You are here

Climate, Energy & Transport

Solving climate change is one of humankind’s greatest challenges. Caused largely by the burning of fossil fuels, which currently underpin most of modern society’s energy system, the solutions are economically, politically and socially complex. In addition, the problem’s transnational and transgenerational nature contributes further to the challenge of creating positive coalitions for change and forging agreements among nations to act now for benefits later.

Thus, it is not surprising that the international climate negotiations have moved slowly. Yet, the threat of climate change requires urgent action and creative thinking – in a field where new ideas are often immediately shot down due to one political sensitivity or another.

Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), developed countries have pledged to provide “fast-start” finance approaching USD 30 billion for the period 2010-2012. Now, in the final year of the fast-start period, these countries are under pressure to demonstrate that they are meeting this pledge. But divergent viewpoints on what constitutes fast-start finance – coupled with unharmonized approaches to delivering and reporting on it – complicate such an assessment.

Starting in May 2012, the Open Climate Network (OCN) will release a series of reports that aims to shed light on these discussions by clarifying how developed countries are defining, delivering, and reporting their fast-start finance.

This article is one in a series of updates from WRI’s Next Practice research team to highlight tools and guidance for developing corporate sustainability strategies. It builds on previous themes - Filling the Sustainability Innovation Gap and Mining Megatrends for Innovation - with examples of recent research and evidence that help build the business case for sustainability.

A recent KPMG report highlights ten “sustainability megaforces” that will shape markets in the decades to come. The list includes population growth, energy and fuel, ecosystems decline, and material resource scarcity, among others. These interconnected trends will create risks and opportunities for business. In response, companies need new strategies, particularly for market impacts relating to what KPMG calls the “megaforce” influencing all others: climate change.

Many people have wrestled with how best to convey the latest scientific research on climate change. Here’s your chance to help us figure out the answer.

Last summer I was selected as a Google Science Communication Fellow and had the opportunity to explore this topic. Now, we are launching a pilot project that aims to assess whether video can be a compelling way for a climate scientist to describe his/her recent findings – and, if so, which type of video works best.

This post was written by Nicholas Bianco, Senior Associate, WRI, and Rolf Nordstrom, Executive Director, Great Plains Institute

We are launching a new online tool, the Power Almanac of the American Midwest, that will assist government officials, industry leaders, energy analysts and others in making informed energy decisions in the region. The Almanac integrates key energy and environmental data from some 50 disparate sources, tailored to the Midwest region, in a graphic and easy-to-use way.

The Almanac is built around a dynamic interface that allows users to explore the power sector through interactive Google maps, graphs, and charts. You can use it to learn more about an individual coal mine or power plant, or to compare wind and solar resources in the Midwest to the rest of the United States. You will also find a range of other useful background, including up-to-date information on relevant state and federal energy policies.

This piece was co-authored with Vinod Thomas, Director General of independent evaluation at the Asian Development Bank. It originally appeared in the South China Morning Post.

China, South Korea, Russia, the United States and two dozen others face potential leadership transitions this year. The prospect for economic growth and prosperity is likely to be the central determinant of these events. Not on the agenda, however, is climate change. Yet, it should be - because our growing understanding of its science and economics warns us that people's welfare hinges on it.

Greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere continue to climb at alarming rates. Temperatures are breaking records around the globe. The just-released report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes a link between more intense rainfall and more extreme temperatures with man-made climate change.

This story was co-authored with Viviane Romeiro, an intern with WRI's CCS team.

WRI has recently launched a new online tool that compares Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) regulations, standards, and best practice guidelines.

Industry has been exploring CCS as an option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants for several years, but so far it remains at a demonstration level. To reach the next stage of deployment, it must be tried at scale on different types of power or other industrial plants, and in different geographic regions using suitable geologic reservoirs. Currently, there are 74 projects in process, of which only eight are operational, according to the Global CCS Institute. With a lack of strong carbon policies, along with a range of other issues outlined below, CCS has lost momentum in recent years and demonstration projects are proving hard to see through.

Clean tech in the United States has been on the rise in recent years— even through the recession and other challenges. Increasing wind power, falling solar costs, expanding electric vehicle markets, government stimulus and other investments have built a global clean tech sector that topped $263 billion last year.

In the first quarter of 2012, however, global clean energy investment dropped to its lowest level since 2008. Good news stories are being replaced with headlines about closing factories, bankruptcies, and cancelled projects. Clean tech appears to be at a crucial inflection point.

This piece originally appeared on Forbes.

NOAA called it Meteorological March Madness. Other commentators likened it to science fiction. More than 15,000 daily heat records were broken around the U.S. last month, making 2012 the warmest March since records began in 1895.

Not only was the summer-like spring fact not fiction, but such trends may soon become the new normal as climate change takes greater hold. A long-awaited report from the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with input from 220 authors, serves as a stark reminder that the world must brace for more extreme weather and climate events.

This piece originally appeared in GreenBiz.

I was recently at the New York Stock Exchange for the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) Spring Workshop, where I moderated a panel discussion with representatives from Walmart, Microsoft and Coca-Cola on Smart Thinking in Delivering Significant Supply Chain Emissions Reductions. We had a lively discussion about how to drive greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in the supply chain, and I left the event encouraged, but also aware of the challenges companies face when assessing emissions across their value chains.

The 200 or so companies at the workshop generally seemed aware that value chains can offer the largest opportunities for emission reductions. Some have already set reduction targets, such as Walmart’s goal to eliminate 20 million metric tons of GHG emissions from its supply chain by 2015, but others were unsure even where to start.


Stay Connected