Bernie Sanders: Combating Climate Change to Save the Planet

Sen. Bernie Sanders joined marchers on September 21, 2014 for the People's Climate March for action on climate change in New York City. (Photo: Sanders Office)

Sen. Bernie Sanders joined marchers on September 21, 2014 for the People’s Climate March for action on climate change in New York City. (Photo: Sanders Office)

By Bernie Sanders,
Source: Reader Supported News

07 December 15

Right now, we have an energy policy that is rigged to boost the profits of big oil companies like Exxon, BP, and Shell at the expense of average Americans. CEO’s are raking in record profits while climate change ravages our planet and our people — all because the wealthiest industry in the history of our planet has bribed politicians into complacency in the face of climate change. Enough is enough. It’s time for a political revolution that takes on the fossil fuel billionaires, accelerates our transition to clean energy, and finally puts people before the profits of polluters.

                                                                                                — Senator Bernie Sanders

The Problem

Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. The debate is over, and the scientific jury is in: global climate change is real, it is caused mainly by emissions released from burning fossil fuels and it poses a catastrophic threat to the long-term longevity of our planet. If we do nothing, the planet will heat up five to ten degrees Fahrenheit by the end of this century. That would cause enough sea level rise from melting glaciers to put cities like New York and Miami underwater – along with more frequent asthma attacks, higher food prices, insufficient drinking water and more infectious diseases.

But this isn’t just a problem for the future – the impacts of climate change are apparent here and now. Whether it’s more intense forest fires on the West Coast, or more frequent hurricanes in the Gulf Coast, or damaging flash floods in California, climate change is here and it’s already causing devastating human suffering. The worst part is this: people who live in low-income and minority communities will bear the most severe consequences of society’s addiction to fossil fuels.

This is every kind of issue all at once: the financial cost of climate change makes it an economic issue, its effect on clean air and water quality make it a public health problem, its role in exacerbating global conflict and terrorism makes it a national security challenge and its disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities and on our children and grandchildren make acting on climate change a moral obligation. We have got to solve this problem before it’s too late.

Why Haven’t We Solved it Yet?

Solving this should be straightforward. After all, the majority of Americans understand the seriousness of climate change, and they demand action. 97 percent of scientists agree about the urgent need to act and the vocal minority who don’t are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry. More and more countries around the world are beginning to do their part, by stepping up to significantly curb their use of fossil fuels to become part of the solution. If our democracy worked the way it’s supposed to, that would be enough – the debate would be over, the facts would be heard and lawmakers would obey the will of the people.

But that’s where the billionaire class comes in. Instead of engaging on this issue in good faith and allowing democracy to play out, executives and lobbyists for coal, oil, and gas companies have blocked every attempt to make progress on climate change, and thrown unprecedented amounts of money at elected officials to buy their loyalty. Recent reporting even shows that executives at Exxon pioneered the research on climate change before anyone else did, but may have deliberately lied about it to spread disinformation and confusion to protect their bottom line. It’s eerily reminiscent of the fight over tobacco regulation, when executives from the tobacco companies repeatedly testified before Congress that cigarettes don’t cause cancer. Recently leaked internal documents show that even they knew they were lying.

Let’s be clear: the reason we haven’t solved climate change isn’t because we aren’t doing our part, it’s because a small subsection of the one percent are hell-bent on doing everything in their power to block action. Sadly, they have deliberately chosen to put their profits ahead of the health of our people and planet.

The Future

The debate is over. The vast majority of the scientific community has spoken. Climate change is real, it is caused by human activity, and it is already causing devastating harm here in the United States, and to people all around the globe. So what are we going to do about it? We will act boldly to move our energy system away from fossil fuels, toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy sources like wind, solar, and geothermal because we have a moral responsibility to leave our kids a planet that is healthy and habitable.

                                                                                                — Senator Bernie Sanders

Here’s the good news: our society is already moving in the right direction. Solar panels cost 80 percent less than they did in 2008 and they’re popping up on rooftops everywhere. In fact, nearly a full quarter of the world’s electricity today comes from clean, sustainable resources like the sun and wind. The leaders of the seven major industrialized nations, including the United States, agreed in the summer of 2015 to a long-term goal of phasing out fossil fuels entirely and moving to an economy powered entirely by clean energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal. We’re already transitioning to a clean energy economy – but scientists say we need to do it faster and we need to do it right.

Doing it right means ensuring that workers have the skills, equipment, and training they need to succeed in a clean energy economy. It also means workers need to be able to organize and advocate for good wages and safe working conditions. Bernie knows these workers do some of the most important work in America and we need to ensure without a doubt that their livelihoods will be helped – not hurt – by the transition to clean energy. That’s why Bernie is introducing the Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act to provide comprehensive benefits to workers as they transition to making the solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries of tomorrow.

The key is to stop funding the problem by subsidizing fossil fuels and instead accelerate our path to progress by showcasing our American innovation to accelerate the transition. This is important, because the support of the American people can make an enormous difference. In the 60’s, President Kennedy set a goal that many said was impossible – but by the end of that decade, Neil Armstrong had successfully taken his giant leap for humanity. Our government needs to think that big today and commit to prioritizing the transition to an economy powered by more than 80 percent clean energy sources by 2050. That starts with simple, commonsense steps: instead of subsidizing massive fossil fuel corporations, we can create millions of jobs for working families by investing in clean energy. The answer is clear and affordable. The solutions are within our reach – we just need average Americans to come together to make it happen.

The Goals

Bernie’s comprehensive plan to combat climate change and make sure our planet is habitable and safe for our kids and grandkids will:

    • Cut U.S. carbon pollution by 40 percent by 2030 and by over 80 percent by 2050 by putting a tax on carbon pollution, repealing fossil fuel subsidies and making massive investments in energy efficiency and clean, sustainable energy such as wind and solar power.
    • Create a Clean-Energy Workforce of 10 million good-paying jobs by creating a 100% clean energy system. Transitioning toward a completely nuclear-free clean energy system for electricity, heating, and transportation is not only possible and affordable it will create millions of good jobs, clean up our air and water, and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.
    • Return billions of dollars to consumers impacted by the transformation of our energy system and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change. Bernie will tax polluters causing the climate crisis, and return billions of dollars to working families to ensure the fossil fuel companies don’t subject us to unfair rate hikes. Bernie knows that climate change will not affect everyone equally – disenfranchised minority communities and the working poor will be hardest hit. The carbon tax will also protect those most impacted by the transformation of our energy system and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change.

The Plan

Reclaim our Democracy from the Billionaire Fossil Fuel Lobby

The fossil fuel industry spends billions and billions of dollars lobbying and buying candidates to block virtually all progress on climate change. At the national level where companies have to report what they spend on lobbying and campaign contributions, the oil companies, coal companies and electric utilities spent a staggering $2.26 billion in federal lobbying since 2009 and another $330 million in federal campaign contributions. Even in Washington, that’s a lot of money.

But that’s just the part we know about. Thanks to the disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision, the fossil fuel industry can pour unlimited amounts of money into the political system without having to disclose how much or where they spend it.

So what does the fossil fuel industry get in exchange for all that money? They get friends who help them keep $135 billion dollars in tax subsidies and corporate welfare over the next decade. They write legislation to build the Keystone XL pipeline. They block efforts to move us beyond oil by blocking the development and deployment of clean, sustainable energy.

