Climate Politics Comes Back to Obama

Top 20 emitting counties

A report presented to President Obama’s science advisor, Dr. John P. Holdren, based on the National Climate Adaptation Summit in May 2010 states that significant and dramatic steps need to be taken by all segments of society for the United States to minimize thenegative impacts of climate change.  The report reconfirms the urgentneed for a well-coordinated national effort with local solutions toaddress the effects of extreme conditions being brought about by globalwarming.

The report provides guidelines for the kinds of actions that need tobe taken now to provide the tools and support necessary to enable people and businesses to deal with a different climate in the 21st century. Our climate will involve more extreme heat waves, droughts, floods,hurricanes and rising sea levels – changes that will pose enormouschallenges to our economy, our infrastructure, health care,transportation, energy needs, the environment, food production and more.

“The real takeaway from this report is that our nation is at risk and we’re not ready,” said Sherwood Boehlert, Special Advisor to theProject on Climate Science and former Congressman (R-NY) and Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Science. “Climate change is alreadyoccurring in the United States and around the world, but we are notresponding quickly enough,” he said.

Summit participants identified the key barriers to an effectiveresponse to changing climate as including “the lack of: (1) an overallnational climate adaptation strategy, (2) clear federal leadership andcoordination, (3) access to critical tools and information, and (4)appropriate training for climate adaptation leaders and the broaderworkforce. Thus, most federal, public, tribal, or private sector groupsand organizations find it quite difficult to undertake effective climate adaptation planning or evaluate the risks and vulnerabilities they arefacing.”

Citing markedly rising temperatures dramatically affectingprecipitation patterns and amounts, the report noted major impacts to“forests, agriculture, water resources, urban areas and many othereconomic sectors and sensitive ecosystems.”  And, while the climate isalready changing, there was strong consensus that aggressive action toimplement “wise adaptation measures can help minimize the negativeimpacts of a changing climate on our nation’s communities, businesses,ecosystems, and citizens.”

But there is no mistaking the enormity of the problem or the hugenational response at all levels that is needed.  “The changing climatewill transform our way of life as dramatically or even more dramatically than any event in our history save for, perhaps, the Revolutionary Warand the Civil War,” added Boehlert.  “We must ask ourselves: ‘Are wegoing to stay ahead of these changes as the report suggests, or are wegoing to be reactive and put our children’s health and welfare atrisk?’”

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Cash is Key Says World Climate Summit

The most important and influential global industry, finance andgovernment associations in the climate change sector will launch theinaugural World Climate Summit on December 4, 2010 in Cancun, Mexico during the the UNFCCC COP 16?sconference.  The “World Climate Summit” aims Accelerate Business &Finance Solutions to Climate Change and includes a veritable who’s whoof global finance – the UNEP Finance Initiative, The UN Global Compact,The Prince of Wales Corporate Leaders Group, The Climate Group, TheWorld Bank, Sir Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room, ICLEI – LocalGovernments for Sustainability, Carbon Disclosure Project, Bright Green, Club of Beijing, International Finance Corporation, and the governmentof Mexico.

“We have 10 years to scale and implement existing solutions such asenergy efficiency globally,” said Jens Nielsen, Founder of the WorldClimate Summit. “The World Climate Summit will help deliver that withbusinesses, financiers and governments.”

World Climate Summit 2010 is the beginning of a new, open andcollaborative global 10-year initiative dedicated to helpinggovernments, businesses and financiers accelerate solutions to climatechange. The World Climate Summit is bringing more than 300 leadingcompanies, investors and government leaders to implement, scale andcollaborate on bottom-up solutions to climate change to reach 2020targets.

“As world leaders drive towards a global agreement on climate change, investors in the world’s capital markets cannot afford to simply sitand wait. Investors and other financial institutions are determined towork with policy-makers to catalyze new low carbon markets worthtrillions of dollars,” said Paul Clements-Hunt, the chief of the UNEP’sFinance Initiative, “The World Climate Summit will bring finance,business and negotiators together to help make those future low carbonmarkets a reality.”

Highlights of the World Climate Summit include:

  1. Largest network of investors and financial intermediaries demandingclimate change action ever assembled representing more than 20 trillions of assets under management.
  2. Providing an unparalleled global media platform with CNNInternational, TIME, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and DowJones.
  3. Some of the largest global companies in their industries: lighting,energy efficiency, housing, mining, retailing, car, infrastructure, andrenewable energy sectors
  4. Launch of the Carbon War Room Gigaton Awards rewarding andcelebrating the best low-carbon companies, leaders and cities in theworld.
  5. Introducing new initiatives such as a new global index on carbon emissions, new funds and renewable energy initiatives.

The World Climate Summit WCS ( is thebusiness conference accelerating solutions to climate change during theUNFCCC COP 16, Cancun, Mexico. The World Climate Summit will convene the worlds leading businesses, financiers, and governments, so that theycan finance, implement and scale local and global solutions. Thishigh-profile 2-day summit will take place on December 4-5th at TheRitz-Carlton, Cancun, Mexico. The World Climate Summit is an initiativemanaged by World Climate Ltd.

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Improving Prospects for Renewables

Two-thirds of the fuel used in conventional power plants is exhausted as wasteheat to oceans, rivers and the atmosphere. In total, U.S. power plantswaste more energy than most countries – including major economies likeJapan – consume for their entire economies. This waste heat can berecovered and put to productive use through combined heat and power(CHP) systems. In addition, the United States has abundant renewablesources of thermal energy, including biomass, geothermal, solar, andnatural sources of air conditioning.

The Thermal Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act of 2010 (TREEA, S.3626 / H.R. 5805) was introduced by Sens. Al Franken (D-MN) and Kit Bond (R-MO) in the Senate, and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), with Reps. JayInslee (D-WA) and Paul Tonko (D-NY) as original co-sponsors, in theHouse.

Highlights from Speaker Presentations

  • District energy systems provide a cleaner way to heat and coolcommunities, by capturing waste heat that would otherwise be unused, orusing renewable resources such as geothermal, water, solar, or biomass.
  • District energy aggregates thermal loads to a scale that makes itpossible to use thermal energy sources that would not make sense on asingle-building basis.
  • District energy systems can help strengthen energy security byreducing the need for imported foreign oil and improve economicdevelopment by keeping energy dollars in the local economy.
  • There are district energy systems in all 50 states, but there aremany opportunities to expand existing systems or build new ones.Under-utilization of district energy in the United Sates is not atechnology issue, it’s a policy issue.
  • In Denmark, 80 percent of heating and cooling is drawn from district energy systems.
  • District Energy St. Paul has built the largest district energysystem in the United States, serving 85 percent of downtown buildings.Its thermal energy comes from 70 percent renewable sources, with thehope of achieving 100 percent renewable in the future. It has plans toincorporate a large solar-thermal energy project, the first of its kindin the United States.
  • District energy has the potential to draw waste heat not only frompower plants, but from industry as well. For example, District EnergySt. Paul hopes to capture heat from a paper recycling plant a few milesfrom downtown.
  • To cool its campus, Cornell University pulls cold water from thebottom of Cayuga Lake through a district energy system, reducing the use of cooling electricity by 87 percent campus wide, cutting carbondioxide emissions by 56 million lbs per year, and eliminating 40,000 lbs of CFCs.
  • A Seattle district energy system uses waste wood to serveapproximately 200 downtown buildings, reducing carbon dioxide emissionsby 55,000 tons per year.
  • Buildings that use district energy have more leasable space becauseboilers, chillers, chimneys, and other heating and cooling equipment can be removed.
  • The Thermal Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act of 2010 (TREEA) isintended to stimulate investments in low-carbon thermal energyinfrastructure, focusing on use of renewable energy sources to supplyheating and cooling. Major provisions include a renewable thermalproduction tax credit, expanded availability of tax-exempt bonds fordistrict energy infrastructure, and modified authorization forinstitutional sustainable infrastructure.
  • If passed, TREEA will act as a foundation and set importantprecedence for future energy policy. Several other bills have beenintroduced to address other thermal energy policy gaps.


