Category Archives: COP21

COP21: California Governor Brown in Panel Discussion

Dec 7, 2015, COP21, Paris

California Governor Brown participated in a panel discussion in Paris led by Greg Dalton of ClimateOne and  also including co-panelist Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf – both part the large California contingent inside COP21 during the talks. Brown spoke in favor or green development and a carbon tax as important steps to avoid the far greater expense of a climate calamity.


“We gotta do something about climate change or that’ll be trillions in costs to the world. So it’s cheaper, whatever the cost benefit says. If we go past a tipping point and things really get screwed up, it is going to be expensive. So whatever we’re doing to prevent that calamity is a cost effective move, cause you’re not comparing it with doing nothing, you’re comparing it with do nothing and disaster happens and that’s expensive, versus investing in solar, in electric vehicles, in energy efficient buildings, a carbon tax and all the rest. And even the carbon tax, what it does is, it burdens carbon intensive industries, and that’s what you want…” ~ Governor Brown

Report by James George

Paris: Bill McKibben, Climate Action – Engaging the Next Generation

Dec 5, 2015 Paris.

Bill McKibben of appeared along with Mark Jacobson, James Balog, Neil Leary, Jacob Scherr, and John Adams at a youth climate activist event called Climate Action – Engaging the Next Generation.

Partial Transcript
“You know, we planned last weekend to have an enormous march in Paris. We though it would be as big as the one in New York last September, and my colleagues all of them young had worked for six or eight months had moved over here to France, we had people from hundreds of different groups, everybody lined up but of course that went by the board.”

“The beautiful thing that happened immediately was that we sent out word all around the planet saying, look, we can’t march in Paris, we need people marching everywhere else. There were 2200 marches and things around the world last weekend and they were astonishing to see..”


ClimateActivist_0374“… they were amazing, big marches, thousands of people in just the most unlikely places, in Malawi, in Ghana, and huge turnout down under… Across Europe of course, but also happily very big in Asia, in many places that we’ve really been working hard, all of us, all the different groups to kind of establish a foothold – places like Nepal, places like India.”

“In fact there was a very moving picture of people in Chennai demonstrating, and in the six days since, Chennai has had the biggest rainfall ever measured in that part of the world. There’s now hundreds of dead people there, the city’s been cut off. A city of eight million basically cut off, an island.”

“The point I’m trying to make is that now there’s the big movement out there, and what it’s been engaged by are a series of fights. That’s how people have become… – the trouble with climate change always is it seems so big and we seem so small against it. What could we do, what could matter, what could happen?”

“And the trick of building this movement over the last five or six years has been to convince people that there’s enough of us that when we concentrate our power on particular things, we can make a difference.”BillMcKibbenAndPanel_052
“So in the states, you know, the key fight, oddly, has been this fight ClimateActivist02090over this pipelines down out of the tar sands of Canada that somehow turned into an emblematic battle that rallied people as things hadn’t before. And as a result, you know, pleasantly for the moment, we’ve beaten that pipeline. More to the point, as the leader of the American Natural Gas Association said to his colleagues in a speech a few weeks ago, he said, we somehow have to stop the keystonization of projects…”
“Everyplace people are, people are fighting – there’s people are going to jail today in Boston fighting pipelines there. In place after place, all over the world. We think we’ve beaten plans for the biggest coal mine in the world in Australia. France here has banned fracking, which is I think in many way a direct outgrowth of the work that [?] and so many others did in New York State to take this issue and make it absolutely central.”

Report by James George

Paris: Mark Jacobson and 100% Renewables

Dec 5, 2015. Paris

Mark Jacobson, professor at Stanford in California, appeared alongside several other panelists including Bill McKibben at an event called ‘Climate Action – Engaging the Next Generation.’

Jacobson explained several aspects of his 100% renewable energy plan in record time, underlining a few key points along the way, such as the stability of the grid with load offsetting, and the dynamics of black carbon and other pollutants on global warming and health.

Partial Transcription (rushed, not perfect)

“We’ve been developing energy plans to transition states and countries to 100% clean renewable energy. By clean and renewable that’s wind and water and solar power. It does not mean biofuels, it does not mean nuclear power, it does not mean natural gas, nor coal with carbon capture. It’s simply clean and renewable energy, because we’re trying to address air pollution and climate and energy security simultaneously, and the only way you can do all of these together is by eliminating sources of combustion altogether and electrifying everything. So this is the idea is to electrify the world to all purposes. So all purposes means electricity, transportation, heating and cooling, industry, agriculture, forestry, fishing.”

Mark Jacobson

“And so we developed plans not only for the 50 United States now, but just recently for 139 countries of the world …those were built starting last week. I’ll tell you a little bit about them. The other thing that was released, we also realized the grid has to be stable, if you have intermittent wind and solar in a large portion of it.”

