News Archive:

The superior choice: Bangladesh and India should build solar farms, not coal plants, on both sides of the border

Dr Saleemul Huq and Daniel Kammen

For a pdf of this arti­cle, access the RAEL pub­li­ca­tions page link: or just click here.

Last week, Bangladesh’s Power Devel­op­ment Board (PDB) and India’s National Ther­mal Power Cor­po­ra­tion (NTPC) announced that they will form a com­mit­tee to decide whether to build a large coal plant or solar farm in India for addi­tional power import into Bangladesh. Going by the numbers—economic, job cre­ation and environmental—there really should be no debate. The choice is solar.

The facil­ity will be run by the Bangladesh India Friend­ship Power Com­pany, which was ini­tially formed to build the con­tro­ver­sial 1320MW coal-​​fired power plant near Ram­pal, Khulna. The fact that PDB and NTPC might seri­ously com­pare the costs and ben­e­fits of coal ver­sus solar PV for the first time is good news for cit­i­zens of both countries.

Here are three unde­ni­able rea­sons why solar farms are the supe­rior choice to coal plants in both countries.



Renew­able energy costs in India have fallen by 50 per­cent in two years, and are fore­cast to con­tinue drop­ping apace. New wind and solar is now 20 per­cent cheaper than exist­ing coal-​​fired generation’s aver­age whole­sale power price, and 65 per­cent of India’s coal power gen­er­a­tion is being sold at higher rates than new renew­able energy bids in com­pet­i­tive power auc­tions. Bangladesh would save money in the short– and long-​​term by devel­op­ing its own solar resources as well as by import­ing solar-​​generated elec­tric­ity from India, and using its exist­ing gas-​​fired power plants at night to back up solar power.

Our inter­na­tional team of researchers at the Inter­na­tional Cen­tre for Cli­mate Change and Devel­op­ment and the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley are about to pub­lish ground­break­ing maps of Bangladesh that indi­cate poten­tial areas for solar and wind energy projects. After exclud­ing all areas likely to be envi­ron­men­tally or socially unac­cept­able for such projects, we found that there is far more util­ity solar energy poten­tial than pre­vi­ously esti­mated, at costs lower than new coal power.

In 2016, elec­tric­ity demand in Bangladesh was 11.4GW, mostly com­ing from nat­ural gas. The gov­ern­ment of Bangladesh cur­rently plans to develop 13.3GW of new ther­mal coal by 2021, and less than 2GW of solar farms. But Bangladesh could replace all 13.3GW of planned coal plants with solar farms at 20 per­cent lower costs than new coal plants.

Solar farms can be built much faster than coal plants, and bat­tery stor­age isn’t needed as long as solar com­prises less than 20 per­cent of the grid. Solar resources are free and defla­tion­ary, while coal is infla­tion­ary and sub­ject to price hikes. Over­all, solar PV is excel­lent finan­cial news for elec­tric­ity con­sumers and gov­ern­ments, and PV costs are expected to keep falling, in line with India’s experience.


Our study makes clear that solar farms can sup­ply 13.3GW of energy with­out con­vert­ing large areas of pre­cious agri­cul­tural lands. Solar plants can now be designed with space between the pan­els to allow for fish ponds or crop pro­duc­tion, pre­vent­ing impacts on food secu­rity and farmers.


Choos­ing solar farms will avoid the wide­spread toxic con­t­a­m­i­na­tion of air with sul­fur diox­ide, nitro­gen oxides and par­tic­u­lates that come from even the best coal plants, spar­ing tens of thou­sands of Indi­ans and Bangladeshis from pre­ma­ture deaths, low birth­weight babies, heart attacks, res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease, and can­cer. Mer­cury spewed from coal plants falls on rice fields and wet­lands, con­cen­trat­ing in rice grains as well as fish, crus­taceans and shell­fish. Preg­nant women eat­ing these con­t­a­m­i­nated foods have babies with birth defects and per­ma­nent brain damage.

Solar farms also avoid coal ash waste dumps that pol­lute down­stream ecosys­tems like the Sun­dar­bans man­groves, which pro­tect mil­lions of peo­ple in both coun­tries from floods, storm surges, and cyclones. The pro­posed coal plant at Ram­pal alone is pre­dicted to cause an addi­tional 6,000 pre­ma­ture deaths as far away as Dhaka and Kolkata; low birth weight of 24,000 babies; and spew 10 tonnes of mer­cury into the air or water, threat­en­ing Sun­dar­bans and Bay of Ben­gal fisheries.

Burn­ing coal is the largest source of green­house gas, warm­ing the ocean and melt­ing sea ice at the poles. Low-​​lying Bangladesh is one of the most vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries on earth to the impacts of cli­mate change. These effects on our cli­mate cause deadly storms, floods, droughts, extreme heat waves, sea level rise, salin­i­fi­ca­tion, and deser­ti­fi­ca­tion. Bangladesh has com­mit­ted to 100 per­cent renew­able energy by 2030 pend­ing inter­na­tional sup­port; and a five per­cent reduc­tion of green­house gas emis­sions from the power, indus­try and trans­port sec­tor by 2021. These global effects are impor­tant, but they pale in com­par­i­son to the local health impacts and the water costs alone.

Bangladesh and India can bet­ter meet their goals for sus­tain­able elec­tric­ity for all, sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and cli­mate jus­tice by chan­nelling invest­ment into cheaper, well-​​planned solar farms than into coal-​​fired power plants.

For a pdf of this arti­cle, access the RAEL pub­li­ca­tions page link: or just click here.

Dr Saleemul Huq is Direc­tor, Inter­na­tional Cen­tre for Cli­mate Change and Devel­op­ment, Inde­pen­dent Uni­ver­sity, Bangladesh. Pro­fes­sor Dan Kam­men is Direc­tor, Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory, Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Berke­ley, and until August 2017 served as Sci­ence Envoy for the US Sec­re­tary of State. Email: saleemul.​huq@​iied.​org; kammen@​berkeley.​edu

Congratulations and best of luck to Jacob Straus — energy access Fulbright Semi-​​Finalist

Jacob Straus, class of UCB 2016 with an ERG Minor, has been selected as a semi­fi­nal­ist for a Ful­bright research grant. If awarded the grant, he will travel to India to per­form a sur­vey of rural com­mu­ni­ties tar­geted by energy access ini­tia­tives, includ­ing national grid con­nec­tion, com­mu­nity solar micro­grids and small-​​scale hydro.

