Tag Archives: Energy

Climate and Energy Policy in the Global Context

by Brandon Huck, Coordinator, UNA-SNY Energy Project

On September 17, the Southern New York Division’s (SNY) Energy Project held an event entitled “Climate and Energy Policy in the Global Context” at the UN Foundation Office in Manhattan.

The featured speakers were Tapio Kanninen, PhD and George Garland, DBA.   David Stillman, PhD, a UNA-SNY Division board member and Executive Director, Public-Private Alliance Foundation, served as the event’s moderator. The nearly 30 other participants included UN staff and consultants, UNA members, professionals from various fields, faculty, and students. The event coincided with the lead up to Climate Action Week in New York City.

Dr. Kanninen’s presentation began with graphs depicting how the recent growth in fossil fuel emissions is increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, matching historically high average temperatures and leading to sea level rises. Dr. Kanninen also posed a series of questions related to global energy consumption patterns and the need to produce more energy from renewable sources to displace the world’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels. Among his key points were:

– Increased demand and use of fossil fuels from the ‘BRICS’ and other rapidly developing countries is only adding to the already unsustainable levels of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

– Only 30-40 percent of current proven fossil-fuel reserves can be burnt to have a reasonable chance of remaining below the 2°C target increase in the earths’ average temperature. Yet the flow of investments into fossil energy is about 3-4 times bigger than into renewable energy sources.

– Present alternative energy sources – primarily solar, wind, and nuclear—contribute only a small proportion of global energy supplies relative to fossil fuels and would not sustain current global economic growth.

– The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is marshalling experts from various fields in robust dialogue and reporting about climate change’s causes and effects. However, its call to “double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix” is not enough on its own.

– One proposed market solution is a cap-and-trade system and this option will be included in the climate change discussions at the 2015 Framework Convention on Climate Change meeting in Paris.

– Global challenges are more than interconnected than ever, but humans consistently underestimate the impact or threat from these connections.

Dr. Kanninen finished by underscoring that the change of focus from short-term to long-term sustainable development goals (SDGs) is not going to be easy. Therefore, there is a need to educate people at all levels about the climate change crisis and to provide ways for them to do their part to help stem the tide of climate change.

Dr. Garland started by noting that China has passed the U.S. in total CO2 emissions, with the U.S. now second and India third. However, the U.S. still leads by far in per capita emissions. Meanwhile, the EU altogether produces about half the level of U.S. emissions.

He also pointed to several facts from recent reports and studies on the impact of current energy consumption:

– An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report predicts that at current energy use rates, the world will miss the proposed carbon reduction goals by a factor of more than two.

– The OECD’s International Energy Agency foresees world energy consumption being up 56% by 2040, with approximately 90% of the increase coming from countries outside the OECD.

– US Energy Information Agency foresees a 25% increase in power generation by 2040, with one-third of increase coming from renewables and two-thirds coming from natural gas.

– A recent McKinsey report indicated that the US could reduce its energy consumption by 20% through efficiency programs. Although more than 75% of U.S. states now have energy efficiency requirements, state and local governments must continue to take the lead in innovating.

– The U.S. is stymied from taking more action at the federal government level to reduce emissions due to either political stalemate between the President and U.S. Congress or because of legal barriers, such as state lawsuits against energy use regulations proposed by the EPA and other agencies.

– One corrective measure that could be used is implementation of a tax on carbon emissions.

– Bangladesh offers an example of a government that is encouraging its people to change their behaviors, for example by promoting solar power, by taxing energy usage, and by cooperating with private enterprises to identify effective incentive programs.

Dr. Garland concluded his remarks by warning that the UN’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative is likely to be insufficient in solving for the lack or limited access to energy that 1 billion people suffer from daily.

Click here for a video of the event

You can receive Dr. Kanninen’s presentation and Dr. Garland’s notes by emailing a request to: unasouthernny@gmail.com.

Resources

UN Global Pulse: Features the work of scientists and statisticians who produce data on climate change.

Climate Action:  Climate Action works with the UN Environment Program to establish and build partnerships between business, government and public bodies to accelerate international sustainable development and advance the ‘green economy,’ partly through media.

