable energy is a clear sign that we've got a lot of work ahead of us to keep up the Power Shift! We need to work hard to ensure that political realities change over the next year to closely match what real reality demands of Congress!

However, it still looks like an energy bill well worth passing is heading for a vote tomorrow and it's time again to get on the phone and urge your Senators to get the job done and pass a clean energy bill!

The bill heading for a vote is expected to include:

  • The first increase in fuel economy standards in 30 years, up to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. These provisions will save American families $700 - $1000 per year at the pump, with $22 billion in net consumer savings in 2020 alone.

  • The best energy efficiency standards in U.S. history, including new efficiency standards for lighting, appliances and boilers and incentives for home weatherization and industrial energy efficiency. The bill also directs the federal government to be a leader in energy efficiency with cutting-edge, efficient building practices and lighting in all federal buildings.

  • A "Green Jobs" provision that creates an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Worker Training Program to train a quality workforce for “green” collar jobs -- such as solar panel manufacturer and green building construction worker -- created by federal renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. This program will provide training opportunities to our veterans, to those displaced by national energy and environmental policy and economic globalization, to individuals seeking pathways out of poverty, to at risk youth and to those workers in the energy field needing to update their skills.

  • A biofuels standard that requires 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2022, including at least 21 billion gallons that come from advanced biofuels that do not rely on corn or other edible feedstocks. While the expansion of corn-based ethanol raises environmental, economic and justice concerns, advanced biofuels using inedible biomass or even algae could displace significant amounts of oil and help decrease greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

  • Some clean energy tax package. The House version of the bill included $21 billion in tax incentives for renewable energy, energy efficiency and plug-in hybrid vehicles, financed in part by reinvesting $13.5 billion in unnecessary tax subsidies for Big Oil in the clean energy technologies of the future. The final Senate version will likely include a smaller tax package but should retain critical renewable energy tax incentives that will ensure the industry can continue to grow, providing more and more clean, domestic renewable energy for America.

So call your Senators today and urge them to finish the job and pass a clean energy bill tomorrow! The future prosperity of this country depends on the success of the clean, domestic energy technologies of the 21st Century, and this bill is a critical first step towards unlocking a clean energy revolution.

You should feel free to let your Senators know you were disappointed that they couldn't pass the House version of the energy bill, but tell them you expect them to still pass a strong bill tomorrow, including critical tax incentives for renewable energy generation.

So what are you waiting for? Get on the phone...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pelosi Cobbles Together Strong Energy Bill - Heading for Showdown in Senate

After long hours of negotiations that have stretched long into the night for the past week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to have cobbled together a deal that will send a strong energy bill out of the House, likely Thursday.

Rumors last month that essentially every major provision but increased fuel economy standards might get stripped from the bill followed by long weeks of speculation have given way today to confirmation that the energy package heading for a House floor vote tomorrow will include some version of every major clean energy provision under consideration: a 35 mpg CAFE standard, a biofuels standard, and in a surprise turn, both a 15% by 2020 national renewable electricity standard and a $21 billion tax package for clean energy sources.

The passage of the bill, expected tomorrow in the House, will be a major victory for Speaker Pelosi, who has fought hard to advance a strong energy bill to the floor over opposition from Republicans, industry and even influential members of her own party - namely influential Michigan Congressman John Dingell.

Even after securing passage in the House, the bill will be heading towards a tough vote in the Senate where opposition from ranking member of the Senate Energy Committee, Pete Domenici (R-NM) will mean the bill will require a filibuster-proof 60 votes to secure passage. And it won't end there: President Bush has re-iterated threats to veto the bill if it includes certain provisions, including a renewable electricity standard and tax provisions financed by ending subsidies for the oil and gas industry.

Details on the components of the energy package below. But first, a look at the tumultuous - and still-unfolding - saga of the 2007 Congressional Energy Bill.

The Energy Bill's Saga

After some Senate Republicans blocked a formal conference committee to reconcile the two version of the energy bill passed by the Senate and House this summer (see previous posts here and here), Democratic leaders opted to move forward without a formal conference. They have instead been meeting in closed sessions to hammer out details on what provisions are in and what are left on the cutting-room floor. They concluded those negotiations late last night and have referred a full bill to the House floor for a vote sometime Thursday.

While the hundreds-of-pages long bill includes scores of smaller provisions, including some excellent new energy efficiency provisions, four major provisions were at the center negotiations - and speculations - this past week:
  • A 35 mile-per gallon fuel economy standard (35 mpg CAFE) for cars and light trucks, the first increase in fuel economy standards in 30 years. The energy bill passed by the Senate included a 35 mpg CAFE provision while the House version did not. Senior Michigan Democrat and House Energy Committee Chairman, John Dingell had opposed the Senate version of the CAFE provision, pushing for a weaker update to CAFE standards.

  • A large biofuels requirements (a renewable fuels standard or RFS) that mandates billions of gallons of ethanol, biodiesel and other biofuels for use in U.S. cars and trucks. The Senate bill included a 36 billion gallon by 2022 biofuels standard, including 21 billion gallons from "advanced" biofuels like cellulosic ethanol. The House version had no renewable fuels title.

  • A 15% by 2020 renewable electricity standard (RES) requiring large electric utilities to acquire 15% of their electricity from renewable sources like wind, solar and geothermal energy by 2020. The Senate narrowly failed to pass a RES this summer, while the House succeeded in passing a standard for the first time in history.

  • Finally, a multi-billion dollar package of tax incentives for clean energy funded by ending subsidies and closing royalty loopholes enjoyed by the oil and gas industries. During the first "100 days" push, House Democrats passed a $32 billion tax package while the Senate again narrowly failed to pass a tax package; the House energy bill passed this summer did include a $16 billion tax package.

  • The fuel economy provisions were the source of contention between Speaker Pelosi and Energy Chairman Dingell, who has been a key advocate for the auto industry and fought the 35 mpg CAFE standards.

    The latter two provisions were the source of the most conflict between Democrats and Republicans, and between the House and the Senate, and have drawn veto threats from President Bush.

    Although of questionable environmental character, the biofuels package, in contrast, is widely seen as the political "glue" that holds the bill together, drawing in "farm state" Republican moderates.

    All this led to much speculation and anticipation over the course of what was a very secretive negotiation process, as small bits of information leaked of closed negotiation chambers and rumors spread.

    Veil of Secrecy Parted To Reveal Strong Energy Bill

    In the end, the bill heading to the House floor will be stronger than many - perhaps most - speculated, including some version of all four major provisions:
  • The bill includes a 35 MPG fleetwide CAFE standard, although it retains the "flex fuel vehicle loophole" that Detroit automakers exploit to help turn gas guzzling SUVs into 35 mpg machines on paper. The loophole is decreased in later years though. The CAFE standard also keeps separate standards for cars and light trucks/SUVs, potentially leaving the SUV loophole intact. Pelosi has issued assurances though that the seperate standards will still amount to a 35 mpg fleetwide average across all cars, light trucks and SUVs.

