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Program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development

[caption id="attachment_1915" align="aligncenter" width="640"]IDP camp in Malakal, South Sudan, following February 2016 violence Camp for internally displaced persons in Malakal, South Sudan, following February 2016 violence[/caption]   For a brief video introduction to the program, click here. Launched in May 2016, this new ini­tia­tive focuses on the increas­ing over­lap of con­flict and cli­mate change, and the potential of renewable energy as a tool for peace building and conflict prevention. The pro­gram will com­bine research, policy-​​based advo­cacy and oper­a­tional pro­gram­ming in conflict-​​risk coun­tries. The empha­sis of the pro­gram is on action with three related goals: First, to build stronger links between the com­mu­ni­ties work­ing on con­flict pre­ven­tion and those work­ing on cli­mate change. Sec­ond, to help encour­age the use of clean energy devel­op­ment pro­grams as accepted tools for peace build­ing and con­flict pre­ven­tion, including through pilot projects in conflict-risk or crisis settings. Third, to high­light the oppor­tu­ni­ties for peace build­ing and inclu­sive polit­i­cal mobi­liza­tion that come from a shared threat of cli­mate change.  

The Challenge

Climate change is having a significant impact on livelihoods and natural resource scarcity, contributing to conflicts in countries such as Sudan, Syria, Somalia and Nigeria. Many of the worst affected geographies – in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia - include countries with a history of conflict. Existing international institutions are often siloed in their approach to cross-cutting issues such as climate change. Conflict-risks are usually met with security-first solutions, such as peacekeeping missions, and the relevant international institutions have yet to adapt to the growing impacts of climate change as a driver of conflict. Given that the negative impacts of climate change are expected to increase, we anticipate the role of climate change as a driver of conflict to grow, particularly in the most fragile states. Though these States are minimally responsible for climate change and global greenhouse gas emissions, they currently receive only a small fraction of the global climate-related financing, while often struggling to attract outside investment, and thus are likely to remain vulnerable to potentially worsening climate change-related cycles of conflict. Despite this worrying trendline, there is not yet a meaningful response to these new risks.  

The Solution

The Program seeks to address this gap by harnessing the potential of renewable energy in conflict-affected areas based on the following assumptions:
  • Recent advances in renewable energy technology, declining costs and international mobilization following the Paris Climate Agreement present a unique and potentially revolutionary new opportunity to address problems associated with intractable conflict, particularly in climate-affected states. Renewable energy offers cheap, clean and reliable power to millions of people without access to electricity in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia, the two regions most severely impacted by climate change;
  • Renewable energy provides a unique opening for pro-peace, pro-development investment in climate-impacted conflict-risk countries. Investment in renewable energy has dramatically increased and now comprises the vast majority of global climate-related financing ($292BN out of $391BN total in 2014 climate financing). However, little of this is flowing to the worst climate impacted or conflict-risk areas, (for example, only 3% (~$12BN) of 2014 climate financing was spent in sub-Saharan Africa.);
  • Renewable energy provides a potentially powerful new entry-point for peace building by facilitating cooperation between conflict parties on an issue, and creates energy infrastructure that is reliable, clean, scalable and easily distributed.
 

The Approach

Our work will demonstrate and build the case, through the implementation of pilot programming with partners, that renewable energy can serve as a tool for peace building while creating long-term and scalable energy assets and infrastructure that will underpin development and further reinforce stability. We are currently developing pilot programs in South Sudan, Chad and Myanmar. We will test these ideas with the goal of eventually reshaping thinking on the use of renewable energy in peace building, humanitarian and development programming.  