Jacob grad­u­ated with degrees in Envi­ron­men­tal Pol­icy and Com­par­a­tive Lit­er­a­ture. He worked to imple­ment effi­ciency codes for the City of Berke­ley as an Ameri­Corps Fel­low in 2016–17 before being hired by the city as an Energy Effi­ciency Spe­cial­ist. He grew up in the Hud­son Val­ley of New York and lives in Oakland.



Trump ha cruzado ampliamente la línea del ‘impeachment”

Experto en energía. Durante dos décadas fue el envi­ado espe­cial para la cien­cia del Depar­ta­mento de Estado de EE UU, pero ante la nueva Admin­is­tración este cat­e­drático pre­sentó una son­ada dimisión


Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 9.44.21 PM

El pro­fe­sor Daniel Kam­men ha ejer­cido durante dos décadas en un puesto no remu­ner­ado lla­mado Envi­ado Espe­cial para la Cien­cia del Depar­ta­mento de Estado de EE UU. El pasado 23 de agosto comu­nicó su dimisión por carta al pres­i­dente Don­ald Trump. La carta tuvo cierto impacto porque, tomando la primera letra de cada uno de sus siete pár­rafos, se podía leer “IMPEACH” (des­ti­tu­ción). Se trataba de un movimiento abrup­ta­mente político para un cien­tí­fico, autor de var­ios informes del Panel Inter­gu­ber­na­men­tal sobre el Cam­bio Climático, que ganó el Pre­mio Nobel y es uno de los may­ores exper­tos de EE UU sobre energías renovables.

Kam­men se sentó con EL PAÍS cerca de la Uni­ver­si­dad de Cal­i­for­nia en Berke­ley, donde es pro­fe­sor de energía y políti­cas públi­cas. El relato de sus razones viene a ser una descrip­ción de lo que está ocur­riendo en el Gob­ierno de Esta­dos Unidos desde enero. Dice que hubo dos cosas que le hicieron perder defin­i­ti­va­mente la fe en el pres­i­dente. “La posi­ción de Trump de salir del Acuerdo de París fue impor­tante para mí. Cometió un error. Tenía que haber escuchado a Rex Tiller­son, que acon­se­jaba quedarse. El argu­mento de que habrá un acuerdo mejor no tiene sen­tido. El acuerdo fue redac­tado por EE UU. Es una decisión política”. Sin embargo, Kam­men no dim­i­tió inmedi­ata­mente. Su tra­bajo para el Depar­ta­mento de Estado con­siste en crear aso­cia­ciones para el desar­rollo de energías limpias en el extran­jero con tec­nología norteam­er­i­cana, y de alguna forma eso iba por otro lado.

“Entonces pasó lo de Char­lottesville”, explica. Un grupo de neon­azis se man­i­festó en esa ciu­dad en agosto y se desató la vio­len­cia. “Los comen­tar­ios de Trump no tenían sen­tido, legit­imaba a los neon­azis. Pero más allá de eso, muchos gob­er­nantes han defen­dido que la democ­ra­cia de EE UU no acaba en sus fron­teras. La forma en la que tratas a los inmi­grantes, a los musul­manes, los vetos migra­to­rios…, las inter­ac­ciones que ten­emos en el extran­jero se ven muy afec­tadas por cómo trata­mos a los inmigrantes”.

El tra­bajo de Kam­men se cen­traba sobre todo en fomen­tar las energías limpias en África. Decidió que no podía seguir en la Admin­is­tración. “Puedes pen­sar que puedes quedarte y hacer un buen tra­bajo aunque no estés de acuerdo con el pres­i­dente. Yo no estaba de acuerdo con Bush, pero podía hacer mi tra­bajo sobre cam­bio climático. Pero Trump ha elim­i­nado gran parte del Depar­ta­mento de Estado. No hay plan­tilla. Hay un sec­re­tario de Estado y algunos asesores, pero no sub­sec­re­tar­ios, ni sec­re­tar­ios adjun­tos. De los cerca de 100 puestos des­ig­na­dos, la may­oría están vacíos”. Para hacer algo, afirma, hay que hablar con Tiller­son en per­sona. El Depar­ta­mento de Estado es total­mente ine­fi­ciente. “Era el momento de irme”.

Si eres un político con­ser­vador del sur y ves los hura­canes de este año, estás viendo una rep­re­sentación de lo que te advirtieron los científicos

Una sem­ana después de que dim­i­tiera, Tiller­son can­celó todos los puestos como el suyo de envi­a­dos espe­ciales. “Creo que esta­mos teniendo una con­ver­sación sin ten­erla. Emba­jadores con quienes he tra­ba­jado me han dicho que he hecho lo cor­recto. El primer día recibí como 25.000 e-​​mails, el 80% pos­i­tivos. De los neg­a­tivos, si quitas los insul­tos, lo más común es que dijeran ‘un lib­eral menos cobrando del Gob­ierno’. Es de risa, porque el puesto no era remunerado”.

Kam­men explica el acrós­tico de su carta de dimisión apelando a una razón muy conc­reta: “Yo no tenía un cargo electo, no soy senador ni con­gre­sista, y mi defini­ción de qué es come­ter un delito con­tra el país es dis­tinta a la suya. Creo que si el pres­i­dente está poniendo sus intere­ses por delante del país, debería ser des­ti­tu­ido. Y creo que Trump ha cruzado esa línea ampli­a­mente. Si se ponen los intere­ses de un ciu­dadano por delante de los del Estado, aunque éste sea muy rico, debería ser des­ti­tu­ido. Sin más. Incluso si eres de dere­chas, si eres un ais­la­cionista, debes poner el interés nacional, tu defini­ción de lo que esto es, por delante”.