Climate Reality Project: The Climate Reality Project trains individuals as speakers available to the public to discuss climate change topics and provides other opportunities personal involvement and action.

‘The Future of Energy‘: A new non-profit film about the clean energy revolution.  The site provides action plans and opportunities for screening the film.

Consultation on Ethanol Cookstoves at the United Nations

By Brandon Huck, UNA-SNY Energy Project

On April 4th, 2013, the Public-Private Alliance Foundation (PPAF) convened a consultation at the United Nations (U.N.) to provide an update on its pilot project involving the use of ethanol cookstoves and fuels in Haiti. The meeting was co-sponsored by PPAF and the UN Office for Partnerships, and included other interested parties, such as Path To Haiti Business Consulting LLC, SImACT, Inc., and Project Gaia, Inc.   The United Nations Association Southern New York State Division and its Energy Project supported the event.

The consultation brought together actors from a variety of sectors and diverse organizations with a goal of discussing the pilot project and coming to agreement on next steps and priorities for its expansion. In addition, the meeting functioned as a vehicle to increase awareness and knowledge among its participants of the benefits and potential of ethanol cookstoves and clean cooking fuels as alternatives to traditional cooking methods and materials in Haiti. In that country, the majority of cooking is still done using charcoal and wood-burning stoves, practices which often result in unclean and unsafe conditions that disproportionately and negatively affect mothers and children by exposing them to serious health and safety risks, such as a higher incidence of respiratory ailments and diseases.

Participants in the consultation met first in a plenary session and then in small groups to discuss the specific challenges and opportunities associated with PPAF’s pilot project, as well as the possibility of broader commercialization of ethanol cookstoves in Haiti. Several presenters referenced the pilot’s unique status as the first project of its kind in Haiti. Through relations with Dometic Group AB – a manufacturer of ethanol cookstoves Project Gaia, Inc., which donated an initial supply of stoves for the pilot –and other partners on the ground in Haiti, PPAF and Path to Haiti have been able to introduce hundreds of Haitians to the ethanol cookstoves. The pilot participants and observers have included low-income mothers, community organization representatives, small business owners, government officials, and employees at a participating hotel, providing for diverse perspectives on the efficacy and usability of the stoves and fuel.

Participants in the consultation learned about the many advantages offered by ethanol cookstoves. One is the ability to tap into a growing desire by Haitians at all societal levels to overcome the poverty-respiratory disease-deforestation trap caused by Haiti’s heavy reliance on cooking with wood or charcoal. As an alcohol-based fuel, ethanol is considered a ‘clean fuel’ and offers a healthier alternative to cooking with petroleum-based fuels. The ethanol cookstoves take less time to cook food versus the traditional methods employed. In addition, clean cookstove models would leverage existing equipment and technology in Haiti, and create a new value stream for farmers and distillers if mass production of ‘fuel-grade’ ethanol alcohol could be made viable.

From an economic perspective, the commercialization of ethanol cookstoves might benefit Haiti more generally. For one, it could spur increased demand and innovation in sugar cane production, which is currently imported in larger quantities than it is grown locally – a surprising fact given Haiti’s long history of sugar cane farming. Furthermore, the transition to ethanol cookstoves may provide an attractive investment option to the Haitian diaspora, who annually give approximately $3 billion to family and friends in Haiti and support various social causes and business enterprises.

Lastly, the pilot project supports the goal of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, which aims for100 million households worldwide to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by the year 2020.

Raising Funds for Energy-Related Projects in Haiti

As part of its overall program the Division’s Energy Project is seeking to help raise funds for Energy-Related projects in Haiti.  You can help by taking a minute or two every day from September 19-October 31 to vote online!

What does this mean:  The Public-Private Alliance Foundation, Konbit Pou Ayiti (Konpay),  SocialTap and CDi, all non-profit organizations working in Haiti  are in the run to win $50,000 for their clean fuels & cook stoves projects.  This video describes the issues http://www.unasouthernny.org/advocacy-and-action.html .  
 