This makes it harder to take action to fight climate change. But the solutions are possible. Together there is nothing we can’t achieve.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Ban fossil fuels lobbyists from working in the White House. Massive lobbying and unlimited super PAC donations by the fossil fuel industry gives these profitable companies disproportionate influence on our elected leaders. This practice is business as usual in Washington and it is not acceptable. Heavy-handed lobbying causes climate change skepticism. It has no place in the executive office.
      • End the huge subsidies that benefit fossil fuel companies. When fossil-fuel companies are racking up record profits, it is absurd to provide massive taxpayer subsidies to pad their already enormous earnings. After all, it is immoral that some in Congress advocate harsh cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security while those same people vote to preserve billions in tax breaks for the most profitable corporations in America.
      • Create a national environmental and climate justice plan that recognizes the heightened public health risks faced by low-income and minority communities. Low-income and minority neighborhoods will continue to be the hardest hit if we don’t act to stop climate change now. Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina decimated the Gulf Coast, flooding 80 percent of the city of New Orleans. Some areas of the city were submerged in as much as 10 feet of water, and 28 percent of residents had no way to leave the city. Almost 100,000 African American residents who left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina never returned. The reality of the impacts of the storm on the African American community in New Orleans exposed the broader trend that low-income and minority communities face the brunt of climate change impacts first and worst.
      • Bring climate deniers to justice so we can aggressively tackle climate change. It is an embarrassment that Republican politicians, with few exceptions, refuse to even recognize the reality of climate change, let alone are prepared to do anything about it. The reality is that the fossil fuel industry is to blame for much of the climate change skepticism in America. Bernie recently called for the Department of Justice to investigate Exxon Mobil, which may have not only known about the dangers of climate change, but has spent millions of dollars to spread doubt about the causes and impacts of burning fossil fuels.
      • Fight to overturn Citizens United. In a 5-4 decision in 2010 in the Citizens United case, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for corporations and the super wealthy to spend unlimited and undisclosed money to buy our elected officials. The Supreme Court essentially declared that corporations, including fossil fuel corporations, have the same rights as natural-born human beings. This decision has enabled billionaires and special interests to increasingly control the political campaign finance system, and amounts to legalized bribery.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie introduced a constitutional amendment that prohibits for-profit corporations from making contributions or expenditures into political campaigns. In other words, Bernie’s amendment reaffirms what’s already in the Constitution: the right to vote belongs to people, and not corporate entities whose money is drowning out the rest of us.

      • Back legislation to publicly finance elections. Bernie wants to move toward public funding of elections to promote a more even playing field where anyone can run for office without having to beg for money from the wealthy and the powerful. Public funding of elections increases voter participation, helps lower the influence of outside money and lowers the amount of time politicians spend fundraising, allowing them to implement solutions, as they were elected to do. He envisions a future of inclusivity that would restore our American democracy by ensuring each citizen has equal power in determining the future leaders of our nation.

Accelerate a Just Transition Away from Fossil Fuels

Scientists warn us if we continue burning fossil fuels, we will experience cataclysmic change, in terms of more disease, more hunger, more drought, more famine, rising sea levels, more floods, more ocean acidification, more extreme weather disturbances and more human suffering. That means we must leave the vast majority of global reserves of coal, natural gas and oil in the ground.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie recently co-sponsored the Keep It in the Ground Act to ban future fossil fuel leases on our public lands. His legislation would keep over 90 percent of the potential carbon emissions from fossil fuels on our federal lands and waters underground forever.

Bernie believes we must transition away from fossil fuel consumption to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. But our transition away from fossil fuels must be fair to those currently working in the energy sector, which means those workers and their families must be able to depend on safe, living-wage jobs.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Embrace a science-based standard for carbon pollution emissions reductions. We have a very limited window of time to transition away from fossil fuels toward clean energy for all Americans to prevent a global temperature increase that will cause cataclysmic impacts. Bernie knows that to maintain a safe and healthy planet for our kids and grandchildren we must listen to the scientists who say we must decrease carbon pollution emissions by at least 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050.
      • Put a price on carbon. Bernie agrees with leading economists on both ends of the political spectrum: a tax on carbon is one of the most straightforward and cost-effective strategies for quickly fighting climate change.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie is introducing the gold standard climate change bill that will tax polluters causing the climate crisis and return billions of dollars to working families to ensure the fossil fuel companies don’t subject Americans to unfair rate hikes. The carbon tax will also protect low-income and minority communities that are most impacted by the transformation of our energy system and protect the most vulnerable communities in the country suffering the ravages of climate change.

      • Protect the health of our children. Kids are uniquely threatened by air pollution from sources like coal plants and oil refineries. Children’s lungs are more sensitive to air pollution than adults. Climate change exacerbates existing air pollution problems, which will only increase the health impacts on children, especially those with respiratory diseases like asthma. As a father of four and a grandfather of seven, Bernie cares about leaving clean air and a healthy, livable planet for all of our kids and grandchildren.
      • Create clean, domestic energy alternatives to power our cars and trucks. The transportation sector accounts for about 26 percent of carbon pollution emissions. We must move our transportation sector beyond oil by running our cars and trucks on electricity generated by solar and wind power. We need efficient public transportation, advanced renewable fuels and high-speed passenger and cargo rail.
      • Ban Arctic oil drilling. Bernie knows that drilling in the Arctic Circle and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at a time when we face a serious climate emergency is unthinkable. Research shows that drilling in the Arctic is inconsistent with efforts to prevent catastrophic global temperature increases. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which spans 19.6 million acres in Alaska and boasts the greatest biodiversity of any protected area north of the Arctic Circle, is too precious to put at risk from the detrimental consequences of oil production and extraction.
      • Ban offshore drilling. If we are serious about moving beyond oil toward energy independence, lowering the cost of energy, combatting climate change and cutting carbon pollution emissions, then we must ban offshore drilling. If there is a lesson to be learned from the 2010 BP oil spill disaster, it is that Congress must not open new areas to offshore oil drilling.
      • Stop dirty pipeline projects like the Keystone XL. Back in August 2011, Bernie was the first national politician to publicly oppose Keystone XL, because he saw that it would move us in exactly the wrong direction, toward greater dependence on fossil fuels, specifically tar sands oil, but also on one of the dirtiest and most expensive fossil fuels imaginable. Bernie was again the first presidential candidate to oppose the Bakken oil pipeline that would cross Iowa and the first to oppose the Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline that would bring fracked natural gas through New Hampshire. We need to invest in clean energy infrastructure not lock ourselves into long-term payments and significant carbon pollution emissions for a pipelines that could cause disastrous oil spills.
      • Stop exports of liquefied natural gas and crude oil. The Department of Energy has found that exporting even half of the natural gas already approved for export could raise U.S. prices by up to 54 percent. Oil and natural gas exports must be in the interest of consumers, the economy, our manufacturing sector and national security – not merely the interest of fossil fuel companies’ bottom line. Especially while we still import oil, we should be transitioning toward clean, sustainable energy instead of incentivizing more extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.
      • Stand with Vermont and other states to ban fracking for natural gas. Fracking threatens our air and water. Disposal of wastewater from fracking causes earthquakes. Oklahoma became the number one place for earthquakes on Earth this year because gas companies inject fracking fluid back into the ground. Fracking is a large-scale industrial process that doesn’t belong in anyone’s backyard or deserve exemption from laws that protect the health of our children. That’s why communities all over the country from New York to California and Texas to Colorado have stood up to the oil and gas industry and said they don’t want fracking in their backyards. Bernie was very proud when Vermont became the first state to ban fracking. We have clean energy solutions to climate change, and fracking is not one of them.
      • Ban mountaintop removal coal mining and invest in Appalachian communities. Across the Appalachian Mountain Range, coal companies are blowing up entire mountaintops to get at the thin coal seams below. The communities in the region are paying for this destructive practice in their health, their culture and their natural heritage. Bernie is in staunch opposition to this dirty and damaging practice and believes we must invest in Appalachian communities to help them transition to a clean, prosperous, and healthy future.
      • Close the loopholes that allow the chemical, oil and gas industries to pollute our air and water. Bernie served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, which sits on one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States, Lake Champlain. Bernie understands the importance of clean water practices and recognizes how it impacts communities. The federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act have reduced pollution, but they are always under attack by polluters who put profits before the health of our children and grandchildren.
      • Increase fuel economy standards to 65 miles per gallon by 2025. Recent fuel economy standards put us on track to reach 54.5 miles per gallon in 2025, which moves us in right direction, but still leaves us lagging behind the rest of the world. Japan is set to reach that level five years before us, and Europe will do even better, reaching over 65 miles per gallon by 2020. Bernie knows we can do more and make our cars internationally competitive by raising our fuel economy standards to 65 miles per gallon by model year 2025. This will save car owners money at the pump, cut carbon pollution emissions and create good-paying American jobs.
      • Protect public lands by promoting natural resource conservation and habitat preservation. Conservation of our public lands such as our National Parks and Forests are an American tradition and a vehicle for economic growth. Our conserved public land also serves an important role in not only preventing climate change but also in mitigating the catastrophic effects of climate change like floods, hurricanes and other extreme weather that have been increasing in frequency. Bernie is committed to ensuring that Americans have access to urban, suburban and rural recreational green space that are vital to our national heritage and our country’s tradition of recreation and conservation.

