Climate Change Impacts and Renewable Energy
Climate Change and Ozone Pollution: On June 2, 2011 the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report “Climate Change and Your Health: Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution” that demonstrated how higher temperatures could increase ozone pollution above current levels, and analyzes the potential health consequences of these ozone increases in 2020 and 2050, as well as the economic costs of these health impacts in 2020.
Grow Campaign: On June 1, 2011 Oxfam released a report “Growing A Better Future: Food Justice In A Resource-Constrained World” in support of their GROW campaign. The campaign was launched in over 40 countries around the world and focused on the simple message: “another future is possible, and we can build it together.” Among the various factors continuing to drive food prices up in the coming decades, Oxfam predicts that up to half of the serious impacts will be due to climate change. The report presents new research forecasting price rises for staple grains in the range of 120–180 per cent within the next two decades, as resource pressures mount and climate change takes hold. To put those figures into perspective that could mean more than a doubling in staple food prices before 2030.
Clean Air: On May 24, 2011 Physicians for Social Responsibility released their report, “The : Clean Air Act: A Proven Tool for Healthy Air.” This review finds that the Clean Air Act is working. Air emission levels for six of the most common air pollutants (sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, lead, ozone, and particulates) have been steadily declining and are expected to continue to decline with additional pollution prevention actions. However, the report identifies how pollution continues to threaten the health of Americans, and cautions that efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act will be at the expense of the health of vulnerable populations.
Renewable Energy: On May 2011 the World Watch Institute collaborated with the German Marshall Fund of the United States and the Heinrich Boell Foundation to release a report “Grounding Green Power: Bottom-Up Perspectives on Smart Renewable Energy Policy in Developing Countries.” This working paper identifies key components of smart renewable energy policy in developing countries, focusing on the power sector. It also provides recommendations for maximizing the effectiveness of international support for deployment of renewable energies, drawn from these on-the-ground experiences in developing countries.
Nuclear Fuel Reactor Storage: On May 2011 the Institute for Policy Studies released a report “Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the U.S.: Reducing the Deadly Risks Of Storage” which provides data for the first time on the amount of radioactivity in spent nuclear fuel at all individual reactor sites in the United States. Several sites are storing far more radioactive waste in vulnerable pools than the U.S. nuclear weapons program produced over the past 50 years. The report also details serious incidents that have occurred at U.S. reactor and storage sites containing these enormous amounts of radioactivity, and examines dry cask storage as a means of reducing the risks of nuclear waste storage. This report indicates that more than 30 million highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel rods are submerged in vulnerable storage pools all over the country. These pools at 51 sites contain some of the largest concentrations of radioactivity on the planet. The report provides recommendations to reduce these risks, which other nations have adopted. It states safely securing the spent fuel by eliminating highly radioactive, crowded pools should be a public safety priority of the highest degree.
Climate Change: On June 2011 the World Bank released a report “Climate Change, Disaster Risk, and The Urban Poor: Cities Building Resilience For a Changing World” that demonstrated how the daily challenges of people living in urban cities throughout the developing world exacerbate as a result of climate change and natural disasters. This study falls under a broader effort Mayors’ Task Force on Climate Change, Disaster Risk and the Urban Poor that was launched at the Mayors’ Summit in Copenhagen in 2009. The report highlights four topics: urban poor are on the front line, city governments are the drivers for addressing risks through ensuring basic services, city officials build resilience by mainstreaming risk reduction into urban management, and significant financial support is needed.
Cost and Benefit Analysis of EPA Regulations: On May 31, 2011 the Economic Policy Institute released a briefing paper “Tallying Up The Impacts Of New EPA Rules: Combined Costs of Obama EPA Rules Represent A Sliver Of The Economy And Are Far Outweighed By Cumulative Benefits” that provided a benefit verses costs analysis of President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations impact on the economy. The analysis came up with two conclusions. First, the dollar value of the benefits of the major rules finalized or proposed by the EPA so far during the Obama administration exceeds the rules’ costs by an exceptionally wide margin. EPA regulation can save people from trips to the hospital and save lives. Second, the costs of all the finalized and proposed rules total to a tiny sliver of the overall economy, suggesting that fears that these rules together will deter economic progress are unjustified.
Strong Support for RGGI: According to the poll conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council on May 26, 2011, “74 percent of New Jersey voters want to keep New Jersey energy dollars in state rather than send them out-of-state, or out of the country, to bring in fossil fuels.” The poll provides background information on Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and reasons for why New Jersey’s Governor Christie is hesitant on whether or not he ought to join the RGGI program. Numerous studies have proven that states who participate in RGGI have experienced job growth and reduction of air pollution. So far, RGGI has been able to bring down air pollution by 30 percent, lower energy costs between 15 and 30 percent, and has the potential to create 18,000 job years.
60 MPG Fuel Economy: According to the poll conducted by the Mellman Group for CERES on April 9-12, 2011, voters in Ohio and Michigan states that are seen as America’s auto & manufacturing heartland, want 60 MPG fuel economy standard by 2025. “80 percent of likely Ohio voters and 70 percent of likely Michigan voters believe a national 60 mpg standard will encourage American car makers to innovate, boosting sales and protecting American auto jobs.” In order to reach the 60 mpg average fuel economy goal by 2025 drivers would have to increase fuel economy by 6 percent a year over the current 2016 standard of 35 mpg. Proposed standards are expected to be released in September.
Gas Prices: According to the poll conducted by Pew Research Center on April 28 – May 1, 2011, many Americans are curious on why gas prices have been rising. A majority of the people surveyed believe oil companies are simply pushing for higher profits. 31 percent cited a variation of this theme as the leading cause for the rise in the price of gas. Roughly two-in-ten (19 percent) said conflicts in the Middle East, such as the ongoing war in Libya, are to blame for the recent price increase. Another 14 percent pinned blame on U.S. politics and policy (not drilling enough for oil, the Obama administration) while 12 percent cited economic and market forces (international demand, time of year) as the main driver of rising gas prices.