  • Also in the bill is a large biofuels standard, although details are still emerging on the renewable fuels title.

  • The bill includes the 15% by 2020 renewable electricity standard passed by the House earlier this year, although there have been some small modifications made (a lower price cap on the costs of compliance for example). Like the version passed by the House, utilities can meet up to 4% of the standard with energy efficiency (which I suppose makes it a 11% RES and 4% efficiency standard, although some utilities may opt for more than 11% renewables). The bill does not conflict with the 25 renewables standards already enacted by states.

  • Finally, in a surprise to many, the bill will include a $21 billion tax package which will be financed in part by ending $13 billion in subsidies for the oil industry. A provision in the original House bill to close unintended loopholes in offshore oil and gas royalty agreements was not included in the new bill.

  • The bill also includes a number of other provisions intended to advance America towards a clean energy future, including strong new energy efficiency standards and a "Green Jobs" provision intended to create 3 million new skilled jobs in the clean energy economy.

    Speaker Pelosi's summary of the bill can be found here.

    The Saga Continues... Showdown Looms in the Senate

    While the energy bill is expected to pass the House, where simply majority rules, it's fate in the Senate is still unclear. A "supermajority" of 60 votes will be required to move the bill in the Senate past Republican opposition in the form of a filibuster threat, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he is unsure whether or not he has the needed 60 votes.

    If the bill cannot secure passage in the Senate in it's current form, speculation is that Democrats will begin stripping provisions from the bill until 60 votes can be earned. What the bill looks like at the end of that process is still unclear, and the possibility of a presidential veto looms over the whole thing (sounds pretty familiar...).

    Stay tuned (and call your Senators!).

    Sunday, December 02, 2007

    What’s the Alternative? (Part 1)

    I was having a discussion with a friend the other day about the future of energy production. I think most people agree that fossil fuel based energy, weather from oil, coal or whatever, needs to be reduced and eventually eliminated. The reasons for this vary: limited supply, climate change, national security, etc. Whichever reason or reasons you believe, lets agree we need to find a better source for our energy needs. So what’s the alternative?

    The discussion led me to write this blog. As I started thinking about it, I realized this topic is probably too big to handle in a single blog, so I’m planning to to write a series of entries on this topic, each one touching on a different aspect or potential energy source. Total worldwide energy consumption in 2004 was about 15 TW, that’s 15,000,000,000,000 Watts (source). The energy production breakdown looks something like this:

    The basic breakdown is as follows:

    • Fossil Fuel (Oil, Coal, Gas): 75%
    • Renewables (Biomass, Hydro, Solar, Wind, etc.): 19%
    • Nuclear: 6%
    So, assuming fossil fuels are on their way out, I’ll focus on the others. I’ll also try to include some other potential sources such as hydrogen fuel cells. Next time I’ll start with Nuclear.

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Green$aver offers gift certificates to improve home energy efficiency

    Green$aver, a non-profit leader in home energy efficiency audits, is giving consumers the gift of improving home energy efficiency with home energy audit gift certificates.

    Consumers can choose either a preliminary energy assessment or a complete preliminary and post energy assessment to give as a gift certificate. The preliminary energy assessment guarantees a comprehensive visual inspection of the entire residence, a blower door test (a measurement of the change in air leakage in the house) and a computer modeling report that identifies where energy efficient upgrades will provide the greatest benefit. The energy assessment starts the qualification process for the homeowner to receive up to $5,000 for specific energy efficiency upgrades from the federal ecoENERGY(tm) Retrofit program. It also enables qualification for the Ontario provincial government's grant program, which will match the federal grant funds given. In order to complete the qualification process, after the energy upgrades are made, a post energy assessment is required.

    For more information, go to

    China: $3.2b to raise energy efficiency

    The government plans to spend 23.5 billion yuan ($3.2 billion) this year to raise energy efficiency and cut pollutant emissions, a senior finance official said Monday.
    The pricing regimes for energy and resources will also be reformed, and charges raised for wastewater treatment, said Zhang Shaochun, vice-minister of finance, at a national conference on energy efficiency.
    Of the fund, 7 billion yuan ($947.2 million) will be earmarked as grants to encourage major energy-efficient projects, Zhang said.
    Grants used to be disbursed based on the value of projects but Zhang said the amount now will depend on how much energy the projects can save.
    During the 2006-10 period, energy-efficient technological upgrading is expected to save 130 million tons of coal equivalent, Zhang said.
    "The more they save, the more grants they will get," he told finance officials.
    The energy efficiency of the projects will be appraised by independent third-party institutions, he added.
    Another 6.5 billion yuan ($879.6 million) will be channeled to build or upgrade pipeline networks for waste water treatment in the central and western regions, he said.
    The funds will be provided to provinces based on the total length of the networks and emission cuts in chemical oxygen demand (COD) - a key water pollution index - Zhang said.
    The remainder of the fund will be used for elimination of out-dated production capacities, monitoring pollution and control of river and lake pollution.
    The government has set a goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 20 percent during the 2006-10 period, or 4 percent each year, and cutting major pollutants by 10 percent by 2010.

    Smarter Energy Storage For Solar And Wind Power

    Development of the first hybrid battery suitable for storing electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind is now a step closer.
    CSIRO and Cleantech Ventures have invested in technology start-up Smart Storage Pty Ltd to develop and commercialise battery-based storage solutions.
    Director of the CSIRO Energy Transformed National Research Flagship Dr John Wright said the Smart Storage battery technology aims to deliver a low cost, high performance, high power stationary energy storage solution suitable for grid-connected and remote applications.
    “Cost effective, high performance energy storage has been the missing link for renewable energy,” he said.
    Current battery storage solutions undergo frequent deep discharging and are unable to meet high power demands. They are also considered expensive due to high initial cost and short battery life.
    “The Smart Storage technology is based on CSIRO’s ‘Ultrabattery’ which has been successfully trialled in hybrid vehicles,” Dr Wright said.
    Extensive technology development is now underway to produce a low cost and easily manufactured deep-cycle stationary battery that meets demanding variable operating conditions.
    “The Smart Storage technology is based on CSIRO’s ‘Ultrabattery’ which has been successfully trialled in hybrid vehicles,”
    Dr Wright said.
    The Smart Storage technology is a hybrid battery which combines an asymmetric ‘supercapacitor’ electrode and a lead-acid battery in a single unit cell. Advanced materials used for the electrodes and current management absorb and release charge rapidly and at efficiencies well above conventional battery types.
    It is expected that the discharge and charge power of the Smart Storage battery will be 50 per cent higher and its cycle-life at least three times longer than that of the conventional lead-acid counterpart.
    “Most importantly, our technology development path is directed towards manufacturing in existing lead-acid battery plants,” said Andrew Pickering, a Principal at Cleantech Ventures.
    “Too often new technologies simply aren’t affordable and that significantly retards market uptake.
    “Investments in energy storage technologies have excellent potential for strong returns given the growing market demand and the lack of viable solutions. We now have investments in two energy storage technology companies, V-Fuel which targets grid-scale renewable energy storage applications and now Smart Storage for smaller renewable energy systems.”