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Dan Kammen Advising World Bank on Energy Issues

Electricity Demand in 2005 and Projected Demand in 2015 and 2030

The World Bank today announced theappointment of Professor of Energy Daniel M. Kammen of the University of California, Berkeley as the organization’s Chief Technical Specialistfor Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. This is a new positioncreated to provide strategic leadership on the policy, technical, andoperational fronts. The aim is to enhance the operational impact of the Bank’s renewable energy and energy efficiency activities whileexpanding the institution’s role as an enabler of global dialogue onmoving energy development to a cleaner and more sustainable pathway. The appointment comes amid unprecedented demand from developingcountries for World Bank support in their efforts to address development and climate change as interlinked challenges. This includes responding to the challenges in providing energy services to the one-and-a-halfbillion people who remain without access to clean, reliable, andaffordable modern energy services.

“I am delighted that Dan Kammen will be joining the Bank in thiscritical role at this critical time,” said Inger Andersen, World BankVice President for Sustainable Development “With Dan on board, we lookforward to strong leadership and rich partnerships with many actors, inthe public and private sectors, on this important topic.” “Morethan ever,” Andersen added, “our client and countries are looking forsolutions as they put in place economic growth and poverty reductionpolicies for their citizens today while taking into account the needs of the planet tomorrow. The supply and use of clean energy is a primeelement in responding to both concerns. Dan’s deep knowledge, broadexperience, and extensive network of international actors working inthis area makes him a perfect fit for this new position.”

Daniel M. Kammen has worked for 25 years on the technical, analytictools and policies that play a central role in enabling a low-carbonenergy and wider sustainable economic systems. “I am captivated andmotivated by the need to respond to the immense clean energy needs ofcountries around the world to address quality of life and economicempowerment, address problems of inequity, and respond to the challenges of climate change,” said Kammen. “As researchers and developmentprofessionals, we must refine what we are currently doing, as well asdevelop new tools, to provide more low-cost, high quality, clean energyworldwide.”

Currently, Kammen is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor ofEnergy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holdsappointments in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School ofPublic Policy, and the department of Nuclear Engineering. The focus ofhis work is on the science and policy of clean, renewable energysystems, energy efficiency, the role of energy in national energypolicy, international climate debates, and the use and impacts of energy sources and technologies on development, particularly in Africa andLatin America.


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Deutsche Bank Brings Fight to Climate Skeptics

Glacial Melt in Greenland

Citing “ a determined assault” by climatescience skeptics “on the climate findings accepted by the overwhelmingmajority of the scientific community,” Deutsche Bank released a new paper reviewing “major skeptic claims in light of thelatest peer reviewed scientific literature.” The report, written by the Columbia Climate Center at the Earth Institute, Columbia University,carefully reviewed the arguments advanced by climate change skeptics and found that these claims do not change the conclusion that “human madeclimate change is already happening and is a serious long term threat.”

Mark Fulton, Global Head of Climate Change Investment Research, noted how important the science is to investors. “While there are manyarguments in favor of clean energy, water and sustainable agriculture –for instance, energy security, economic growth, and job opportunities–we at DB Climate Change Advisors (DBCCA) have always said that the science is one essential foundation of the whole climate change investment thesis,” wrote Fulton.

The report includes three central arguments made by skeptics andreviews the major claims point by point.  The conclusion: the Earth iswarming, human activity is  responsible and the consequences will bevery disruptive given Earth’s large and growing population.

“Simply put, the science shows us that climate change due toemissions of greenhouse gases is a serious problem,” concluded Fulton.


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New Geoengineering Research Released

Volcanic Eruption

Through a series of workshops with members of the public, Australia’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) conducted a public dialog to assess public opinion on howgeoengineering research should be directed, conducted and communicated. The research effort explored people’s attitudes towards various potential geoengineeringmethods. At the workshops, participants came together for up to threedays to discuss the ethical, moral and social issues associated with the possible use of geoengineering methods to alter our environment.

What is geoengineering?

Geoengineering is “the deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climate system, in order tomoderate global warming,” according to the Royal Society’s report Geoengineering the climate.  It includes technologies which could either remove CO2 from theatmosphere or reduce global temperatures by reflecting sunlight backinto space.

This public dialogue focused on nine geoengineering technologies. The technologies chosen for discussion broadly reflected those discussed in the Royal Society’s report. The dialogue did not provide exhaustivecoverage of all geoengineering techniques. For practical reasons, mostnotably the time available to discuss the technologies with participants and to avoid information overload, a selective list was necessary. Thetechnologies can be divided into two main categories, Carbon DioxideRemoval (CDR) and Solar Radiation Management (SRM). Both sets oftechniques have the ultimate aim of lowering global temperatures, butapproach the task in different ways. The dialogue project included aselection of both CDR and SRM techniques.

CDR techniques address the root cause of climate change by removingCO2 from the atmosphere. During the dialog, the following techniqueswere discussed:

Biochar: Vegetation, which uses CO2 from theatmosphere for growth, is heated and starved of oxygen to lock thecarbon into biochar (finely grained charcoal) rather than releasing thestored CO2 back into the atmosphere when the vegetation decays. Thebiochar is then buried and can store away carbon for thousands of years.

Liming the Ocean: ‘Lime’ (Ca(OH)2) would be createdfrom limestone carbonate rocks and added to the oceans to make them more alkaline, which makes them absorb more CO2 from the air.

Iron Fertilization: Adding nutrients such as iron to certain areas of the ocean to promote ‘blooms’ of algae. As the algaegrow they soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When they die they sink out of the upper ocean, taking the carbon with them potentiallyfor hundreds of years.

Air Capture: ‘Artificial trees’ would be made thatremove carbon dioxide from the air. The air passes through chemicalsolutions or compounds that absorb and collect CO2, which can then beremoved, transported and stored.

Afforestation: Planting more trees and managing land use would help reduce CO2 levels as the newly-planted trees wouldabsorb more from the atmosphere as they grow.

SRM technologies attempt to offset effects of increased greenhousegas concentrations by reflecting a small percentage of the sun’s lightand heat back into space. The following were included in the dialoguediscussions:

Sulphate Particles: These would mimic what happenswhen large volcanoes erupt, sending sulphate particles up into the air.Sulphate particles scatter the sun’s rays back into space, preventingthem from reaching Earth and so cooling the Earth. Military planes orhot air balloons would disperse sulphate particles in the upperatmosphere.

Mirrors in Space: Many small mirrors or reflectivemesh put high up in space, acting as a sunshade to reflect some sunlight away from the Earth, and preventing it from warming the atmosphere.White Roofs: Painting surfaces white or making them more reflectivemeans that less heat from sunlight is absorbed by the Earth, so lowering temperatures.

Cloud Whitening: Some clouds cool the Earth byreflecting sunlight back into space. By spraying small seawater droplets into the air over the sea, it is possible to increase the reflectivityand (possibly) longevity of existing clouds. The seawater could bedeployed using normal ships, radio controlled vessels or airplanes.


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Still In Spotlight: Solar Inverters

Photovoltaic Panels

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Sandia National Laboratorieshas invested $8.5 million in four projects that have reached Stage IIIof the Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems (SEGIS) program. Theseinvestments will be matched more than one-to-one by the SEGIScontractors to support more than $20 million in total projects. Theselections announced today are part of the Department’s ongoing work toimprove the nation’s electrical grid reliability as solar energytechnologies reach cost-competitiveness with conventional sources ofelectricity and increasing amounts of photovoltaic (PV) solarelectricity flow into the nation’s electrical grid.  The SEGIS Stage III selections include:

“Shared” Inverters: Florida Solar Energy Center of the University ofCentral Florida, Cocoa, Florida $660,329: The Florida Solar EnergyCenter is partnering with Satcon Technology Corporation (Massachusetts), SENTECH, Inc. (Maryland), SunEdison (California), Cooper Power SystemsEAS (Minnesota), Northern Plains Power Technologies (South Dakota) andLakeland Electric Utilities (Florida). This Stage III project focuses on the implementation of a larger “shared” inverter serving multipleresidential or commercial PV systems. The demonstration will feature asuite of new functionalities such as “Smart Grid” power controls,continued operation in the events of voltage and frequency disturbances, and improved safety of PV systems. These new functionalities willenable higher penetrations of PV into the grid of the future.

