Innovation can close the gap between the low-carbon technologies of today and the low-cost, high performance technologies the world needs.
In the United States, there is a heated debate about how much government should support renewable energy innovation. While you won’t find anyone who says they don’t value ‘innovation’, the U.S. federal investment in energy innovation across both fossil and renewable technology is still anemic, badly trailing China and only about one third of the amount recommended by the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. That’s unfortunate, because there are compelling reasons to accelerate innovation in the energy sector, and specifically in renewable energy.
Recently, the Martin Luther King Memorial opened near my home in Washington, DC. Dr. King profoundly changed the history of the United States. His brilliance was his ability to articulate a clear, bold vision for equality – a vision so compelling that it moved both people and institutions to an entirely different place.
Denmark’s new coalition government, elected last month, has adopted a new, more ambitious climate policy committing the country to reduce its GHG emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2020 through domestic action. This target brings Denmark into line with the level of reduction proposed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as with the targets of several other Nordic and Northern European countries.
Australia’s House of Representatives voted to pass the Clean Energy Future Legislation on October 12th. The legislative package will put a price on carbon pollution, promote investment in renewable and clean energy technologies and support action to reduce carbon pollution.
Tomorrow’s leading companies will be those that pioneer innovative solutions to match climate change challenges. Today, this is largely uncharted territory; current best practices often focus on incremental product improvements (e.g., cars with moderate fuel efficiency gains) or are limited by existing business models (e.g., facility upgrades with high first costs). This type of change is not sufficient to achieve the 80 to 95 percent reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions the science tells us we need by mid-century.
The Open Climate Network recently concluded a three-day workshop in which participants from 18 organizations in 13 countries gathered to refine methodologies for the network’s first national assessment report, expected next year. The report will analyze country progress on climate change commitments, with a view towards “ground-truthing” countries’ performance on implementing effective policies that contribute to the low-carbon transition.
Today the GHG Protocol launches two new global greenhouse gas accounting standards - for corporate value chains (scope 3) and product life cycle emissions. Janet Ranganathan, WRI's Vice-president for Science & Research, and Pankaj Bhatia, WRI’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol Director since 2004, describe the 12-year program's critical role in business and government efforts to address climate impacts.
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.
While the potential role of ‘green jobs’ is hotly debated, many participants in this debate are talking past one another – starting from different assumptions and definitions, working from different datasets, or hailing from opposite ideological viewpoints on the “true” costs of unmitigated greenhouse gas emissions. A review of the literature provides evidence that clean energy policies and investments can help create job opportunities and competitive gains for the economy. These findings should heighten the demand for policies and investments that hasten a shift to a low-carbon economy and the creation of more clean-energy jobs.
In these turbulent economic times, leaders around the world are looking to strengthen their economies and create jobs. They are grappling with how to effectively capitalize on the green economy to drive growth. In a new WRI working paper, we look at ways that policymakers can create new green jobs through investments in innovation to meet our challenges in the power sector.
This paper offers a strategic framework for those seeking to capitalize on the low-carbon transition. The first section presents innovation as a key strategy to achieve economic development, energy, and environmental goals. The second section explains why the
20 years after the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, “Rio+20” will review progress on and reaffirm a global commitment to the policies designed to foster economic growth that is both inclusive and respects the planet’s limited carrying capacity. Amidst a lingering global recession, a widening gap between rich and poor, and heightened competition for energy, food and other scarce natural resources, the conference could not be more timely. Unfortunately, no clear vision for Rio+20 has emerged, and expectations of the Conference remain low.
Recently, in the New York Times Green Column, Bettina Wassener wrote about the “Plastic Disclosure Project,” which annually surveys industry on their overall plastic use and reports back on consumption trends. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about plastic consumption, create a “plastic footprint” akin to a carbon footprint for business, and hopefully motivate industry to change their consumption habits.
Extreme weather events and climate- related disruptions are occurring with alarming frequency and intensity, whether it’s the Mississippi and Missouri rivers overflowing or the sight of parched earth across the U.S. Southwest.
In these times of budget constraints, municipal authorities, donors and development NGOs are increasingly looking to services provided by nature as a less costly alternative to building expensive man-made infrastructure. Such services, also known as ecosystem services, are the positive externalities that ecosystems such as forests, floodplains and wetlands provide for communities around them.
Though the Earth Summit, Rio+20, will take place next June, few governments have started to seriously assess their progress towards achieving the internationally agreed upon sustainable development goals outlined in the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21, according to a recent survey from the Access Initiative. Time is running short. In order to have a successful Rio+20, governments must submit meaningful and ambitious goals to the Zero Draft of the Outcome Document by November 1, which will outline the agenda and discussion points for Rio+20.
Record breaking wildfires raging in Arizona, massive flooding disrupting lives from Iowa to Vermont — extreme weather events have been at the forefront of America’s national consciousness. Yet these events and their repercussions are hardly limited to the United States. Think back last year to the floods that affected millions in Pakistan, or the wildfires and droughts that destroyed Russia’s wheat crops, causing price spikes around the world.
In a survey of global businesses, 86 percent described responding to climate risks or investing in adaptation as a business opportunity. So finds a new report jointly released yesterday by the UN Global Compact, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Oxfam and the World Resources Institute.
The global recession has brought new attention to chronic structural flaws in current economic models and assumptions. As economies struggle to recover, many are taking a closer look at the broad concept of a "Green Economy," one that simultaneously promotes sustainability and economic growth What would this type of economy look like, and how could we get there? WRI Managing Director Manish Bapna responds to some of the most commonly-asked questions.