Hay una frase de Eisen­hower muy impor­tante”, con­tinúa Kam­men: “La gente que otorga más valor a sus priv­i­le­gios que a sus prin­ci­p­ios acaba per­di­endo ambos”. Kam­men la incluyó en su carta. Curiosa­mente, el pro­pio Trump la tuiteó hace años. “Creo que todo parece apun­tar en con­tra del impeach­ment”, reconoce, “pero deberíamos mover­nos hacia eso”.

Esta­mos tomando un té orgánico en Berke­ley rodea­dos de estu­di­antes. Este cam­pus es el epí­tome de la bur­buja pro­gre­sista, cuyas críti­cas le res­balan al pres­i­dente y a sus seguidores. “Puede que esto sea una bur­buja. Pero paso la mitad del año fuera del país. No hay bur­buja pro­gre­sista en los arra­bales de Nairobi, o en Johan­nes­burgo, o en los sitios donde hago mis proyec­tos. Me siento con empre­sar­ios norteam­er­i­canos, emba­jadores, cámaras de com­er­cio, y ellos sue­len pertenecer a gru­pos muy conservadores”.

Aban­donar el Acuerdo de París porque habrá otro mejor no tiene sen­tido. Ese fue redac­tado por EE UU. Salirse fue una decisión política

En cuanto a las políti­cas de cam­bio climático, es tarde para que Trump pueda opon­erse, explica. “Todos los países lo han asum­ido. El Gob­er­nador de Cal­i­for­nia, Jerry Brown; el pres­i­dente Macron, la can­ciller Merkel…, ellos son los líderes ahora mismo. Trump se ha quedado al mar­gen y lo que hace daña a un solo grupo: a las empre­sas de EE UU. Es el único grupo que está sufriendo. A los chi­nos les encanta. China ha inver­tido 360.000 mil­lones en proyec­tos de energía limpia. Los europeos, encan­ta­dos. Méx­ico y Argentina han incre­men­tado su pro­duc­ción de energía limpia. Pero las empre­sas de EE UU que podían haber sido líderes en este campo y podían haber ven­dido más en el extran­jero no lo van a hacer”.

Kam­men ha renun­ci­ado a con­vencer a esta Admin­is­tración de la necesi­dad de com­batir el cam­bio climático. Igno­ran los datos porque quieren, afirma. Pero este año el país ha visto un número notable de desas­tres nat­u­rales, y quizá eso acabe ayu­dando a provo­car un vuelco en la opinión pública. “Es triste que sea así, pero creo que si eres un político con­ser­vador del sur y ves los efec­tos de Har­vey, Irma y María, estás viendo una rep­re­sentación muy conc­reta de lo que la may­oría de los cien­tí­fi­cos te advertían”, afirma Kam­men. “Esto es exac­ta­mente lo que esperábamos. Puedes creer­nos o no, pero no hay teorías alter­na­ti­vas. Todos pag­amos el coste de la inac­ción. Todos con­trata­mos seguros médi­cos para que nos cubran ante cosas que son mucho menos prob­a­bles que el cam­bio climático. Porque esos seguros no son para una revisión, sino por si pasa algo extremo. Y esto es lo que esta­mos viendo. Nece­si­ta­mos ese seguro”.


For the orig­i­nal arti­cle link, click here.

UCBerkeley-​​Tech de Monterrey Team Win Global Sustainability Competition


Ser­gio Castel­lanos, along­side a team of researchers from UC Berke­ley, in part­ner­ship with the Insti­tuto Nacional de Ecología y Cam­bio Climático (INECC), and Waze, took home the grand prize at the Data for Cli­mate Action (D4CA) chal­lenge at an event dur­ing COP23, a United Nations cli­mate change con­fer­ence held in Bonn, Ger­many. The chal­lenge, launched ear­lier this year by United Nation’s Global Pulse, and West­ern Dig­i­tal, is an unprece­dented open-​​innovation com­pe­ti­tion to har­ness data sci­ence and big data to accel­er­ate cli­mate solutions.

Ser­gio Castel­lanos, direc­tor of the Berkeley/​Mexico Energy & Cli­mate Initiative,along with the UC Berke­ley team formed by Prof. Dan Kam­men, Apollo Jain, Pedro Sánchez, Alan Xu, Hec­tor Rincón, and Alex Gao, and the INECC team formed by Clau­dia Octa­viano, Fabi­ola Ramirez, Oscar Araiza, Itzchel Nieto, Adolfo Con­tr­eras, and Ulises Ruiz, devel­oped the prize win­ning entry­with their work on “Electro-​​mobility: Clean­ing Mex­ico City’s Air with Trans­for­ma­tional Cli­mate Policies”.

The project, as sum­ma­rized by Dr. Clau­dia Octa­viano, “looked at how we can use Waze data from Google, which shows the mobil­ity pat­terns of peo­ple using their cell­phones to try to opti­mize their routes, to build a pic­ture of where con­ges­tion is occur­ring in Mex­ico City– and where that con­ges­tion is caus­ing pol­lu­tion. Once we had a pic­ture of this con­ges­tion, we then car­ried out mod­el­ing analy­sis to under­stand dif­fer­ent cli­mate change poli­cies related to elec­tric mobil­ity, i.e. elec­tric cars.”

The project endeav­ors to plan a clean energy infra­struc­ture for Mex­ico City, one of the most con­gested cities in the world. The project, and the D4CA chal­lenge more gen­er­ally, rep­re­sent what’s pos­si­ble when pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor orga­ni­za­tions part­ner for social good; an aim per­fectly in sync with BECI’s mis­sion statement.

You can read more about the com­pe­ti­tion here, and about their project, along with a team inter­view, here.

