Nov 012014
 
Atlantic_Logo  NOV 1 2014, 9:00 AM ET

Studies have shown that improved access to birth control can be a valuable tool in slowing global warming, but many politicians are afraid to broach the subject.

The equation seems fairly simple: The more the world’s population rises, the greater the strain on dwindling resources and the greater the impact on the environment. The solution? Well, that’s a little trickier to talk about. (…)

“We want to achieve agreement on what the climate commitments are from individual countries,” said Alexander Ochs of the Worldwatch Institute. “There’s a new opportunity here, a new approach that takes a bottom-up look at what countries want to bring to the table. … We’re just focused now on getting over the stumbling blocks.”

You can find the full article [here].

Oct 302014
 

ScientificAmerican_logo_new October 30, 2014 |By Niina Heikkinen and ClimateWire Family planning could help reduce the pressure human population puts on the planet, but not for decades. This week, a group of researchers promoted a different kind of global approach to addressing climate change: voluntary family planning.(…)

Reducing population growth and lowering fertility will improve communities’ resilience and adaptive capacity in the short term, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In the long term, population reductions could reduce the risk of climate impacts, according to the working group. It presented its proposals at a forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., yesterday.

“Far too often in the past, it has been approached as giving up freedom, rather than looking at family planning as creating greater freedom and greater happiness,” said Alexander Ochs, director of the Climate and Energy Program at the Worldwatch Institute.

He described the working group’s promotion of family planning as a “women-centered rights-based approach” that focused on the “urgency and right of determining the timing and spacing of having children.”

Efforts to control fertility improve maternal and child health and welfare, while also conserving natural resources, he added.

You can find the full article [here].

Oct 282014
 

WilsonCenter

October 28, 2014 // 12:00pm — 2:00pm

Rapid population growth can be a contributing factor to both greenhouse gas emissions and vulnerability to climate stresses. Early childbearing, high fertility rates, and short birth intervals are associated with poor maternal and child health outcomes as well as lower educational attainment and work force participation, which directly impede women’s ability to participate and invest in climate change adaptation. However, the positive benefits of voluntary family planning, either for emissions reductions or adaptation, have not figured prominently in climate policy discussions or those related to improving access to family planning.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream Continue reading »

Sep 232014
 

Here are the slides from my presentation at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) tomorrow.

Ochs_IDB_LAC.RE.StudyPresentation_140923

OVERVIEW

  1. Renewable Energy for Power Generation: Global Trends
  2. Renewable Energy in LAC
  3. Barriers to the Advancement of Renewable Energy in LAC and Opportunities to Overcome Them
  4. Vulnerability to Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies in the Power Sector in LAC
  5. How the IDB Can Support Renewable Energy Development in LAC

 

Jan 302014
 

Despite a growing consensus that support for the oil and gas industry is unfair, inefficient and globally dangerous, there’s no actual implementation of plans to change it.

By Carey L. Biron | January 30, 2014
WASHINGTON – Global tax breaks, incentives, and various other consumption and production subsidies for the fossil fuel industry are likely topping $2 trillion each year, amounting to 2.5 percent of total gross domestic product for 2012. After a dip in the immediate aftermath of the global financial recession, these figures have risen in recent years, according to a new report from Worldwatch, a Washington-based think tank. Incentives for renewable energy sources remain tiny by comparison, estimated at just $88 billion for 2011. (…)
“In the U.S., a lot of this is just lip service. The country is really not yet walking the walk,” Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute, told MintPress. “Both nationally and internationally, we have not made any significant progress toward the goal of reducing subsidies, which was actually declared quite a long while ago. In my view, it’s outrageous that we’re not making any more progress.”
[You can find the whole story here]
Nov 212013
 

Worldwatch’s Climate and Energy team just launched its groundbreaking Sustainable Energy Roadmap for Jamaica, a look at the measures that the country can take to transition its electricity sector to one that is socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable.