Investing in Clean, Sustainable Energy

Choosing to lead the clean energy technology revolution to stop the worst effects of climate change means America will remain a worldwide leader in job creation, domestic manufacturing, local community revitalization and clean energy technology development and implementation.

The solar industry is adding workers at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy. Solar industry employment has grown by 86 percent in the past five years, resulting in nearly 80,000 domestic living-wage jobs.

For every dollar invested in energy efficiency, families and businesses can enjoy up to $4 in energy savings, and for every billion dollars invested in energy efficiency upgrades we can create up to 7,000-8,000 new jobs, roughly ten times as many jobs as we would create from the same investments in coal. Investments in clean energy technologies will also keep jobs in America and prevent harm to the economy by preventing the worst impacts of climate change.

Bernie strongly supports efforts to develop and deploy clean, sustainable energy technologies like energy efficiency, solar, wind and geothermal.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Work toward a 100 percent clean energy system and create millions of jobs. Scientists tell us we have a short time to make an aggressive cut in our carbon pollution emissions. Transitioning toward a completely clean energy system for electricity, heating, and transportation is not only possible and affordable it will create millions of good jobs, clean up our air and water and decrease our dependence on foreign oil.
      • Invest in clean, sustainable energy sources powered by the sun, wind and Earth’s heat. Massive and sustained investment in clean energy technology development and implementation can get us where scientists tell us we need to be. It’s no great secret that clean energy technologies are a good investment. We actually get more energy out of the money invested in sustainable energy technologies than we do out of fossil fuel. Clean energy technology has no associated fuel costs, which means there are no price spikes like we see with oil and gas. The cost of deploying solar panels has gone down by more than 80 percent since 2008, thanks to tax credits and federally funded research and development. Our national solar capacity will soon provide enough energy to power four million homes.

        Similarly, wind tax credits spurred the development of wind farms that now provide enough power for 16.7 million American homes. In fact, wind provided almost 30 percent of all new domestic power capacity in the last five years. Last year, nearly 30 percent of the electricity used in Iowa came from the wind. The decreasing cost of wind and solar demonstrates that we can have a 100 percent clean energy future.

      • Invest in advanced renewable fuels and keep our energy dollars at home. Renewable fuels have become a key component of our national strategy to move beyond oil in the fight against climate change. Renewable fuels must be produced in a way that achieves our environmental and energy security goals. We must both ensure that our renewable fuels production is truly sustainable, and we must also prevent the oil companies from derailing our progress in developing cleaner and more sustainable alternatives to gasoline and diesel. We should emphasize new, clean technologies like cellulosic ethanol and algae-based fuels. Advanced biofuels have enormous potential to deliver dramatic reductions in carbon pollution and strengthen rural economies, all while keeping our energy dollars here at home instead of sending them overseas to oil oligarchs in Russia and the Middle East.
      • Invest in solar energy and put money back in the pockets of consumers. Bernie believes that solar energy is one of the most promising sources of clean energy for America’s future. That’s why he supports making billions of dollars of investments in renewable energy, like solar. Bernie recently introduced the Low Income Solar Act to increase low-income families’ access to solar energy by making it more affordable for people who own their own home and incentivize access to community solar projects. Investing in solar energy is just as important for the economy as it is for the Earth. Bernie supports solar net metering, which means that people who invest in solar should be able to offset the cost – or in some cases even make money – on their electric utility bill. He recognizes that as we lower the cost of solar energy and increase our use of solar, we can create hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing and installation careers in this country.
      • Invest in making all American homes more energy efficient. Energy Efficiency is a “low-hanging fruit” because the investments made in energy efficiency are so effective in reducing carbon pollution emissions, and the return on investment is so quick. For every dollar invested in energy efficiency technologies, like weatherization and efficient light bulbs, energy customers can enjoy up to four dollars in savings. Bernie has long been a champion of the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that help rural and low-income families make their homes more energy efficient and lower their energy bills. At a time when we spend on average of $350 billion a year on foreign oil, we must take every possible step to invest in cheaper energy here in the United States. That’s why Bernie recently introduced the Residential Energy Savings Act to provide federal loans to states to perform energy efficiency updates to provide homeowners with valuable energy savings.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie secured $3.2 billion dollars for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant initiative in the stimulus bill, which was consistently rated a top-15 job creating program in the years after it was implemented. This grant helped to install over 9,500 solar systems and perform energy upgrades on approximately 86,000 buildings, which is saving consumers many billions of dollars in energy costs while also making our air cleaner by reducing pollution.

