Search Results for 'Climate change'

Declaration of the Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility Climate Change, Air Pollution and Health Workshop

This declaration is based on the data and concepts presented at the workshop: Health of People, Health of Planet and Our Responsibility Climate Change, Air Pollution and Health Organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences Casina Pio IV, Vatican City, 2-4 November 2017, Casina Pio IV   Statement of the Problem With unchecked climate change and air pollution, the very fabric of life on Earth, including that of humans, is at grave risk. We propose scalable solutions to avoid such catastrophic changes. There is less than a decade to put these solutions in place to preserve our quality of life for generations to come. The time to act is now. We human beings are creating a new and dangerous phase of Earth’s history that has been termed the Anthropocene. The term refers to the immense effects of human activity on all aspects of the Earth’s physical systems and on life on the planet. We are dangerously warming the planet, leaving behind the climate in which civilization developed. With accelerating climate change, we put ourselves at grave risk of massive crop failures, new and re-emerging infectious diseases, heat extremes, droughts, mega-storms, floods and sharply rising sea levels. The economic activities that contribute to global warming are also wreaking other profound damages, including air and water pollution, deforestation, and massive land degradation, causing a rate of species extinction unprecedented for the past 65 million years, and a dire threat to human health through increases in heart disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, mental health, infections and cancer. Climate change threatens to exacerbate the current unprecedented flow of displacement of people and add to human misery by stoking violence and conflict. The poorest of the planet, who are still relying on 19th century technologies to meet basic needs such as cooking and heating, are bearing a heavy brunt of the damages caused by the economic activities of the rich. The rich too are bearing heavy costs of increased flooding, mega-storms, heat extremes, droughts and major forest fires. Climate change and air pollution strike down the rich and poor alike. Principal Findings
  • Burning of fossil fuels and solid biomass release hazardous chemicals to the air.
  • Climate change caused by fossil fuels and other human activities poses an existential threat to Homo sapiens and contributes to mass extinction of species. In addition, air pollution caused by the same activities is a major cause of premature death globally.
Supporting data are summarized in the attached background section. Climate change and air pollution are closely interlinked because emissions of air pollutants and climate-altering greenhouse gases and other pollutants arise largely from humanity’s use of fossil fuels and biomass fuels, with additional contributions from agriculture and land-use change. This interlinkage multiplies the costs arising from our current dangerous trajectory, yet it can also amplify the benefits of a rapid transition to sustainable energy and land use. An integrated plan to drastically reduce climate change and air pollution is essential.
  • Regions that have reduced air pollution have achieved marked improvements in human health as a result.
We have already emitted enough pollutants to warm the climate to dangerous levels (warming by 1.5°C or more). The warming as well as the droughts caused by climate change, combined with the unsustainable use of aquifers and surface water, pose grave threats to availability of fresh water and food security. By moving rapidly to a zero-carbon energy system – replacing coal, oil and gas with wind, solar, geothermal and other zero-carbon energy sources, drastically reducing emissions of all other climate altering pollutants and by adopting sustainable land use practices, humanity can prevent catastrophic climate change, while cutting the huge disease burden caused by air pollution and climate change.
  • We advocate a mitigation approach that factors in the low probability-high impact warming projections such as the one in twenty chances of a 6°C warming by 2100.
Proposed Solutions We declare that governments and other stakeholders should urgently undertake the scalable and practical solutions listed below: 1. Health must be central to policies that stabilize climate change below dangerous levels, drive zero-carbon as well as zero-air pollution and prevent ecosystem disruptions. 2. All nations should implement with urgency the global commitments made in Agenda 2030 (including the Sustainable Development Goals) and the Paris Climate Agreement. 