The report, Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap: Pathways to an Affordable, Reliable, Low-Emission Electricity System, is the culmination of years of intensive investigation. It analyzes the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment in Jamaica and discusses the social and economic impacts of alternative energy pathways. Click here for more information about the project and to read the report.

Nov 192013
 

GlobalPostLogoAnalysis: The new prime minister’s honeymoon is marred by an asylum scandal — and a host of other questionable moves.

Global Post, 19 November 2013

(…) On Sunday, tens of thousands of Australians took to the streets to protest against what they see as government climate change denial.

Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at the Washington-based Worldwatch Institute, slammed the announcement last week that Australia would downgrade its emissions reduction targets from 25 percent to just 5 percent below 2000 levels by 2020.“Emissions in Europe and the United States are [already] decreasing,” he told GlobalPost. “The position of the new Australian government is shameless and irresponsible. And it makes no sense — economically, socially, environmentally, politically.”

He said the policy could have dire consequences for other countries, too. “Abandoning that pledge could be a deal wrecker for the international community and any meaningful international agreements,” he says. “The Australian government is also considering cutting commitment to the Green Climate Fund, an international fund to help developing countries cope with the impact of climate change. At the same time, it complains about the environmental refugees that arrive at its shore every day because they no longer see a future in their own countries.”

With severe cuts also in store for Australia’s premier federal scientific research institute, CSIRO, it is unclear how Australia will nurture the talent needed to fight climate change. Ochs says that instead of leading the world in the development of green energy sources, Australia will have to “rely on an economic model from the last century that is dirty, ugly, uneconomic and kills Australians every day.” (…)

Nov 012013
 
WW Color Logo_Green Blue
 
New Worldwatch Institute Roadmap explores the renewable energy status and potential in the country
 
Washington, D.C.—The Worldwatch Institute today launched its groundbreaking Sustainable Energy Roadmap for Jamaica, a look at the measures that the Jamaican government can take to transition its electricity sector to one that is socially, environmentally, and financially sustainable. The report, Jamaica Sustainable Energy Roadmap: Pathways to an Affordable, Reliable, Low-Emission Electricity System, is the culmination of years of intensive investigation. It analyzes the potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment in Jamaica and discusses the social and economic impacts of alternative energy pathways, concluding that a scenario of high renewable penetration can bring significant savings, greater energy security, gains in competitiveness, and many other important benefits to the country.

“Jamaica is paying a colossal price to import polluting and health-threatening fossil fuels, even when it has the best clean energy resources at its doorstep: wind, solar, hydro, and biomass,” says Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy at Worldwatch and a co-author of the study. “The Jamaican government has set a nationwide goal of 20 percent renewable energy use by 2030; our Roadmap will help to realize this goal. What’s more, our analysis shows that the bar can and should be set much higher: Jamaica can become a zero-carbon island in a matter of decades, and its people would benefit enormously from such a transition.”

Worldwatch collaborated closely on this project with the Government of Jamaica. “I am very confident that the outcome of this project will enable Jamaica to map, in more precise ways, the additional electricijamaicaty generation capacity that we seek,” says Jamaican Energy Minister Philip Paulwell. “We intend to use the Roadmap to determine the next phase of new generation capacity, and it will enable us to be far more efficient than we have in the past.” Continue reading »

Jul 032013
 

Worldwatch Institute’s Climate and Energy Director Alexander Ochs on “Good Morning Boss” on the Philippine’s People’s Television Network talking about the potential for the nation to transition to a zero carbon economy.

3 July 2013

Jul 012013
 

Here at the Asia Clean Energy Forum in the Philippines, President Obama’s speech on climate change has been greeted with enthusiasm.  In particular, his decision to redirect U.S. financing of coal fired power plants to expanding the use of clean energy in developing countries is seen as a signal that the U.S. understands that coal is risky and expensive—at a time when the costs of biomass, geothermal, solar, and wind power are declining rapidly.