      • Support American workers moving into clean energy jobs. Our transition to a clean energy economy has created hundreds of thousands of jobs all over the United States, and Bernie’s climate change plan will create millions more. But we must ensure our transition from fossil fuels to clean energy is a just transition for workers. That’s why Bernie is introducing the Clean Energy Workers Just Transition Act, which provides the most comprehensive package of benefits for workers, including extended unemployment benefits, education opportunities, health care and job training for those transitioning to a career in the clean energy industry. Additionally, the bill ensures that workers in the clean energy industry will be able to organize a union to ensure living wages and safe working conditions. It also makes billions of dollars of investments in communities most affected by a transition to a clean energy future.
      • Invest in an affordable energy storage solution that will allow us to fulfill our clean energy needs. Affordable energy storage technologies like batteries allow clean energy technologies like wind and solar to be integrated onto the electric grid – even when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. Effective storage systems can affordably balance energy supply with demand by capturing energy at times when there is excess energy on the system for use during hours of high demand. Battery storage continues to develop and is becoming increasingly more affordable for families all over the country.
      • Build geothermal power plants to create full time family-wage jobs for operations, engineering, maintenance, and administration. Bernie believes that geothermal energy should play an important role in our country’s future energy portfolio. Geothermal systems can use the constant underground heat to provide heating when it is cool outside and to pull heat from buildings when it is warm outside. Geothermal energy power plants are less expensive than new modern natural gas plants and can be called on to produce power when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. Geothermal conserves energy, reduces pollution and saves money all at once.
      • Utility-Scale Clean Energy Generation. There are hundreds of thousands of roofs with solar panels, but research and technology developments have significantly improved sustainable energy technologies that are making large-scale clean energy an affordable reality. For example, advancements in utility-scale concentrated solar allows power from the sun to be stored for later use, even when the sun is not shining. Most importantly, concentrated solar power installations create permanent jobs and provide economic support for surrounding communities, which tend to be rural.
      • Enable greater consumer choice in energy. Americans should have the ability to choose affordable clean technologies for their home and businesses. Additionally, the electric utilities and fossil fuel industries should not be able to get in the way of that choice. Grid modernization technologies enable greater consumer choice and ultimately utility bill savings by making it easier for families to connect clean energy resources to the grid.
      • Begin a moratorium on nuclear power plant license renewals in the United States. Bernie believes that solar, wind, geothermal power and energy efficiency are proven and more cost-effective than nuclear – even without tax incentives – and that the toxic waste byproducts of nuclear plants are not worth the risks of the technology’s benefit. Especially in light of lessons learned from Japan’s Fukushima meltdown, Bernie has also raised questions about why the federal government invests billions into federal subsidies for the nuclear industry. We can have an affordable carbon-free, nuclear-free energy system and we must work for a safe, healthy future for all Americans.
      • Provide global clean energy funding to vulnerable countries. The United States should lead the international community in funding technology development and deployment solutions for the most vulnerable developing countries as part of any international agreement.

Revolutionize our Electric and Transportation Infrastructure

In the United States, the transportation sector accounts for about 26 percent of carbon pollution emissions. That’s the second largest contribution to our total carbon emissions after the electricity sector, which accounts for about 31 percent.

When we built out our state-of-the-art rail system in the early 1860’s we became global leaders. But now our rail system pales in comparison to Japan, Germany and even China in terms of our high-speed passenger and cargo rail systems. Bernie will invest in interstate and intercity high-speed rail systems to bring people and commodities to their destinations more efficiently to save time and money.

We must also invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, just as we built an interstate highway system in the 1950s and 1960s. Many customers are interested in moving beyond oil toward an electric car, but the concerns of cost and whether there will be access to a charging station prevent many people from being able to choose this low-carbon option.

Both our transportation and electricity infrastructures must be updated. We still have electric lines and bridges that were built around the time Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Modernizing the electrical grid helps balance higher amounts of clean energy, decreases outages and improves efficiency.

Bernie believes that infrastructure investments can create jobs and lead to a cleaner future.

As president, Bernie will:

      • Build electric vehicle charging stations. In a country where nearly 30 percent of carbon pollution emissions come from the transportation sector, it is imperative that we end our dependence on gasoline. Vehicles that run on electricity are more efficient than internal combustion engines and can be powered with renewable energy resources like wind and solar. We need to support the development of vehicle charging stations that will allow us to drive cleanly and sustainably.
      • Build high-speed passenger and cargo rail. Our nation’s rail system is largely obsolete, even though our energy-efficient railroads move more freight than ever, and Amtrak’s ridership has never been higher. While Amtrak’s fastest train travels at an average speed of just 65 mph, high-speed rail now crisscrosses most of Europe, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China with trains that run up to 200 mph. Once we have a state-of-the-art rail system, we will not only be able to move passengers and cargo faster and more efficiently, we will make significant cuts in carbon pollution emissions that cause climate change and create millions of permanent family-wage jobs for electricians, pipe fitters and sheet-metal workers.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie introduced the Rebuild America Act to invest $15 billion to improve rail so America can begin to catch up with the rest of the world.

    • Make our cities more walkable and take more cars off the road. Public transit can move more people in fewer vehicles, which is good for clean air and reducing carbon pollution emissions. Public transportation saves enough electricity to power nearly 5 million homes in the United States. Despite the potential for public transit and biking to save Americans money and reduce emissions, the United States has a long way to go to make the roads safe for those who choose these alternative modes of transportation.
  • Update and modernize the energy grid. Some of our grid infrastructure has not been updated since it was first built in the 1920s and 1930s. This causes hundreds of avoidable power failures and interruptions each year. Today, power failures cost the economy $164 billion annually, stemming from impacts like lost productivity and wasted food. Those costs are only expected to increase as climate change causes more extreme weather, which can knock the power out. Additionally, our grid is highly centralized and therefore susceptible to cyber and physical attacks. Technology development in clean energy resources and electric grid improvements have enabled “smart” technologies, programs and policies to create a safer, more sustainable energy system. The “smart grid” offers real benefits for consumers and the environment.

Bernie’s Record:

Bernie introduced the Rebuild America Act, which would invest $10 billion a year for power transmission, distribution and modernization projects that will improve the reliability and resiliency of our ever more complex electrical grid. The bill will also help increase access to broadband internet, which can also enable better, safer and more reliable electrical service.

Lead the International Community to Solve Climate Change and Prevent International Conflict.

Climate change is not just an “environmental issue,” but a global security issue as well. Climate change is an international crisis that threatens vulnerable communities all over the world.

The CIA and the Department of Defense both say that climate change is one of the great security issues facing this planet. As we see more and more drought, as people around the world are unable to grow the food they need to survive, people will migrate for survival. Instability can cause international conflict.

The United States must lead the world by working with China, Russia, India and the rest of the international community to transform our energy system away from fossil fuels toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy. We need a global commitment to reduce carbon pollution emissions.

The U.S. needs to lead the international community in the fight against climate change to maintain American economic strength and global security.

The United States has a unique opportunity to lead the international community in innovating strategies to cut climate pollution to avoid the most devastating damage of global climate change and adapt to the impacts that we cannot avoid. Our progress in reducing pollution levels over the last ten years has given us the credibility to demand that major developing nations also take bold action. In the past year, we have seen historic new commitments from countries like China and India who are for the first time putting forth their own aggressive climate agendas.

As president, Bernie will:

    • Convene a climate summit with the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists and indigenous communities in his first 100 days. The United Nations Paris climate talks in December are an important milestone toward solving climate change, but even optimistic outcomes of these talks will not put the world on the path needed to avoid the most catastrophic results of climate change. We must think beyond Paris. In the first 100 days of Bernie’s Presidency, he will convene a summit of the world’s best climate experts to chart a course toward the healthy future we all want for our families and communities.
    • Lead countries in cutting climate change. Climate change is the greatest global challenge, and must be met with global solutions. The United States has contributed greatly to climate change, but also has the greatest opportunity and know-how to lead in implementing climate change solutions. The argument that we shouldn’t act until other countries do is falling by the wayside as China, India and many other countries have come to the table with initial commitments to take significant action to solve climate change.
  • Plan for peace to avoid international climate-fueled conflict. Changes in rainfall patterns, higher temperatures and more frequent natural disasters such as droughts and flooding due to climate change pose a direct threat to our global food and energy supply. In the United States, this could mean higher food and energy prices. In some developing countries, the effects could be even worse, and lead to temporary or more permanent situations where not enough food or water is available for everyone. This has the potential to result in an international climate-fueled conflict. Bernie believes that we must plan for peace now in order to prepare for this sort of dire conflict that is already beginning to unfold in parts of the world.