In The Guardian: EU must not burn the world’s forests for ‘renewable’ energy

Decem­ber 14, 2017 — The Guardian

A flaw in Europe’s clean energy plan allows fuel from felled trees to qual­ify as renew­able energy when in fact this would accel­er­ate cli­mate change and dev­as­tate forests

The Euro­pean Union is mov­ing to enact a direc­tive to dou­ble Europe’s cur­rent renew­able energy by 2030. This is admirable, but a crit­i­cal flaw in the present ver­sion would accel­er­ate cli­mate change, allow­ing coun­tries, power plants and fac­to­ries to claim that cut­ting down trees and burn­ing them for energy fully qual­i­fies as renew­able energy.

Even a small part of Europe’s energy requires a large quan­tity of trees and to avoid pro­found harm to the cli­mate and forests world­wide the Euro­pean coun­cil and par­lia­ment must fix this flaw.

Euro­pean pro­duc­ers of wood prod­ucts have for decades gen­er­ated elec­tric­ity and heat as ben­e­fi­cial by-​​products, using wood wastes and lim­ited for­est residues. Most of this mate­r­ial would decom­pose and release car­bon diox­ide in a few years any­way, so using them to dis­place fos­sil fuels can reduce the car­bon diox­ide added to the atmos­phere in a few years too.

Unfor­tu­nately, the direc­tive mov­ing through par­lia­ment would go beyond wastes and residues and credit coun­tries and com­pa­nies for cut­ting down addi­tional trees sim­ply to burn them for energy. To do so has fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent con­se­quences because the car­bon released into the air would oth­er­wise stay locked up in forests.

The rea­son­ing seems to be that so long as forests re-​​grow, they will even­tu­ally reab­sorb the car­bon released. Yet even then, the net effect – as many stud­ies have shown – will typ­i­cally be to increase global warm­ing for decades to cen­turies, even when wood replaces coal, oil or nat­ural gas.

The rea­sons begin with the inher­ent inef­fi­cien­cies in har­vest­ing wood. Typ­i­cally, around one third or more of each tree is con­tained in roots and small branches that are prop­erly left in the for­est to pro­tect soils, and most of which decom­pose, emit­ting car­bon. The wood that is burned releases even more car­bon than coal per unit of energy gen­er­ated, and burns at a lower tem­per­a­ture, pro­duc­ing less elec­tric­ity – turn­ing wood into com­pressed pel­lets increases effi­ciency but uses energy and cre­ates large addi­tional emissions.

A power plant burn­ing wood chips will typ­i­cally emit one and a half times the car­bon diox­ide of a plant burn­ing coal and at least three times the car­bon diox­ide emit­ted by a power plant burn­ing nat­ural gas.

Although regrow­ing trees absorb car­bon, trees grow slowly, and for some years a regrow­ing for­est absorbs less car­bon than if the for­est were left unharvested.

Even­tu­ally, the new for­est grows faster and the car­bon it absorbs, plus the reduc­tion in fos­sil fuels, can pay back the “car­bon debt”, but that takes decades to cen­turies, depend­ing on the for­est type and use. We con­ser­v­a­tively esti­mate that using delib­er­ately har­vested wood instead of fos­sil fuels will release at least twice as much car­bon diox­ide to the air by 2050 per kilo­watt hour. Doing so turns a poten­tial reduc­tion in emis­sions from solar or wind into a large increase.

Time mat­ters. Plac­ing an addi­tional car­bon load in the atmos­phere for decades means per­ma­nent dam­age due to more rapid melt­ing of per­mafrost and glac­i­ers, and more pack­ing of heat and acid­ity into the world’s oceans. At a crit­i­cal moment when coun­tries need to be “buy­ing time” against cli­mate change, this approach amounts to sell­ing the world’s lim­ited time to com­bat cli­mate change under mis­taken claims of improvement.

The effect on the world’s forests, car­bon and bio­di­ver­sity is likely to be large because even though Europe is a large pro­ducer of wood, its har­vest could only sup­ply about 6% of its pri­mary energy. For more than a decade, the increased use of bio­mass has been sup­ply­ing roughly half of Europe’s increase in renew­able energy. To sup­ply even one third of the addi­tional renew­able energy likely required by 2030, Europe would need to burn an amount of wood greater than its total har­vest today. This would turn a likely 6% decrease in energy emis­sions by 2050 under the direc­tive through solar and wind into at least a 6% increase.

Europe’s own demand for wood would degrade forests around the world, but if other coun­tries fol­low Europe’s exam­ple, the impacts would be even more dan­ger­ous. Instead of encour­ag­ing Indone­sia and Brazil to pre­serve their trop­i­cal forests – Europe’s present posi­tion – the mes­sage of this direc­tive is “cut your forests so long as some­one burns them for energy”. Once coun­tries are invested in such efforts, fix­ing the error may become impos­si­ble. To sup­ply just an addi­tional 3% of global energy with wood, the world needs to dou­ble its com­mer­cial wood har­vests at great costs to car­bon and wildlife.

Nei­ther a require­ment that forests be man­aged sus­tain­ably nor any other “safe­guards” in the var­i­ous work­ing drafts would stop this. For exam­ple, the direc­tive would ban wood if har­vests under­mined “the long-​​term pro­duc­tiv­ity capac­ity of the for­est”. Although that sounds good, pre­serv­ing the capac­ity of trees to grow back still leaves more car­bon in the air for at least decades. Restrict­ing wood har­vests to coun­tries with net grow­ing forests – another idea – would still take car­bon that forests would oth­er­wise add to their stor­age and instead put it in the air with­out mean­ing­ful global limits.

The solu­tion is to restrict eli­gi­ble for­est bio­mass to its tra­di­tional sources of residues and waste. Leg­is­la­tors will likely be able to vote on such an amend­ment in the parliament’s plenary.

By 1850, the use of wood for bioen­ergy helped drive the near defor­esta­tion of west­ern Europe even at a time when Euro­peans con­sumed rel­a­tively lit­tle energy. Although coal helped to save the forests of Europe, the solu­tion is not to go back to burn­ing forests. As sci­en­tists, we col­lec­tively have played key roles in the IPCC, in advis­ing Euro­pean gov­ern­ments, and in for­est and cli­mate research. We encour­age Euro­pean leg­is­la­tors and other pol­i­cy­mak­ers to amend the present direc­tive because the fate of much of the world’s forests is lit­er­ally at stake.

