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Climate, Energy & Transport

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.

This piece originally appeared on TheCityFix blog.

Three global organizations recently launched a new public database of bus rapid transit (BRT) systems around the world.

Here are some need-to-know numbers of BRT trends:

13 – Cities with BRT systems in the United States

24 – Cities with BRT systems in Asia

36 – Countries with BRT systems worldwide

95 – Different indicators used in the database

129 – New corridors implemented globally since 2000

134 – Cities with BRT systems

560 – Kilometers (348 miles) of BRT in Brazil—more than any other country

3,358 – Kilometers (2,087 miles) of BRT worldwide

110,000 – Passengers on New York City’s BX Select Bus Service, the highest volume of passengers of all U.S. systems

600,000 – passenger trips daily on U.S. BRT systems

22 million – passenger trips daily worldwide

This piece originally appeared in the National Journal Energy and Environment Experts Blog.

EPA’s newly proposed standards are an important step toward addressing the threat of unmitigated carbon pollution in altering the climate. EPA’s action will ensure that power suppliers consider greenhouse gas emissions before building any future power plants. Moreover, this lays the groundwork for future U.S. policies and action to address climate change.

The proposed standards set an emissions standard of 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per Megawatt-hour— slightly more carbon intensive than combined cycle natural gas plants built today. New coal units could comply with the regulations by committing to capture and store a portion of their carbon dioxide emissions or, where feasible, by using waste heat through combined heat and power systems.

In recent years, several developing countries, with support from donor agencies, have begun to seriously consider Low Emissions Development Strategies (LEDS), country-driven plans that enable the transition to a low-carbon economy as an effective mechanism for combating climate change. Last week, the LEDS Global Partnership – launched in early 2011 and comprised of 30 governmental and international institutions – held a workshop on the topic in Chesham, U.K. WRI is a member of the steering committee of the LEDS Global Partnership and attended the meeting. Others in attendance included government representatives, donors, and representatives from research institutions.

The workshop focused on three key themes: (1) strategy development for LEDS, including governance of the LEDS process and integration of LEDS into other national plans; (2) analytics and tools for LEDS; and (3) financing LEDS implementation. Highlights included discussions on: LEDS scenario development in Chile and South Africa, leadership and cross-ministerial cooperation for LEDS in Kenya, and a new World Bank initiative to develop an open source tool database that can equip LEDS planners.

We are excited by the release of the first draft of the Global Protocol for Community-Scale GHG Emissions (GPC) to help cities around the world measure and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using a more consistent protocol. The GPC has been developed by Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) and C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), in partnership with the World Resources Institute (WRI), World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme, and UN-Habitat. Today begins a one-month public comment period on the protocol to ensure it will fit the needs of those who will be implementing it.

A version of this blog ran on The Guardian Sustainable Business. It is based on Janet Ranganathan’s presentation at a recent event on integrated reporting in New York, hosted by WRI’s Corporate Consultative Group and Context, a sustainability communications company.

The United Nations has put global reporting by companies on sustainability among its proposed key outcomes for the Rio+ 20 summit in June. The "zero draft" policy agenda that negotiators will consider, calls for "a global policy framework requiring all listed and large private companies to consider sustainability issues and to integrate sustainability information within the reporting cycle."

This is a welcome move. Corporate reporting is all too often narrowly limited to financial information. But in our increasingly complex world, a company's finances represent just the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface lurk risks that could cause leaks in the most seemingly successful business's operations, reputation or bottom line. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico involving BP and recent issues regarding factory conditions at a Chinese supplier for Apple are cases in point.

This piece was written with Graham Provost, intern at the World Resources Institute.

The agenda at this week’s Pacific Energy Summit, hosted by the National Bureau of Asian Research, in Hanoi, Vietnam, includes increasing energy security, expanding access to energy, and decarbonizing the power sector. Given these goals, plus the staggering growth in energy demand in Asia, as well as increasingly volatile fossil fuel prices and rapidly falling renewable energy costs, there are many opportunities to scale up renewable energy throughout the region. (For more on renewable energy’s rapid growth see here and here.) In order to take advantage of this fast-moving sector and develop internationally competitive domestic industries, countries need to have a strong capacity for innovation.

A new conference paper, "Taking Renewable Energy to Scale in Asia," explores these opportunities and challenges for the Summit Participants.

On March 9, 2012, the Ohio Public Utility Commission hosted a workshop for the Pilot Program on Combined Heat and Power, which it has launched in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The workshop convened industrial companies, energy experts, and state-level policymakers to discuss the role of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) technology in complying with upcoming federal Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) standards. The CHP pilot program in Ohio is an important precedent that recognizes the potential for U.S. industry to raise its energy productivity while improving the health of workers and surrounding communities.


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