Thursday, December 4, 2008

JFK and the energy revolution

Yesterday was a momentous day at this conference for me. I made it through my first side event without almost falling asleep. That is not to say that they haven’t been amazing. Jet lag just had different plans for my consciousness.

The Green Peace presentation was this such event. The first thing I read was on the first page of a book they had given out: Will we look into the eyes of our children and tell them that we had the opportunity but lacked the courage? Will we look into the eyes of our children and tell them that we had the technology, but lacked the vision?” Wow. That hit home.

The presentation started with a video ( that they claimed may have some similarities to a past speech. It was in fact JFK’s speech about getting to the moon. They dubbed it over so that he was making a plea for an energy revolution.
And that is what GreenPeace is calling for. A complete "energy [r]evolution."

I was really impressed that in their goal targets they only used known technologies, referring to such things as tidal power, and CCS as “wild cards” that could potentially play a role in future proposals. Thus their plan seemed more reasonable. It actually seemed possible. Their main goals include rapid fossil fuel and nuclear phase outs as well as creating energy equity. It struck me that they included equity as I find justice a very important aspect of climate change. They said that they aimed shift levels of energy use so that it will become more equitable. As developed countries become more efficient, they will be able to offer assistance to developing areas that currently don’t use much energy due to their lack of electricity.

GreenPeace had many great points about renewables, that would help to interest people in them who are not currently advocates. Renweables are going to decrease dramatically in price over time. Since wind and biomass are very developed as of now, they should start significantly decreasing in price soon. While solar may take more time since it still needs more development. Germany was used as an example of the increasing simplicity of implementing renewables over time. It took them 10 years to get 1% of their energy from renewables and only 5 years to get 10% more. In time, electricity costs will decrease with increased efficiency. Thus, saving the planet with save people money. That is not to say that switching to renewables is all we need to do, but it sure does help.

I also attended an event dealing with REDD (Reducing Emissions of Deforestation and Degradation) yesterday. This was the third event I attended dealing with it and I’ve gotten many different perspectives on it. I actually recognized five different people in the session who spoken at previous events.

I’ve found that many people are passionate about this issue because of it has the potential to have very undesirable consequences for the affected areas. In its most basic form, REDD is meant to increase forest area and should improve the quality of life for people living in these regions as well as contribute to a reduction in carbon dioxide. However, due to the poor definitions that are written into the policy, tree plantations can replace forest areas that were once rich havens of biodiversity. In it’s definition it is only meant to reduce deforestation, not stop it, so that offers a whole new array of problems.

REDD has the potential to be of great benefit for forest-dwelling indigenous people only under certain conditions. There must be proper consent before deciding to “reforest” an area. However, as was depicted at a side event earlier this week were indigenous people told their stories about REDD, this is not always the case. Sometimes their once lush land is replaced with tree plantations. In some cases they don’t even receive an economic benefit from the plantations after they are harvested. However, in the case of preserving biodiversity, when forests are aided in returning to their proper terrestrial ecosystem, REDD is quite valuable. In this case, it also has the potential to enrich the lives of the people living in that area.

Another argument that was voiced is that REDD rewards those who have already cleared their forests and leaves those who have preserved theirs with no incentive to keep doing do.

And the list of arguments, for and against it, go on and on…

Cath ya later,

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