Team

Under the overall leadership of Dr. Dan Kammen, the found­ing direc­tor of RAEL and pro­fes­sor of Energy, our team includes experts in renewable energy and climate change, as well as conflict prevention and peace building. David Mozersky is the Founding Director of the Program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development. An expert on Sudan and South Sudan, he has been involved in con­flict pre­ven­tion efforts in Africa since 2001, with a specific interest in mediation, negotiation and peace processes. He has worked with the Inter­na­tional Cri­sis Group, the African Union High-Level Panel on the Sudans, and Human­ity United, among others. He has written extensively about the conflicts and peacemaking efforts in the Horn of Africa, and has testified or presented before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the Canadian Parliament, and South Sudanese Parliament. David has authored and co-authored more than two dozen International Crisis Group reports and briefing papers, and his writing has appeared in the Harvard International Review, International Herald-Tribune, Financial Times-Europe, and other publications. Senior Fellows
  • David Williams was selected as one of Time Magazine’s Innovators of the Year. He has been an advisor for US Department of State, merit reviewer for the US Department of Energy's SunShot program, technical reviewer for Sandia National Laboratory, solar advisor for USAID, and contributor to National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Mr. Williams has been involved in developing renewable energy projects in the Caribbean, Americas, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa.
  • Sherwin Das most recently served as the Chief of Political Affairs for the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa. He has designed and implemented conflict prevention and peace building strategies, policies and programming for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the UN Department of Political Affairs and the United Nations Development Programme in the Balkans, Eastern Europe and Africa. Following a stint in the UN’s Mediation Support Unit in New York, he served as the UN’s Peace and Development Advisor in Moldova.
  • Alex Thier is a leading thinker and policy maker on international development, poverty reduction, and inclusive growth. As Founder and CEO of Triple Helix, Alex is working with a variety of organizations on expanding renewable energy access, strategic planning, and addressing fragile states. As a senior U.S. government official from 2010 to 2015, he led internal and external policy-making, reform, and implementation for USAID representing the U.S. government at the highest levels of international engagement on development policy and finance and managing a $10 billion+ portfolio of programs. He played a leadership role in the creation and implementation of several major US and international initiatives, including the Vision to End Extreme Poverty, the Sustainable Development Investment Partnership, and Power Africa. Alex has held leadership positions in the UN, Stanford University, USIP, and several NGOs. He’s authored and co-authored books, articles, and op-eds in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy, and appears frequently in international media.
Advisory Board
  • Elliott Donnelley is a Founding General Partner of White Sand Investor Group, LG, a fifth generation investment partnership of the Chicago-based RR Donnelley family. In this role, he has increasingly focused on the nexus between investment for financial return and investment for social and environmental impact. Elliott is an advisor and/or co-founder of a number of ventures, including Ethic Inc., My Bliss, The China Philanthropy Forum, and KD Venture Partners. He is also on the boards of trustees of Synergos and the Philanthropy Workshop, and on the board of Stanford’s Global Project Center, where he promotes research on innovative models in philanthropy and impact investing. Elliott is a graduate of Yale University and spent years living and working in Beijing, where he still has strong ties in the philanthropy and impact investing industries.
  • Dr Youba Sokona has over 35 years of experience addressing energy, environment and sustainable development in Africa, and has been at the heart of numerous national and continental initiatives. He coordinated the scoping, framing and development of the “Africa Renewable Energy Initiative”. Reflecting his status, Dr Sokona was elected Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2015. Prior to this, Dr Sokona was Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III on the mitigation of climate change for the Fifth Assessment Report after serving as a Lead Author since 1990. In addition to these achievements, Dr Sokona has a proven track record of organisational leadership and management, for example as Inaugural Coordinator of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) and as Executive Secretary of the Sahara and the Sahel Observatory (OSS). Dr Sokona’s advice is highly sought after, and as such, he is affiliated with numerous boards and organisations, including as a Member of the Board for the Institute of Development Studies, as a Honourary Professor at the University College London (UCL), and as a Special Advisor to the African Energy Leaders Group.