How does it work: Between Sep-19 and Oct-31, we ask you to please vote for this project each and every day and to mobilize as many additional votes as possible. The winner of the most votes at the end of the period will receive the $50,000. Runners up will receive $10,000. Based on previous rounds of voting, we estimate to need 20,000 votes to be competitive. That’s about 460 unique votes per day.   Last year CDi won $10,000 for its project for latrines in Haiti.
 
Where to Vote: The website and donor is a socially-minded wine cultivator and retailer:  Cultivate Wines. They call this program “The Give”. The exact web-address is not yet known but it will be found on their website www.cultivatewines.com as of 09/19.    Continue reading

Scout – a Search Engine for Government Bills and Regulations

Tara Calishain, at ResearchBuzz.com, has written about a new search engine that can be used to identify government and related actions on your selected search topic.  (Thank you, Tara!)  The url is http://scout.sunlightfoundation.com.  The site states that one can use Scout to: 

  • Set up alerts and subscribe to receive updates from Congress, state legislatures and more via email or SMS text.
  • Search through every bill and regulation in the federal government.
  • Be notified when Congress plans to vote on a bill.
  • Follow and search bills in all 50 states; powered by the Open States project.
  • Import an RSS feed to complement issue alerts.

We tried it with the word “energy,” which resulted in current and timely information on bills in congress, speeches in congress, state bills and federal regulations.   Definitely worth a look!

National Regulations on Fracking a Step Closer

Federal regulation aimed at controlling hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, have come a step closer, following an announcement by President Obama that the first national regulations are to be set. The announcement comes after the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (ERA) draft regulations aimed at controlling pollution. The announcement by the Obama administration follows a series of actions aimed at regulating fracking, which has come under severe criticism from environmental campaigners and the EPA. However, energy producers and the Republican Party, accuse those opposed to fracking of stifling energy production, especially in a climate of rocketing energy prices. Continue reading

The Foreign Policy Association Conference on the Future of Energy

by Aaron Gardner, Energy Project volunteer

On May 24, 2012 the Foreign Policy Association hosted a conference on the Future of Energy.  His Eminence Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the President of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly, gave the keynote address.  His remarks concerned sustainable energy’s importance, particularly in the context of energy poverty.  He highlighted three current United Nations initiatives.  One that UNA-SNY members know well is the Year of Sustainable Energy for All.  Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also launched a program called “Access to Energy for All” with the goal of eliminating energy poverty by 2030, among others.  Lastly, Mr. Al-Nasser has made “sustainable development and global prosperity” one of the four main themes of his presidency.
The keynote was followed by remarks from and a discussion featuring four highly distinguished panelists.  Mr. Richard A. Navarre, President of Peabody Energy, moderated.  The other panelists were:  Mr. Jason Grumet, President of the Bipartisan Policy Center; Ms. Mary R. (Nina) Henderson, Managing Partner of Henderson Advisory; and former Senator Byron Dorgan. 

Continue reading

Panel on Renewable Energy and Policy in the EU and the U.S. – 3/27/12

by Matthias Resch, Chair, UNA-SNY Young Profesionals European Affairs Committee and Coordinator, The Energy Project

The Young Professionals of UNA-SNY’s European Affairs Committee hosted a panel event at the Austrian Cultural Forum in Manhattan on the topic of “Renewable Energy and Policy in the EU and the US”.  The evening began with an informal networking reception.

 Mr. Christopher Gadomski of Bloomberg New Energy Finance started the evening with an insightful overview of geographical and sector-related data on renewable energy technologies, their application and investment trajectories.

Austrian Cultural Center

 Mr. Marty Borruso of Medesco, LLC offered his expertise in distributed energy generation and made a strong case about its application in the NYC area whilst advocating for efficiency improvements through de-centralized distribution of energy, irrespective of the source of energy in question. Continue reading

UN Day Talk focuses on Energy

Dr. George A. Garland spoke on the 66th anniversary of the United Nations at a celebration at The Bryant Library, Roslyn, NY.  His talk included information on energy in developed and developing countries.  Click here to read this important summary on energy issues as well as to learn more about the UN Millennium Development Goals, Peace and Security and other issues.