Micro Inverters:Petra Solar South, Plainfield, New Jersey $2,729,712: Petra Solar is partnering with the University of Central Florida(Florida), Public Service Electric & Gas (New Jersey), PEPCOHoldings (three electric utilities operating in New Jersey, Delaware,Maryland and Washington DC), and BP Solar (Maryland). This projectaddresses utility-grid interactivity, system reliability, and safetythrough low cost, easy-to-install, modular inverters. The Stage III work expands the micro-inverter system concept to higher voltage operationsto reduce costs and expand utility-friendly functionalities.

Demand-Response Inverters: Princeton Power, Princeton, New Jersey$2,729,897: Princeton Power is partnering with First Energy Corp.(Ohio), Center for Power Electronics Systems (Virginia), InternationalBattery, Inc. (Pennsylvania), Tectonic Corp. (New Jersey), and ProcessAutomation Corp. (New Jersey). This project will address finishingdetails to complete a design for a 100-kilowatt “Demand ResponseInverter” based on Princeton’s unique circuit designs and the use of new state-of-the-art components. Demonstration installations with utilitycollaborations are planned during Stage III and will be announced oncedetails are available.

PV-Based Control and Communication Platform: PVPowered, Bend, Oregon$2,408,276: PV Powered is partnering with Portland General Electric(Oregon), Northern Plains Power Technologies (South Dakota), andSchweitzer Engineering Laboratories (Washington). This project focuseson several key developments in Stage III, including next-generationcontrols and advanced communications technologies that enabledistributed PV systems to communicate with power utilities. Theseinnovations will allow utilities to manage networks of distributed power sources, reduce PV systems costs, and remove barriers to high levels of PV grid penetration. Stage III demonstration installations are beingplanned and will be announced when details are available.

Initiated in 2008, the SEGIS program is a partnership that includesDOE, Sandia National Laboratories, industry, utilities and universities. Under the program, projects are emphasizing complete system development for solar technologies, for instance, how to move designs ofintelligent system controls towards commercialization and how best tointegrate expanded solar resources onto the grid while maintaining orimproving power quality and reliability. SEGIS projects are selectedbased on the highest likelihood of commercialization of reliableproducts that will best enable and accelerate the integration of solarPV technologies into an intelligent electrical grid.

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Patenting Cleantech and Technology Transfer

Patents - European Union - China Trends

Climate-change mitigation will require the development and diffusion of a large number and variety of new technologies.  Will patent protection accelerate orimpede this critical process? A new paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research reviews the evidence on the role of patents for innovation and international technology transfer.  The literature suggests that patent protection in a host countryencourages technology transfer to that country but that its impact oninnovation and development is much more ambiguous. The NBER analysisdiscusses the implications of these findings and othertechnology-specific evidence for the diffusion of climate change-related technologies, concluding that the presence of both environmental andknowledge externalities suggests that patent protection may not be theoptimal instrument for encouraging innovation in this area, especiallygiven the range and variety of green technologies as well as the need for local adaptation of technologies.


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Peace Corps Promotes Rural Access to Clean Energy

Desert Vista

The U.S. Department of State is providing $1 million to support Peace Corps volunteer efforts thatincrease rural access to energy, mitigate the effects of climate change, and support the use of renewable energy and energy efficienttechnologies in Central and South American communities, in support ofthe Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA).

The funds will allow Peace Corps volunteers to work withinternational experts, local organizations, businesses, and communitymembers on the ground to create efficient and green solutions to energychallenges in the Americas.  Under the partnership, Peace Corpsvolunteers will work with members of local communities to buildinfrastructure to support environmentally-friendly energy and to educate communities on climate change and energy conservation. Volunteers willtrain host-country citizens in the use of alternative fuels and toinstall, operate, and maintain energy-efficient technology, includingbiodigesters, solar water heaters, photovoltaic devices, solar andfuel-efficient stoves, and wind or mini hydroelectric power generators.These efforts will make clean energy more accessible to ruralcommunities, reduce carbon emissions, improve public health, and provide opportunities for individuals and small businesses to generate income.

In April 2009, at the Fifth Summit of the Americas, President Obamainvited all countries in the Western Hemisphere to join ECPA to promotecollaboration on renewable energy, energy efficiency, cleaner fossilfuels, and energy poverty. Peace Corps’ initial ECPA-related effortswill be implemented in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guyana,Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Suriname.


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A Look at Geoengineering Strategies

Nikola Tesla - Electricity TowerOver the past five years, the world’s population has risen by roughly 80million people annually, reaching an estimated 6.8 billion in 2009. Barring a sudden reversal in demographic trends, more than 9 billionpeople will inhabit Earth by 2050. Needless to say, the constellation of challenges created by population growth and profligate consumption have placed potentially irreversible strains on the interconnected systemsand cycles that comprise the Earth’s climate. Population growth hasdepleted natural resources and strained the natural systems that sustain the Earth’s carrying capacity.  Water scarcity, diminishingagricultural yields and biodiversity loss are only a few of theconsequences of these forces.

These environmental challenges cannot be disaggregated in anymeaningful sense.  Solutions must contemplate the full spectrum offorces bearing on the problem.  Complex problems demand complexsolutions.  The spirit of international environmental law – ahighly-integrated system of multilateral agreements, customs and norms – has been shaped profoundly by the “Gaia Hypothesis,” which claims thatthe Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere and its living organisms behave as asingle system striving to maintain a stability that is conductive to the existence of life. Sustainable development law is inherently holisticand treats economic growth, social development and environmentalprotection “as interdependent and mutually reinforcing pillars.”

Geoengineering has attracted considerable attention over the past two years. In February 2009, John Holdren, President Obama’s scienceadviser, said the White House was considering geoengineering as apossible emergency-response to global warming.  In June 2009, the U.S.National Academy of Sciences held a two-day conference ongeoengineering, including an opening lecture by the President, RalphCicerone.  In March 2010, many of the world’s most highly respectedclimate scientists convened in southern California to discuss governance issues related to geoengineering research.  In April 2010, the U.S.House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology concludedthe third hearing in a series of three hearings considering the fullspectrum of scientific and legal issues associated with geoengineering.  Amidst this flurry of activity, geoengineering has galvanized supportfrom an awkward alliance of erstwhile climate-change skeptics likeDanish professor and pundit Bjorn Lomborg and highly-respected climate scientists like Peter Cox, who served as alead author of the IPCC’s fourth assessment report on climate science.

Cox said he was personally interested in proposals to put sulphateparticles into the atmosphere to mimic the cooling effect that followslarge volcanic eruptions, although he added that significantly moreresearch was required to understand the potential impact on atmosphericchemistry and the likely effects on regional climatic patterns. Achieving the two-degree target needed to avoid dangerous climate change would require blocking two percent of the sun’s energy, compared toslashing global emissions by 60 per cent over the next 40 years,according to Cox.

In 1954 the eminent geoscientist Harrison Brown argued that theworld’s hunger problems could be solved by stimulating plant growththrough pumping higher concentrations of carbon dioxide into theatmosphere.  Brown suggested the construction of “huge carbon-dioxidegenerators pouring gas into the atmosphere” and calculated that doubling the amount in the atmosphere would require the burning of at least 500billion tons of coal.  Ironically, the accumulation of GHG in theEarth’s atmosphere is rapidly and radically reshaping the naturalsystems that support human life. Climate change could threaten coastalareas with rising sea levels, alter agricultural productivity andamplify the frequency and ferocity of floods and tropical storms.

Environmental Risk Management

Society has historically responded to environmental risk through oneof the following four institutional mechanisms: market forces,government regulation, liability or social insurance. Theseinstitutional mechanisms for managing environmental risk are notdiscrete alternatives, but an interconnected system of risk-managementstrategies for environmental problems.

Environmental regulation is a government directive given to aparticular regulatory target based on some finding that prohibits orrequires some type of action.  The regulatory system manages risk byimposing rules or procedures that mitigate the risks associated withcertain classes of activities and enterprises.  The selection of anappropriate regulatory target is critical to the success of a regulatory scheme.  The choice of controls or mix of controls adopted byregulations depends on the nature of the regulatory targets. As aresult, programs that seek to regulate well-defined targets will beeasier to implement than programs that pursue widely dispersed ordifficult to identify targets.

Geoengineering poses profound and pervasive risks.  These risks range in diversity and complexity for every geoengineering strategy. Formulating regulations for managing the risks of geoengineeringpresupposes the existence of a definition of the practices or programsthat constitute “geoengineering.”  This section considers whether thereis a core set of practices or applications that can be used to definegeoengineering for purposes of developing a regulatory framework formanaging the risks of geoengineering reliably.