Earth wins time as land and seas absorb more carbon

Where does all the carbon go? Only half stays in the atmosphere Image: Ra Boe via Wikimedia Commons

Where does all the carbon go? Only half stays in the atmosphere
 Image: Ra Boe via Wikimedia Commons

Kind of good news but by no means should we slow efforts in the direction of a carbon-free Earth.
Self-protection of the planet (oceans, forests etc) has reached its limits and further violation could destroy Earth as well as mankind. That’s scientific and common knowledge as you, probably, can read here among other sources.


Climate change has intensified more slowly than scientists had expected because the continents and oceans are absorbing more atmospheric carbon dioxide.

LONDON, 17 May, 2015 − Half of all the carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels remain in the atmosphere. The good news is that only half remain in the atmosphere, while the rest have been taken up by the living world and then absorbed into the land, and the ocean. That is, as carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen, so also has the planet’s capacity to soak up atmospheric carbon.

The implication is that what engineers call “positive feedback” – in which global warming triggers the release of yet more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere to accelerate yet further warming – doesn’t seem to be at work yet.

The implication, too, is that the world’s governments still have time to launch determined programmes to sharply reduce fossil fuel use, and switch to wind, solar and other renewable energy sources before climate change disrupts the planet’s food security and exacts what could be a devastating toll on the biosphere.

But most climate scientists know all this anyway: the real significance of a new study in the journal Biogeosciences is that US and British scientists have narrowed some of the uncertainties in what climate scientists like to call the carbon budget: how much gets into the atmosphere, where it goes, and how long it stays.

That is because although the big picture – that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are beginning to rise steeply – has been confirmed repeatedly by systematic measurements since 1956, the potential margin of error has been considerable.

“This increased uptake by land and ocean is not only surprising; it’s good news”

“There is no question that land and oceans have, for at least the last five and half decades, been taking up about half of the carbon emitted each year. The outstanding question is, Why?” said Richard Houghton of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, one of the authors.

“Most of the processes responsible for that uptake would be expected to slow down as the Earth warms, but we haven’t seen it yet. Since the emissions today are three times higher than they were in the 1960s, this increased uptake by land and ocean is not only surprising; it’s good news.

“Without it, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere would be twice what it is, and climate change would be much farther along. But there’s no guarantee that it will continue.”

The carbon budget is an integral part of the climate puzzle: all simulations of how climate will change with increasing emissions from fossil fuels depend on an understanding of how much carbon dioxide concentrates in the atmosphere and what happens to it after that.

In the last few months researchers have reported a dramatic uptake of atmospheric carbon by new forests and the growth of woodland on the world’s savannahs and pinpointed the fjords – those steep, still stretches of sea in mountainous coastlines in the high latitudes – as prime “sinks” for atmospheric carbon.

Uncertainties narrowed

At the same time others have once again confirmed fears that thawing permafrost could release vast quantities of carbon stored for millennia is semi-decayed and now frozen vegetation.

But these have been studies of small pieces of the big puzzle. What the Biogeosciences authors did was to refine two global uncertainties. One is how much fossil fuel is burned each year and the other is how much is stacking up in the atmosphere.

Both sound simple, but the first question is complicated by differences in the ways nations maintain their own energy inventories, and the way they report the details, and the second depends on how the use of land has changed, how the oceans are responding to higher levels of acidification and how carbon dioxide levels vary according to region, and to season.

With greater certainty in the answers to the second question – which began with one single set of measurements at the top of a mountain in Hawaii now replicated worldwide – researchers found they could make more sense of the first question, and narrow the uncertainties to a point where they could write that they were “93% confident that terrestrial C uptake has increased and 97% confident that ocean C uptake has increased in the last five decades.

“Thus it is clear that arguably one of the most vital ecosystem services currently provided by the biosphere is the continued removal of approximately half of atmospheric CO2 emissions from the atmosphere.” − Climate News Network»

World Bank Fossil Fuel Financing Leapt in 2014 Despite Its Calls To End Subsidies


By Karl Mathiesen, Guardian UK, 17 April 15

ALSO SEE: How the World Bank Broke Its Promise to Protect the Poor

Source: Reader Supported News

New analysis reveals funding of over $3bn for fossil fuel-related projects last year, despite repeated calls by bank’s president to scrap such ‘harmful’ global subsidies

The World Bank increased its financing for fossil fuel projects in the last financial year, according to a new analysis, despite repeated calls by its president to end the global subsidies for oil, coal and gas.

In a report released on Friday, Oil Change International (OCI) identified $3.4bn (£2.3bn) of loans, grants, guarantees, risk management and equity for fossil fuel-related projects in the developing world in the 2013-14 financial year. This was the highest recorded in four years and up 23% on the year before although the bank said it disagreed with lumping in both direct and indirect funding.

On Monday, the bank’s president Jim Yong Kim told the Guardian “we need to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies now”, echoing his previous comments on such “harmful” subsidies. The World Trade organisation’s definition of a subsidy is a “financial contribution by a government or any public body”, including loans and loan guarantees.

Stephen Kretzmann, the executive director of OCI, said: “Bank staff are absolutely right to be concerned about fossil fuel subsidies, but they need to get their own house in order as well. They provided more than $3bn in financing for fossil fuels last year, all of which are clearly subsidies for fossil fuel production. The World Bank should lead by example, not try to hide business as usual.”

A World Bank spokeswoman said: “We have seen the [OCI] report and do not agree with the way it characterises our work. Critically, the report uses a completely different way of classifying energy projects to the World Bank Group.”

The spokeswoman said the bank’s own assessment showed its support for fossil fuels almost halved during 2013/14, while its financing of renewable energy rose significantly.

But the bank admitted that its fossil fuel calculation did not include another tranche of funding for governance, called ‘policy and institutional development’ – part of which supports the burning of fossil fuels.

“In countries that produce hydrocarbons, these need to be considered as part of the overall energy strategy. In countries where natural gas is available, the development of this resource often provides a critical alternative to coal-fired power generation,” said the spokeswoman, who added that gas was a “clean flexible fuel”. The bank did not provide an estimate of how much it had put towards the fossil fuel industry through this type of funding.

Sasanka Thilakasiri, who advises Oxfam International on economic justice issues, said:“If the World Bank is suggesting that they are investing in fossil fuels via loop holes, this flies in the face of the good things they have been saying in moving towards a low-carbon economy. The World Bank needs to close this loop hole.”

“Any sort of lending from public institutions, including the World Bank, is a subsidy,” said BankWatch campaigns director Petr Hlobil, who monitors global financing of fossil fuels. “This is the hypocrisy within the institution.”

Graphic covering cost for oil and renewable energy. (photo: Oil Change International)
Data covering the cost for oil and renewable energy. (photo: Oil Change International)

The World Bank’s data for 2013-14 shows its fossil fuel funding fell to $1.3bn. At the same time its policy and institutional support more than trebled to $1.6bn.

OCI said a $19.8m project in Ghana for “oil and gas capacity building” and one in Mozambique that provided $24.2m to improve the management of coal, oil and gas extraction were examples of finance that could be categorised as policy funding, but facilitated the burning of more fossil fuels.

In addition, OCI said it was its view that projects to build transmission lines to carry fossil fuel-generated electricity still constituted support for fossil fuels.

“A lot of World Bank support goes to supporting the infrastructure around the fossil fuel industry, not just generation itself,” said Petra Kjell, environment programme manager at the Bretton Woods Project (BWP), who said the OCI report was consistent with BWP’s previous research into the bank’s patronage of the fossil fuel industry.