    OPEC putting up $750M for cleantech fund

    Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC, have pledged a total of $750 million to a new fund that will support research in clean technologies, including carbon capture and storage.

    "We are part of this world and the consequences of environmental and climatic changes affect our nations and peoples," said Prince Saud al-Faisal, the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, at a news conference in Riyadh.

    He said Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, would put up $300 million "to fund a program of scientific research relating to energy, environment and climate change."

    Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates each pledged $150 million to the fund.

    "We look forward to seeing producing and consuming countries alike contribute to the program, since it is in the common interest to deal with this issue in the optimal manner," said Prince Saud.

    In a statement following its third summit, OPEC said it would, "Stress the importance of cleaner and more efficient petroleum technologies for the protection of the local, regional and global environment, and the importance of expediting the development of technologies that address climate change, such as carbon capture and storage."

    Carbon capture technology involves trapping carbon dioxide and storing it underground. The technology is still in the development stage, with the U.K. just announcing a project to look into a commercial scale system (see UK launches carbon capture and storage project).

    OPEC will not be turning its back on oil. Prince Saud said "the emissions that cause pollution must be addressed so that we control this energy source which will remain important for a long time."

    Friday, November 23, 2007

    Chinese Students Taking a Stand to Stop Climate Change

    I came across this post ChinaDialogue by Peng Li, a Masters student at Tsinghua University. It's great to hear about Chinese students organizing for a sustainable future all across China. I hope we can build bridges across language barriers between youth climate movements in the West and in China. We stand in solidarity!

    Campus action: Chinese students take a stand
    By Peng Li November 02, 2007

    Universities across China are buzzing with green activity, says Peng Li. From book swaps and fashion shows, to climate conferences and the Live Earth concerts, student green groups are leading the way.

    Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University is well-known for its trees and lawns, but visit today and you might find yourself appreciating another kind of “green”. Bins to deposit batteries for recycling are dotted around, while paper recycling facilities are seen all about campus. There are regular second-hand markets where books, including unwanted textbooks, find new homes. Invitations to save water and electricity are posted next to taps and light switches.

    Environmental activities have become ever more frequent at Tsinghua over the last few years, and they now account for a significant proportion of the campus cultural life. “Green Tsinghua day” is in its tenth year, and includes exhibitions, lectures and events encouraging reduction in plastic bag usage and paper recycling. It has had a lasting effect on thousands of students; efforts by student green groups have succeeded in persuading many students to make changes to their day-to-day lifestyles.

    At Peking University, another of China’s leading universities, the environment is also a key concern. The Peking University Environment and Development Association is China’s longest-established campus green group. It has been involved in awareness-raising, educational and practical activities for 16 years. In October 2006 they formed the first youth group in China to focus on climate change: the Clean Development Mechanism Club, and produced the “Handbook for Youth Action on Climate Change”. On Earth Day this year, the group surveyed climate-change awareness across 19 Chinese universities, at the same time as it organised activities to educate students about the causes and consequences of climate change, its urgency and the students’ own responsibility. With support from the China Environmental Protection Foundation, the group is currently carrying out a campus energy audit to understand the contribution universities make to greenhouse-gas emissions.

    Beijing Normal University has also featured a range of green activities run by student environmental groups, including fashion shows with environmental themes such as “the atmosphere”, “forests” and “water”.

    Meanwhile, Jiaotong University Student Association in Shanghai left campus to visit the city’s most polluted district: Shenzhuang, and take the message of environmental protection into communities and schools.

    Beijing Jiaotong University has been promoting energy conservation and saving water since 1987, and has adopted a range of technologies to achieve this end. In all, the university says, it has saved 5 million cubic metres of water and 1.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity. This tradition is an important part of what students are taught and are encouraged to sustain, and it has become an important part of the university’s culture.

    Some universities are even making these ideals a compulsory part of student life. Zhejiang Forestry Institute has far stronger rules on the use of water, power, air-conditioning and public spaces than many other institutions.

    Now, whether you are at Fudan University, Nanjing University or Xi’an Jiaotong University, almost all of China’s universities have students working to promote environmental awareness, persuading hundreds of thousands of fellow students to make changes to their lifestyles.

    Active student environmental groups in China number 2,500, according to incomplete statistics. And they are linking up, exchanging experiences and organising regional – and even national – events. For example:

    • In March, Campus green groups in Chongqing joined forces to publish guidelines for student groups working on climate-change issues, with the aim of launching large-scale activities to promote water conservation, energy efficiency and emissions reduction.

    • A number of Chinese universities, including Wuhan University and Renmin University, held a conference in Wuhan in June to promote on-campus green activities.

    • In July, the Shanghai Live Earth concert became a platform on which the China University Students Environmental Organisation Forum brought together student green groups to make a statement on the need to combat climate change.

    • Students from nine universities in Beijing used their summer vacation to teach cadres, farmers and teachers in rural areas about environmental technology.

    • In August, groups including Peking University’s Clean Development Mechanism Club and the China University Students Environmental Organisation Forum formed the China Youth Climate Change Action Network to guide student and youth projects on environmental issues. Twenty-three of these groups are developing a database of power use and emissions on China’s campuses. 

    • Eleven universities and research institutes, including Beijing Forestry University, North-Eastern Forestry University and Nanjing Forestry University, in October held a competition to increase understanding of forestry’s relation to climate-change issues.

    Hope for the future

    From energy efficiency to mitigating climate change, China’s students are looking for solutions. A lack of resources and experience, fundraising, management and publicity do present problems, and it is often difficult for groups to feel they have a lasting and wide-ranging impact. If they continue to care and to act, however, progress will continue.

    Chinese people sometimes refer to university students as “flowers of the motherland.” When our students graduate and leave university, their green lifestyles and concern for the environment will influence society as a whole. Let us hope that the Chinese people, already enjoying the fruits of economic growth, will then come to live more environmentally friendly lives and show concern for the worsening ecology of China and the world – and work to find solutions.

    Billy Parish Tells Congress "This Young Generation is Ready to Carry Out a Historic Power Shift"

    The following is the testimony delivered by Energy Action Coalition co-founder and coordinator, Billy Parish before the House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence during Power Shift 2007 Lobby Day, November 5th, 2007.

    It's taken me too long to get this posted, but it's well worth watching/reading. (The sound is not in synch with the video unfortunately, but here it is nonetheless. The full text is below the fold).