“But it turns out that when you actually electrify everything it actually makes it easier to stabilize the grid because you have more what are called flexible loads. Like transportation, you don’t have to wire a wind turbine to your car to drive it around, because it has batteries inside. So you can actually provide the power to your car at different times of the day so you can control when the car gets powered, and the utility can give incentives for people to charge for example at night. This is called a flexible load as opposed to an inflexible load. Like when you turn the lights on you need the electricity right away.”

“But there are a lot of loads, across the grid, especially heating and cooling, transportation, and in industry as well, where you can control when people get there power. It turns out it makes it a lot easier to match power demand. So we just did a study after doing the fifty state plans where we looked at transitioning each of the 50 states to 100% wind water and solar. We did a grid integration study – could we keep the grid stable with those 100% plans. We found is ya, without any loss of load, over six years period every 30 seconds we found over the entire United States, we could keep the entire grid stable.”

“So, that’s the number one criticism that people who have been against wind and solar and intermittent energy sources have said that you just can’t keep the lights on, it’s going to be way expensive, you need all this peaking power, you need gas for providing peaking. But it turns out you don’t, you do not need natural gas at all for peaking power, let alone base load power. It’s because you other types of low cost storage.”


“You don’t even need batteries it turns out for stationary storage. You need ’em in cars, electric cars, but not for stationary storage. So the types of storage we looked at that were low cost, whether it’s heat, for heating, there’s like in water and soil and rocks, and basically in ice too for cooling. For electricity, these types of storage are existing, not growing, but existing hydroelectric power, pumped hydroelectric power, existing plus proposed, pumped hydroelectric power, and concentrated solar power with phase change material.”

“It turned out we were able to stabilize the grid with just those types of storage without any stationary batteries.”


Drake Landing – seasonal heat storage. 52 homes, with solar rooftop system, glycol solution, pass the heat into water, move through bore holes  to30 meters under ground, rocks heated to 80C, and stored for winter.

Stanford University. Gas heating plant bulldozed, replaced with 2 boilers and a chillers heat exchange system, and an elaborate pipe system.

“So we’ve developed these plans for 139 countries and the fifty states to go to 100% renewable energy. If I were to list, well why would we want to do this? Aside from eliminating global warming… and by the way this would be a transition of 80% conversion by 2030 and 100% by 2050.”

“My main work is computer modeling, I build climate models, to simulate climate, air pollution, and weather, and you know probably the biggest thing I ever found was that black carbon was the second leading cause of global warming after carbon dioxide. So I look a lot at the effects of particles on climate. And one way to actually address global warming and climate change is to control selective pollutants, like black carbon, because it has, it’s like a million times more powerful per unit mass than carbon dioxide, but there’s a lot less of it in the atmosphere, and there’s a much shorter lifetime, only a few weeks. But it is the second leading cause, like carbon dioxide causes about 42% of global warming and black carbon is about 20%, and methane is about 15-16%, and then there’s nitrous oxide and oxone and clorofluorocarbons…”


“Because black carbon is a particle, and particles kill worldwide from air pollution, kill 4 to7 million people worldwide, each year, including about 60-65,000 in the United States at a cost to the US of about 3% of the GDP for the mortalities and morbidities. So this is, on a worldwide scale it’s estimated that, well today it’s on the order of 15-25 trillion dollars per year in health costs from the 4 to 7 million people plus the millions more that are killed to do air pollution, and that’s going to be equivalent in 2050, the climate impacts will also be around 20 trillion dollars per year. So there’s 50 trillion dollars per year in health plus climate costs. But we’d eliminate those costs.”

“My point about the black carbon was, the only way you can actually save the arctic ice is by eliminating black carbon emissions. Because if we stop the CO2 today, which we have to do, to stop catastrophic warming, it’s still not going to save the ice. But black carbon, because of it’s short lifetime and its strong impacts on climate, you can, and you also reduce health problems simultaneously, so there’s a double benefit. So you can do that kind of accounting, but the key is you have to eliminate all combustion so that means eliminating all sources of not only black carbon and carbon dioxide, but there are also cooling particles, air pollution particles that mask half of global warming that’s occuring.”

“So even though greenhouse gases plus black carbon causes this much warming, the net observed warming is this, and the difference is air pollution particles that cause cooling, such as sulfates and nitrates that mask or offset half of global warming. And so if you actually just cleaned up air pollution particles you’d actually see a rise in the observed warming which is quite scary. So you want to clean up the particles because the cause 90% of the health problems due to air pollution, but doing that will double global warming actually, immediately. And this is a scary problem. So the only solution is to eliminate all the particles and greenhouse gasses simultaneously and that’s what we’re planning on trying to do…”

to be continued…

Mark Jacobson was recently freatured on BNN Television Canada on 139 country plans and 31 minutes into this nuclear versus renewables debate on NPR

Report by James George

COP21 – Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland California

Dec 4, 2015, Paris

Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland California spoke at COP21 alongside other panelists including green philanthropist Tom Steyer, Diane Holdorf, Kellogg’s chief sustainability officer, and Gary Demasi, Data Center Energy & Location Strategy at Google.