The bank disputed the claim that financing for transmission was support for fossil fuels. “A significant proportion of bank transmission/distribution financing is used to rehabilitate and upgrade inefficient old grids – improving overall emissions,” said the spokeswoman.

Kim has also been a strong advocate for a carbon price. In January at Davos he said “governments must put a price on pollution”. Financial analysts, including Mark Carney the governor of the Bank of England, have warned that a carbon price will render many fossil fuel reserves valueless. Kim himself has described the “systemic risk associated with carbon-intensive activities”.

Yet OCI found the bank had put $643m into projects that contained some element of fossil fuel exploration during 2013-14.

The bank’s spokeswoman said: “In some developing countries renewable costs and lack of base load alternatives mean that fossil fuels will remain part of the energy mix. We won’t solve the climate challenge by targeting energy use in least developed countries. The focus should be on the biggest emitters.”

The discovery of new reserves in developing countries traps them into an economic model that would be incompatible with a working carbon tax, said Shelagh Whitley , a research fellow at the Overseas Development Institute.

“The World Bank actively shapes energy policies in developing countries and should be backing green and low carbon energy. Instead, the direction of its financial support risks locking the poorest countries into outdated economic models powered by dirty fuels. We could end up with parallel worlds of sustainable, clean energy for the rich and dead-end polluting power for the poor,” she said.

Fossil Fuel Reserve Must Stay Buried to Prevent Climate Change

Coast Guard continues response to allision, oil spill south of New OrleansNew research is first to identify which reserves must not be burned to keep global temperature rise under 2C, including over 90% of US and Australian coal and almost all Canadian tar sands
By Damian Carrington, Guardian UK 08 January 14

Vast amounts of oil in the Middle East, coal in the US, Australia and China and many other fossil fuel reserves will have to be left in the ground to prevent dangerous climate change, according to the first analysis to identify which existing reserves cannot be burned.

The new work reveals the profound geopolitical and economic implications of tackling global warming for both countries and major companies that are reliant on fossil fuel wealth. It shows trillions of dollars of known and extractable coal, oil and gas, including most Canadian tar sands, all Arctic oil and gas and much potential shale gas, cannot be exploited if the global temperature rise is to be kept under the 2C safety limit agreed by the world’s nations. Currently, the world is heading for a catastrophic 5C of warming and the deadline to seal a global climate deal comes in December at a crunch UN summit in Paris.

“We’ve now got tangible figures of the quantities and locations of fossil fuels that should remain unused in trying to keep within the 2C temperature limit,” said Christophe McGlade, at University College London (UCL), and who led the new research published in the journal Nature. The work, using detailed data and well-established economic models, assumed cost effective climate policies would use the cheapest fossil fuels first, with more expensive fuels priced out of a world in which carbon emissions were strictly limited. For example, the model predicts that significant cheap-to-produce conventional oil would be burned but that the carbon limit would be reached before more expensive tar sands oil could be used.

It was already known that there is about three times more fossil fuel in reserves that could be exploited today than is compatible with 2C, and over 10 times more fossil fuel resource that could be exploited in future. But the new study is the first to reveal which fuels from which countries would have to be abandoned. It also shows that technology to capture and bury carbon emissions, touted by some as a way to continue substantial fossil fuel use in power stations, makes surprisingly little difference to the amount of coal, oil and gas deemed unburnable.

Major fossil fuel companies face the risk that significant parts of their reserves will become worthless, with Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Exxaro owning huge coal reserves and Lukoil, Exxon Mobil, BP, Gazprom and Chevron owning massive oil and gas reserves.

If the world’s nations keep their pledge to combat climate change, the analysis finds the prospects are bleakest for coal, the most polluting of all fossil fuels. Globally, 82% of today’s reserves must be left underground. In major coal producing nations like the US, Australia and Russia, more than 90% of coal reserves are unused in meeting the 2C pledge. In China and India, both heavy and growing coal users, 66% of reserves are unburnable.

While the prospects for gas are better, the study still found 50% of global reserves must remain unburned. But there are stark regional variations, with the giant gas producers in the Middle East and Russia having to leave huge quantities underground, while the US and Europe can exploit 90% or more of their reserves to replace coal and provide local power to their large cities. Some fracking for shale gas is consistent with the 2C target, according to the study, but is dominated by the existing industry in the US, with China, India, Africa and the Middle East needing to leave 80% of their potential shale gas unburned.

Oil has the lowest proportion of unburnable fuel, with a third left unused. However, the Middle East is still required to leave 260bn barrels of oil in the ground, an amount equivalent to Saudi Arabia’s entire oil reserve. The study’s conclusion on the exploitation of Canada’s oil sands is blunt, finding production must fall to “negligible” levels after 2020 if the 2C scenario is to be fulfilled. The research also finds no climate-friendly scenario in which any oil or gas is drilled in the Arctic.

The new analysis calls into question the gigantic sums of private and government investment being ploughed into exploration for new fossil fuel reserves, according to UCL’s Professor Paul Ekins, who conducted the research with McGlade. “In 2013, fossil fuel companies spent some $670bn (£443bn) on exploring for new oil and gas resources. One might ask why they are doing this when there is more in the ground than we can afford to burn,” he said.

“The investors in those companies might feel that money is better spent either developing low-carbon energy sources or being returned to investors as dividends,” said Ekins.

“One lesson of this work is unmistakably obvious: when you’re in a hole, stop digging,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of which is campaigning to get investors to dump their fossil fuel stocks. “These numbers show that unconventional and ‘extreme’ fossil fuel – Canada’s tar sands, for instance – simply have to stay in the ground.”

“Given these numbers, it makes literally no sense for the industry to go hunting for more fossil fuel,” McKibben said. “We’ve binged to the edge of our own destruction. The last thing we need now is to find a few more liquor stores to loot.”

Financial experts, including the Bank of England and Goldman Sachs, have begun taking seriously the risk that expensive fossil fuel projects will be rendered worthless by future climate action. James Leaton, research director at the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) said: “Investors are already using the detailed CTI cost curves to start identifying how low demand and price scenarios could play out.”

The research also highlights the contradiction of governments seeking to maximise their nation’s fossil fuel extraction, as in the UK, while simultaneously pledging to limit global warming to 2C. Ekins said if governments approved new fossil fuel production, they should be asked what resources elsewhere would not be exploited.

“If some UK shale gas resources turn out to be economically viable, and provided the local environmental impacts can be made acceptable, I would say we should use them,” he said. “But the caveat is what fossil fuels should we then not be using from somewhere else, if we are going to keep within the carbon budget. That is a question I have never heard asked by a policy maker in this country.”

If a global deal is signed in December to keep most fossil fuels in the ground, then compensating the losers will be key, according to Michael Jakob, a climate change economist at the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Berlin. “If you really want to convince developing countries to leave their coal in the ground, you have to offer something else and I don’t think the Saudis will leave that oil in the ground if they get nothing for it,” he said, citing green technology including CCS, as well as financial compensation.

Jakob said the challenge was enormous, but that it provided benefits as well as costs: “There are huge sums at stake, but not just on the losers’ side but also on the winners’ side. Some assets will lose value, but others will gain value, like solar and wind power and land for biomass production.” In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that tackling global warming by diverting hundred of billions of dollars from fossil fuels into renewable energy and cutting energy waste would shave just 0.06% off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%.