Prof John Bed­ding­ton, Oxford Mar­tin School, for­mer chief sci­en­tist to the UK gov­ern­ment; Prof Steven Berry, Yale Uni­ver­sity; Prof Ken Caldeira*, Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity and Carnegie Insti­tu­tion for Sci­ence; Wolf­gang Cramer*, research direc­tor (CNRS), Mediter­ranean Insti­tute of marine and ter­res­trial bio­di­ver­sity and ecol­ogy; Felix Creutzig*, chair Sus­tain­abil­ity Eco­nom­ics of Human Set­tle­ment atBerlin Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­sity and leader at the Mer­ca­tor Research Insti­tute on Global Com­mons and Cli­mate Change; Prof Dan Kam­men*, Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley, direc­tor Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory; Prof Eric Lam­bin Uni­ver­sité catholique de Lou­vain and Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity; Prof Simon Levin, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity, recip­i­ent US National Medal of Sci­ence; Prof Wolf­gang Lucht*, Hum­boldt Uni­ver­sity and co-​​chair of Pots­dam Insti­tute for Cli­mate Research; Prof Georgina Mace FRS*, Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don; Prof William Moomaw*, Tufts Uni­ver­sity; Prof Peter Raven, direc­tor emer­i­tus Mis­souri Botan­i­cal Soci­ety, recip­i­ent US National Medal of Sci­ence; Tim Searchinger, research scholar, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity and senior fel­low, World Resources Insti­tute; Prof Nils Chris­t­ian Stenseth, Uni­ver­sity of Oslo, past pres­i­dent of the Nor­we­gian Acad­emy of Sci­ence and Let­ters; Prof Jean Pas­cal van Yper­sele, Uni­ver­sité Catholique de Lou­vain, for­mer IPCC vice-​​chair (2008–2015).


Those marked * have been lead authors on IPCC reports.


For more on Pro­fes­sor Kam­men and the Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory’s work on bio­mass, click here and search ‘biomass’




If you would like to sign on to this open let­ter o amend a Renew­able Energy Direc­tive under debate so that the direc­tive does not encour­age the burn­ing of wood har­vested just for that purpose. 


The let­ter closely tracks the fol­low­ing edi­to­r­ial recently pub­lished in the Guardian by sev­eral promi­nent sci­en­tists and econ­o­mists. https://www.the​guardian​.com/​e​n​v​i​r​o​n​m​e​nt/2017/​dec/​14/​eu-​​must-​​not-​​burn–the-​​worlds-​​forests-​​for–renewable-​​energy


Europe is cur­rently con­sid­er­ing a renew­able energy direc­tive that would raise the require­ments to use renew­able energy from a level of roughly 17% of final energy demand today to a level of 27–35% by 2030.   While this tar­get is laud­able, the direc­tive counts as fully qual­i­fy­ing renew­able energy the use of wood har­vested for that pur­pose, and not merely residues and waste. The pre­vi­ous renew­able energy direc­tive has already led Euro­pean power plants, fac­tor­ing and heat­ing instal­la­tions to shift to wood, import­ing much of that in the form of wood pel­lets from the U.S. and Canada. Many aca­d­e­mic papers have cal­cu­lated that any wood har­vested for burn­ing, even if trees are allowed to regrow, would result in increases in green­house gas emis­sions for decades to cen­turies even com­pared to the use of fos­sil fuels.
The major con­se­quences of the new direc­tive result from the sheer scope of the poten­tial wood require­ments. Although bio­mass has been sup­ply­ing around half of Europe’s growth in renew­able energy (from 11% in 2007 to  around 17% today), if wood bio­mass sup­plied even one third of the future required growth by 2030, the direc­tive would require an amount of wood greater than all annual Euro­pean wood har­vest, which also roughly equals all annual U.S. and Cana­dian wood har­vests combined.
The direc­tive will be voted on prob­a­bly the third week in Jan­u­ary in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, and there will be an amend­ment to restrict for­est bio­mass to residues and wastes. There have been pre­vi­ous let­ters by 100 or more sci­en­tists on this issue to Euro­pean lead­ers, and we are hop­ing for more this time. If you are a sci­en­tists and would like to sign on, please also con­sider encour­ag­ing other sci­en­tists you know as well.
If you would like to sign on, please send an email either to Greg Davies or Zuzana Buri­alova at Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity at gd3​@​princeton.​edu or z.​burivalova@​princeton.​edu, who will be keep­ing track.
The final sign-​​on date will be Jan­u­ary 5, 2018.




To Mem­bers of the Euro­pean Parliament,

As the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment com­mend­ably moves to expand the renew­able energy direc­tive, we strongly urge mem­bers of Par­lia­ment to amend the present direc­tive to avoid expan­sive harm to the world’s forests and the accel­er­a­tion of cli­mate change. The flaw in the direc­tive lies in pro­vi­sions that would let coun­tries, power plants and fac­to­ries claim credit toward renew­able energy tar­gets for delib­er­ately cut­ting down trees to burn them for energy. The solu­tion should be to restrict the for­est bio­mass eli­gi­ble under the direc­tive to residues and wastes.

For decades, Euro­pean pro­duc­ers of paper and tim­ber prod­ucts have gen­er­ated elec­tric­ity and heat as ben­e­fi­cial by-​​products using wood wastes and lim­ited for­est residues. Since most of these waste mate­ri­als would decom­pose and release car­bon diox­ide within a few years, using them to dis­place fos­sil fuels can reduce net car­bon diox­ide emis­sions to the atmos­phere in a few years as well. By con­trast, cut­ting down trees for bioen­ergy releases car­bon that would oth­er­wise stay locked up in forests, and divert­ing wood oth­er­wise used for wood prod­ucts will cause more cut­ting else­where to replace them.