North America's Oil Production from 1990 to 2009

What Is Geoengineering?

Research literature does not include many well-crafted definitions of geoengineering.  There are compelling definitions of specific types ofgeoengineering like iron ocean fertilization and so forth, butcomprehensive definitions of geoengineering are vague, sensationalizedand ripe for rhetorical abuse.  There is no common definition of“geoengineering.”  The term has been construed both broadly andnarrowly.  A few of the definitions proposed in the research literatureinclude:

“Geoengineering aims to purposefully alter planetary-scale phenomena such as the carbon cycle and atmospheric dynamics.”

“Geoengineering technologies aim to intervene in the climatesystem through large-scale and deliberate modifications of the Earth’senergy balance in order to reduce temperatures and counteractanthropogenic climate change.”

“The term ‘geoengineering’ describe[s] activities specificallyand deliberately designed to effect a change in the global climate withthe aim of minimizing or reversing anthropogenic climate change.

“Large-scale deliberate interventions in the earth’s climate system to diminish climate change or its potential impacts . . . .”

The term ‘geoengineering’ does not have a standard definition.Thereare definitions of specific types of geoengineering like iron oceanfertilization, but more generic definitions of geoengineering are vague, poorly-crafted and non-comprehensive.  In 2009, the Royal Society – the United Kingdom’s national academy of science – released a majorreport that grouped geoengineering proposals under one of two umbrellacategories: Solar Radiation Management (SRM) and CO2 Removal (CDR).

Solar Radiation Management (SRM)

Rather than targeting the higher GHG concentrations directly, thefirst cluster of geoengineering applications aims to offset the warmingcaused by anthropogenic GHG in the atmosphere by making the Earth morereflective, or reducing the amount of solar energy absorbed by theEarth.

GHGs in the atmosphere absorb long-wave radiation – thermal infraredor heat – and radiate it in all directions—including a fraction back toEarth’s surface, raising global temperature.  SRM proposes to increasethe planetary albedo by reflecting a larger share of the sun’s incomingshort-wave radiation than would otherwise occur.  In theory, SRM wouldoffset the effect of atmospheric GHG by altering the volume of incomingshort-wave radiation on Earth in one of several ways—by increasing theamount of solar radiation reflected from space, from the stratosphere,from low-level clouds that blanket the skies over parts of the ocean,and from the Earth’s surface. Reflecting one percent of the sunlightthat strikes the Earth back into space would cool the planet by anamount roughly equal to the warming predicted to result from doublingthe pre-industrial levels of GHG.

By diverting incoming solar radiation, SRM aims to lower temperatures without reducing GHG emissions.  SRM seeks to create a cooling effectthat counteracts the warming influence of elevated levels of GHG in theatmosphere. Various techniques have been proposed to produce thiseffect, ranging from space-based shielding systems and light-scatteringschemes in the stratosphere to rooftop painting campaigns and proposalsto cover vast swaths of desert terrain with reflective material. Despite the diversity of SRM concepts that have been proposed, the two mostwidely supported approaches are marine cloud whitening and stratospheric aerosols.

Marine Cloud Whitening

Clouds can cool or warm the planet by the impact they have on“radiation.” Low altitude liquid clouds tend to cool the planet morethan they warm it by reflecting sunlight that would otherwise reach thesurface and heat up the ground.  For example, winter nights willfrequently be warmer when the sky is overcast and colder when skies areclear.  High altitude ice clouds tend to warm the planet because highclouds “trap” heat that would otherwise escape to space.[21]

The “cloud whitening” strategy for SRM is to make clouds more reflective to sunlight than they would otherwise be.[22] Every cloud drop has an aerosol embedded in it. Cloud drops always form around aerosols. The way that aerosols interact with a cloud isdetermined by the size and chemical composition of the aerosol, and bythe cloud type.  If extra aerosols are injected into a region whereclouds form, any clouds that form will have more cloud drops than theyotherwise would.[23] Depending on the size of each cloud drop and how it alters the cloud’s precipitation, more drops tend to make clouds whiter.

A specific iteration of this SRM strategy envisions lofting anextremely fine mist of seawater droplets over the ocean that would form a moist sea-salt aerosol.  The particles within the aerosol would be less than one micron in diameter and would provide sites for cloud dropletsto form within the marine cloud layer. The up-lofted droplets would addto the effects of natural sea salt and other small particles, which arecalled, collectively, cloud condensation nuclei.  The total amount ofaerosol that would need to be pumped into the atmosphere is about 30 m3 per second, according to recent estimates by Latham and Salter. Theyestimate that it might require X ships deployed over a large area(perhaps as much as 30% of the ocean surface) to distribute that sea.

Stratospheric Aerosols

Volcanic eruptions pump massive amounts of volcanic ash into theatmosphere, which scatters back into space some of the sunlight thatwould otherwise have warmed the surface. As more sunlight is scattered,the planet cools.  In 1991, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo reducedglobal temperatures roughly 0.5 degrees Celsius in less than ayear. Injecting sub-micron-sized particles into the stratosphere mayyield similar cooling effects of volcanic eruptions.  This possibilityhas galvanized another prevalent SRM strategy seeks to emulate volcaniceruptions by attempting creating a stratospheric cloud that wouldreflect incoming sunlight, shading and cooling the planet to counteractglobal warming.  The particles used for SRM would be far smaller thanvolcanic ash, which appear to have a greater impact for purposes ofclimate engineering.  Over time, the particles would descend into thelower atmosphere, where they would precipitate out. By some estimates,the total mass of particles needed would amount to the equivalent of afew percent of today’s sulfur emissions from power plants.

A few grams of sulfate particles in the stratosphere can offset theradiative forcing of a ton of CO2 in the atmosphere. It costs roughly$1000 a ton to inject a gram of aerosol delivery into the stratosphere,which would amount to a figure of about $10 billion dollars to provide a cooling that counteracts the heating from a doubling of atmosphericCO2. Like the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo, SRM can alter the globalclimate within months.

Solar Shades & Space-Based Strategies

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Institute forAdvanced Concepts (NIAC) explored the practicality of using a solarshield in space to deflect sunlight and reduce global temperatures. In1997, Lowell Wood and Edward Teller proposed positioning a superfinereflective mesh of aluminum threads in space between the Earth and theSun in an effort to reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches theEarth.  Similar space-based geoengineering strategies have includedproposals for deploying:

A swarm of trillions of thin metallic reflecting disks each about 50cm in diameter, fabricated in space from near-Earth asteroids
A swarm of around ten trillion thin, high-specification refractingdisks each about 60 cm in diameter, fabricated on Earth and launchedinto space in stacks of a million, one stack every minute for about 30years.

It has been estimated that a 1% reduction in solar radiation wouldrequire approximately 1.5 million square kilometers of mirrors made of a reflective mesh. 1.5 million square kilometers is roughly the size ofthe land area of Alaska.

White Roof Methods And Brightening Of Human Settlements

Painting roofs, roads and pavements bright reflective ‘white’ couldenhance the reflectivity of the built environment, especially during the Summer in sunny regions. The resulting global radiative forcing woulddepend on how much urban area could be brightened in this way, butestimates suggest that albedo modification on 2.3% of the planet’s landsurface would yield a radiative cooling of about -0.2 W/m2. The costs of painting urban surfaces and structures white are estimated tobe about $0.3/m2/yr on average. The total annual cost of implementing a‘white roof strategy’ on 1% of the planet’s land surface would be anestimated $300 billion.

A similar terrestrial reflection strategy proposes covering vastswaths of the world’s hottest deserts with a reflective,polyethylene-aluminum surface. Arid deserts account for roughly 2% ofthe Earth’s total surface area and receive disproportionately largeamounts of incident solar radiation. As a result, large increases in the albedo of deserts would potentially produce substantial negativeradiative forcing. If the price of reflective sheeting combined withroutine replacement costs for damage were somewhat similar to those ofpainting at ~$0.3/m2/yr, the cost of covering 1013 m2 (~10% of theEarth’s land surface) would exceed several $ trillion annually.