Source: Reader Supported News

Also read:
Denmark Sets New World Record for Renewable Energy in 2014, Powering 39 Percent of Country With Wind
Here’s Why Keystone XL Is the Wrong Choice for Our Nation-By Robert Redford
This Fix Is (Almost) In on the Keystone XL Pipeline

EU Gets Ready to Open Canadian Tar Sands Floodgate


By Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams

Despite protest, lawmakers poised to give legislative handout to industry that peddles one of world’s dirtiest fossil fuels


After years of lobbying to break into European markets, Canada’s tar sands oil industry is poised to score a victory from EU lawmakers who have signaled willingness to drop a requirement that labels tar sands oil as dirtier than other fossil fuels.

The EU agreed five years ago to a piece of climate legislation called the ‘Fuel Quality Directive,’ which was to go into effect in 2010 with the aim of cutting transport fuel emissions by 6 percent by 2020. Yet thanks to heavy industry lobbying and government stalling, the plan still has not gone into effect years later.

Both the Financial Times and Reuters reported Thursday that the EU is likely to weaken the language of the not-yet-implemented plan by scrapping a requirement that bitumen—oil extracted from tar sands—be labeled as high-emissions diesel. The higher rating would have discouraged, but not prevented, imports.

A draft document drawn up by the European Commission will, if implemented, allow companies to sidestep penalties on tar sands imports. “Under the new methodology, companies would only have to make their emission cuts based on EU averages for the ‘output’ fuels – the petrol or diesel – regardless of whether it was originally made from heavy crude or not,” the Financial Times explains.

One of the world’s dirtiest fossil fuels, bitumen produces up to five times more carbon than conventional crude oil. The extraction process is extremely energy-intensive, destructive to ecosystems, and creates large reservoirs of toxic waste. Environmental groups have argued that proposed regulations in previous drafts of the Fuel Quality Directive were already too lax, and that tar sands should simply stay in the ground.

The government of Canada and the oil industry have aggressively opposed potential EU penalties on bitumen imports, and Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford pressed the issue in sideline conversations at the G7 meetings in Rome last month.

Meanwhile, environmental protesters rallied this week against what is believed to be the first large shipment of bitumen to Europe, which arrived in Spain from Canada.

“Tar sands are deadly for our climate and must be kept in the ground and out of Europe,” said Colin Roche of Friends of the Earth in a statement about the delivery. “To give a lifeline to this dangerous industry is to set us up for climate disaster.”

Source: RSN

Report: Climate Change Already Impacting ‘All Continents’


By Jeff Spross, ThinkProgress 30 March 14

The next big report from an ongoing international effort to nail down the science of climate change will be released on Monday. According to the Guardian, the report’s language concludes that climate change has already “caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans.”

An early draft was actually leaked in November. The biggest danger it sees is apparently coastal flooding driven by sea level rise — which could shave 10 percent off global economic production by the end of this century, according to previous research. Climate change also threatens widespread damage to marine life and fish populations worldwide, as both warming seas and ocean acidification throw off ecosystems’ natural balances.

Much of the report’s language has already been finalized, including a warning that “both warm water coral reef and Arctic ecosystems are already experiencing irreversible regime shifts.”

The report also sees the potential for droughts, floods, and shifting patterns of rainfall to endanger global food production — again, a finding backed by other studies. Climate change is also cutting down on the globe’s supply of fresh drinking water, and stronger storms pose a danger to human infrastructure.

The latest report is a product of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international project aimed at providing the world a kind of grand summary and assessment of the known science on climate change. It put out its last big finding — the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) — in 2007. Now the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is rolling out in a series of stages over the next few months.

The Working Group I report was the first stage, and covered how climate change arises from the basics of physical science. It was released in September of 2013. The report proposed, for the first time, an overall “carbon budget” that humanity cannot exceed if we’re to stay under 2°C of warming — what most scientist consider the safe upper limit. In short, the world can afford to release only 1,000 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere if it wants to stay under the 2°C threshold, and 531 gigatons have already been emitted as of 2011.

Right now representatives and scientists from around the world are hold up in Yokohama, Japan, finalizing the language for the Working Group II report, which will come out on Monday. It will cover the impacts of climate change, which populations and societies are the most vulnerable, and how governments can adapt. According to the Guardian, almost 500 people must approve the Working Group II language, including 66 experts authors, 57 observers, 271 officials representing 115 countries around the world.

The IPCC’s Working Group III report is scheduled to be released in April, and will cover climate change mitigation. That will be followed by the final Synthesis Report in October. At that point, the AR5 release will be complete, setting the stage for the next big international meeting in 2015, where the world’s governments hope to develop some sort of coordinated strategy to actually tackle climate change and cut global carbon emissions.

Source: Reader Supported News

Ε1. Ορυκτά καύσιμα και κλιματική αλλαγή #1

Τα ορυκτά καύσιμα όπως είδαμε, αποτέλεσαν την βάση της βιομηχανικής επανάστασης και κυριολεκτικά την κινητήρια δύναμη του δυτικού πολιτισμού όπως τον γνωρίζουμε σήμερα.

Ταυτόχρονα όμως με την χρήση, δηλαδή την καύση των ορυκτών καυσίμων και την εξέλιξη που επέφερε, οι άνθρωποι άνοιξαν το κουτί της Πανδώρας για το περιβάλλον και απελευθέρωσαν την μάστιγα του CO2.

Η παραγωγή CO2 οφείλεται στο μεγαλύτερο ποσοστό της στην καύση ορυκτών καυσίμων, των ίδιων που χρησιμοποιούν οι άνθρωποι στην καθημερινή ζωή τους, στην θέρμανση, στις μεταφορές (χερσαίες, θαλάσσιες και εναέριες), στις βιομηχανίες και βέβαια για την παραγωγή ηλεκτρισμού.

Τα ορυκτά καύσιμα κατά την καύση τους, παράγουν επίσης θειικά, ανθρακικά και νιτρικά οξέα, ραδιενεργά υλικά, σωματίδια με την μορφή τέφρας και βέβαια CO2[1].

Οι κυβερνήσεις υπογράφουν συμφωνίες και πρωτόκολλα, όμως δεν διαφαίνεται καμμία διάθεση και προοπτική διαφοροποίησης του ενεργειακού μοντέλου.

Η ενεργειακή επάρκεια ίσως να αποτελεί το ύψιστο αγαθό/συμφέρον το οποίο επιδιώκουν να εξασφαλίσουν οι κυβερνήσεις, οι μεγάλες εταιρίες, οι χώρες. Τα αποθέματα και οι τιμές των καυσίμων, έχουν γίνει η αιτία συγκρούσεων και πολέμων, συμφωνιών και πολιτικών χειρισμών.

Οι διάφορες μορφές άνθρακα (κάρβουνο, λιγνίτης), το πετρέλαιο και το φυσικό αέριο χρησιμοποιούνται για την παραγωγή σχεδόν του 90% της ενέργειας παγκοσμίως και συνολικά η χρήση τους δεν προβλέπεται να μειωθεί σημαντικά στο μέλλον, όσο αυξάνεται η ζήτηση ενέργειας. Παρά την ανησυχία των κυβερνήσεων για την ενεργειακή τους επάρκεια, την συμβολή του CO2 στην κλιματική αλλαγή και την υιοθέτηση της χρήσης ανανεώσιμων πηγών ενέργειας, οι προβλέψεις για έναν χρονικό ορίζοντα 20ετίας, εμφανίζουν αύξηση σε όλες ανεξαιρέτως τις μορφές ενέργειας, όπως δείχνει το πιο κάτω διάγραμμα.  