    For those who were there, let us remember that we have delivered a loud and clear message to our leaders on Congress. For those who missed Billy's inspiring testimony, read on or listen to/watch the video. Let us all keep our call for "Green Jobs", "80% by '50" and "No New Coal" as loud and clear as it was on the 5th of November. Thanks Billy for this testimony and for all you've done:

    Thank you, Chairman Markey, for inviting us here today. I want to also thank you and Speaker Pelosi for addressing Power Shift on Saturday night, and for your leadership over the past 30 years on these critical issues. I want to finally recognize the thousands of young people today standing shoulder to shoulder for the largest climate lobby day in U.S. history.

    Remember, remember, the 5th of November. An unstoppable movement has taken root in every school and every community in this nation. A generation has come to Washington today to lead, to be heard, and to find allies in this Congress who are ready to do what is necessary to solve our climate crisis.

    My name is Billy Parish, and I'm the coordinator of the Energy Action Coalition, a diverse alliance of 46 organizations working to support and strengthen the student and youth clean energy movement in the U.S. and Canada to create change for a clean, efficient, just and renewable energy future. I have brought with me our coalition's "Youth Statement of Principles on Climate and Energy" and other supporting documents for the Congressional record.

    We come here today with three demands for Congress:

    1. Create 5 million new jobs through a Clean Energy Corps to weatherize, solarize, rewire and rebuild this country. Let’s put people to work, and create green pathways out of poverty. Green Jobs Now! Green Jobs Now! Green Jobs Now!

    2. Cut Carbon at least 80% by 2050, 30% by 2020 and auction 100% of the pollution allowances from day 1. Science tells us we can aim for nothing less. 80 by 50! 80 by 50! 80 by 50!

    3. Pass an immediate moratorium on the construction of new coal plants. We should shift all federal subsidies from fossil fuels and nuclear to wind and solar, and create a just transition for workers from the old economy into the new green economy. No Coal! No Coal! No Coal!

    We will be heard because at 50 million strong, the Millennial generation outnumbers even the Baby Boomers by 3 million and represents the single-largest demographic age group in this country. Polling data, recent voter turnout, and the swelling ranks and increasing coordination of the youth climate movement all demonstrate that this young generation is engaged and ready to carry out a historic Power Shift. Youth turnout in the past two elections hit the highest level in at least 20 years, and is only on the rise.

    We are not alone: youth are assembling coalitions that are bringing together a diverse and powerful set of allies including unions, businesses, people of faith, farmers, civil rights groups and millions more. And we are not just here in D.C., we are in every Congressional district in America - and we are organizing.

    Politicians would be wise to take note. Exactly one year from today, we will have a new Congress and a new President. You have one year to prove that you are worthy of being our “representatives” in this government – and if you don’t, you will need to look for a new job, as millions of young voters throw their support behind more progressive, pro-environment candidates committed to ending the climate crisis and protecting the future of our generation.

    We will be heard because we are the ones we've been waiting for.

    As the Bush Administration and our federal government has done almost nothing for the last seven years, young people have organized and made change. Through the Campus Climate Challenge, tens of thousands of young people have engaged in the hard work of making their schools models of sustainability for the rest of society. In just the last year, 426 colleges have committed to becoming climate neutral, and more sign on every day.

    We are building partnerships with community groups to block the construction of new coal-fired power plants and launch a green wave of urban and rural renewal. As our government abandoned the people of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, tens of thousands of young people dropped everything to serve and rebuild. Over 6,000 of us came to Power Shift this weekend, thousands more took part in Step it Up around the country - a generation of solutions, but we know we cannot do it alone and have come to seek your help.

    And we will be heard because we are, quite literally, fighting for our lives.

    This can no longer be a political issue – for the survival of our people and our planet, we must put aside partisan politics and come together as humans, as mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, to heal ourselves and our planet.

    This is no small task.

    As Evon Peter told us on Saturday night, this is not only an ecological and economic crisis, it is a spiritual and cultural crisis that is centuries old. We must begin the long process of reconciliation with the original peoples of this land, with the people that were brought here against their will, especially those from Africa, and all the people that are poorly served by our society. We cannot sacrifice communities for our overconsumption today, not only because it is wrong for those communities today but because we will be sacrificing the basis of life for our children and future generations.

    I'm 26 years old and about to become a father. I implore the members of this 110th Congress to hear our demands – but I ask that you hear them not only as politicians, but also as mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. We can do this if we work together, but we must begin today.

    1. Green Jobs Now! Green Jobs Now! Green Jobs Now!

    2. 80 by 50! 80 by 50! 80 by 50!

    3. No Coal! No Coal! No Coal!

    Thank you.

    Other inspiring testimony from the Select Committee Hearing on Nov. 5th can be found online at The Gavel here.

    Sunday, November 18, 2007

    Ten Midwest Leaders Sign A Regional Climate Agreement

    From, by Juliana Williams:

    Today the Governors of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Kansas, Ohio, South Dakota and the Premier of Manitoba signed the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord at the Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) Energy Security and Climate Change Summit (See here, here and here).

    The Accord will

    • Establish greenhouse gas reduction targets and timeframes consistent with MGA member states’ targets;

    • Develop a market-based and multi-sector cap-and-trade mechanism to help achieve those reduction targets;

    • Establish a system to enable tracking, management, and crediting for entities that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and

    • Develop and implement additional steps as needed to achieve the reduction targets, such as a low-carbon fuel standards and regional incentives and funding mechanisms.

    Indiana, Ohio and South Dakota are observing participants in the Accord, which means that the reduction system will include the three states but they will not be bound by the reduction targets. In addition to the Accord, the Governors of Nebraska and North Dakota joined the rest of the MGA in establishing the Energy Security and Climate Stewardship Platform which sets regional goals for advancing energy efficiency, promoting biobased products, producing renewable electricity, and developing advance coal and carbon capture and storage technology.

    This is the third major regional climate agreement in the country, following the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in the Northeast and the Western Climate Initiative. Between these three regional agreements, twenty US states, and two Canadian Provinces have adopted plans for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, with another seven states and two provinces as observers to the agreements. This means that well over HALF of the states in the United States are part of regional greenhouse gas reduction agreements. Almost half of the states in the United States have passed Renewable Electricity Standards (RES) or goals for state renewable energy use. Over 500 mayors have signed the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.

    With so much leadership in fighting global warming across the country, you would think that Congress would get it's act together and do something on the national level. Perhaps with this bipartisan move in the Midwest, the Senators and Representatives from these states will listen to their constituents and support a strong Energy Bill that includes both a national Renewable Energy Standard and increased fuel economy (CAFE standards). Maybe they just need to hear this message again and again. Well, as Rep. Ed Markey said at Power Shift 2007, youth need to be the voice of impatience in this country. Let's make them listen!