The positive reaction to Obama’s initiative is hardly surprising: many Asian countries share the U.S. President’s concern about climate change: recent fires, droughts, and typhoons have devastated large areas, stirred public concern, and spurred governments to act.

The growing Asian commitment to new energy technologies reflects the fact that renewable resources are indigenous, while for many countries, coal must be imported.  For most Asian countries, investment in renewable energy is an investment in their economic future, and will provide the energy needed to increase prosperity and eradicate poverty.

President Obama’s new approach to coal and clean energy is fully consistent both with his commitment to job creation and his “pivot to Asia” in foreign policy.  U.S. leadership on new energy technology is a signal that the country is committed to the future of energy rather than its past—and to providing energy for people rather than subsidies for fossil fuels.

http://blogs.worldwatch.org/revolt/beyond-coal-obama-makes-the-right-choice/

Apr 252013
 

U.S. Representative Rush Holt (D-NJ), the Worldwatch Institute, and the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) held a policy briefing on the status and future of renewable energy in the United States and around the world.

Featuring commentary by:

Mohamed El-Ashry, Senior Fellow, UN Foundation
Christine Lins, Executive Secretary, REN21
Eric Martinot, Author, Renewables Global Futures Report
Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy, Worldwatch Institute

You can find the event announcement [here]

Jan 132013
 

Sustainable Energy for Island Economies:
A High Impact Opportunity of SE4ALL – Vision 20/30

This session, moderated by Nasir Khattak, Climate Institute, presented the global programme “Sustainable Energy for Island Economies,” launched in 2000 and included in 2012 as one of the “high impact opportunities” under the UN Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, with some panelists showcasing projects from their island states. Continue reading »

Dec 042012
 
Rosanne Skirble

December 04, 2012

High level officials from more than 200 countries are in Doha, Qatar, for talks that began last week on the next steps after the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. climate change treaty expires this year. The ministers arrive in the face of bad news for the planet. A spate of new scientific studies finds worldwide greenhouse gas emissions rising and ice sheets melting rapidly, and predicts a planetary warming of as much as five degrees Celsius by the end of this century unless nations act immediately to reduce their industrial emissions of CO2 and other climate-changing greenhouse gases.  (…)
While hopes are high that the U.S. will take the lead in Doha with new emission pledges, some experts doubt if the Obama Administration has the political support at home to significantly alter its climate policies.  Alexander Ochs, an energy and climate analyst with the World Watch Institute in Doha says the U.S. has its hands bound.
“On the one hand, having this high expectation here of other countries that the United States should be  in a leadership role and on the other hand not being able to move more ambitiously to fulfill those targets and those commitments because of domestic resistance.”
Find the full article [here] and on VOA Online.
You can find the full radio report [here].
Dec 032012
 

By Avery Fellow, Bloomberg Daily Environment Report, 3 December 2012

Developing countries are seeking increased pledges from wealthier countries for climate mitigation and adaptation financing at international climate negotiations in Doha, Qatar, observers of the talks said Nov. 30. The G77, or group of 77 developing countries within the United Nations, proposed at the 18th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-18) that developed countries raise $60 billion a year starting in 2013 for “medium-term” climate assistance as they scale up to offering $100 billion a year by 2020, observers said. (…)

Developed countries initially promised to direct at least 50 percent of pledged funds to climate adaptation, said Alexander Ochs, director of climate and energy at the Worldwatch Institute. (…)

Ochs said he did not expect a global deal on climate finance in Doha. “I do not think in this negotiation round we will see a full agreement on how to bridge the gap between 2012 and 2020,” he said. “I’m hoping that countries fill the current gap … [and] individual countries start putting money on the table for 2012 to 2020. But I do not expect a global deal on the issue.” (…)

You can find the whole article [here].