RAEL Launches new program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development, welcomes David Mozersky as Director

June 1, 2016 – Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM7), San Francisco, CA UC-Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab (RAEL) launches Program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development, welcomes David Mozersky as Director.   Berkeley and San Francisco, California – David Mozersky has been appointed Founding Director of the Program on Conflict, Climate Change, and Green Development.  This new program will be under the leadership of Professor Dan Kammen, Director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL; rael.berkeley.edu) at the University of California, Berkeley.  Kammen is currently serving as the Science Envoy for the U. S. State Department for climate change with a focus on Africa and the Middle East.   “Energy, natural resources and conflict have long been connected and the source of local to global-scale disputes. These challenges will accelerate as demand for energy and water is increasing and available resources constrained. It is increasingly apparent that a rapidly changing climate strains these already delicate relationships and is creating conflicts.  We are excited to have Mr. Mozersky to lead this new initiative and hopeful to create meaningful action,” said Dan Kammen, who is a Professor in the Energy and Resources Group, the Goldman School of Public Policy, and in the Department if Nuclear Engineering at UC Berkeley.   Professor Kammen elaborated, “Mr. Mozersky has extensive experience in conflict prevention, negotiation and peacebuilding.  He brings to RAEL a strong vision for how clean energy and green development may help mitigate the conflict drivers associated with the impacts climate change.” He has worked extensively across Africa in a varied conflict prevention programs since 2001. Mr. Mozersky has testified before the US Congress and Canadian Parliament on issues relating to conflict as an internationally recognized expert in the challenges facing the region. Most recently, he has been leading a partnership to develop a clean energy development framework in South Sudan. “This program will conduct research, develop partnerships, and support practitioners in efforts to work on the growing nexus of conflict and climate change. There is a clear role for renewable energy and green development as a tool for peacebuilding and conflict prevention,” stated Mr. Mozersky.   The emphasis of the program is on action with three related goals: First, to build stronger links between the communities working on conflict prevention and those working on climate change.  Second, to help encourage the use of clean energy development programs as accepted tools for peace building and conflict prevention. Third, to highlight the opportunities for peace building and inclusive political mobilization that come from a shared threat of climate change.   Climate change and climate induced natural resource scarcity is a contributing factor in some of the world’s most devastating conflicts over the last decade. Energy scarcity is likely to increase with the escalating impacts of climate change and subsequent conflict. Countering this trend will require the adoption of new multi-sector strategies. The Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory and the program on Conflict, Climate Change, & Green Development will work with a wide range of partners to develop solutions and accomplish these goals.   The Program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development team invites inquiries and looks forward to partnerships with energy access and conflict resolution programs worldwide.   CONTACTS:   David Mozersky, Program Director Program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory http://rael.berkeley.edu Tel: +1-510-642-1760 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, Calif. 94720-3050 Email: dmozersky@berkeley.edu   Professor Daniel M. Kammen Founding Director, Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory University of California, Berkeley http://rael.berkeley.edu Tel: +1-510-642-1760 Email: kammen@berkeley.edu Twitter: @dan_kammen   Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 7.12.01 AM Images (Left): Deserted town center in South Sudan following civil conflict.  Rebuilding with clean-energy provides a means to develop sustainable infrastructure that blends current needs and long-term reconstruction in post-conflict states; (Center) Program Director David Mozersky; (Right) Professor Dan Kammen   Reference: Kammen, D. M. (2015) “Peace through grids”, MIT Technology Review, May/June, 2015. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/536716/peace-through-grids/

Meet the Berkeley burners trying to hack climate change

Meet the Berkeley burners trying to hack climate change Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 8.31.01 AM The birthplace of a machine that could bring clean power to the developing world and knock a tiny dent in global warming looks like a junkyard on the edge of a port. Old shipping containers and metal scraps crowd the West Berkeley lot of All Power Labs. Prototypes of the company’s products stand watch over the front gate like rusted crows. Stray cats patrol the grounds, including the drafty former auto shop that the startup calls home. “That’s a few thousand dollars of bad decisions, there,” said Tom Price, All Power’s director of strategic initiatives, pointing to a heap of discarded stainless steel. He shrugs. “Make it, break it, fix it, repeat.” That approach has produced the Power Pallet, a squat contraption that generates electricity from corn cobs, wood chips, coconut shells and other kinds of cheap, dense biomass. Although it costs $24,000 to $34,000, the Pallet can churn out electricity for less money than the diesel generators that power businesses across the developing world, while coughing up less pollution. And when used properly, the Pallet is “carbon negative,” pulling more heat-trapping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere than it pumps back in. First, Burning Man Its very existence is almost an accident. Years ago, the tinkerers who would eventually found All Power were using the lot off Ashby Avenue for other purposes — building flame-throwing robots for Burning Man. Berkeley officials objected and convinced Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to cut the power. As a result, Jim Mason, All Power’s CEO, developed a keen interest in generating electricity off the grid. “We got shut off and decided to hack climate change,” Price said.