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Time Magazine Says Its Time for Washington D.C. to Listen to the Millenials on Global Warming

    "With the Millennials set to be the largest demographic bloc in America history, it might be time for Washington to listen" to them when it comes to Climate Change, says Time Magazine in an article published online last week.

    In the wake of Power Shift 2007 and Step It Up 2, Time Magazine ran a story featuring interviews with Energy Action's Jessy Tolkan, 20-year old University of Tennessee-Knoxville junior, Katelyn McCormick, and yours-truly, Jesse Jenkins of the Cascade Climate Network. The story is accompanied by a long podcast interview with author, activist and Step It Up co-founder Bill McKibben.

    After talking about Power Shift in the intro paragraphs, the article gets into the main story: individual actions are insufficient to solve the climate crisis and it's high time to organize for climate solutions:
    Over the past few years there has been a grassroots groundswell on global warming, but the focus has been on personal action, small behavioral changes individuals can make — or more often, buy — to reduce their impact on the Earth. It's the light bulb theory — switch your wasteful incandescent lights for more energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, and you're doing your bit to save the planet.

    But while individual action is important — and the increasing ubiquity of green consumerism is a sign that the business world is getting the environmental message — the sheer scale of the climate challenge is so overwhelming that only a worldwide revolution in the way we use energy will be enough to stave off the worst consequences. That requires far-sighted political action from the top, starting in the capital of the world's biggest carbon emitter: Washington. Unfortunately, while scattered cities and states across America have begun to move on climate change — Gov. Schwarzenegger, take a bow — the federal government has been more roadblock than revolutionary.

    That will change only if politicians hear loud and clear that global warming matters to Americans, not just in the brand of light bulbs they buy, but where they cast their vote. The focus on individual solutions "rings hollow to a lot of people," says Jesse Jenkins, a member of the Cascade Climate Network and an environmental blogger. "The solution is to organize and organize and organize." And the agents of that change will be young people like Jenkins and Tolkan, the college-age members of the Millennial generation, born after 1980. These post Cold War kids have grown up with the threat of global warming — just as their parents grew up with the fear of nuclear war — and they know that they'll be left to cope with a warmer world tomorrow if nothing is done to slow carbon emissions today.

    So can Millennials shake off their reputation for apathy and create environmental change on a national level? Last weekend suggests they might be on their way. At the Power Shift conference, student activists gave testimony to members of Congress and demanded a slew of aggressive measures on climate change, including a 30% cut in carbon emissions by 2020 and 80% cuts by 2050. While students marched on Washington, activists from around the country launched Step It Up 2 on Nov. 3, a nationwide, single-day campaign to kickstart political movement on climate change. ...

    For the Millennials, climate change is emerging as the defining issue of their time, just as civil rights or Vietnam might have been for the generation before. "This is a new generation that sees itself at the forefront of a great movement, just like the greatest movements of the past," says Tolkan. With health care, Iraq and the economy all jostling for voters' attention, it remains to be seen whether climate change — still an amorphous threat to most Americans — can seize center stage, but Washington should know that there is a growing core of young activists out there who care about nothing more. "This past weekend, we gave politicians a bit of a heads up that we're watching and we're demanding change," says Katelyn McCormick, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. "We've said what we want and now it's time for them to do something about it." With the Millennials set to be the largest demographic bloc in America history, it might be time for Washington to listen.

    Sounds like someone read this...

    Al Gore joins Kleiner Perkins

    Al Gore, the former vice president of the United States and co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, is becoming a partner at Silicon Valley's most storied venture capital firm.

    Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers said on Monday that Gore, a campaigner for action to slow global climate change, will join the Menlo Park, California-based venture capital firm as a partner focused on alternative energy investments.

    The venture firm, which since 1972 has backed seminal computer start-ups ranging from Sun Microsystems to Compaq Computer to to Google Inc, has emerged in recent years as a leading funder of alternative energy companies.

    Gore, 59, is joining the Kleiner board as part of a collaboration between his Generation Investment Management fund and Kleiner Perkins to fund so-called "green" business, technology and policies that address global climate change.

    Other active or affiliated partners at Kleiner Perkins include legendary computer company backer John Doerr, alternative energy financier Vinod Khosla and former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

    Kleiner Perkins plans to co-locate their European operations at Generation's offices in London. In addition, Doerr, Silicon Valley's best-known venture capitalist and long a major backer of Gore's political and policy efforts, will join Generation's advisory board, the two organizations said.

    Kleiner has historically focused on making investments in and around Silicon Valley. However, it recently expanded operations in China. And as it moves into energy investments, it has taken on a more global profile in its operations.

    Here's a look at ten of Kleiner's 26 "green" investments.

    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    Legislative Shenanigans Underway on Congressional Energy Bill

    As Democrat and Republican leaders maneuver, negotiate, and deal on the Congressional Energy Bill this week, there appears to be some nefarious shenanigans underfoot and a possible cave-in on support for renewable energy in process. Now might be time to call your Senators and Representatives...

    Energy Bill Shenanigans

    First, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) is working to strip the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) title out of the Senate Energy Bill and attach it wholesale to the Ag Bill currently under debate in the Senate. Domenici claims he's just trying to save the RFS from the potentially floundering Energy Bill, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says he's got more sinister motives.

    According to lots of folks, including Reid, Domenici is really trying to kill the Energy Bill with this move.

    Remember that Domenici was the man who led the filibuster in the Senate that blocked both the Renewable Electricity Standard and the tax package that would have shifted billions in unnecessary royalties and closed loopholes to provide $32 billion in tax incentives from the oil and gas industries to fund clean, renewable energy.

    As David Roberts at GristMill writes,
    "The RFS is one of the key planks holding support for the energy bill together, bringing in some midwestern Republicans to compensate for the auto and oil Dems that have bailed [due to fuel economy standrd increases and the shift in subsidies from oil to renewables]. If the RFS falls out of the energy bill, the coalition falls apart."
    So by pulling out the Renewable Fuels Standard, Domenici seems to be trying to pull the plug on the embattled Energy Bill. Without the RFS, and the farm-state Rs it brings along, the Energy Bill is unlikely to get the 60 votes necessary to pass filibuster in the Senate (likely led - again! - by Senator Domenici).

    And as if that's not bad enough, Mr. D. is also trying to tack on his beloved massive loan guarantee for new nuclear power plants to the Ag Bill.

    Yeah, "what do nukes have to do with agriculture?" Well, not much, but Domenici plans to try to make it germane by calling the federal loan guarantees "loan guarantees for renewable fuel facilities." Then in a bit of wonderful D.C. trickery, the amendment lumps nuclear power plants within the list of eligible "renewable fuel facilities." Nice one Pete.

