Archive for the ‘Energy & Environment’ Category

4
Dec

As a theoretical physicist based in Cambridge, I have lived my life in an extraordinarily privileged bubble. Cambridge is an unusual town, centred around one of the world’s great universities. Within that town, the scientific community that I became part of in my 20s is even more rarefied.

And within that scientific community, the small group of international theoretical physicists with whom I have spent my working life might sometimes be tempted to regard themselves as the pinnacle. In addition to this, with the celebrity that has come with my books, and the isolation imposed by my illness, I feel as though my ivory tower is getting taller.

So the recent apparent rejection of the elites in both America and Britain is surely aimed at me, as much as anyone. Whatever we might think about the decision by the British electorate to reject membership of the European Union and by the American public to embrace Donald Trump as their next president, there is no doubt in the minds of commentators that this was a cry of anger by people who felt they had been abandoned by their leaders.

It was, everyone seems to agree, the moment when the forgotten spoke, finding their voices to reject the advice and guidance of experts and the elite everywhere. Read more…

by Stephen Hawking; Thursday 1 December 2016 ; theguardian.com

18
Jan

The centrifuges are packed up, the sanctions are lifted, and President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is now a fact on the ground.

But managing the deal’s aftermath in Obama’s final year could be nearly as hard as the process of striking it, say current and former administration officials involved in the issue.

Resentful Iranian hardliners may provoke new confrontations with the U.S. Republicans will push for new sanctions and issue threats of war. Israel and Saudi Arabia will pounce on any hint of Iranian misbehavior. And even as Hillary Clinton took partial credit for the deal on Saturday, she described Iran as “a regime that continues to threaten the peace and security of the Middle East” and called for new sanctions to punish it for recent missile tests.

People familiar with Obama’s thinking say none of this will come as a surprise to a president who hopes that the U.S. and Iran can start moving past more than 35 years of hostility, but who also knows that old habits die hard.

“I don’t think Obama was ever starry-eyed about where this was headed,” said one former senior administration official. “His goal in this was not a full-blown rapprochement where the U.S. and Iran are strategic partners.” Read more…

By  

1/17/16; published in Politico.eu

16
Dec

Thousands of people on a march for global climate justice in Paris

The climate accord reached by 195 countries in Paris on Saturday, which aims to halt global warming within this century, is being heralded by many world leaders, climate scientists, and news organizations as the turning point in the fight against human-induced climate change. The Guardian even went so far as to call the agreement the “end of the fossil fuel era,” as did activist leaders like May Boeve, the executive director of the environmentalist organization 350.org. In remarks celebrating the accord, President Obama said that the agreement was “the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet that we’ve got,” and that it showed “what’s possible when the world stands as one.” He also declared that the resulting deal “establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis.”

However, many proponents of the plan agree that its value is more about symbolism and hoped-for gains than near-term substance, and critics are zooming in on the agreement’s lack of legal teeth, as well as how optimistic it seems to be about future international cooperation, technological advancement, and the sustained domestic will within each country. Much of the agreement was reportedly made deliberately vague so as to avoid hurdles like the Republican-controlled Senate. According to climate scientists, the voluntary emissions-reduction plans already fall far short of the agreement’s goal of keeping the world temperature less than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by the year 2100.

 

Read more…

 

Published on December 13, 2015

http://nymag.com

10
Dec

Young typhoon survivor’s message on climate change

Written on December 10, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Energy & Environment

Marinel speaking at COP21

Thousands of people are taking part in the COP21 climate change conference in Paris.

They’re looking for global solutions for how to tackle the problem. It’s been taking place every year since 1992.

Eighteen-year-old Marinel from the Philippines is one of the young activists addressing the conference.

Dear world leaders,

I’m Marinel and I survived one of the biggest tragedies the Philippines has ever experienced: Typhoon Haiyan.

I was 16-years-old when it happened. I witnessed how hard life is after such a disaster.

I can still hear the weeping of children nearby and the elders’ prayers for help. We had to sleep under the rain in our house without walls. I had to eat spoilt food and drink dirty water. The phones were down for weeks.

Our place was isolated for days because it had been reported no-one in our village had survived. Our relatives and friends desperately tried to reach us but couldn’t get through.

They thought that we were all dead.

Our house was destroyed and our belongings were washed out by the water.

All my books, clothes, my school uniform and also my hidden wealth – my school medals, certificates and books.

After Haiyan I wondered if life would ever be the same again and if I would be able to continue my studies since our school was also damaged.

Read more…

Published on Dec. 10th in http://www.bbc.co.uk/

25
Nov

Pragmatism in Climate Policy

Written on November 25, 2015 by Waya Quiviger in Energy & Environment, Op Ed

BERLIN – The diplomatic effort to forge an international agreement to mitigate climate change is undergoing a fundamental shift. The top-down approach that has guided the effort since 1992 is slowly being replaced by a bottom-up model. Rather than attempting to craft an accord based on legally binding restrictions on greenhouse-gas emissions, the new approach relies on voluntary commitments by individual countries to rein in their contributions to climate change.

This is, in one sense, an admission of failure; such an approach is unlikely to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2° Celsius, the target set by the United Nations in 2010. But given the slow pace of progress so far, small pragmatic steps by individual countries may be far more productive than attempts to strike a grand bargain that remains forever out of reach.

International negotiators have made significant progress over the last five years, but they are still far away from an agreement that would meet the 2°C target. As a result, diplomats, fearing that another failed attempt to reach a global accord could discredit the entire negotiating process, have rescaled their ambitions.

In particular, efforts to set strict limits on emissions are quietly being dropped. The focus is no longer on what is environmentally desirable or on the measures needed to keep climate change in check; rather, it is on what is politically feasible – the possibilities and constraints of the negotiating process, especially with a view to securing broad participation. Given the slow pace of progress since the first UN climate-change summit in 1995, any agreement that involves all members of the Framework Convention on Climate Change will be hailed as a historic success.


Read more at https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/paris-climate-change-pragmatic-approach-by-oliver-geden-2015-11#qmyccVSGWWwqvypt.99

Nov. 23rd; Oliver Geden
Oliver Geden is head of the European Union research division at Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

 

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