Fab four: ways to meet the climate challenge

Climatechallenge Yet another pre-Copenhagen report has been released, this time  jointly from the influential Center for American Progress, the progressive think tank headed by John Podesta, President Clinton’s former chief of staff,  and the United Nations Foundation, the body founded with Ted Turner’s $1 billion gift in 1998 to support UN causes and activities.

Meeting the Climate Challenge (PDF) is brief and as punchy as such reports can be. It identifies and focuses on four core elements which it believes can deliver the most immediate effective response to climate change. Importantly, they are attractive in their own right and can be undertaken without delay. The first three, energy efficiency, renewable energy, forest conservation and sustainable land use, between them can achieve up to 75 percent of needed emissions reductions in 2020. And far from being costly the measures would deliver a net savings of $14 billion!  The report’s source is a Project Catalyst analysis. Renewable energy costs are estimated at $34 billion per year, forest conservation and land use at $51 billion; but energy efficiency measures save a staggering $98 billion per year. Net saving is the result.

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Elephants, forests and the Wright brothers

Tropical forests are in the news. The Global Canopy Project has announced its Vivocarbon Initiative, an effort to encourage a rapid reduction in the felling of tropical forests. The GCP study forest canopies, and judging from the back page of their Forests First In The Fight Against Climate Change (PDF) describing their new campaign, they have a lot of fun doing it. Their point is simple, and supported by the IPCC WG3, Stern and others:

“Tropical rainforests are the elephant in the living room of climate change. It is unwise for politicians to arm wrestle over rising aircraft emissions when just the next five years of carbon from burning rainforests (20% of global GHG emissions) will be greater than all the emissions from air travel since the Wright brothers to at least 2025. Forests must come first in efforts to mitigate global carbon emissions because carbon capture or nuclear technology will make no major impact on reducing emissions before 2030, whilst we can tackle deforestation now, without the need for inventing new and expensive infrastructure.