    The loan guarantees, which total $50 billion in the Senate version of the Energy Bill, would essentially put John and Jane Q. Taxpayer on the hook for any loan defaults by new nuclear power plant developers. The guarantees are necessary because no sane investment bank would finance a new nuclear power plant given the risk and uncertainty in permitting a new nuke.

    So when Wall Street won't foot the bill for new nukes, let's put our taxpayers on the hook, or at least that's Senator Domenici's philosophy here. Good thing nuke developers have never defaulted on loans before ... oh wait!

    All part of retiring Senator Domenici's legacy of fighting renewable energy. He can't retire soon enough, if you ask me.

    Possible Cave-in on Renewable Energy Brewing

    So, with influential Republicans working to kill the fragile coalition supporting the Energy Bill, embattled Democratic leaders are considering jettisoning the support for renewable energy in the House version of the Energy Bill.

    According to rumors flying around D.C. and across the blogosphere, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid are considering stripping the 15% by 2020 Renewable Electricity Standard (or Renewable Portfolio Standard) and the $32 billion tax package for renewable energy from the Energy Bill in order to try to keep increased fuel economy standards in the bill.

    Stripping the RES and the tax title would mean Dems had been forced to cave on just about everything that President Bush has complained about and Senator Rs had fought against.

    The 35 mpg by 2020 increase in CAFE standards is critical, especially at a time when oil is trading at nearly $100 per barrel. However, the support for clean, homegrown renewable energy in the Energy Bill is equally critical and the Democratic Leadership needs to be clear that the RES and tax title are not ballast to be thrown overboard in stormy waters.

    It's time to send Pelosi, Reid and your own reps and senators a clear message that the Energy Bill must include all three provisions: increased fuel economy standards, a renewable electricity standard, AND a tax package for clean, renewable energy.

    Let President Bush veto a critical energy bill at a time of record high energy prices and explain that to the American people. Let House and Senate Rs explain why they blocked efforts to save Americans energy and money, help kick our oil addiction, invest in clean, homegrown, renewable energy sources and put America on a path to a sustainable and prosperous energy future.

    But DO NOT cave in.

    This isn't the "change" we voted for in November 2006, and we'll be voting for new leaders in 2008 if our current set can't get the job done.

    Keep the Heat On and Focus the Nation!

    [This is a guest post by Alex Tinker:]

    The powers that be in Washington DC heard loud and clear at Power Shift 2007 this weekend that the Youth Climate Movement will not be sated with lip service and policy band-aids that don't address the true scope of the climate crisis.

    This movement is made up of hundreds of thousands of dedicated individuals, but dedication alone isn't what's forcing our leaders to listen and act. We must engage millions of constituents across the country, and turn the heat up on every politician who isn't already a leader on climate change.

    The raw enthusiasm unleashed in the capitol this weekend is just a sliver what's happening nation-wide; what we're witnessing is a movement that will change the world. Wondering what's next?

    Well in less than 90 days, millions of students, educators, citizens and people of faith will combine the knowledge of academia with the drive our generation has sparked to create the largest teach-in in U.S. history: Focus the Nation, a nationwide day of education and civic engagement on climate solutions on January 31st, 2008.

    Not only will we help more people get educated on the issue, we will take that knowledge into a solution-oriented discussion with politicians where we get to grill them on how well educated they are on this crisis. And then, we'll vote on top solutions and send the word back to Washington DC and our state capitols.

    Will your campus and community make history? Is your community a part of the solution yet? How can you make it happen there?

    Check out our new Organizer's HQ with all the tools you need to harness this weekend's excitement back at home and lead your community to the brighter, cleaner, more just future we deserve and demand.

    Consider this a call to all are inspired by this growing momentum to Focus the Nation so we can hit DC with another wave of the ongoing power shift on February 1st.

    Let's keep the heat on: Focus the Nation!

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    LED Lighting Fixtures raises $ 16,5M to market energy efficient LED products

    (LLF), which develops and markets the first and only viable light fixtures for general illumination from LED light sources, today announced that it has raised $16.5 million in an equity financing round which was lead by Digital Power Capital LLC, a Wexford Capital fund. LLF plans to use the proceeds to significantly expand its product line and accelerate research and development efforts.
    Mark Mills, Founding Partner of Digital Power Capital, said, "We are deeply impressed with the comprehensive intellectual property, in addition to the technology savvy and remarkably capable team at LLF. Our fund is interested in companies that are leaders of change for power conversion in the 21st century, especially where emerging technologies provide both efficiency and inherently superior qualities. LLF is clearly at the epicenter of this transformation and will likely change the lighting industry."
    According to Mike Rogers, LLF's President, "We are thrilled by the market acceptance of our product and the strong demand that we are seeing. With the close of our financing round, we expect to launch new products early next year that will include a four-inch downlight as well as a recessed architectural lay-in fixture that will be suitable for commercial and office environments."

    Power grid efficiency expert Optimal Technologies raises $ 25M from Goldman Sachs

    Series B Financing Will Enable Optimal to Complete Solutions that Drive Efficiencies Throughout Power Systems.
    Optimal Technologies International Inc. today announced that it has secured $25 million in financing from Goldman Sachs International to accelerate its growth and expand its market presence. The investment will allow Optimal to continue building out its product offering for energy utilities, businesses and consumers. Specifically, Optimal will complete the development of its technology that optimizes electric power systems from origin to end-user. The investment includes an immediate payment of $13 million to be followed by milestone payments over the next 12 months.
    Optimal’s product suite includes supply side electric power grid optimization and analysis software, called AEMPFAST™ (pron: aim-fast), and a demand side energy efficiency and automation system called SUREFAST™, to be launched in 2008.

    Thursday, November 01, 2007

    Majora Carter Says Showing Up For Climate Solutions is MORE Than Half the Battle

    GI Joe has got it wrong, according to Majora Carter, the dynamic Executive Director of Sustainable South Bronx. Carter, who works to connect poverty alleviation and the environment in ways that benefit both concerns, argues that "showing up is more than half the battle."

    Well plenty of young people - roughly 5,500 in fact - will be showing up at this weekend's Power Shift 2007 conference, the first national youth summit to address the climate crisis, November 2nd-5th. The summit, the largest-ever of it's kind, will bring students and youth from every state in the nation together for a weekend of training, action, and movement-building in College Park, Maryland, outside of Washington D.C.

    The Energy Action Coalition and Power Shift outreach and organizing team recently talked to Majora about the upcoming national youth climate summit and the broader youth climate movement.

    Power Shift: What made you excited to participate in Power Shift as a speaker?

    Majora Carter: I never had a chance like this when I was young—or even lately for that matter. This is a unique experience that I want to contribute to. We need reinforcements out here, and I don't want to have [young people] start from nothing. If I can pass on anything I have learned, then it is my duty and distinct pleasure to do so.