As has become the custom among politicians,  climate change actions we’re primarily framed as wise economic choices, “Climate action can save you money” she said.

There were also progressive messages in her statement, as she highlighted a partnership with Rising Sun which engages in job training for low income people and for those returning from prison. She also mentioned Oakland’s ‘social justice’ and ‘equity goals’ and issues of consumptive emissions.

“And as far as partnerships go, we are very focused in Oakland on marrying our climate change goals with our social justice and equity goals.” ~ Libby Schaaf

Selected Excerpts:

“Cities are producing 70% of the energy related carbon emissions in the planet so we clearly are playing an important role if we are going to make tangible changes.”

“I’m proud to say that Oakland just in the last 10 years has reduced our core emissions by 10%, and more importantly, our consumption emissions by 15%. We also think its important that both governments and companies not just measure the emissions that come from that actual location, but also think about the emissions that are caused from any part of the planet when you are consuming goods within your boundaries.”

“And as far as partnerships go, we are very focused in Oakland on marrying our climate change goals with our social justice and equity goals. And that’s where partnerships have truly been powerful for us.”

“We have entered into several partnerships including with the California Youth Employment Partnership as well as a great organization called Rising Sun to do job training. And to do job training in low income communities of color, so that we can actually educate people in communities that don’t always find out about energy efficiency improvements, and these can be citizens that go out in the communities that they grew up in and help home owners, apartment dwellers reap the benefits of energy efficiency which not only can help save them money on their monthly energy bills, but also help save the planet as well, as well as provide great jobs for a growing sector. And finally Rising Sun specifically works on our community members who are returning from prison to give them a great skill and a great entry back into our society.”

Report by James George

COP21- James Hansen critiques anticipated Paris agreement, calls for cap and dividend approach to reduce emissions

Dec 2, 2015, COP 21, Paris

Iconic Climatologist James Hansen appeared at a COP21 press conference, where he issued a strong critique of the anticipated Paris agreement as ‘half-assed’ and ‘half baked’ for once again relying upon voluntary emission reductions. Hansen argued instead for a gradually rising cap and dividend approach to controlling carbon emissions.

“Science tells us we have to actually reduce emissions rapidly. And furthermore, the economic studies show that if you put an honest price on carbon emissions, you would reduce emissions rapidly. But if you don’t have that price on there, you’re not going to reduce the emissions. You will reduce the emissions someplace, but then it keeps the price low so somebody else will burn it.” ~ James Hansen

James Hansen
“The problem is, fossil fuels appear to the consumer to be the cheapest energy. They’re not really cheapest, because they don’t include their full cost to society… and the climate effects, which are beginning to be significant and will be much larger in the future are also not included in the price of the fossil fuels.” ~ James Hansen
Hansen swamped by reporters with further questions for nearly an hour after the press conference.

Report by James George

President Obama’s opening statement at COP21

November 30, 2015, Paris

The 21st Conference of the Parties, COP21, officially opened today in Paris. President Obama was one of many world leaders who spoke at the aptly titled  “Leaders Event”.

Obama’s presence on the opening day of these climate negotiations stood in stark contrast to his last minute appearance years earlier in the COP15 talks in Copenhagen,  where closed door meetings were followed by an all night general session which strained the consensus process and resulted in the contentious Copenhagen Accord.

Barack Obama
“I’ve come here personally as the leader of the worlds largest economy and the second largest emitter to say that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, but we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.” ~ Barack Obama

Speaking in even tones, encouraging cooperation and a positive outcome, Obama’s statement today volunteered a conciliatory acknowledgement of the role the United States has played in creating the climate problem and “embracing” the responsibility to do something about it.

Obama invoked many familiar themes – innovation, jobs, protecting future generations, and the idea that economic growth is compatible with reducing emissions.

“Last year the global economy grew while global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels stayed flat. And what this means can't be overstated: We have broken the old arguments for inaction. We've proved that strong economic growth and a safer environment no longer have to conflict with one another, they can work in concert with on another. And that should give us hope.” ~Obama

“Last year the global economy grew while global carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels stayed flat. And what this means can’t be overstated: We have broken the old arguments for inaction. We’ve proved that strong economic growth and a safer environment no longer have to conflict with one another, they can work in concert with on another. And that should give us hope.” ~Obama
“Here in Paris let's secure an agreement that builds in ambition, where progress paves the way for regularly updated targets, targets that are not set for each of us by but by each of us, taking into account the differences that each nation is facing.” ~ President Obama
“Here in Paris let’s secure an agreement that builds in ambition, where progress paves the way for regularly updated targets, targets that are not set for each of us by but by each of us, taking into account the differences that each nation is facing.” ~ President Obama

See full text of Obama’s statement.

Report by James George