3. Decarbonize the energy system as early as possible and no later than mid-century, shifting from coal, oil and gas to wind, solar, geothermal and other zero-carbon energy sources; 4. The rich not only expeditiously shift to safe energy and land use practices, but also provide financing to the poor for the costs of adapting to climate change; 5. Rapidly reduce hazardous air pollutants, including the short-lived climate pollutants methane, ozone, black carbon, and hydro fluorocarbons; 6. End deforestation and degradation and restore degraded lands to protect biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions and to absorb atmospheric carbon into natural sinks; 7. In order to accelerate decarbonization there should be effective carbon pricing informed by estimates of the social cost of carbon, including the health effects of air pollution; 8. Promote research and development of technologies to remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere for deployment if necessary; 9. Forge collaboration between health and climate sciences to create a powerful alliance for sustainability; 10. Promote behavioral changes beneficial for human health and protective of the environment such as increased consumption of plant-based diets; 11. Educate and empower the young to become the leaders of sustainable development; 12. Promote an alliance with society that brings together scientists, policy makers, healthcare providers, faith/spiritual leaders, communities and foundations to foster the societal transformation necessary to achieve our goals in the spirit of Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’. To implement these 12 solutions, we call on health professionals to: engage, educate and advocate for climate mitigation and undertake preventive public health actions vis-à-vis air pollution and climate change; inform the public of the high health risks of air pollution and climate change. The health sector should assume its obligation in shaping a healthy future. We call for a substantial improvement in energy efficiency; and electrification of the global vehicle fleet and all other downstream uses of fossil fuels. Ensure clean energy benefits also protect society’s most vulnerable communities. There are numerous living laboratories including tens of cities, many universities, Chile, California and Sweden, who have embarked on a pathway to cut both air pollution and climate change. These thriving models have already created 8 million jobs in a low carbon economy, enhanced the wellbeing of their citizens and shown that such measures can both sustain economic growth and deliver tangible health benefits for their citizens. Acknowledgements We especially thank the global leaders who spoke at the workshop: Honorable Jerry Brown, Governor of California, Honorable Governor Alberto Rodríguez Saá, the Governor of San Luis, Argentina, Honorable Dr. Marcelo Mena, Minister of Environment of Chile, Honorable Kevin de León, President Pro Tempore of California Senate, and Honorable Scott Peters of the US house of representatives. We also thank the contributions of the faith leaders: Rev Leith Anderson, President of the National Association for Evangelicals, USA; Rev Alastair Redfern, Bishop of Derby, UK; Rev Mitch Hescox, CEO of Evangelical Environmental Network, USA. We thank Dr. Jeremy Farrar, CEO of the Wellcome Trust for his contributions as a speaker and for thoughtful edits of the document. We acknowledge the major contributions to the drafting of the declaration by Drs: Maria Neira (WHO), Andy Haines (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Jos Lelieveld (Max Planck Inst of Chemistry, Mainz). For a list of speakers and panelists at the symposium, please see the agenda of the meeting attached at the end of this document. We are thankful to the sponsors of the workshop: Maria Neira of WHO; Drs Bess Marcus and Michael Pratt of Institute of Public Health at the University of California at San Diego; Drs Erminia Guarneri and Rauni King of the Miraglo Foundation. End of Declaration What follows is a summary of the data and concepts on air pollution and climate change as described at the workshop; the last IPCC report published in 2013; and the new data that were published since 2013, including several reports by the LANCET commissions and WHO. The full declaration with author names can be found here.
SIGNATORIES (Pontifical Academy of Science members underlined)
  1. Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo (PAS Chancellor)
  2. Joachim von Braun (PAS President & UOB)
  3. Veerabhadran Ramanathan (PAS & UCSD)
  4. Partha Dasgupta (PASS & CU)
  5. Peter Raven (PAS & MBC)
  6. Jeffrey Sachs (UN SDSN)
  7. Edmund G. Brown Jr. (Governor of California)
  8. Kevin de León (President of the California State Senate)
  9. The Rev. Mitchell C. Hescox (President/CEO, The Evangelical Environmental Network)
  10. Werner Arber (PAS)
  11. Yuan T. Lee (PAS)
  12. John (Hans Joachim) Schellnhuber (PAS)
  13. Ignacio Rodríguez Iturbe (PAS & Distinguished University Professor and TEES Distinguished Research Professor, Texas A&M University)
  14. Francis L. Delmonico (PAS)
  15. Dr. Wael Al-Delaimy (UCSD Institute for Public Health)
  16. Fonna Forman (UCSD Center on Global Justice)
  17. Erminia M Guarneri (President Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, Treasurer Miraglo Foundation)
  18. Howard Frumkin (University of Washington School of Public Health)
  19. Ulrich Pöschl (Max Planck Institute for Chemistry)
  20. Daniel M. Kammen (Professor of Energy, UC Berkeley)
  21. Nithya Ramanathan (Nexleaf Analytics)
  22. Marcelo M. Suárez-Orozco, UCLA Wasserman Dean & Distinguished Professor of Education
  23. Bess H. Marcus (Dean, Brown University School of Public Health)
  24. Jonathan M. Samet (Dean, Colorado School of Public Health)
  25. Glen G. Scorgie (Professor of Theology and Ethics, Bethel Seminary San Diego)
  26. Conrado Estol (Director, Heart and Brain Medicine -MECyC, Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  27. Edward Maibach (George Mason University)

