Who Wants a Sustainable, Pollution-Free New York by 2030?

Wind turbines on the Tug Hill plateau in upstate New York
Wind turbines on the Tug Hill plateau in upstate New York

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Mar 19 2013 (IPS)

As usual, midtown Manhattan is packed with whisper-quiet cars and trams while thousands walk the streets listening to the birds of spring sing amongst the gleaming, grime-free skyscrapers in the crystal-clear morning air.

Welcome to New York City in April 2030.

I think the public will be 100 percent behind this, if they know about it.

This is not a fantasy. It is a perfectly doable goal, said Stanford University energy expert Mark Jacobson. In fact, the entire state of New York could be powered by wind, water and sunlight based on a detailed plan Jacobson co-authored.

It’s not only doable, powering New York on green energy is “sustainable and inexpensive” and would save lives and health costs, Jacobson told IPS.

Each year, air pollution kills 4,000 people in New York State and costs the public 33 billion dollars in health costs, according to the study Jacobson co-authored with experts from all over the U.S. It will be published in the journal Energy Policy.

Full Story

Green Energy Solves Dual Crises of Poverty and Climate

Ain Beni Mathar Integrated Combined Cycle Thermo-Solar Power Plant

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Feb 25 2013 (IPS) 

Green energy is the only way to bring billions of people out of energy poverty and prevent a climate disaster, a new study reveals.

Conservative institutions like the World Bank, the International Energy Agency and accounting giant Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) all warn humanity is on a path to climate catastrophe unless fossil fuel energy is replaced by green energy.

The U.N.’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative intends to bring universal access to modern energy, doubling the share of renewable energy globally, and doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.

Poverty eradication, sustainable development and the transition away from fossil fuel energy go hand in hand.

If those targets are met and similar efforts undertaken to reduce deforestation, then climate disaster can be avoided, said Joeri Rogelj of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Zurich  who headed the analysis published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

 

Green Energy Solves Dual Crises of Poverty and Climate

native-windmill-art1Dirty fossil fuel energy leads to 350,000 premature deaths in Europe

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Feb 25 2013 (IPS)

Green energy is the only way to bring billions of people out of energy poverty and prevent a climate disaster, a new study reveals.

Conservative institutions like the World Bank, the International Energy Agency and accounting giant Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) all warn humanity is on a path to climate catastrophe unless fossil fuel energy is replaced by green energy.

The U.N.’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative intends to bring universal access to modern energy, doubling the share of renewable energy globally, and doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency by 2030.

If those targets are met and similar efforts undertaken to reduce deforestation, then climate disaster can be avoided, said Joeri Rogelj of the Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science in Zurich  who headed the analysis published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

“Poverty eradication, sustainable development and the transition away from fossil fuel energy go hand in hand,” Rogelj told IPS. Continue reading

Cook Islands Aims for 100 Percent Green Energy by 2020

President of Cook Islands – Henry Puna

 Cook Islands’ Carbon Footprint is the size of a town of 3,000 in America

Stephen Leahy interviews HENRY PUNA, Prime Minister of the Cook Islands

VIENNA, Jul 13, 2011 (IPS) –

“One hundred percent renewable energy by 2020… It is ambitious but it is not impossible,” Henry Puna, prime minister of the Cook Islands, told IPS in a recent interview.

The Cook Islands is one of those low-lying island countries that will drown without serious cuts in the carbon emissions that are warming the planet and melting the world’s ice sheets.

Home to just 14,000 people, the Cook Islands is made up of 15 small islands spread over an area the size of India in the middle of the South Pacific. The entire country’s carbon emissions are about equal to those of the average U.S. or Canadian town of 3,000 people.

With an action plan born of desperation, it wants to be the world’s first zero-carbon emissions country by 2020. With little renewable energy at present and dependent on foreign aid, the Cook Islands plans to generate half of its energy with renewables just four years from now and reach 100 percent by 2020.

IPS senior environmental correspondent Stephen Leahy spoke with Prime Minister Puna at the Vienna Energy Forum in June, where 1,200 delegates from 120 countries and over 40 government ministers discussed how to bring clean, reliable and affordable energy services to everyone on the planet.

Excerpts from the interview follow.

Q: The Cook Islands have a tiny carbon footprint. Why are you making this commitment to be 100-percent renewable?

A: Statistically, our carbon emissions don’t register. As a people we want to do something about climate change, if not for the world than for ourselves.

Nearly all of our energy comes from oil [diesel and petrol] and we spend half of our national budget on oil. That’s tens of millions of dollars that leaves our islands. We want to keep those millions in our local economy. Cook Islanders people are strongly supportive of our dream is to be the cleanest and greenest destination in the world. One day the world will want to know how we got to 100 percent.

Q: Are you hopeful the international community will finally agree to make the necessary carbon emissions cuts to keep global warming to less than two degrees C?