Even if forests are allowed to regrow, using wood delib­er­ately har­vested for burn­ing will increase car­bon in the atmos­phere and warm­ing for decades to cen­turies – as many stud­ies have shown – even when wood replaces coal, oil or nat­ural gas. The rea­sons are fun­da­men­tal and occur regard­less of whether for­est man­age­ment is “sus­tain­able.” Burn­ing wood is inef­fi­cient and there­fore emits far more car­bon than burn­ing fos­sil fuels for each kilo­watt hour of elec­tric­ity pro­duced. Har­vest­ing wood also prop­erly leaves some bio­mass behind to pro­tect soils, such as roots and small branches, which decom­pose and emit car­bon. The result is a large “car­bon debt.” Re-​​growing trees and dis­place­ment of fos­sil fuels may even­tu­ally pay off this “car­bon debt’ but only over long peri­ods. Over­all, allow­ing the har­vest and burn­ing of wood under the direc­tive will trans­form large reduc­tions oth­er­wise achieved through solar and wind into large increases in car­bon in the atmos­phere by 2050.

Time mat­ters. Plac­ing an addi­tional car­bon load in the atmos­phere for decades means per­ma­nent dam­ages due to more rapid melt­ing of per­mafrost and glac­i­ers, and more pack­ing of heat and acid­ity into the world’s oceans. At a crit­i­cal moment when coun­tries need to be “buy­ing time” against cli­mate change, this approach amounts to “sell­ing” the world’s lim­ited time to com­bat cli­mate change.

The adverse impli­ca­tions not just for car­bon but for global forests and bio­di­ver­sity are also large. More than 100% of Europe’s annual har­vest of wood would be needed to sup­ply just one third of the expanded renew­able energy direc­tive. Because demand for wood and paper will remain, the result will be increased degra­da­tion of forests around the world. The exam­ple Europe would set for other coun­tries would be even more dan­ger­ous. Europe has been prop­erly encour­ag­ing coun­tries such as Indone­sia and Brazil to pro­tect their forests, but the mes­sage of this direc­tive is “cut your forests so long as some­one burns them for energy.” Once coun­tries invest in such efforts, fix­ing the error may become impos­si­ble. If the world moves to sup­ply just an addi­tional 3% of global energy with wood, it must dou­ble its com­mer­cial cut­tings of the world’s forests.

By 1850, the use of wood for bioen­ergy helped drive the near defor­esta­tion of west­ern Europe even when Euro­peans con­sumed far less energy than they do today. Although coal helped to save the forests of Europe, the solu­tion to replac­ing coal is not to go back to burn­ing forests, but instead to replace fos­sil fuels with low car­bon sources, such as solar and wind. We urge Euro­pean leg­is­la­tors to amend the present direc­tive to restrict eli­gi­ble for­est bio­mass to appro­pri­ately defined residues and wastes because the fate of much of the world’s forests and the cli­mate are lit­er­ally at stake.

Ini­tial signers:

John Bed­ding­ton, Pro­fes­sor, Oxford Mar­tin School, for­mer Chief Sci­en­tist to the gov­ern­ment of the United Kingdom

Steven Berry, Pro­fes­sor, Yale Uni­ver­sity, for­mer Chair­man, Depart­ment of Eco­nom­ics, fel­low Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Arts and Sci­ences, win­ner of the Frisch Medal of the Econo­met­ric Society.

Ken Caldeira – Pro­fes­sor, Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity and Carnegie Insti­tu­tion for Sci­ence, Coor­di­nat­ing lead author or lead author of mul­ti­ple IPCC reports.

Wolf­gang Cramer, Research Direc­tor, CNRS, Mediter­ranean Insti­tute of marine and ter­res­trial Bio­di­ver­sity and Ecol­ogy, Aix-​​en-​​Provence, mem­ber Académie d’Agriculture de France France, Coor­di­nat­ing lead author and lead author of mul­ti­ple IPCC reports,

Felix Creutzig, Chair Sus­tain­abil­ity Eco­nom­ics of Human Set­tle­ment at Tech­nis­che Uni­ver­sität Berlin, Leader, leader Mer­ca­tor Research Insti­tute on Global Com­mons and Cli­mate Change, Lead author of IPCC V Assess­ment Report and coor­di­na­tor of appen­dix on bioenergy.

Phil Duffy, Pres­i­dent, Woods Hole Research Cen­ter, for­mer Senior Advi­sor White Office of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Pol­icy, Con­tribut­ing author of mul­ti­ple IPCC reports

Dan Kam­men – Pro­fes­sor Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Berke­ley, Direc­tor Renew­able and Appro­pri­ate Energy Lab­o­ra­tory, Coor­di­nat­ing lead author or lead author of mul­ti­ple IPCC reports.

Eric Lam­bin – Pro­fes­sor Uni­ver­sité catholique de Lou­vain and Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, mem­ber Euro­pean and U.S. Acad­e­mies of Sci­ence, 2014 lau­re­ate of Volvo Envi­ron­ment Prize

Simon Levin – Pro­fes­sor Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity, Recip­i­ent, U.S. National Medal of Sci­ence, mem­ber U.S. National Acad­emy of Sciences

Wolf­gang Lucht – Pro­fes­sor Hum­boldt Uni­ver­sity and Co-​​Chair of Pots­dam Insti­tute for Cli­mate Research, lead author of mul­ti­ple IPCC reports

Georgina Mace FRS, Pro­fes­sor, Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don, Lead author IPCC report and Win­ner Inter­na­tional Cos­mos Prize

William Moomaw – Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor, Tufts Uni­ver­sity, Coor­di­nat­ing lead author or lead author of mul­ti­ple IPCC reports

Peter Raven – Direc­tor Emer­i­tus Mis­souri Botan­i­cal Soci­ety, Recip­i­ent U.S. National Medal of Sci­ence and for­mer Pres­i­dent of Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for Advance­ment of Science

Tim Searchinger — Research Scholar, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity and Senior Fel­low, World Resources Institute

Nils Chr. Stenseth, Pro­fes­sor of Ecol­ogy and Evo­lu­tion, Uni­ver­sity of Oslo, Past pres­i­dent of The Nor­we­gian Acad­emy of Sci­ence and Let­ters, mem­ber Royal Nor­we­gian Soci­ety of Sci­ences and Let­ters, The National Acad­emy of Sci­ence (Wash­ing­ton), French Acad­emy of Sci­ences, and Acad­e­mia Europaea

