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James George inside COP21

Welcome to Envirobeat, an environmental news service covering climate change and global energy developments.

We recently returned from COP21 in Paris.

Our news roundup contains links to relevant stories of the day, while our field reports feature in depth video coverage of important speakers, events and conferences, both internationally and within the United States. Examples include:

COP21 Paris Climate Change Conference (Dec 2015)
COP15 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference (Dec 2009)
Copenhagen Climate Congress (March 2009)
SEMI/SolarCon India 2009 in Hyderabad
SEMI/SolarCom Intersolar in San Francisco, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil

The San Francisco Bay Area could aptly be described as an important green metropolis, with frequent presentations by visiting specialists in both alternative energy and climate policy. Envirobeat reports on many such events in San Francisco, often at the Commonwealth Club’s notable ClimateOne climate forum led by Greg Dalton. Across the Bay at the University of California, Berkeley, we cover presentations by guest lecturers and local scientists.

Climate change is an issue of such breadth and magnitude that it draws countless other environmental, social, political, and economic issues into its wake for reconsideration. And the climate change story is far from over. Despite two decades of international climate negotiations, global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are still increasing. China’s dramatic emergence as an industrial powerhouse has come with environmental costs, including increasing global coal consumption. Coal has a higher carbon footprint than other fossil fuels, and China has in recent years surpassed the United States as the world’s greatest annual GHG emitter, while the US remains highest as the leader in cumulative historic emissions.

Despite a notable lack of climate progress in his first term in the wake of the financial crisis, President Obama’s second term has shown an increased passion for taking on climate change, and his veto of and ultimately final rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline, despite having lost control of both the house and the senate, underscores his commitment to action on climate change in the final years of his presidency. Recent joint announcements of collaboration with China have renewed hope for progress in Paris.  Pope Francis has issued a strong moral appeal for climate action, bringing renewed attention and urgency to climate change and poverty. Nevertheless, political divisions within the United States will likely continue to constrain policy options.

The story of energy remains key to climate change. From a  climate perspective, the eventual destination of the carbon in fossil fuels is not the merely the refineries, the countries that import them, or even consumers who use them – carbon fuels ultimately become carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere and carbonic acid in the oceans.

On the bright side, these are exciting times for renewable energy development – the green energy revolution continues to unfold rapidly, with ongoing technological innovations and increasing deployments of wind and solar energy around the world. India, for example, has set an ambitious target of one hundred gigawatts of solar energy by 2022.  Mark Jacobson of Stanford University has put forth a detailed roadmap for attaining 100% clean and renewable wind, water, and sunlight energy for 139 countries, calling the barriers to implementation political and social, not technical or economic.

Many are looking towards the COP21 negotiations in Paris for an international agreement, though the anticipated pledges to date are inadequate to prevent warming from going beyond the two degrees Celsius limit previously agreed upon.

Going forward, Envirobeat will continue to explore climate change issues and events, and hopefully clarify the conversation in the process.

“The evidence on the seriousness of the risks from inaction or delayed action is now overwhelming..The problem of climate change involves a fundamental failure of markets: those who damage others by emitting greenhouse gases generally do not pay..” ~ Lord  Nicholas Stern

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