    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    Michael Shellenberger Says It's Time for a Breakthrough (Part 2)

    In the second and final part of our interview with Michael Shellenberger, the Energy Action Coalition and the Power Shift organizing and outreach team chat with the author of "The Death of Environmentalism" and the new book Break Through about the exciting "break through potential" of young climate activists and their role in the broader movement for climate solutions.

    Part one of the interview can be found here.

    Power Shift: What kind of impact do you see the youth climate movement having on electoral politics (especially the 2008 elections)? How can youth maximize their impact?

    Michael Shellenberger: For students and young Americans to have a powerful impact they'll need to challenge the assumptions of the older generation of political and environmental leaders who often treat anyone under 30 as water-carriers for outmoded ideas.

    What can be done to win action on global warming in Congress?

    We need to shift our political and policy framework from a narrow focus on stopping global warming through pollution limits to an expansive vision of making clean energy cheap, creating jobs, and achieving energy independence through investment and innovation. Not only is this framework more in line with core American values of ingenuity, enterprise, and creativity, it is also far more popular.

    Do you see the new generation of young climate activists as an opportunity to shift the prevailing mindset of the environmental movement?

    Yes. Young Americans aren't yet locked into the older environmental movement's pollution paradigm and politics of limits, and thus tend to be more open to embracing a more expansive framework for dealing with the challenge. One place for that is through Breakthrough Generation, a new student group affiliated with the Breakthrough Institute, which was founded by Teryn [Norris] and Aden [Van Noppen]. They'll be having their first national meeting next January.

    But, that being said, there are still plenty of young environmentalists who think like old environmental leaders.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    Michael Shellenberger Says It's Time For A Breakthrough

    Youth climate activists must shift their focus from simply avoiding the impending global warming apocalypse to articulating a vision of a new prosperous and sustainable clean energy economy, says Michael Shellenberger, Power Shift 2007 speaker and coauthor of the new book, Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility.

    Shellenberger - well-known for kicking up a stir with the controversial essay, "The Death of Environmentalism," co-authored with his "partner-in-crime" Ted Nordhaus in 2004 - is now the President of the Breakthrough Institute, a small think tank which focuses on a new kind of progressive politics.

    This weekend, Shellenberger will share his vision of a new, "post-environmentalist," progressive climate movement with attendees at Power Shift 2007, the first national youth climate summit, November 2nd-5th in D.C.

    Registration for Power Shift has topped 5,000 people, making the event the largest climate summit in history!

    Energy Action Coalition and the Power Shift organizing and outreach team recently chatted with Michael to get a sneak peak of what Power Shift attendees will be in store for this weekend.

    In this first part of the interview, Michael discusses his vision of a new investment-centric paradigm for the climate movement. In Part Two (coming tomorrow), we ask Michael about the exciting "break through potential" of young climate activists and their role in the broader movement for climate solutions.

    Power Shift: "The Death of Environmentalism," which you wrote before the November 2004 elections, was a seminal piece among young climate activists. It is currently being taught in most college environmental studies classes. What led you to write it?

    Michael Shellenberger: [Ted Nordhaus and I] wrote the essay because we were frustrated that the older generation of environmental leaders was stuck in an older pollution paradigm and a politics of limits that simply can't deal with the monumental challenge of global warming.

    At the time, you told that you released the essay at the annual meeting of environmental grantmakers because there was no other forum to have those kinds of conversations. Has that changed?

    It's changing. For example, it's great to see that Power Shift [the first national youth climate summit] is happening. Our hope is that a substantial group of young people will see the challenge we face as fundamentally intellectual and conceptual — not just strategic and tactical.

    This isn't simply a matter of mobilizing a few more campus groups or passing another city-wide or state-wide resolution about the need for pollution limits. Global warming is a civilization-wide challenge, one that demands our best thinking and largest selves.

    You criticize the pollution paradigm. But isn't global warming a pollution problem?

    Sure — but it's not just a pollution problem. It's connected to fundamental questions of economic development for very poor people in places like China and Brazil and India. And it's also a psychological challenge.

    But here's the biggest paradox: global warming can't be fixed through pollution limits alone. We might get to 30 percent emissions reductions by 2050 – in the U.S. But we need to reduce our emissions 80 percent by 2050. As importantly, we need a solution that will help countries like China and India – which aren't asking our permission to burn coal and oil – to achieve economic development while also reducing their emissions.

    How can that be done?

    The most important thing we can do is bring down the price of clean energy as quickly as possible. This requires huge breakthroughs in the price and performance of clean energy technologies like solar and wind. And that requires big public-private investment – on the order of $50 - $250 billion per year.

    Why should this message appeal to young climate activists?

    The vast majority of young people we meet who are concerned about global warming tell us that they are more inspired by a new vision of accelerating the transition to a global, clean energy economy than they are by the old vision of avoiding global warming apocalypse.

    You've been faulted for not being more specific.

    We wanted our book to reach a wider audience than environmental policy experts. That said, it's great that there's interest in policy questions. Young people in particular need to pay attention to what specific energy policies will do and what they won't do. For that reason we wrote a white paper called "Fast Clean Cheap" that will be published in the Harvard Law and Policy Review in January. We co-authored it with Teryn Norris, a sophomore at Johns Hopkins and Aden Van Noppen, a junior at Brown University. It can be downloaded from our web site.

    Is this what you mean by global warming being a "psychological challenge"?

    Yes, in part. We have to recognize that while global warming might be the biggest and most important issue for us personally, it may never be that for most Americans. It's notable that after "An Inconvenient Truth" came out, global warming actually declined in importance for most Americans, hovering around 15th out of 20 or so issues.

    What are the implications of that?

    We have to stop being so goddamn literal about this. Let's make this about national security. About prosperity. About clean energy jobs. Those are higher priorities for voters than global warming – and they help us to get the political action we need.

    Aren't regulations needed, too?

    Yes. They are needed to get the low-hanging fruit of emissions reductions through conservation, efficiency, and wind. But the big gains will come from investment. If done right, the global warming regulations being debated in Congress could generate the $50 to $250 billion per year we need.

    Stay tuned for Part Two of this interview with Michael Shellenberger (coming tomorrow). For other interviews in this series see:

  • Bill McKibben Says It’s Time to “Organize, Organize, Organize” for a Cleaner Future

  • ________________________________

    Michael Shellenberger is an author, political strategist and co-founder and president of the Breakthrough Institute. His most recent book is Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalist to the Politics of Possibility.

    More information, agenda and registration for Power Shift are available at and information on Energy Action Coalition is available at

    Check out It's Getting Hot In Here for frequent dispatches from the youth climate movement.

    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Bill McKibben Says It's Time to "Organize, Organize, Organize" for a Cleaner Future

    Bill McKibben has three pieces of advice for people who want to make a difference in the fight against global warming:

    "1: Organize. 2. Organize. 3. Organize," says the well-beloved author, educator, climate activist and co-founder of Step It Up.