The ecological impact of localized radiative-forcing strategies likethose described above would be profound and likely negative if thestrategies were implemented on any scale large enough to be effective.For example, desert mirrors have the potential to change large-scalepatterns of atmospheric circulation that drive continent-wideprecipitation patterns.

More Reflective Crop Varieties And Grasslands

The albedo of plant canopies varies significantly for different types of plants as a result of differences in basic leaf spectral properties, morphology and canopy structure. Promoting the growth of specific cropand grassland species and varieties would theoretically increase thealbedo of vegetated surfaces. A recent computer simulation usingadvanced climate models found that increasing the albedo of crops by0.04 percent would reduce temperatures in North America and CentralEurope by up to 33.80°F during the summer.

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR)

The second cluster of geoengineering strategies encompasses systemsdesigned for capture GHG already in the atmosphere and storing it land-or sea-based sinks permanently. Unlike CCS, CDR removes the CO2 directly from the atmosphere ratherthan from the exhaust streams of power plants and other stationarysources. CDR contemplates large-scale industrial processes for capturing of atmospheric CO2 as well as enhancement of existing natural sinks. Examples of CDR approaches include:

  • Ocean fertilization – enhancing biological, physical, or chemical ocean-based carbon sinks through theintroduction of nutrients to promote phytoplankton growth

Land-Based Enhanced Weathering – enhancing biological, physical, orchemical land-based carbon sinks to capture and store carbon in biomassor soil, or in chemically reactive minerals

Ocean-Based Enhanced Weathering – physically altering oceancirculation patterns to transfer atmospheric carbon to the deep sea, oradding chemically reactive minerals to increase ocean alkalinity

Air Capture – technology-based methods to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and store it for long periods of time.

CDR would not be effective in a very short period of time.  Unlikesolar radiation, the carbon cycle‘s inertia is so long-lived that even a massive CDR program would take decades to slow global warming.

Ocean Fertilization

The vast majority of carbon in Earth’s carbon cycle at any given time is concentrated in the deep ocean – about 35,000 GtC of CO2 comparedwith about 750 GtC in the atmosphere.  While CO2 in the surface oceanrapidly exchanges with the atmosphere, the transfer of CO2 into the deep sea is much slower. Most of the CO2 being released today willeventually be transferred into the deep sea within 1,000 years.Accelerating the transfer of CO2 into the deep ocean by manipulating the ocean’s carbon cycle could potentially reduce CO2 levels in theatmosphere.  Microscopic plants on the ocean’s surface absorb CO2 fromthe atmosphere through photosynthesis. Some of the carbon absorbed thisway settles into the deep ocean in the form of organic matter bygravity.  As it sinks, it becomes food for bacteria and other organisms, converting it back into CO2 through consumption and respiration.  Thecombined effect of photosynthesis in the surface followed by respiration deeper in the water column is to remove CO2 from the surface andre-release it at depth. The process, commonly described as a ‘biological pump,’ plays a key role in the carbon cycle.

The ability of the biological pump to draw carbon down into deeperwaters is limited by the supply of nutrients available that allow netalgal growth in the surface layer. Methods have been proposed to addotherwise limiting nutrients to the surface waters, and so promote algal growth, and enhance the biological pump. This would remove CO2 fasterfrom the surface layer of the ocean and presumably from the atmosphere. The quantity of nutrients needed to have an effect on the carbon cycledepends on the relative amounts of elements which algae use in buildingtheir organic tissue.

Iron fertilization is by far the most-widely considered artificialocean fertilization technique. More than a dozen limited releaseexperiments have been performed in the last 15 years. The biologicalpump is responsible for sinking ~10 GtC/yr out of the surface layer, ofwhich only a fraction sinks deep enough to be sequestered for centuries, as required.  Given that carbon is currently being released due tohuman activities at the rate of 8.5 GtC/yr, ocean fertilization couldplay at best only a modest role in carbon sequestration. Its effect ison a similar scale to what might be gained be re-forestation of the land surface, as might be expected given that the productivity of globalterrestrial biota is similar to that of the oceans.

By William Pentland

Original Article on Cleanbeta


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State Dep’t Briefing on Global Shale Gas Initiative

David L. Goldwyn
Coordinator for International Energy Affairs
Washington, DC
August 24, 2010

MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Department of State.To start off today, we have our State Department Coordinator for International Energy Affairs David Goldwyn. He’s here to brief you on the Global Shale Gas Initiative Conference that is still ongoing here at the Department. It represents – 17countries are represented to discuss the importance of shale gas as alower-carbon fuel option. So we’ll start with David and then we’ll comeback for other subjects.

MR. GOLDWYN: Thanks, P.J. Good afternoon. As P.J. noted, yesterdayand today we’re hosting the Global Shale Gas Initiative Conference. It’s a regulatory conference. We’re up to 20 countries and 10 federalentities, as well as state and local regulators. The reason we’re doingthis is it’s part of the State Department’s effort to promote globalenergy security and climate security around the world.

The U.S. shale gas phenomenon has transformed global energy markets.Because we have discovered and we have the technology to developefficiently large quantities of gas from shale, global prices ofliquefied natural gas have decreased. Gas has become cheaper. Gas is now competitive with coal on a BTU basis, which means that countries thatmight use coal can now not make an economic choice, but on a competitive basis choose gas for their next level of power generation.

It’s also provided competition, gas-on-gas competition, because theU.S. is no longer a big importer of or will not need to be an importerof liquefied natural gas.

So this has been a terrific boon for ourselves and for global energysecurity, and other countries want to replicate this process. And wewish them the best in doing this, but there are a lot of things thatgovernments need to know in order to develop shale gas safely andefficiently. And that’s why we organized a regulatory conference wherewe could teach them what they need to know.

Now, their motivation and our motivation as the State Department toengage on this issue should be clear for foreign policy and energysecurity reasons. Countries around the world need diversity of energysupply. There are countries with millions of people – in fact, tens andsome hundreds of millions of people – without access to electricityservices. They need a feedstock and they need it for base load energy.They also, in many cases, are dependent on a single country for theirsource of gas supply and they want some choice.

So it’s understandable that they want to develop shale gas, but wehave, in our country, an umbrella of laws and regulations that makessure this is done safely and efficiently. We have federal regulation ofair and water. We have state regulation of land use and water. We havethe capacity to monitor and to regulate. And even then, there’s the need for enforcement.

So what we did was we gathered all these agencies together for twodays to explain all of these things to governments. So EPA talked abouthow we regulate water at the federal level and how they partner withstates. EIA, the Energy Information Administration, talked about thephenomenon in the growth of shale gas and how unconventional gas ingeneral is making – giving us choices to improve the climate and toreduce the pathway for future energy emissions. The U.S. GeologicalSurvey is talking to these countries about how you know what kind ofresource you have. And the Bureau of Land Management and the Departmentof Interior is talking about how on federal lands all the steps we takein terms of environmental impact assessment, safety regulations, license rules, to make sure that when an operator comes to develop a resourcethat you have someone who is technically qualified, someone who has aplan which has been approved, and that the environmental impacts havebeen considered and are adopted into the core of the license.

We’ve also had a representative from the Groundwater ProtectionCouncil, and this is an association of state regulators, because in ourcountry, it’s really the states that are on the front lines of safedrinking water regulation. In 33 states, the state leads or co-partnerswith the Environmental Protection Agency. So we’ve spent a lot of timetalking about water, because water is scarce in a lot of thesecountries.

The bottom line is that we’ve had a really successful conference,because these countries have a lot of questions. People areenthusiastic, but they’re careful. There’s a lot that they need to knowand there’s a lot they need to stand up in terms of regulatory capacitybefore they’re ready to engage in this. And so from our point of view,this has been a big success. We want people to have rationalexpectations about what they have. We want them to understand that ittakes not just good commercial terms but really good government and good governance in order to make sure this is done safely.

So it’s another of the examples of our using smart power or creativediplomacy to try and improve energy security, but to help countrieslearn what they need to know. Thank you.

QUESTION: Can you give us a sense of how – of the total sort ofconsumption of LNG in the world, how much of it is now supplied by shale gas, and some sense of how you see that evolving over time, in fiveyears, ten years?