Jean Pas­cal van Yper­sele, Pro­fes­sor, Uni­ver­sité catholique de Lou­vain, For­mer IPCC Vice-​​chair (2008–2015), mem­ber of the Royal Acad­emy of Bel­gium, lead author or review edi­tor of mul­ti­ple IPCC reports


Oakland “Ecoblock” Honored as a Scientific American World Changing Idea for 2017

Spe­cial Report

Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can (Decem­ber 2017), 317, 28–39

Pub­lished online: 14 Novem­ber 2017 | doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1217-28

Top 10 Emerg­ing Tech­nolo­gies of 2017

For more on this project, see our real​.berke​ley​.edu twit­ter feed:


Mari­ette DiChristina and Bernard S. Meyerson

In Brief

  • When it comes to pre­vent­ing and treat­ing dis­ease, bet­ter biopsy tech­niques, genomic vac­cines and a mas­sive global project to map every human cell are a boon to pub­lic health and per­son­al­ized medicine.
  • Sus­tain­ably pro­vid­ing the resource needs of a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion is becom­ing more pos­si­ble thanks to advances in solar-​​powered water har­vest­ing and arti­fi­cial pho­to­syn­the­sis that pro­duces renew­able fuel. Real-​​time feed­back is mak­ing pre­ci­sion farm­ing an effi­cient way to feed more people.
  • Green tech is becom­ing more acces­si­ble to the masses. Entire blocks of homes can be trans­formed into zero-​​emissions com­mu­ni­ties. New approaches in hydrogen-​​fuel cells could mean cheaper gasoline-​​free cars.
  • Improve­ments in visual AI and quan­tum com­put­ing are lead­ing to a future when machines inter­pret data and solve com­plex prob­lems bet­ter than humans.

What if drink­ing water could be drawn from desert air eas­ily, with­out requir­ing enor­mous amounts of elec­tric­ity from a grid? What if a doc­tor could do a biopsy for a sus­pected can­cer with­out a blade of any sort? What if we didn’t have to wait too long for the result? Tech­nolo­gies that make these visions a real­ity are expected to become increas­ingly com­mon­place in the next few years. This spe­cial report, com­piled and pro­duced in a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can and the World Eco­nomic Forum’s Expert Net­work, high­lights 10 such emerg­ing technologies.

To choose the entrants in this year’s emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies report, we con­vened a steer­ing group of world-​​renowned tech­nol­ogy experts. The com­mit­tee made rec­om­men­da­tions and elicited sug­ges­tions from mem­bers of the Forum’s Expert Net­work and Global Future Coun­cils, Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can’s board of advis­ers and oth­ers who are tuned in to bur­geon­ing research and devel­op­ment in acad­e­mia, busi­ness and gov­ern­ment. Then the group whit­tled down the choices by focus­ing on tech­nolo­gies that were not yet wide­spread but were attract­ing increased fund­ing or show­ing other signs of being ready to move to the next level. The tech­nolo­gies also had to offer sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits to soci­eties and economies and to have the power to alter estab­lished ways of doing things. —Mari­ette DiChristina and Bernard S. Meyerson

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 12.02.45 PM

9 Energy: Sus­tain­able Communities

Instead of “green­ing” indi­vid­ual houses, entire blocks of homes are retro­fit into a sin­gle effi­cient unit

By Daniel M. Kammen

In the past decade the con­struc­tion and retro­fitting of indi­vid­ual homes to reduce energy and water use has grown explo­sively. Yet apply­ing green con­struc­tion to mul­ti­ple build­ings at once may be an even bet­ter idea. Shar­ing resources and infra­struc­ture could reduce waste, and retro­fitting impov­er­ished or moderate-​​income neigh­bor­hoods could also bring cost sav­ings and mod­ern tech­nol­ogy to peo­ple who would typ­i­cally lack such oppor­tu­ni­ties. Work­ing at the neigh­bor­hood level does add com­plex­ity to plan­ning, but these neigh­bor­hood efforts offer rewards that even green single-​​family homes can­not offer.

One such exam­ple is the Oak­land EcoBlock project, which I lead at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, with my col­league Har­ri­son Fraker, a pro­fes­sor of archi­tec­ture and urban design. It is a mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary endeavor involv­ing urban design­ers, engi­neers, social sci­en­tists and pol­icy experts from city, state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments, acad­e­mia, pri­vate indus­try, non­prof­its and grass­roots orga­ni­za­tions.  For more on our projects, click here. Or look at the RAEL group twit­ter feed: @dan_kammen

The pro­gram, which has been planned in great detail but has not yet begun con­struc­tion, will retro­fit 30 to 40 con­tigu­ous old homes in a lower– to middle-​​income neigh­bor­hood near California’s famous Golden Gate Bridge. It aims to apply exist­ing tech­nol­ogy to dra­mat­i­cally reduce fossil-​​fuel and water con­sump­tion and green­house gas emis­sions. We expect to rapidly recoup the money spent on infra­struc­ture with sav­ings from oper­at­ing expenses while ensur­ing res­i­dents’ long-​​term com­fort and security.

To bring in renew­able power, we will install solar pan­els on build­ings through­out the area and send the energy to a smart micro­grid. Excess solar energy will be stored via fly­wheels housed in a com­mu­nal build­ing. The res­i­dents will also share elec­tric cars, which will have access to more than two dozen local charg­ing sta­tions. These mea­sures should reduce annual elec­tric­ity con­sump­tion by more than half and bring car­bon emis­sions to zero—a valu­able feat, con­sid­er­ing that more than a quar­ter of U.S. green­house gas emis­sions emanate from residences.