Nov 282012
 

Published in Outreach | COP-18, Doha |  28 November 2012 

Alexander Ochs, Director of Climate and Energy, Worldwatch Institute

More than half of all human-caused greenhouse gas emissions result from the burning of fossil fuels for energy supply. Even excluding traditional biomass, fossil fuel combustion accounts for 90 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Against this background, it is surprising how limited a role energy is playing in the ongoing climate negotiations. And yet this discussion could be instrumental in refocusing the debate about what is necessary and what is possible in both the areas of climate mitigation and adaptation—bringing it back down from the current inscrutable spheres of negotiation tracks, subsidiary bodies, parallel sessions, ad-hoc working groups, and special meetings (which, let’s be frank, nobody outside the negotiators understands anymore).

First, a focus on energy shows how far we are from solving the climate crisis. Energy-related CO2 emissions grew 3.2 percent in 2011 to more than 31 gigatons—despite the economic crisis. We know that if we don’t want to lose track of the 2-degree Celsius threshold of maximum warming that would hopefully avoid major disasters, energy emissions must decline by at least one third to 20 gigatons in 2035, despite expectations that energy demand might double in the same time frame. .

So the challenge is enormous. But—and this is where the good news starts—clean energy solutions are at hand, ready to be implemented. The costs for wind, solar, sustainable hydro, biomass and waste energy technologies all continue to fall rapidly, and, in many markets, they are becoming price competitive with fossil fuels—even if externalities and fossil fuel subsidies are not internalized. If they are, the cost that our societies pay for our continued reliance on fossil fuels becomes truly outrageous: Coal, responsible for 71 percent of global energy-related CO2 emissions, causes more than US$100 billion in local pollution and health care costs annually in the United States alone, in addition to the personal hardships of those suffering from these impacts. Add the costs for climate change, and it becomes incomprehensible why our societies continue down the fossil path despite the availability of alternatives.

Continue reading »

Nov 132012
 
by Brian Padden, Voice of America, November 09, 2012 
WASHINGTON — The U.S. National Research Council released a report Friday on the link between global climate change and national security. The scientific study details how global warming is putting new social and political stresses on societies around the world and how the United States and other counties can anticipate and respond to these climate-driven security risks. The report by the congressionally-chartered research group begins with an assertion that global warming is real, and that the mainstream scientific community believes that heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are being added to the atmosphere faster today than they were before the rise of human societies.  (…)
Alexander Ochs, the Climate and Energy Director at the non-profit Worldwatch Institute, says the report is an important reminder to world leaders of the complex problems posed by climate change: “So any investment we can make today in reducing emissions will make the problem smaller and it will pay out multi-fold in terms of the costs we have to pick up in the future,” Ochs said.The report, however, does not deal with how nations should go about reducing carbon emissions in the future.  It focuses on the present and how the U.S. and the world can better manage potentially disruptive climate events.
You can find the full article [HERE].
Nov 012012
 

Re|Volt, 1 November 2012

By now, the heartbreaking photos of neighborhoods swept to sea and a climbing death toll have reminded us all of the immeasurable pain and tragedy our environment can incur. We think of the millions of people who continue to be affected by the storm, the tens of thousands who have lost all that they own, and the hundreds who have lost their lives.

Widespread damage from Hurricane Sandy. (Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen via CNET)

Sandy also tells us a lot about ourselves. From a pessimistic standpoint, it shows human failure: our failure to listen to those who understand far better than most of us do the impact of human behavior on the atmosphere, our climate system, and the ecosystems that surround us. While it is true that no singular weather event can be directly linked to human-caused global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – since its establishment in 1988 arguably the most thorough and meticulous scientific undertaking in human history – has reported with increasing confidence that weather extremes will become more frequent, more widespread, and more intense with rising greenhouse gas emissions. The IPCC’s assessments, and those of many other leading scientific bodies, have led prominent commentators—among them Nobel laureates, prime ministers, presidents, secretary-generals, and even movie stars—to call out global warming as this century’s greatest threat. But Sandy demonstrates in dramatic fashion our inability to take more profound steps to tackle global challenges, despite our knowledge that we endanger ourselves if we don’t. Sandy reveals our refusal to take responsibility for our actions and our skepticism that real change (of natural systems as well as of our own behavior) is possible. Continue reading »