 Η ζήτηση για ενέργεια προβλέπεται οτι θα αυξηθεί, ιδιαίτερα από αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες μη-μέλη του Οργανισμού Οικονομικής Συνεργασίας και Ανάπτυξης (ΟΟΣΑ) -μέλος του οποίου είναι η Ελλάδα-, στην πορεία τους προς την εντατικοποίηση της βιομηχανικής παραγωγής, σε αντίθεση με τις χώρες-μέλη των οποίων η ανάπτυξη δεν αναμένεται να επανέλθει στα επίπεδα πριν την οικονομική κρίση, ως ένα βαθμό σκοπίμως.

Οι ταραχές στην Μέση Ανατολή και στην Αφρική, η κλονισμένη εμπιστοσύνη στα πυρηνικά εργοστάσια μετά την διαρροή εξαιτίας του σεισμού στην Φουκουσίμα και η προσδοκία για ανάκαμψη των ευρωπαϊκών βιομηχανιών, μεταξύ άλλων παραγόντων, αυξάνουν τις τιμές του πετρελαίου αναλογικά προς την αναμενόμενη ζήτηση και την απρόσκοπτη διάθεσή του. Το πετρέλαιο δηλαδή, αναμένεται να αποτελέσει ασύμφορο καύσιμο ως προς τις τιμές του, απαραίτητο ωστόσο σε τομείς όπως οι μεταφορές.

Το φυσικό αέριο αυξάνει το ποσοστό συμμετοχής του ως πηγή ενέργειας και παράλληλα αυξάνεται η άντληση/παραγωγή του, ενώ επιπλέον θεωρείται οτι εμφανίζει μικρότερη συμμετοχή/επιβάρυνση στις εκπομπές CO2.

Τα στερεά ορυκτά καύσιμα (άνθρακας, λιγνίτης) αναμένεται να αποτελέσουν την κύρια πηγή ενέργειας στην Κίνα και στην Ινδία οι οποίες διαθέτουν μεγάλα αποθέματα και επειδή δεν δεσμεύονται προς το παρόν από συμφωνίες για μείωση των εκπομπών τους[2].

Αλλά και στην ΕΕ, ο λιθάνθρακας και ο λιγνίτης αποτελούν το 80% των αποθεμάτων της σε ορυκτά καύσιμα και αρκετές χώρες της θα χρειαστεί να εκμεταλλευτούν τα αποθέματά τους προκειμένου να ενισχύσουν την ενεργειακή τους επάρκεια και να μειώσουν τα κόστη από την εισαγωγή πετρελαίου.

Σε παγκόσμιο επίπεδο, η «επιτακτική ανάγκη για περιορισμό των εκπομπών GHG, η διαχείριση της περιφερειακής ατμοσφαιρικής ρύπανσης και η ανάγκη για ταχεία ανάπτυξη προμηθειών ενέργειας χαμηλού ή/και μηδενικού άνθρακα» που αναγνώριζε το Παγκόσμιο Συμβούλιο Ενέργειας το 2009[3] εκφράζεται το 2011[4] με το κομψό μεν, μετριοπαθές περιβαλλοντικά δε: «Άμβλυνση των περιβαλλοντικών επιπτώσεων με την εξασφάλιση της επάρκειας σε προσφορά και ζήτηση και την ανάπτυξη του ενεργειακού εφοδιασμού από ανανεώσιμες και άλλες πηγές χαμηλού άνθρακα». 

 Στο ζητούμενο των ενεργειακών πολιτικών μεταξύ ενεργειακής επάρκειας και προσιτής οικονομικά ενέργειας, συνυπολογίζεται και η πυρηνική ενέργεια, την οποία κάποιες χώρες είναι αποφασισμένες να συνεχίσουν να παράγουν (Γαλλία, Ελβετία, ΗΠΑ, Βρετανία, Κίνα) ενώ άλλες σκοπεύουν να αναπτύξουν (Πολωνία, Ινδία, Νότια Κορέα, Ουκρανία). Η Γερμανία η οποία παρήγαγε το ένα τέταρτο του ηλεκτρισμού της από πυρηνικά εργοστάσια τα οποία καταργεί σταδιακά από το 2011 όπως είχε εξαγγείλει, θα χρειαστεί να εκμεταλλευτεί τα μεγάλα αποθέματά της σε στερεά ορυκτά καύσιμα, αφού μόνο μικρή ενεργειακή επάρκεια μπορεί να εξασφαλίσει από ΑΠΕ[5].

Τυχόν δίλημμα μεταξύ των δύο, αφενός μεν είναι πλαστό όπως όλα τα διλήμματα μεταξύ δύο μη συγκρίσιμων «κακών» τα οποία αποτελούν την συνήθη, ευθεία ή μέσω προπαγάνδας, πρακτική των κατεστημένων πολιτικών, αφετέρου έχει ήδη απαντηθεί και ακυρωθεί επιστημονικά, περιβαλλοντικά, ενεργειακά, οικονομικά, κοινωνικά και -κυρίως- ηθικά[6],[7].


image001ΠΗΓΗ: U.S. Energy Information Administration
Το 2011, οι ΗΠΑ εισήγαγαν περίπου 9 εκατομμύρια βαρέλια πετρέλαιο ημερησίως και η Κίνα περίπου 4,6 εκατομμύρια, η Γερμανία 2,2 και η Γαλλία 1,7. Από τις μεγαλύτερες καταναλώτριες χώρες, η Ρωσία, η Σαουδική Αραβία, η Βραζιλία, ο Καναδάς, το Μεξικό, το Ιράν και η Βρετανία έχουν παραγωγή που καλύπτει ή υπερκαλύπτει την κατανάλωσή τους, η Κίνα καταναλώνει διπλάσια από την παραγωγή της και οι: Ιαπωνία, Ινδία, Γερμανία, Γαλλία, Ιταλία, δηλαδή τρεις χώρες της ΕΕ, εισάγουν το σύνολο του πετρελαίου που καταναλώνουν, σύμφωνα με τον πιο κάτω πίνακα. 
                                        ΚΟΡΥΦΑΙΕΣ ΧΩΡΕΣ 2011                                      (σε   χιλιάδες βαρέλια πετρελαίου ημερησίως) 
1 ΗΠΑ                            18.949 Σαουδική   Αραβία                  11.154
2 Κίνα                              8.924 Ρωσία                                    10.239
3 Ιαπωνία                       4.480 Βρεταννία                               10.136
4 Ινδία                             3.426 Κίνα                                         4.347
5 Σαουδική   Αραβία       2.986 Ιράν                                         4.226
6 Βραζιλία                       2.793 Καναδάς                                    3.597
7 Ρωσία                           2.725 Ηνωμένα   Αραβικά Εμιράτα   3.088
8 Γερμανία                      2.400 Μεξικό                                       2.960
9 Καναδάς                       2.289 Κουβέιτ                                     2.692
10 Νότια   Κορέα               2.230 Βραζιλία                                    2.685
11 Μεξικό                         2.133 Ιράκ                                              2.629
12 Ιράν                              2.028 Νιγηρία                                     2.554
13 Γαλλία                          1.792 Βενεζουέλα                              2.489
14 Βρεταννία                    1.608 Νορβηγία                                  2.007
15 Ιταλία                           1.454 Αλγερία                                     1.863











  coallignite production 2010-2011                     


[1]   Wikipedia (17.5.2013)

[2]   U.S. Energy Information Administration (17.5.2013)

[3]   World Energy Council 2009 Assessment (20.5.2013)

[4]   World Energy Council 2011 Assessment (σελ. 7) (20.5.2013)

[5]   World Energy Council 2011 Assessment (σελ. 16) (20.5.2013)

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