    Only then does he add his fourth piece of advice: "After that, if they have some energy left, by all means change the light-bulbs."

    And to the young climate activists who are putting together a growing and increasingly sophisticated youth climate movement, McKibben says, "Keep it up!" This weekend, over 5,000 young leaders will converge in Washington D.C. for Power Shift 2007, the first-ever national youth climate summit, organized by the Energy Action Coalition. Back at home, tens of thousands more youth will be joining in hundreds of actions in their home communities as part of the second nationwide Step It Up day of action, November 3rd.

    Energy Action Coalition and the Power Shift organizing and outreach team caught up with Bill McKibben for a quick interview today to get his perspective on the upcoming youth climate events in DC and around the nation:

    Energy Action/Power Shift Team: With Power Shift on the horizon, what stage of development do you see the youth climate movement at? Where is it going next?

    Bill McKibben: This wave has just begun to build, and it's not even close to cresting. This will prove to be the biggest student movement—and the biggest social movement in general—since the end of the war in Vietnam.

    What do you consider the youth climate movement's biggest task after Power Shift?

    I think that it will increasingly join with the broader activist movement around climate change exemplified by the new 1Sky coalition. Important as it is to change campus policies, etc., the real fight is over federal policy.

    What kind of impact do you see the youth climate movement having on electoral politics (especially the 2008 elections)? How can youth maximize their impact?

    By making it clear that they are casting their votes on one primary issue—the transition to a new energy system.

    If you could give one piece of advice/say just one thing to the members of the youth climate movement, what would it be?

    Keep it up!

    What, in your estimation, will be the biggest deciding factor/have the biggest impact on making positive legislative as quickly as possible?

    How much political pressure we can muster. So far so good—efforts like StepItUp have changed the Capitol Hill debate a lot already, but they are nowhere near where they need to be be.

    What are you personally working on after Power Shift?

    We're trying out figure out how to help support an international grass roots movement.

    When you talk to people about climate change, what do you encourage them to do to make a difference?

    1--organize. 2--organize. 3--organize. 4--if they have some energy left, by all means change the light-bulbs.

    What is your favorite aspect of the "1 Sky" Principles?

    That they've been agreed on by the widest possible range of activists. We have a real chance to have a movement that doesn't factionalize, split apart on the basis of age, etc.

    Anything else you'd like to add?

    This weekend—the culmination of StepItUp, the glory of Power Shift, the launch of 1Sky—will be the most exciting and important few days in the history of the American fight for action against global warming!

    Thanks Bill for the interview and for all you're doing to help spark a movement, get organized, and make a difference!


    Bill McKibben is an author, environmentalist, activist and educator. His most recent books are Fight Global Warming Now: The Handbook for Taking Action in Your Community and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College in Vermont and the co-founder of Step It Up successfully led the organization of the largest demonstrations against global warming in American history. McKibben and the Step It Up crew are at it again, organizing another nationwide day of actions for this Saturday, November 3rd, 2007.

    More information, agenda and registration for Power Shift are available at and information on Energy Action Coalition is available at

    Saturday, October 27, 2007

    Global Warming Claims Island Community, Displaces 2,000 in Papua New Guinea

    The 2,000 residents of the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea are now some of the world's first climate change refuges, as rising sea levels driven by global warming have claimed their island homes. The residents of the low-lying South Pacific atolls have given up their 20-year losing fight against rising seas and will be resettled elsewhere in Papua New Guinea.

    [From Pacific Islands Report:]

    The Carteret Islands are almost invisible on a map of the South Pacific, but the horseshoe scattering of atolls in eastern-most Papua New Guinea is on the front line of climate change, as rising sea levels and storm surges eat away at their existence.

    For 20 years, the 2,000 islanders living there have fought a losing battle against the ocean, building sea walls and trying to plant mangroves. Each year, the waves surge in higher, destroying vegetable gardens, washing away homes and contaminating fresh water supplies.

    [Image: View of Huene Island in the Carteret's. Huene used to be one island but has now been bisected by rising seas. Fallen coconut trees in the foreground (on Iolassa Island) are also caused by the erosion of the coastline. Han Island, the largest in the group is in the distance.]

    Recently, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare appropriated PGK4.1 million [US$1.4 million] to resettle PNG villagers affected by global warming.

    The funding was part of a PGK1.6 billion [US$569 million] supplementary budget handed down by Treasury and Finance Minister Patrick Pruaitch.

    Out of the PGK4.1 million funding, PGK2 million [US$712,000] will go to the Bougainville Autonomous Region’s Carteret Islanders.

    The local Bougainville government has an ongoing resettlement program which it hopes to complete by the end of the year.

    Rising sea levels will not only displace human populations. Coral reefs are expected to be affected by changes in ocean levels and sea surface temperatures.

    As a result, the communities that depend upon these marine resources will be affected as well.

    PNG’s Carteret islanders are destined to become some of the world’s first climate change refugees. Their islands are becoming uninhabitable, and may soon disappear below the waves.

    A decision has been made to move the islanders to the larger nearby Bougainville Island, a four-hour boat ride to the southwest.

    Ten families at a time will be moved once funds are released for the resettlement program.

    An IPCC has predicted that average sea levels are likely to rise between 9cm and 88cm (3.5 to 35 inches) by 2100.

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    White House Puts the Muzzle on CDC Testimony on Health Effects of Global Warming

    The White House is at it again, censoring expert testimony on Global Warming. This time the Bush Administration cut out over half of Center for Disease Control Director Julie Gerberding's Senate testimony on the public health effects of climate change.

    The White House PR machine first tried to pass the Administration's edits off as "minor edits." DeSmogBlog blows away that argument with a comparison between the Gerberding's original testimony and the final version after the White House got through with it.

    The White House cut the original version down from 3,100 words to only 1,500, completely wiping out whole sections on health related effects due to extreme weather, air pollution-related health effect, allergic diseases, water and food-borne infectious diseases, food and water scarcity and the long term impacts of chronic diseases and other health effects.

    Then the White House shifted tune, saying that they had removed the sections because they conflicted with findings from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Several Congressional Democrats, including Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair, Barbara Boxer (D-CA), promptly called bull$h!t.

    Boxer's office published a paragraph-by-paragraph comparison of the deleted sections of Dr. Gerberding's testimony and the IPCC report on how climate change will affect public health.

    Needless to say, the comparison reveals striking similarities, not conflicting reports.

    According to
    Both [Dr. Gerberdin and the IPCC] raised virtually identical concerns: heat stress on vulnerable populations; the likelihood of respiratory illnesses from increased air pollution; the spread of waterborne infectious diseases; and more injuries from severe weather events such as wildfires.
    Nice try President Bush...

    [A hat tip to the crew at DeSmogBlog's excellent muckraking.]