Published in Yale Environment 360: Taking the Long View: The ‘Forever Legacy’ of Climate Change

Taking the Long View: The ‘Forever Legacy’ of Climate Change Climate change projections often focus on 2100. But the geological record shows that unless we rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we will be locking in drastic increases in temperatures and sea levels that will alter the earth not just for centuries, but for millennia.  By ROB WILDER AND DAN KAMMEN Click here to read directly on Yale Environment360. Screen Shot 2017-09-13 at 6.55.42 AM  

ERG student compiles data on climate change — right outside the President’s window! [Japan’s cherry blossoms signal warmest climate in more than 1,000 years]

From the April 4 Washington Post: and developed by  ERG PhD student Zeke Hausfather: For more than 1,000 years, emperors, aristocrats, governors and monks have chronicled the flowering of Japan’s famed cherry trees in the city of Kyoto. But bloom dates have shifted radically earlier in recent decades, a sure sign that the region’s climate is warming and warming fast. Yasuyuki Aono, a professor of environmental sciences at Osaka Prefecture University, has assembled a data set that compiles blossom-flowering dates in Kyoto all the way back to 800 A.D. It shows a sudden and remarkable change in the past 150 to 200 years. From roughly 800 to 1850, the blossom flowering time was fairly stable. While the bloom dates bounced around quite a bit from year to year during April, the long-term average hovered between April 10 and April 17 (the 100th to 107th day of the year).   Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 3.56.57 PM Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 3.59.35 PM   (Invert plot to see the Hockey Stick!)

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 South 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 can offer cheap, clean and reliable power to millions of people without access to electricity in parts of Africa and Southeast Asia, two of the 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 approximately 75% of all global climate-related financing. However, the global response to climate change has been overwhelmingly focused on the worst polluting countries rather than the worst affected: less than 10% of all global climate financing goes to Africa, the Middle East and South Asia combined.
  • 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

We have developed three initial models for delivering energy/peace benefits, in order to help prove the concept and demonstrate the potential opportunities. We are also working on developing a new financing mechanism that is designed to specifically support the deployment of renewable energy in conflict and crisis-risk settings. Model 1, Relief camp settings: We are launching pilot projects in large Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in South Sudan, and a cluster of refugee camps in Chad and Kenya. Leveraging the international humanitarian footprint, we will demonstrate how a transition to solar power in such contexts can offer both a cheaper energy solution, while building long-term energy infrastructure and building blocks for peace for local communities. We are also exploring the applicability of this approach in other settings, including Northern Iraq and Myanmar. Model 2, Integrating renewable energy into peace building and conflict prevention programming: We are partnering with the international NGO Nonviolent Peaceforce, a leader in unarmed civilian protection, to test this model through pilot projects in South Sudan and Myanmar. Model 3: Renewable energy as a peace dividend strategy: We are promoting the use of a renewable energy as highly visible, quick impact and meaningful tool in the peace dividend toolkit – which seeks to deliver development gains to help support recently concluded, or soon-to-be finalized peace agreements. We are exploring the applicability of renewable energy to support local agreements in Central Nigeria, and at the national level in support of Myanmar’s peace process. Peace Renewable Energy Credit (PREC): We are developing a new financing mechanism specifically designed to support renewable energy investment and deployment in conflict and crisis risk settings. The PREC will help address some of the financing challenges unique to these settings, in order to help draw a greater share of global renewable energy investment to the places that need it most.

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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