MR. GOLDWYN: Well, right now, I would say very little. In fact, maybe no liquefied natural gas is supplied by shale gas. Most of theliquefied natural gas is coming from conventional gas production, andthen liquefied and shipped on global markets. The impact in the U.S. iswe, eight years ago, expected that we would be importing vast amounts of liquefied natural gas, and now, because we have this large-scaledomestic production, we won’t need to.

In the future, it will really depend on which countries are producing shale gas and at what scale. In this country, it’s entirely possible if things continue on trend that we would have the ability to export gasextracted from shale, liquefy it, and export it overseas. That’s if wedidn’t use all of it domestically.

In other countries, at least the countries around the table, my guess is that most of what is being produced will be used domestically. SoChina, India, to give examples of two large countries, have very largegas demands over time. If they’re able to produce shale gas, my guess is that it’s going to be used domestically and not used for export. Thelarge-scale producers of gas right now – Qatar, Russia, Nigeria,Algeria, Trinidad and Tobago – all that is from conventional gas. So Ithink it’s unforeseeable, but I would not expect a huge portion of LNGsupply to come from shale.

Global Shale Gas Plays

QUESTION: I’m sorry; I think I asked the question wrong. Essentially, what I was trying to get at is not so much liquefied natural gas, butjust gas consumption and how much of it is – I mean, can you say, forexample, in the United States what proportion of American gasconsumption comes from shale gas and can you give us some sense of howmuch you – I mean, I’m trying to figure out if it’s been a big enoughproportion to actually reduce gas prices, then it has to be a fairly –it has to be some percentage level, and sort of what kind of a bang forthe buck might country X, or Y, or Z hope to get. Can they get 5percent, 10 percent of their gas consumption?

MR. GOLDWYN: Sure. Well, in the U.S. right now, 10 percent of ourproduction comes from shale gas. U.S. gas reserves have increased eightfold over the last 10 years. And projections we saw from the NationalSecurity Council this morning showed just that estimates from EIA forthe United States, China, and Canada show that we might be looking atsomewhere near 30 percent of future gas supply coming fromunconventional sources – that shale-type gas, coal bed methane as well.

So, in Canada, by 2035, I think the projection is that close to halfof gas production will come from shale and unconventional resources andin China as well a very significant increase. So for the U.S., this hasbeen a game-changer in the sense that we thought we were on the declineand now we’re very significantly on the rise.

If these shales develop, I think this could easily be the case inthese countries. What we don’t know right now is how much shale is there and whether it’s technically recoverable or whether it’s commerciallyrecoverable. But there are large shale formations all over the world,and if they are even a fraction as prolific as the Barnett shale hasbeen, as the Marcellus shale is proving to be, then it would be adramatic portion of global gas supply in the future.

QUESTION: And predictions concerning Poland, where also huge deposits have been discovered of shale gas?

MR. GOLDWYN: Poland is here at the conference day. They have – thereis exploration underway. And it’s hard to predict what you’re going tofind until the drilling actually takes place, but they have large-scaleshale formations. What we’ve learned over the last couple of days fromthe U.S. Geological Survey and from the Department of Commercepresentations is because you have a lot of shale, it’s hard to predictuntil you drill whether it’s technically or economically recoverable. It depends on how tight the formation is, how much gas it releases,whether the formation is very wide, and how it’s produced. It’s also aquestion of whether you have the infrastructure and the terms to bringthat investment. So we have high hopes for Poland, but with any country, you can’t predict until they draw.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: As far as India and U.S. energy cooperation, a lot is going on in the past few months and India is importing almost 80 percent. Itmight rise in the future because demand is also rising. Is there anycooperation going on now between the India and U.S. as far as moreexploration? Because India has a lot of energy or gas but still somehowthey are not taking the advantage of their technology.

MR. GOLDWYN: Yes. Coincident with the prime minister – with PrimeMinister Singh’s visit to the U.S., we launched a memorandum ofunderstanding with India on shale gas. And this will – we have proposedat least that the U.S. Geological Survey do a resource assessment ofcertain shale basins in India, and that we would provide workshops totrain Indian geophysicists on how to do their own resource assessments.

The U.S. Geological Survey is the only federal agency, actually theonly government agency in the world that assesses resources outside itshome country. And they have a very sophisticated model where they canuse analogs to shales in the U.S. and other places to project not onlywhat the resource may hold, but what are the sweet spots, what are themost prolific places to drill. So we’ve proposed that to India; I’llmeet with them this afternoon to talk about deepening that cooperation,and it’s part of a larger umbrella of cooperation we have under theU.S.-India Strategic Dialogue.

QUESTION: It’s been a long time. But why it’s taking so long? Is it something to do with politics going on somewhere?

MR. GOLDWYN: Why has it taken India so long to develop its shale?Well, I think there’s – there are lots of reasons why the pace ofproduction in countries can be slow. I think with respect to shale, it’s a relatively new phenomenon, even in this country. These very sameshales that are producing now were uneconomic because of the technologyeven six or seven years ago, and the ability to do this now quickly andat a lower cost has really opened people’s eyes here in the U.S. and inother places to that possibility. So it’s new for India also.

But part of the message that we have given is that for any countryyou need more than the resource. You have to have a regulatory system.You have to have the infrastructure. You have to have protection ofintellectual property. You have to have a pipeline that will take thegas from wherever it’s produced to a market. And you have to have amarket price, because if there isn’t a market price for natural gas, noone wants to produce that gas. No one will finance a pipeline, no onewill produce a gas-gathering system to remove the impurities, and no one will purchase it on the end.

And I think price, because of political pressures in many countries,is one of the biggest challenges. As part of the G-20, we’ve urged theremoval of fossil-fuel subsidies, both at the production and at theconsumption level. And I think as prices rise, you’ll see interest andinvestment increase.

You first and then –

QUESTION: You hinted at this. The – in terms of the possibilities inthe future for the U.S. to be an exporter for shale, was that somethingthat was raised in these talks and is that something you can see thatthis potentially could be a business opportunity for the U.S. – aneconomic opportunity?

MR. GOLDWYN: Well, a question came up and we had a presentation fromthe Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, which has responsibility for licensing and sighting pipelines, and they mentioned that they’vehad a request. Between FERC and the Department of Energy they havejurisdiction over those areas so I couldn’t comment on what futurepolicy would be, but they’ve had at least one request.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Has USGS done any in-depth analyses yet of the shale gasresources of any country, or is India is the farthest along in thatprocess?

MR. GOLDWYN: Well, USGS has – they’ve done these global surveys foroil and for gas and for other things. They’re just at the front end ofdoing resource assessments of unconventional reserves worldwide. So theassessments have actually not begun in India or in China, which is theother – one of the other countries in which we have a bilateralcommitment to help do the resource assessments.

It’s a – the process takes actually a bit of time as I’ve learnedfrom Brenda Pierce, who’s the chief scientist, who’s been helping us.You have to get the data from the other country, which may come fromwater wells, from log wells; there’s a tremendous amount of data. Yougather that, you assess it. There are seven or eight different kinds ofgeochemical and geophysical analysis that go. They put that into acomputer model and then they produce an assessment which they put on the web. But I think their worldwide assessment is really just beginning.I’m not aware of where – any country where they’ve completed one yet.

QUESTION: But you have MOUs just with China and India then? Or just China and still working on India?

MR. GOLDWYN: We have MOUs signed with China and India, but there arefollow-up steps that are needed to begin implementation, although, wewill have our first workshop in China, November 9th to 11th so we’ll beunderway in China. Under the Energy and Climate Partnership of theAmericas, we’ve also committed to do some in the Southern Cone, and sowe’re looking at potential assessments in Chile and Uruguay as well.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: Yes, a couple of questions. It seems like the technologyand production has sort of been developed in the United States. Wasthere any discussion about partnerships directly between countries andU.S. companies that are at the forefront of this?

MR. GOLDWYN: There have been. We had presentations from a number ofthe companies today, under the Department of Commerce’s chairmanship, of companies that are working in the U.S. but are not working overseas.And there is some interest by some of the big upstream companies thatwe’ve seen in other places. The companies that we had here said todaythat the resource is large in the U.S. and the financial terms aresecure, and the market price is driven by the market. And so – and theyonly have so much capital to invest in a lot of places, so for a lot ofthe companies that are big in the U.S., they’re staying in the U.S.