Top 10 Emerging Technologies of 2017CREDIT: Eric Petersen

The Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency esti­mates that as much as 50 per­cent of California’s home water con­sump­tion goes to lawns and gar­dens. We will treat and reuse waste­water from toi­lets as well as gray water sent down drains and released by wash­ing machines. The recy­cled fluid will go toward gar­den­ing and irri­ga­tion. We will col­lect rain­wa­ter and deliver it to toi­lets and wash­ers and install effi­cient fix­tures and taps. Treated solid wastes, mean­while, will be incor­po­rated into com­post. Our esti­mates sug­gest that the EcoBlock’s system-​​level redesign will cut demand for potable water by up to 70 percent.

The Oak­land EcoBlock project will pro­vide local con­struc­tion jobs and help revi­tal­ize a com­mu­nity. If it is as suc­cess­ful as we pre­dict, it could serve as a model of sus­tain­abil­ity that can be repli­cated else­where in the U.S. and beyond. To date, we have received inquiries from Europe, North Africa and Asia, con­firm­ing wide­spread inter­est in tar­get­ing and redesign­ing whole com­mu­ni­ties, not just indi­vid­ual homes.

Pontifical Academy of Sciences: Declaration of Health


This dec­la­ra­tion is based on the data and con­cepts pre­sented at the workshop:

Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 7.03.24 AM

 Some forms of pol­lu­tion are part of people’s daily expe­ri­ence. Expo­sure to atmos­pheric pol­lu­tants pro­duces a broad spec­trum of health haz­ards, espe­cially for the poor, and causes mil­lions of pre­ma­ture deaths. Peo­ple take sick, for exam­ple, from breath­ing high lev­els of smoke from fuels used in cook­ing or heat­ing. There is also pol­lu­tion that affects every­one, caused by trans­port, indus­trial fumes, sub­stances which con­tribute to the acid­i­fi­ca­tion of soil and water, fer­til­iz­ers, insec­ti­cides, fungi­cides, her­bi­cides and agro­tox­ins in gen­eral. Tech­nol­ogy, which, linked to busi­ness inter­ests, is pre­sented as the only way of solv­ing these prob­lems, in fact proves inca­pable of see­ing the mys­te­ri­ous net­work of rela­tions between things and so some­times solves one prob­lem only to cre­ate others.

O God of the poor,
Help us to res­cue the aban­doned and for­got­ten of this earth, So, pre­cious in your eyes. Bring heal­ing to our lives,
That we may pro­tect the world and not prey on it,
That we may sow beauty, not pol­lu­tion and destruction.

Pope Fran­cis, Laudato si’


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 cat– astrophic changes. There is less than a decade to put these solu­tions in place to pre­serve our qual­ity of life for gen­era– tions 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 Anthro– pocene. The term refers to the immense e ects 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, oods 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 degrada– tion, 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, pulmo– nary dis­ease, men­tal health, infec­tions and can­cer. Cli­mate change threat­ens to exac­er­bate the cur­rent unprece­dent– ed ow of dis­place­ment of peo­ple and add to human mis– ery by stok­ing vio­lence and con ict.

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 ood­ing, mega-​​storms, heat extremes, droughts and major for­est fres. Cli­mate change and air pol­lu­tion strike down the rich and poor alike.

Prin­ci­pal Findings

  • Burn­ing of fos­sil fuels and solid bio­mass release haz– ardous chem­i­cals to the air.
  • Cli­mate change caused by fos­sil fuels and other hu– man activ­i­ties poses an exis­ten­tial threat to Homo sapi­ens and con­tribute to mass extinc­tion of species. In addi­tion, air pol­lu­tion caused by the same activi– ties 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 bio– mass 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-​​car– bon 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 solu– tions listed below:

1. Health must be cen­tral to poli­cies that sta­bi­lize cli­mate change below dan­ger­ous lev­els, drive ze– ro-​​carbon as well as zero-​​air pol­lu­tion and pre­vent ecosys­tem disruptions.

2. All nations should imple­ment with urgency the glob– al 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 ze– ro-​​carbon energy sources;

4. The rich not only expe­di­tiously shift to safe energy and land use prac­tices, but also pro­vide nanc­ing 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 uorocarbons;

6. End defor­esta­tion and degra­da­tion and restore de– graded lands to pro­tect bio­di­ver­sity, reduce car­bon emis­sions and to absorb atmos­pheric car­bon into nat­ural sinks;

7. In order to accel­er­ate decar­boniza­tion there should be e ective car­bon pric­ing informed by esti­mates of the social cost of car­bon, includ­ing the health ef– fects of air pollution;

8. Pro­mote research and devel­op­ment of tech­nolo­gies to remove car­bon diox­ide directly from the atmos– phere for deploy­ment if necessary;

9. Forge col­lab­o­ra­tion between health and cli­mate sci­enc– es to cre­ate a pow­er­ful alliance for sustainability;

10. Pro­mote behav­ioral changes bene cial 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 togeth– er sci­en­tists, pol­icy mak­ers, health­care providers, faith/​spiritual lead­ers, com­mu­ni­ties and founda– tions to fos­ter the soci­etal trans­for­ma­tion nec­es­sary to achieve our goals in the spirit of Pope Francis’s en– cycli­cal Laudato Si’.

To imple­ment these 12 solu­tions, we call on health pro­fes­sion­als to: engage, edu­cate and advo­cate for cli– mate 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 cli– mate change. The health sec­tor should assume its obliga– tion in shap­ing a healthy future. We call for a sub­stan­tial improve­ment in energy e ciency; and elec­tri cation of the global vehi­cle eet and all other down­stream uses of fos­sil fuels. Ensure clean energy bene ts also pro­tect so– ciety’s most vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties. There are numer­ous liv­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries includ­ing tens of cities, many uni­versi– ties, 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 bene ts for their citizens.


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, Argen­tine 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 Net– work, USA. We thank Dr. Jeremy Far­rar, CEO of the Well­come Trust for his con­tri­bu­tions as a speaker and for thought­ful ed– its 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


Screen Shot 2017-11-07 at 6.43.43 AM

Main Menu

Energy & Resources Group
310 Barrows Hall
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-3050
Phone: (510) 642-1640
Fax: (510) 642-1085


  • Open the Main Menu
  • People at RAEL

  • Open the Main Menu