Now All Power has morphed into one of the Bay Area’s unlikeliest exporters, installing 700 machines in more than 30 countries worldwide. Its 30 employees assemble one or two Pallets each week, all in Berkeley. And All Power is one of a handful of American companies displaying their products at this week’s international climate conference in Paris. The long-awaited meeting to hammer out an agreement on global warming will include an expo of emission-cutting technologies, including the Pallet. “We can pave the planet with solar panels, and it won’t reverse climate change,” said Price, who plans to fly straight from Paris to Liberia for the company’s next installation. “We need to take the carbon out of the atmosphere.” Conference delegates committed to the fight against warming may prove a more receptive audience than Bay Area venture capitalists. VCs not buying Since it incorporated in 2008, All Power has survived almost entirely on its founders’ money, plus Pallet sales. Total funding has been in the ballpark of $2 million, Price said. Now, the company is trying to raise its first $5 million round of financing from VCs, who like big returns, prefer software to hardware and yearn to find the next Uber. “They’ll say, ‘Let me get this straight: You want to build a machine, in Berkeley, and ship it across the world, to poor people? Good luck with that,’” Price said. The Pallet uses gasification, a process more than a century old, that subjects carbon-rich organic material to high heat with limited oxygen. Price likens it to lighting something on fire, then choking off the air. The heated material gives off burnable gases that the Pallet feeds into a four-cylinder engine to generate electricity. What’s left of the original material becomes biochar, which can be mixed into soil as fertilizer. That waste product — biochar — is how the Pallet achieves carbon-negative status. The plants that produce fuel for the Pallet suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Super-heating that fuel within the machine releases most of the carbon, but not all of it. Between 5 and 10 percent stays in the biochar. Mix the biochar into a farm field, and the carbon gets locked away, out of the atmosphere. One Pallet installed in Uganda illustrates the cycle. It supplies electricity to a flour mill for maize farmers. Their leftover cobbs, in turn, supply the Pallet’s fuel. The biochar serves as fertilizer. Many companies have focused on powering the developing world with solar. San Francisco’s d.light, for example, sells solar-powered lamps in Africa and Asia. But d.light focuses on individual households and small businesses, many of which have not had electricity. “It is one of the huge energy success stories at the individual level, but it’s hard to make that scale,” said Dan Kammen, head of UC Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory. In contrast, the larger businesses and schools targeted by All Power need more juice, and they already have ways of getting it — typically, a diesel generator. Dependent on highly variable prices for fuel, they tend to produce electricity for 40 to 70 cents per kilowatt-hour in Africa, according to Price. The Power Pallet can generate electricity at 10 cents per kilowatt-hour. Big backers Kammen, who also used to serve as the World Bank’s renewable energy czar, saw enough promise in All Power’s technology and economics that he joined the company’s board this year. So did Tom Dinwoodie, a pioneer of the Bay Area’s clean-tech industry who founded solar company PowerLight Corp. in Berkeley 25 years ago. “We have a billion and a half people in the world with no electricity and maybe even more relying on diesel generators, so it’s a huge potential upside,” Kammen said. “Without what All Power’s got — real units being shipped every week, and different versions out there in the field — it’s really hard to figure out what’s going to work.” David R. Baker is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: dbaker@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @DavidBakerSF