So there was great demand from other countries to find out whetherservice providers, technology providers, and investors would come tothose countries. But our goal in this conference was really to be aregulatory conference rather than trade promotion.

QUESTION: Also, I just wanted to ask you and kind of clarify thestrategic reason for holding this conference. For example, China is acompetitor on – to some degree on – for oil and gas resources around the world. Does this take some pressure – would this take some pressure off of, I guess, that kind of global competition for energy resources ifthey were to develop their own gas shale resources? And also in Europe,would it take some pressure off of the Russia-Western Europe energysecurity issues?

MR. GOLDWYN: Well, the main reasons for doing it are nationalsecurity and climate security. For these countries, you’re right. InEastern Europe in particular, it’s really diversity of supply; it’s anational security issue. For China and India, it’s both climate security and economic security because they have large demand for resources andthe market is volatile and to be able to produce it domestically is ahuge boon. In countries in the Southern Cone, they don’t have LNGimporting capability, and so they don’t have a choice of gas unless they produce it domestically.

In terms of the global market, gas is very different than oil. Oil is a global market, global commodity. I guess I wouldn’t agree that thereis a destructive global competition for oil. The market’s pretty wellsupplied now. Gas is still very much a local market. It’s expensive toliquefy it, to transport over long distances. It’s mostly from the point of source to the point of consumption, and so there I don’t really see a global competitiveness issue, but there is a huge impact. If gas ischeap, plentiful, and available to countries like China and India – they have a choice versus coal – it’s competitive on a cost basis and theclimate implications are huge.

You also have in India, and I would say in – also in Pakistan andother places, really, tens if not hundreds of millions of people without access to electricity. What are your choices for base load electricity? Nuclear, hydro, gas, fuel oil; so they don’t have – and coal. So coalis cheap and plentiful. If you can make gas cheap and plentiful, it’s areal choice.

QUESTION: Thank you. I was wondering if you can comment on theposition or the reaction of oil-producer countries. And the second partof my question: If this initiative is in any way related to the energyand partnership of the Americas? And finally, if you can comment on theposition of Venezuela on that? Thank you.

MR. GOLDWYN: I knew there would be a Venezuela question coming inthere someplace. We haven’t asked global oil producers what they thinkof this initiative, so I don’t know. But gas is different than oil, so I think for the oil producers, I don’t imagine they – that they’re goingto care a lot.

This is coordinated with the Energy and Climate Partnership of theAmericas because they’re – as Secretary Clinton announced in April atthe Energy and Climate Partnership ministerial, cooperation on shale gas was the sixth, I think, of the major initiatives that she announced.And we will be doing cooperation with – at least on a resourceassessment basis – with Uruguay and Chile. And as part of thisinitiative, the next step is really to offer an a la carte menu tocountries about the cooperation they need. If they are mature and theywant to talk about water and safety, that’s the agenda. If they’re atthe front end and they want to talk about resource assessment, we’llbring USGS and BLM to them. It’ll be whatever the country wants.

And with respect to Venezuela, they have a lot of conventional gas.We haven’t talked to them about shale gas. Venezuela doesn’t really need shale gas because they have so much conventional offshore. And soVenezuela is not really a factor in this initiative.

QUESTION: But have you tried to establish any dialogue or conversations with the Venezuelan Government in that regard? I mean –

MR. GOLDWYN: Not – the Department of Energy has a dialogue whichresumed, actually, coincident with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. And so that’s the primary dialogue for energyconversation with Venezuela.

QUESTION: Is this –

MR. GOLDWYN: No, you only get three.

QUESTION: Oh, okay.

MR. GOLDWYN: Yes, sir. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: What’s the scope and potential of shale gas in India? And are you – is the USGS also looking at it in Afghanistan?

MR. GOLDWYN: USGS actually has looked at the potential for a varietyof minerals and resources in Afghanistan. It’s hard to tell in India.The shale formations are there, but you don’t know until you assess it.Every shale is different. Some of them are rich with gas, some of themare rich with gas and liquids, some of them are not at all. Some of them are easy to access, some are not.

So what we have offered to India is to bring our best knowledge about how you make that estimate, how you make that resource evaluation, andto bring our scientists to them to talk about that. And we’re waitingfor India’s reaction and we’re hopeful that they’ll do it. I think the – you can’t tell until you drill, but the shale presence is there.

MR. CROWLEY: We’ll take two more and finish up – or three more.

QUESTION: I’m sorry. I’m going to jump in and I got three questions,one on India. India has already scheduled the auction of shale leases in three states next year. Do they know what’s under there in this – theGS – USGS is to survey additional states? Or is this going to be done in time for the auction next year?

MR. GOLDWYN: They’re – it probably will not be completed in time forthe auction next year. There’s really two ways countries can find outwhat’s underneath the ground. One is they can take acreage that theythink is prospective, they can offer it for leasing, and they can –companies can take that risk and they will pay – be compensated at arate that evaluates that.

Another way to do it, which we think is going to be more helpful tocountries if they can avail themselves of it, is to make the assessmentfirst so investors will have a higher level of confidence about what the composition of that shale is and they’ll be more likely to explorethere, and then the country will be in a better position to set itselfcompetitive fiscal terms. So I think India and other countries will doboth.

QUESTION: Okay. While you were talking with these people, there’ssometimes a significant difference between the United States and therest of the world because we have private ownership of mineral rightshere, whereas in India, for instance, the state controls all the mineral rights. Does that cause a problem or does that make it easier becausethey only have to deal with one person?

MR. GOLDWYN: For them – we spend a lot of time talking about thatbecause we have such a unique system in that regard. I think to someextent, it makes it easier for them to regulate and you can probablyhave a single regulator. It makes it easy for them to set terms, and sothat’s a – that provides a more uniformed system.

It’s easier for them to offer — to pick which are the best spots tooffer, and it’s also easier for them to do the kind of thing that theBureau of Land Management does for us, is to look at their country andsay “We don’t want development here and we want to protect wildlifethere and we don’t want anyone near the water someplace else, so here’sthe area we pick for development,” and we want them to be able to makethose choices in a smart way. That’s easier for them. What’s harder isit’s harder to access capital.

MR. CROWLEY: David and then we’ll finish up.

QUESTION: Some environmentalists say that these shale extractiontechniques are unequivocally disastrous vis-à-vis groundwater and thatsort of thing. Is that the case, as far as you’re concerned? Do theseconcerns play in the discussions here?

MR. GOLDWYN: Well, safe water and safe regulation plays a huge partin our discussions. It’s really one of the main reasons that we held the conference in the first place. And while hundreds of thousands of wells have been drilled successfully in the United States so far, the lessonthat we want all these countries to understand is that you have to havetechnically competent people operating and you have to have laws andregulations in place first. We have safe – we have safe – Clean Air Act. We have safe drinking acts. We have rules about where you can drill. We have rules about what sort of casings you have to have. And so, if done responsibly, it can be done safely, but these countries need to knowyou need laws and regulations in place first. I wouldn’t paint thedevelopment with a broad brush.

MR. CROWLEY: Last one.

QUESTION: Basically, my question is that the production in the U.S.seems to have outpaced the ability to effectively oversee the safety,with multiple reports of ground water tables being polluted and theproprietary blend that they use, the companies use, they don’t have toreally divulge what it in there under high pressure being pumped intothe ground. So it seems that if U.S. is having a difficulty keeping upwith the safety aspect, to what extent can we expect that othercountries will be able to do the same?

MR. GOLDWYN: We heard from the Ground Water Protection Council, which is sort of a collection of state regulators, and we spent a lot of time talking about that issue, that you have to have the capacity in placefirst and that you have to have the rules in place to do that – to dothat safely, and that you have to make sure that you know how to dothat. We also heard a lot about the evolution in the states about newrequirements for disclosure when – of what’s in the fluids. We heard new things from the companies about the move to use organic and greenfluids in the process and about new technology for making the operations safer. So that essentially was our core message to all these countriesis you need to know what you need to know before you get started.

QUESTION: Were any river basin commissions involved with thisconference? The Susquehanna River Basin, the Delaware River Basin, OhioRiver Basin, Potomac River Basin – are any of them involved?

MR. GOLDWYN: Not this one.

QUESTION: Because they regulate water supply.

MR. GOLDWYN: We had – for this one, we had BLM and EPA and the Ground Water Protection Council.

