The American author Tom Peters once wrote “if a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade”. Next week’s UNFCCC session in Panama is the penultimate stop in what has been a long and at times difficult year in the climate negotiations. The road to COP 17 in Durban has featured contentious agenda items, complex issue areas, and moments to test the resolve of the most patient negotiator. Yet despite these trying times glimmers of progress are evident, and as the year draws to a close we are beginning to see outlines of a deal that is both ambitious and imaginable.
This piece originally appeared in The Solutions Journal
Can the current food production system feed a growing population in a changing climate while sustaining ecosystems? The answer is an emphatic “no.”
A new approach is imperative and overdue, one in which the world feeds more people—an estimated 9 billion by 2050—with less ecological impact. To be successful, this new approach must address both how we produce and how we use food.
This piece was written with Pablo Torres, Intern at the World Resources Institute.
During Climate Week 2011, business, government, non-profit, and civil society leaders from around the world are convening in New York City to drive a ‘clean energy revolution’. Not surprisingly, innovation in clean technologies is a common theme among many of the events.
In most models of a low-carbon future, innovation is assumed to occur and to reduce costs over time.[^1] There has been less focus on how to ensure this innovation takes place and is most effective. That is the focus of WRI’s new working paper, Two Degrees of Innovation: How to Seize the Opportunities in Low-Carbon Power.
This piece originally appeared on the National Journal Energy and Environment Experts Blog.
The case of the solar company Solyndra has been getting widespread attention, but much of the current discussion misses the point. While some would like to portray the collapse of this company as the downfall of the U.S. solar industry, the larger picture tells a very different story.
Solar power is rapidly expanding around the world, driven by opportunities for innovation and investment in low-carbon energy. According to the International Energy Agency, solar power is on a path to provide 20-25 percent of the world’s electric power by 2050. This is a huge market opportunity. And, a recent report by Ernst & Young confirms that the solar energy market has grown from less than $1 billion in 2000 to $79 billion in 2010.
Part 1: China's Low-Carbon City Plans
This piece was written in collaboration with Cui Xueqin, Fu Sha, and Zou Ji.
In 2009, China’s Twelfth Five-Year Plan set a goal to cut the country’s carbon intensity by 17 percent by 2015. Responsibility for achieving portions of this target has been allocated to provinces and cities. This three-part series explores the vital role of China’s municipalities in reaching the national carbon intensity goal. Part 1 presents low-carbon city targets and plans developed to date. Part 2 will explore some challenges related to designing city-level low-carbon plans and mechanisms to track progress towards them. Part 3 will present some possible solutions to these challenges.
Worldwide, cities are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of total energy consumption, and account for approximately the same proportion of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As elsewhere, the growth of investment, consumption, and trade in China’s cities has been a major driver not only of economic growth, technological advances, and human development, but also of energy use and GHG emissions. In contrast to most western cities, where most emissions come from buildings and transport, industry still plays a major role in Chinese cities’ GHG emissions. Ongoing massive investment in urban infrastructure, as well as changing urban lifestyles, will also play a determining role in the future trajectory of China’s GHG emissions.
Because of China’s size, its national strategies and policies are typically interpreted and implemented at provincial and municipal levels. Key decisions regarding investment and consumption also take place at the local level. Cities, therefore, are crucial leverage points for implementation of national climate and energy strategies and policies in China.
This piece was written with Catarina Freitas, a Brazilian legal intern with WRI's Institutions and Governance Program.
On September 20, eight governments will gather in New York to launch the Open Government Partnership (OGP), a new multilateral initiative to strengthen transparency, citizen participation, accountability, and share new technologies and innovation. The Brazilian and U.S. governments are leading the initiative, which also involves the governments of Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa, and the United Kingdom as founding members.
The fate of heads of state across the globe is tied in large part to their ability to ensure employment, economic growth, and access to cheap food and clean water. Rising food prices have helped topple dictators across the Middle East. Europe, the United States, Japan and other major economies are spending trillions of dollars to restore growth and jobs.
Too often, efforts to address environmental challenges such as pollution, habitat loss and global warming are seen as in conflict with job creation, economic growth and development. Some have suggested that protecting forests will lead to scarcity of land for farming, exacerbating the rise in food prices.
While there are often trade offs, this is not always the case. Recent analysis by WRI’s team of experts, working with the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, has unveiled one of the greatest potential opportunities for combined economic and environmental gains.
This piece, co-authored by WRI's Kirsty Jenkinson and Coca-Cola's Joe Rozza, originally appeared on The Guardian Sustainable Business Blog.
Water, or the lack of it, is never far from the headlines. While Hurricane Irene dumped torrential rain on a huge area of the eastern US seaboard and caused record flooding, prolonged droughts have afflicted the plains of Texas, the Horn of Africa and the Yangtze River.
These water-related disasters are not only devastating for people and nature. They pose major risks to businesses and economies worldwide.
An official report released by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE, formerly MMS) and the Coast Guard puts BP, Transocean, and other contractors at the center of blame for the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
This post was written with James Anderson, Communications Coordinator at the World Resources Institute.
“This is unprecedented fire behavior. We’ve never seen conditions like this before. Not a single one of our firefighters has ever faced such extreme conditions.”
This statement from the director of the Texas Forest Service makes it clear that the recent wildfires that scorched Texas belong in a new category of disaster. Already, the state’s wildfires this season have consumed 3.6 million acres (an area the size of Connecticut), swallowed over 1,500 homes, and killed at least four people. According to NOAA, the current wildfire is costing more than $1 million per day and exceeds $5 billion in overall damages across the Southwest. These are costs that will be borne by government, business and residents, alike.