A War on Global Warming

January.28.2012

The US military improves its carbon footprint

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A leaner, greener military will see a reduction in costs and the carbon footprint of operations. If troops in the field are able to rely on renewable energy sources like solar, they will be more mobile and efficient.

Small portable solar arrays, which can be rolled up and easily transported, provide troops in the field with a power source for their electronic equipment. Larger solar panels are used to supply power to bases for air conditioning, lighting and electronic equipment.

A war on global warmingThe major source of consumption is vehicular and the military have been experimenting for some time with biofuels. The Navy is developing “the great green fleet” which comprises an aircraft carrier and F-18 fighter jets and helicopters that run on bio-fuels. The fleet will be deployed by 2016. By 2020, the military hopes that at least 50% of its energy will come from renewable sources.

Bases also consume massive amounts of energy, especially in areas of inclement weather. Although new buildings are already expected to attain LEED certification, the military hopes that all bases will be net zero by 2020. The military uses a two-prong approach to achieve these lofty energy efficiency targets; a reliance on the strength and insulating powers of ICFs coupled with renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal and wind energy to power operations.

General Martin E. Dempsey puts it like this: “Saving energy saves lives… Whatever and whenever our forces go into harm’s way, they must have the best tools available. Improving our energy security can help us do that, and we don’t have time to waste”

Durban Climate Change Conference

December.22.2011

Withdrawal from Kyoto Protocol not Canada’s finest hour

Durban Climate Change ConferenceThe immanent end of the Kyoto protocol necessitated the drafting of a new agreement that many hoped would promote more immediate action on climate change. Last year’s UN summit in Cancun had bred hopes of a new era of international collaboration on climate change as world powers agreed that keeping global warming below 2°C was imperative and, with time running out (a reduction by 2020 is necessary to avert a 2°C increase), it finally seemed as though the world was intent on meaningful action. In Cancun, the powers that be architectured a global emissions monitoring system and forged a commitment to help developing countries with climate change. The Durban climate change summit was meant to bolster the terms agreed upon in Cancun and forge a legally binding agreement. In a dramatic conclusion to the Durban meeting, world leaders from 194 countries hammered out an agreement a full 36 hours after the summit was scheduled to end.

Spearheaded by the EU, the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action will see major world powers collaborating in a legally binding agreement that will extend the mandate of the Kyoto protocol. The agreement reinforces their commitment to the prevention of climate change through emissions reduction initiatives. The signatories also agreed to draft a legally binding protocol by 2015 which will be enacted by 2020; a move seen as too little too late by some, and hailed as a breakthrough by others. The platform also committed to raising $100 billion by 2020 to help developing countries with their bids to prevent climate change. The platform extended the current Kyoto protocol to 2017.

Durban Climate Change ConferenceRhian Kelly, CBI director of business, echoed most big business sentiments when she extolled the agreement as a success. “Tangible progress towards a global deal in the form of a roadmap and the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol is a great result and shows that the UN process is not dead in the water,” she said. “However, this isn’t a deal itself and must be used as the base camp for the mountain we’re still to climb. We need to keep the momentum going and ensure this roadmap results in something concrete. Businesses have not slowed their pace in managing their emissions, developing new low-carbon products, and investing in new sources of low-carbon energy – we need the same level of ambition from our politicians.” The perceived success of the summit by big business is mostly due to the fact that business leaders do not expect the platform to result in any concrete change to their operations.

Others cite the platform’s lack of resolve and firm action as proof that it did not go far enough. Many environmental groups declared that the summit fell short of actions that will result in meaningful change. The continued reticence of India and China to commit to legally binding protocols is the major hurdle in the bid to prevent climate change. The US and EU suggested that China and India be removed from the list of developing countries, given their volume of GHG emissions and the size of their economies. These suggestions were resisted with the officials of both countries urging the west to fully implement existing agreements in their own countries before any new legally binding protocols were created.

Many environmental groups and those in the scientific community counter that the glacial pace of reform renders climate change inevitable: “This empty shell of a plan leaves the planet hurtling towards catastrophic climate change. If Durban is to be a historic stepping stone towards success, the world must urgently agree to ambitious targets to slash emissions,” said Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth.

The Durban summit was not Canada’s finest hour

The government’s continued support of the lucrative oil sands initiative in Alberta makes the restrictions of the Kyoto protocol too expensive to comply with. As a result, Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol in a bid to save $14 billion in penalties for failing to meet emissions targets.

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