QUESTION: This is for India, how much cost and time are we looking for?

MR. GOLDWYN: Time and cost of looking for what?

QUESTION: Of – yes, sir. For drilling.

MR. GOLDWYN: Well, as you heard earlier, India has a licensing roundin – I believe in September. But I think the pace of development willprobably come with whether there’s success in these first basins,whether there’s an assessment of what they have. As you know, Reliancehas made an investment in a U.S. company to learn the technology, andthat’s what a lot of countries are doing is they’re trying to find outhow it’s done. So it’ll depend on success and, in India in particular,depend on the price of gas.

Thanks very much.


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Greenland Glacial Melt Accelerates

Jakobshavn Greenland Melt Warming

The Greenland glacier believed to have given birth to the iceberg that sank the Titanic nearly a century ago has calved another massive chunk ofice that’s expected to eventually drift south into shipping lanes offCanada’s East Coast.

The Jakobshavn glacier, the second largest in Greenland, hascollapsed and shed a 4.35 miles chunk of ice.  Jakobshavn drains 7% ofGreenland’s Ice Sheet area, and therefore, has the largest drainagebasin of all glaciers in Greenland and the Northern Hemisphere. Therehas been notably warm weathers in the Ilulissat region this summer andincluding last winter.

Glacial Melt in Greenland

There has been notably warm weathers in the Ilulissat region thissummer and including last winter. The temperature has been between +20Cto +25C. This summer has been very warm like most of the NorthernHemisphere and melt water has been pouring into the moulins excessivelyin this area, lubricating and raising internal ice pressures that havefacilitated both softening and slide of this glacier leading to thiscatastrophic break up.

The temperature has been between 68F to 77F. This summer has beenvery warm like most of the Northern Hemisphere and melt water has beenpouring into the moulins excessively in this area, lubricating andraising internal ice pressures that have facilitated both softening andslide of this glacier leading to this catastrophic break up.  AlthoughJakobshavn is the largest glacier, it only represent an overspillmechanism of Greenland’s Ice Dome and exists due to a gap in Greenland’s outer perimeter mountains that allows the ice to escape from theinterior forming the ice fjord between the tall mountains on both sides.

Native Americans have warned the United Nations that the ice driftdoes not end with ice melting peacefully away into oblivion, but ratherwith a great ice sheet slide-out. They referred to this when pointingthat Greenland would be posing similar sudden ice sheet land containment failure, resulting from the “ice sheet thrust”. This  would lead to the rapid sea level jump “the Flood” followed by “the Last Dryas” rapidclimatic cooling from ice debris.

Original Article on CleanBeta

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Carbon Markets To Create Vast Business Opportunities for U.S. Companies

CO2 Emissions in United States

Carbon Credit Capital released an executive report about the prospective businessopportunities that U.S. companies have in the carbon market. Thereport, “Carbon Offsets: U.S. Business Opportunities Executive Report”,provides U.S. companies that are large emitters of greenhouse gases,with a concrete plan to develop a low cost strategy to mitigate theirfuture greenhouse gas liability.

As the global carbon market reached a total value of $144 billion inmid-2010, the carbon market continues to be the fastest growing globalcommodities market world-wide. The report explains the economics of the carbon market to an audience of large to medium-size U.S. companiesthat are likely to be subject to carbon emissions legislation in thenear future. The report demonstrates that if a federal bill passes,power companies, coal mining operations, cement, chemical and steelplants, can reduce their cost of compliance and benefit from takingmeasures in the near term. In addition, CCC presents a cost-benefitanalysis of a company investing in internal energy efficiency projectsand compares these to the lower cost of domestic and internationaloffsets as part of a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plan. CCC shows howoffsets can be more economical than allowances, and provides practicalsteps for a company to forecast the cost of meeting its GHG liabilityunder a federal bill.

Even though the U.S. has not yet passed federal climate legislation,the report reveals that investing in carbon offsets today providescompanies with alternatives that will save money in the short to mediumterm. CCC illustrates that this is a cost effective strategy for U.S.companies by providing several reasons which include but are not limited to: 1) there will not be enough domestically generated carbon offsetsavailable to cover compliance needs for capped companies; 2) a strongportfolio of carbon offsets can create additional revenues for companies that sell carbon offsets at higher prices after regulations areimplemented; 3) early action allows for careful planning and for theopportunity to put together a high quality offset portfolio and to gainexperience in the carbon market.

In the “Carbon Offsets: U.S. Business Opportunities ExecutiveReport,” CCC predicts that the U.S. carbon market will expand to $2-3trillion over the next five years if a cap-and-trade scheme passes.Given the potential growth of the U.S. market, investing in carbonoffsets is a way for U.S. companies to keep their cost of compliancelower during the next twenty years.

Carbon Credit Capital, LLC (CCC) is a renewable energy financialservices and project development company dedicated to using carbonfinance to catalyze greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction projects in India and Latin America. The company identifies offset projects, attractsfinancing and brings its expertise in carbon finance and clean energy to project development teams in the U.S and in the countries where itworks with companies that are developing offset projects.


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Public Still Clueless About Energy Efficiency: Study

New York Peak and Off-Peak Demand Levels

Many Americans believe they can save energy with small behaviorchanges that actually achieve very little, and severely underestimatethe major effects of switching to efficient, currently availabletechnologies, says a new survey of Americans in 34 states. The study, which quizzed people on what they perceived as the most effective way to save energy, appears in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The largest group, nearly 20 percent, cited turning off lights as the best approach—an action that affects energy budgets relatively little.Very few cited buying decisions that experts say would cut U.S. energyconsumption dramatically, such as more efficient cars (cited by only 2.8 percent), more efficient appliances (cited by 3.2 percent) orweatherizing homes (cited by 2.1 percent). Previous researchers haveconcluded that households could reduce their energy consumption some 30percent by making such choices—all without waiting for new technologies, making big economic sacrifices or losing their sense of well-being.

Shahzeen Attari, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University’s Earth Institute and the university’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions, said multiple factors probably are driving the misperceptions. “Whenpeople think of themselves, they may tend to think of what they can dothat is cheap and easy at the moment,” she said. On a broader scale, she said, even after years of research, scientists, government, industryand environmental groups may have “failed to communicate” what they know about the potential of investments in technology; instead, they havefunded recycling drives and encouraged actions like turning off lights.In general, the people surveyed tend to believe in what Attari callscurtailment. “That is, keeping the same behavior, but doing less of it,” she said. “But switching to efficient technologies generally allows you to maintain your behavior, and save a great deal more energy,” shesaid. She cited high-efficiency light bulbs, which can be kept on allthe time, and still save more than minimizing the use of low-efficiencyones.

Previous studies have indicated that if Americans switched to betterhousehold and vehicle technologies, U.S. energy consumption woulddecline substantially within a decade. Some of the highest-impactdecisions, consistently underrated by people surveyed, include drivinghigher-mileage vehicles, and switching from central air conditioning toroom air conditioners. In addition to turning off lights, overratedbehaviors included driving more slowly on the highway or unpluggingchargers and appliances when not in use. In one of the more egregiousmisperceptions, according to the survey, people commonly think thatusing and recycling glass bottles saves a lot of energy; in fact, making a glass container from virgin material uses 40 percent moreenergy than making an aluminum one—and 2,000 percent more when recycledmaterial is used.

Many side factors may complicate people’s perceptions. For instance,those who identified themselves in the survey as pro-environment tendedto have more accurate perceptions. But people who engaged in moreenergy-conserving behaviors were actually less accurate—possibly areflection of unrealistic optimism about the actions they personallywere choosing to take. On the communications end, one previous study from Duke University has shown that conventional vehiclemiles-per-gallon ratings do not really convey how switching from onevehicle to another affects gas consumption (contrary to popularperception, if you do the math, modest mileage improvements to verylow-mileage vehicles will save far more gas than inventing vehicles that get astronomically high mileage). Also, said Attari, people typicallyare willing to take one or two actions to address a perceived problem,but after that, they start to believe they have done all they can, andattention begins to fade. Behavior researchers call this the“single-action bias.” “Of course we should be doing everything we can.But if we’re going to do just one or two things, we should focus on thebig energy-saving behaviors,” said Attari. “People are still not awareof what the big savers are.”


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