Dec 012011
 

Camille Serre (Sciences Po), Emmanuel Guérin (IDDRI), Alexander Ochs (Worldwatch) 

Working Paper published by IDDRI, Worldwatch Institute & SciencePo, December 2011, http://www.iddri.org/Publications/Collections/Idees-pour-le-debat/WP%201511_CS%20EG%20AO_US%20EPA%20regulations.pdf

ALTERNATIVES TO THE LEGISLATIVE DEADLOCK?
The United States finds itself in a schizophrenic situation: its domestic climate policy has clearly been in a stalemate since the Congress failed to adopt comprehensive climate and energy legislation in 2010. On the  other hand, U.S. delegates confirmed the target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17% by 2020 compared to 2005 levels at the  Cancún UN climate summit in December 2010. How then will the U.S. fulfill its international obligations without being able to reach a consensus at home? While climate policies at state and regional levels show some encouraging signs, the extent to which the diffusion of climate initiatives across states could gain momentum is still uncertain.

THE EPA’S AMBITIONS AND STANDARDS
Shifting back from a market-based approach to a command-and-control approach, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations seem to be the only viable improvement at the federal level. The EPA set exante GHG emissions standards for a given pollutant by industry sector, based on available and cost-efficient technologies. And it also provides not directly GHG-related regulations which could indirectly help the U.S. curb its GHG emissions trajectory.

THE EPA’S LIMITS OF ACTION
Yet, in a highly politicized context, EPA regulations are only a second best option, which cannot make up for comprehensive Congress-adopted climate policy in the long-run: it is doubtful that they can alone manage to trigger a relevant infrastructure change. Technological and emissions standards are one piece of the required policy mix, and should be backed up by complementary policies. But in the current tense, partisan and unpredictable context, no clear investment signals can be sent to shift to a low-carbon economy.

[Find the whole paper HERE]

Nov 162011
 

Worldwatch Climate and Energy Director Alexander Ochs and German Development Institute Director Dirk Messner discuss the potential for and challenges facing a green global economy.

Nov 032011
 

Deutsche Welle, 3 November 2011 [original source]

As presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on a bold green agenda. He vowed to reverse the climate change policy of his predecessor and push for green jobs. But one year before the election the results are mixed at best.

Barack Obama in Copenhagen (…)

Alexander Ochs, director of the climate and energy program at the Worldwatch Institute in Washington, isn’t all that surprised about Obama’s reactions to the Fukushima and Deepwater Horizon accidents. He notes that Obama upon becoming president considered nuclear energy a clean technology and it doesn’t seem Fukushima changed his stance.

What’s more, says Ochs, energy security for most key players in the US simply trumps environmental protection. By continuing or even expanding domestic drilling for oil, those players hope to decrease US dependency on imported oil, which in the long run is impossible because of decreasing reserves.

And yet, despite many shortcomings, it wouldn’t be fair to label Obama as an abject failure on the environment. While it wasn’t hard to beat the environmental record set by his predecessor, Obama does deserve credit for some important green initiatives, argue the experts.

As part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Obama administration has made available investments in renewable energy projects totaling $90 billion (65 billion euros), explains Ochs. He adds that the so-called Cafe standard, i.e. the fuel standard for cars and light trucks, has been raised substantially. And the way in which federal agencies analyze environmental impact of green house gas emissions has also been improved.

While these efforts sound mundane compared to a sweeping international climate mandate they are important and do produce clear environmental change, says Ochs.

(…)

“Environmental protection could indeed play a role in the election to the extent that it can be cast by Republicans as a job killer,” says Ochs. “If Republicans are successful in framing it this way it can become quite a liability for Obama and Congress Democrats.”

Author: Michael Knigge, Editor: Rob Mudge