Keystone XL pipeline rejection signals US taking lead on climate change fight

In The Guardian (November 7, 2015) The symbolism was everything. Standing before a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt, the conservationist president who 104 years ago busted the Standard Oil monopoly, Barack Obama made his own tilt at an environmental legacy. The proposed 1,179-mile Keystone XL pipeline, which Obama rejected on Friday, would have borne more than 800,000 barrels of exceptionally high-carbon oil from Canada’s tar sands fields in Alberta to refineries on the US gulf coast each day. It should have been a shoo-in for presidential approval. Conservatives and many labour unions loved it. According to a State Department reportin 2014, environmentalists’ claims that it would reduce emissions from tar sands were unfounded. Keystone XL is just one of many pipelines being built across North America. If it was not built, the Canadians would simply ship it from elsewhere. So how did Obama come down on the side of a coalition of students environmentalists, farmers and indigenous nations who admit that when they started this fight seven years ago, they had no hope of winning? “America is now a global leader when it comes to taking serious action to fight climate change. And frankly, approving this project would have undercut that global leadership,” said the president on Friday in an address to the nation. It is here that the iconoclasm of Obama’s decision reveals itself. Climate change has become such an overwhelmingly mainstream political and diplomatic imperative that it overrides traditionally unbeatable domestic interests. The president said he had weighed the familiar arguments – jobs, gas prices, energy security – and had been swayed by none. Building the pipeline would have done little to benefit the US, he said. More oil from Canada was not going to make pump prices cheaper or help the US cut its reliance on foreign oil. That has already happened thanks to the fracking boom. Since 2008, the US has increased the yield of its domestic oil fields by a massive 173%. “There’s no shortage of oil and gas here, so it seems particularly crazy to be importing crap when we have lots of our own fossil fuels,” said professor Daniel Kammen, co-director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment. Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 7.45.59 AM On jobs, Obama said the pipeline was insignificant and that his mooted infrastructure plan would create 30 times more jobs. But jobs are jobs and the US’s major construction union called the Keystone decision “shameful”, adding that defining jobs as insignificant just because they are temporary amounted to throwing workers “under the bus”. Professor Robert Stavins, the director of Harvard University’s environmental economics program, told the Guardian he was not aware of any reliable assessment of the project’s employment impact. But he added that “Keystone would have created a relatively small number of jobs, and only during its construction phase.” Obama also had some harsh words for those in the environmental camp. The pipeline was not “the express lane to climate disaster” they had proclaimed. Canada’s tar sands are undeniably dirty. They come to the surface in the form of a sticky and impure mixture of clay, sand, water and bitumen. These are expensive and carbon-intensive to refine. Now, with a chronic oversupply and low prices, tar sands have become less attractive. Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has recently pulled out of two projects in oil-rich Alberta, writing off billions of dollars worth of initial investment. Environmentalists argued oil producers would not be able to pay the extra costs of shipping by train or truck, meaning crude that would have run through Keystone XL will now stay safely under the soil. But Stavins said this argument relied rather too much on the unknowable future wanderings of the oil price. “It may mean less CO2 emissions in the long term, but we don’t really know,” he said. “When oil prices were higher last year, Keystone would not have made any difference, because the oil would have been developed and sent to refineries with or without Keystone. But that is less clear with the much lower oil prices we now have. In any event, this is a long-term and uncertain consequence.” Obama had opened his remarks by pouring scorn on the totemic importance the pipeline has attained. “Now, for years, the Keystone pipeline has occupied what I, frankly, consider an over-inflated role in our political discourse. It became a symbol too often used as a campaign cudgel by both parties rather than a serious policy matter,” he said. And yet the president was engaging in his own signification, standing in front of Theodore Roosevelt, killing Keystone because of how it would look to the rest of the world. “We’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky,” he said. Cynics have pointed out that Obama could have made his brave stand four years ago, instead of kicking the pipeline into the bureaucratic long grass and ensuring it was no impediment to his second election. But leading Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have already stated their opposition to Keystone XL, indicating it may no longer be a poisoned chalice. Suddenly, environmentalists believe they are winning. The Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who has long fought against Keystone in Congress, said he “wasn’t really sure it could get much better” on Thursday, after the New York attorney general launched a potentially era-defining investigation into ExxonMobil’s climate denial. “And then today’s news came”. Whitehouse, who represents Rhode Island, likened Obama’s decision to the Battle of Gettysburg, where the American civil war swung in favour of the union. “The