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.
(…) 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.” (…)
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.”
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
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.
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]
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.
December 04, 2012
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].
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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
This second issue of CONNECTED shows that such a divide is not necessarily imminent. According to German Parliamentary State Secretary Katherina Reiche, both countries share similar concerns. “Germany and the United States are facing the same energy policy challenges. Both countries have to modernize their energy systems and make them more efficient,” Reiche stated on the occasion of the 3rd German-American Energy Conference in May in Berlin. In this issue’s “Face to Face” conversation, Philip D. Murphy, U.S. Ambassador to Germany, and Klaus Scharioth, Germany’s ambassador to the United States, agree. They point out that transatlantic climate diplomacy fosters mutual learning and can support innovation in important areas such as electric vehicles and mobility.
[I am co-editor of CONNECTED, together with Dennis Taenzler. Please find the full first issue of CONNECTED here]
In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama set the national goal to generate 80 percent of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035; the German government recently outlined its long-term energy concept which envisions full energy import independence and a 60 percent renewable energies share by 2050; the City of San Francisco launched an initiative aiming at a 100 percent renewables supply within just a decade; and under the motto “growth with foresight,“ Hamburg, this year Europe’s green capital, shows how urban development can be both economically beneficial and environmentally sustain-able. These are only a few examples illustrating that true leadership willing to tackle the twin challenges of climate change and energy security can be found on both sides of the Atlantic.
Welcome to the first edition of CONNECTED – a newsletter discussing climate and energy from a transatlantic perspective. With CONNECTED, partners adelphi and Worldwatch, headquartered in Berlin and Washington DC, will support the Transatlantic Climate Bridge, an initiative that since its inception in 2008 has promoted numerous activities by public authorities, the private sector, civil society, and academia in order to strengthen climate protection and energy security. CONNECTED aims to showcase and review policy and research initiatives that are aimed at low-emissions development. Opinion pieces, interviews, as well as reports on studies, dialogues and conferences will provide a regular update on the progress made toward building climate-compatible economies in Europe, the United States and beyond.
[I am co-editor of CONNECTED, together with Dennis Taenzler. Please find the full first issue of CONNECTED here]
Recently the Brookings Institution hosted a panel that examined Haiti’s political and humanitarian developments since the January 2010 earthquake. A theme that came up regularly was that of competing priorities such as turbulent elections, a cholera outbreak, a lack of dependable energy supply, and gender-based violence. As the Worldwatch Institute prepares to develop a Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap for Haiti, some have questioned whether limited donor resources should be channeled into something more pressing than assessing and improving the country’s energy infrastructure. Is an energy roadmap really needed right now, or are other matters more important?
The cholera outbreak in Haiti is an urgent matter that deserves all the attention it is currently receiving. However, we must keep in mind that a lack of proper sanitation – due to a lack of electricity – helped cause the recent outbreak. Had the country’s energy infrastructure been more robust and sustainable, basic sanitation and electricity in hospitals might not have been lost and the current epidemic might have been avoided.
bridges vol. 28, December 2010 / Noteworthy Information
The challenge of addressing climate change inspires fierce, divisive debates, pitting science against politics, environmentalism against commerce, and the most powerful nations in the world against their less-developed neighbors. Roger Pielke, Jr. , professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado , bridges columnist, and a renowned expert on science and public policy, attempts to take on this challenge. In his new book, The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming , he seeks to propose a novel, alternative way of looking for solutions for the climatic changes the earth is experiencing.
The Office of Science and Technology at the Embassy of Austria chose the occasion of the publication of this book to invite Roger Pielke, Jr., and two more experts on the issue – David Goldston and Alexander Ochs – for a debate with the audience on global climate-change policy. David Goldston is the director of Government Affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council and previously served as chief of staff for the chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Science and Technology. Alexander Ochs works for Worldwatch Institute, directing its Climate and Energy Program.
[Read the rest of the event report on the bridges website]