A: The reality is that things move very slowly at the international level. At the [Vienna] forum, I urged the international community to ensure that global carbon emissions peak by 2015 and begin to decline. We need to act fast. This is the decade where we must bring emissions of climate change under control.

Our circumstances differ, we have different life experiences….but we are all part of Mother Earth and should share responsibility to keep her livable for all of us and not just for some.

Q: Are Cook Islanders worried about climate change?

A: The Cooks are already suffering from sea level rise, coral bleaching, more frequent and stronger cyclones, changes in precipitation, and increases in coastal erosion. We live off the sea and the land – we depend on nature for our livelihoods. Anything affecting nature causes alarm amongst people. Climate change threatens our very survival. There is a general sense of apprehension about the future.

Q: What makes you believe you can achieve your ambitious target?

A: Yesterday, I visited Güssing [in Austria], an impoverished town in the 1990s that re-made itself by going 100-percent renewable energy. They got rid of fossil fuels and achieved energy independence. They also attracted lots of clean and green businesses and become a tourist centre.

I spent time with the mayor. They’re going to come to the Cooks and give us advice. They are willing to share their experience. I’m absolutely excited by this.

Q: Your country has few financial resources. Do you really think the Cooks can do what Güssing has done?

A: It’s a small town and we’re a small country. What I learned from Güssing is that if there is the political will backed by public support, then anything can happen. We already have a plan for a two- megawatt solar plant in one of our islands. We have support from Japan, New Zealand and UNDP [the United Nations Development Programme].

Q: What are some of the obstacles you have to overcome?

A: The technology to generate all of our energy already exists but energy storage is the key. We also need to make sure some of this will be able to be used and maintained by isolated communities without the technical skills.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: Knowing we are taking action helps us feel good even if the world does nothing. We’re not doing this just for the Cook Islands. It is our contribution to improve the overall global environment.

First published as Q&A: Cook Islands Aims for 100 Percent Green Energy by 2020 – IPS ipsnews.net.

Africa’s Future Lies in a Green Energy Grid – Universal Access to Electricity Less Than Cost of Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Kenya switched to green energy and now more people than ever have electricity

Universal access to modern electricity would cost much less than current subsidies to fossil fuel industry

By Stephen Leahy*

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Dec 14, 2010 (IPS)

Development in Africa could falter as climate change grips the continent, increasing the length and severity of droughts and floods by altering precipitation patterns, among other impacts.

The region needs a major shift in its economic development policies and thinking towards decentralised, green economic development, experts now say.

“The world’s big economies are largely living off financial transactions which are unconnected to development,” warns Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary-general of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

“Export growth does not automatically result in green economic growth, we must look at trade for development,” said Panitchpakdi.

In a rejection of failed neoliberal economic policies, Panitchpakdi said strong national policies on investments, taxation, protection of local industries, including subsidies, and changes to less restrictive intellectual property regimes are what is needed to green economies in Africa and elsewhere.

“Green economic development underpins environmental protection, economic growth and development,” he said.

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Continue reading

Biofuels Worse Than Paying People to Use More Gasoline – European Study

I’ve done several articles previously about the problems of biofuels. (see below). New report out today shows Europe’s biofuel policy completely wrong headed.

European plans to promote biofuels will drive farmers to convert 69,000 square km of wild land into fields and plantations, depriving the poor of food and accelerating climate change, a report by green groups warned.

…extra biofuels that Europe will use over the next decade will generate between 81 and 167 percent more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels,

— read Reuters take

My previous articles listed below cover much of the same ground although the report is more specific reading impacts of EU policy than anything to date.  — Stephen

Europe’s Green Energy Portfolio Up in Smoke?

“Europe is going to cook the world’s tropical forests to fight climate change; it’s crazy” — Millions of Trees Burned for ‘Green Energy’

Ethanol and Biofuels – Everything (Almost) You Need to Know

Oil Companies and Special Interests Spend Half a Billion Dollars to Defeat US Clean Energy – Study

“Big oil companies and other special interests have spent millions of dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions to defeat clean energy and global warming legislation, according to a new analysis released today by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The study “Dirty Money” found that the top 35 spending companies and trade associations invested more than $500 million in lobbying and campaign contributions from January 2009 to June 2010 to defeat clean energy legislation. This political pressure spending convinced enough senators to oppose clean energy measures that would have created jobs, reduced oil use, and cut global warming pollution.”

[Source: The Center for American Progress Action Fund is the sister advocacy organization of the Center for American Progress. ]

My Articles on same topic:


Oily Politics of Influence: 3 of 4 oil and gas lobbyists used to work for US govt

Every Day Governments Give an Estimated $2 billion to Oil, Coal & Gas Industry

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Are 12X (more like 20X) Support for Renewables, Study Shows

New $Billion Cash Hand Out To Fossil Fuel Companies Under ‘Green’ Economic Stimulus Plans