town of Gettysburg itself was not the point,” he said. “The tide has turned,” 350.org’s Bill McKibben told journalists on a press call. “Just in the last 36 hours we’ve had the New York attorney general subpoena the largest, richest, most powerful fossil fuel company on earth. Now we’ve had the first rejection of a major fossil fuel infrastructure project that I can think of. That is a sign that we are moving into a new era.” Linking the decision to the upcoming United Nations climate negotiations in Paris, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said the decision “will reverberate from Washington, to Ottawa, to Paris and beyond”. “Keystone is such a touchstone issue because it flies in the face of the new United States position being a climate leader,” said Kammen. With the rejection, he said, Obama was “backing words with actions”. Obama has increasingly pinned his legacy to the outcome of those talks, striking emissions deals with China and the G7 and forcing through the strongest-ever domestic cuts to US power emissions. Uncharacteristically commenting on a member country’s internal politics, the UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figures, also tied the Keystone decision to the Paris talks, tweeting: “Just in the last 24 hours Exxon subpoenaed, Keystone rejected. We may finally have understood the risk of inaction on climate. Now to action.” “The symbolic value is significant because it will position the United States in a more favourable light with those countries and those activists who favour strong action on climate change,” said Harvard professor Stavins. The boost to US credibility would allow it to drive through a more effective deal in Paris. On Friday, Republicans called for back-up to mount a challenge to the rejection of Keystone in the Senate. TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, tried to staunch its bleeding share price by saying it would “review all of its options”. However these amount to reapplying for a new presidential permit – a costly process that will most probably depend on whether a Republican or Democrat takes over the White House in 2016. But even if the project is somehow resurrected, it will face infinitely stronger opposition. Environmentalists, who once thought taking on Keystone XL was an unwinnable fight, will now know for sure that it is only a pipeline.
“We’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground rather than burn them and release more dangerous pollution into the sky,” he said. Cynics have pointed out that Obama could have made his brave stand four years ago, instead of kicking the pipeline into the bureaucratic long grass and ensuring it was no impediment to his second election. But leading Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have already stated their opposition to Keystone XL, indicating it may no longer be a poisoned chalice. Suddenly, environmentalists believe they are winning. The Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who has long fought against Keystone in Congress, said he “wasn’t really sure it could get much better” on Thursday, after the New York attorney general launched a potentially era-defining investigation into ExxonMobil’s climate denial. “And then today’s news came”. Whitehouse, who represents Rhode Island, likened Obama’s decision to the Battle of Gettysburg, where the American civil war swung in favour of the union. “The town of Gettysburg itself was not the point,” he said. “The tide has turned,” 350.org’s Bill McKibben told journalists on a press call. “Just in the last 36 hours we’ve had the New York attorney general subpoena the largest, richest, most powerful fossil fuel company on earth. Now we’ve had the first rejection of a major fossil fuel infrastructure project that I can think of. That is a sign that we are moving into a new era.” Linking the decision to the upcoming United Nations climate negotiations in Paris, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune said the decision “will reverberate from Washington, to Ottawa, to Paris and beyond”. “Keystone is such a touchstone issue because it flies in the face of the new United States position being a climate leader,” said Kammen. With the rejection, he said, Obama was “backing words with actions”. Obama has increasingly pinned his legacy to the outcome of those talks, striking emissions deals with China and the G7 and forcing through the strongest-ever domestic cuts to US power emissions. Uncharacteristically commenting on a member country’s internal politics, the UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figures, also tied the Keystone decision to the Paris talks, tweeting: “Just in the last 24 hours Exxon subpoenaed, Keystone rejected. We may finally have understood the risk of inaction on climate. Now to action.” “The symbolic value is significant because it will position the United States in a more favourable light with those countries and those activists who favour strong action on climate change,” said Harvard professor Stavins. The boost to US credibility would allow it to drive through a more effective deal in Paris. On Friday, Republicans called for back-up to mount a challenge to the rejection of Keystone in the Senate. TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, tried to staunch its bleeding share price by saying it would “review all of its options”. However these amount to reapplying for a new presidential permit – a costly process that will most probably depend on whether a Republican or Democrat takes over the White House in 2016. But even if the project is somehow resurrected, it will face infinitely stronger opposition. Environmentalists, who once thought taking on Keystone XL was an unwinnable fight, will now know for sure that it is only a pipeline.

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