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July 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Member Reports

Water-Related Impacts of Climate Change: Today the Natural Resources Defense Council released their new report called, “Thirsty for Answers: Preparing for the Water-related Impacts of Climate Change in American Cipendulumties.” The report makes clear that some of the most profound effects of climate change are water-related, like sea level rise, increased rain and storms, flooding, and drought. These changes affect the water we drink, fish, and swim in, as well as impact our infrastructure and the economy.    They compiled local and regional research findings about the water-related impacts of climate change in 12 U.S. cities. They  also analyzed what many of these municipalities are doing in terms of preparedness planning, and offer their solutions as examples for other communities to emulate.

Dirty Coal: On July 18, 2011 Greenpeace released a report, “Polluting Democracy: Coal Plays Dirty.”  The report provides a sampling of the actions of a bipartisan cadre of 15 politicians, who are among those in the House of Representatives working for America’s dirty and decrepit coal-fired power industry.  These 15 members have tried to stop EPA from modernizing standards for pollutants that come predominantly from coal-fired power plants, including mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, greenhouse gases, and coal ash.  It is important to note that while renewable energy systems can provide job opportunities to 196,000 people, coal fired power plants can only provide 60,000.  

National Parks: On July 13, 2011 the Natural Resources Defense Council released a report, “Great Lakes National Parks In Peril: The Threats Of Climate Disruption.”  The report focuses on five national parks that surround the Great Lakes coastline: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (NL) in Indiana; Sleeping Bear Dunes NL, Pictured Rocks NL, and Isle Royale National Park (NP) in Michigan; and Apostle Islands NL in Wisconsin.  For this report, the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) analyzed temperature records for the two weather stations in the U.S. Historical Climatology Networ(USHCN) in the immediate vicinity of Great Lakes national parks.  It found extreme weather conditions can lead to the change in ecosystems, loss in wildlife, loss of cultural resources, and reduction of visitor enjoyment.  Parks should be managed to preserve their resources at risk, to adapt to coming changes, and to provide visible leadership in addressing climate change.

Oil Independence: On July 7, 2011 Environment America released a report, “Getting Off Oil: A 50 State Roadmap for Curbing our Dependence on Petroleum.”  The report states that the United States has the technology and policy legislation that will enable Americans to reduce its consumption of oil for energy by 1.9 billion barrels of oil per year by 2030 – 31 percent of today’s oil use while achieving President Obama’s goal of reducing oil imports by one-third by 2025 and putting the nation on track to ending its dependence on oil.  Several of the threats mentioned in the report that are induced by America’s dependence on oil consist of: global warming, oil spills, and air pollution.   The United States and individual state governments are prompted to start taking action now by shifting towards renewable energy systems to ensure a sustainable environment.    

Clean Vehicles: Also this month the World Resources Institute released a report, “The Role of Driving in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Oil Consumption.”  The report explores whether technology improvements alone can achieve oil consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets consistent with recent draft legislation and international climate negotiations.  The report provides the Department of Transportation with recommendations on how to reduce vehicles miles traveled (VMT), oil use, and GHG emissions.  Although the rate of technological progress, such as fuel efficiency improvements, is uncertain, these improvements are encouraged by federal incentives and standards.  Transportation planning at the local, regional, and state level should incorporate strategies to reduce VMT in order to reduce GHG emissions and oil consumption. With the production of more efficient vehicles and reduction on VMT the United States may no longer need to import any oil by 2030.

Humanitarian and Disaster Response to Climate Change: On June 17, 2011, Oxfam American and CNA Analysis and Solutions released a joint report, “An Ounce of Prevention: Preparing For The Impact Of A Changing Climate on US Humanitarian and Disaster Response.” The report analyzes both domestic and foreign civilian and military humanitarian responses systems to climate change emergencies, such as disease outbreaks, population displacement, and periodic droughts and floods.  Thus far, the international community has allocated little aid to people who suffered from climate related disasters.  “Between 2005 and 2009 the international community provided only 69 percent of the amounts requested in UN humanitarian appeals. In 2010, the figure fell to 63 percent.”  The report recommends two policy shifts that can improve effectiveness and reduce costs: organizing a coherent, whole-of-government approach to humanitarian assistance and emphasizing strategies with a long-term perspective.

Deforestation: On June 2011, the Center for Clean Air Policy released a report, “REDD+ Design In Cambodia, Indonesia and Mexico: Lessons to Inform International REDD+ Policy Development.”  According to the study, deforestation contributes approximately 17 percent of total global emissions of greenhouse gases every year.  To prevent climate change disasters, deforestation must be reduced by at least 50 percent by 2020 and global forest loss by 30 percent by 2030.  Thus, the Center for Clean Air Policy has joined forces with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change with the hope of helping key developing countries – Cambodia, Indonesia, and Mexico- participate in a post 2012 international REDD+ regime where they will be committed to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.  The initiatives range from government legislation to local projects, with a focus on environmental, social and economic objectives.  In-country experiences ought to provide insight to international policymakers to guide their decisions on REDD+.

Environmental Conservation and Development Integration: InterAction released a report in June 2011 called: “The Nature of Development: Integrating Conservation & Development to Support Sustainable, Resilient Societies.”  The report focuses on the negative impact that rising food prices and lack of natural resources has on society.  Today, nearly half the world’s people live in poverty, and the world’s poorest countries must provide for billions more as human numbers grow from 7 to 9.3 billion by the middle of this century.  These two challenges—environmental protection and development—are profoundly interconnected.  An integrated approach to conservation and development accomplishes a variety of critical goals, such as: saving money, protecting investments in development, creating jobs, building resilience, and enhancing security.  The report mentions barriers that may potentially detain integration.  Overall, the integrated approach calls for greater flexibility in our existing approach to development and how we account for its benefits.

Non Member Reports

Enhance Nuclear Power Safety: On July 12, 2011 the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released a report, “Recommendations For Enhancing Reactor Safety In The 21st Century.”  The Near Term Task Force was established in light of the recent accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant to conduct methodical reviews and determine whether the NRC needs to make additional improvements to their regulatory system.   Upon further examination of the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster, the Task Force referred to protecting against accidents resulting from natural phenomena, mitigating the consequences of such accidents, and ensuring emergency preparedness.

Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone: On June 14, 2011, the United Nations Environment Programme released a report, “Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone.”  This study states scientific evidence and new analyses demonstrate that control of black carbon particles and tropospheric ozone through rapid implementation of proven emission reduction measures would have immediate and multiple benefits for human well-being.   It reflects, in particular, a number of findings on the state of scientific knowledge as well as policy proposals to cut emissions provided by over fifty authors.  The report provides a comprehensive assessment of the collateral benefits which can be derived from practical measures to reduce black carbon – a principal soot component – as well as the gases which contribute to the formation of tropospheric ozone, especially methane.  Although the report mentions some discouraging facts, such as the number of people who fall ill from breathing in black carbon polluted air, there is substantial evidence that existing technologies, policies and measures – some of them linked to actions launched to improve energy access, sustainable transport and health – could immediately begin to provide significant benefits in terms of human well-being, the climate system and the wider environment, if they were rapidly and widely implemented.


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