Tag Archives: UNFCCC

My First Op-Ed: Oregon needs to set an example with climate action

Here’s a link to my first ever Op-Ed: Oregon needs to set an example with climate action.

My First Opinion Piece: The Oregonian

My First Opinion Piece: The Oregonian

 

Right now UNFCCC COP-19 is underway in Warsaw, Poland. For the second year in a row, I am missing the negotiations after having gone to Cancun and Durban (i.e COP-16 and -17). Unfortunately, not much is expected until COP-21 Paris. This Op-Ed was my attempt to pay it forward to friends and colleagues working out in the field and at the negotiations. I’ve seen the impacts of climate change with my own eyes in Latin America and Africa and can’t help but get a bit frustrated with the gridlock so succinctly described by David G. Victor in his book, Global Warming Gridlock. Amidst this gridlock, we have 2 years to get our ducks in a row by increasing political will in our home countries and, most importantly, building awareness and support for good ideas. On that note, I like what I have seen thus far with respect to the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy. With 52 million people and a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion, this is going to be a pilot project for the world. Paris, here we come!

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What future do you want?

I want a future where equality of opportunity knows no borders and no era. Equality of opportunity in education, health, and economic development. Also, equality of opportunity across generations. Our children deserve a planet with the same environmental health that we enjoy today —  if not better. I believe in our ability to achieve a quasi-Utopian future, one in which imperfect (hence the quasi-), but thoughtful societies find a balance, both internally and with their shared environments.

I want a planet where societies make educated decisions that address the needs of now without sacrificing the foundations of our future. Ask yourself, “are we on a path to that future?”. There are lots of statistics, images, peer-reviewed scientific research, and harsh realities suggesting that the answer is “no”, that instead we are running a resource deficit and feeding a process that drives an ever-unpredictable climate and future. Part of this stems from our obsession with economic growth and consumption. Ironically, as a former student of economics and policy, now looking to launch his career, I care about the subject of economics. I want a stronger economy where I can create professional opportunities for myself and others. Still, within a finite world, fast-paced economic growth based on a business model of unsustainable products and services will not create a job that I want to apply for. Such a model is unfair to the whole of our population, and particularly unjust for the marginalized communities of today and the disadvantaged generations of tomorrow. These groups are ill-equipped to defend themselves against the impacts of shortsighted economic growth. Instead, let us look to how we may deepen economic development: doing more for society while manipulating less of our environment. I envision a future where individuals, governments, and businesses strive to achieve comprehensive sustainability by: (1) deepening economic development, (2) providing better information and tools to our communities, and (3) creating models of success in terms of the responsible consumption of resources (especially energy).

I will admit, this vision is vague on details, as it is a vision of a mindset rather than a roadmap. However, it is as much our mindset as it is our pocketbooks that drives our behavior — and I believe these issues all boil down to behavior. We can only technologically innovate our way out of some of this challenge. Therefore, our behavior must change. Otherwise, our environment will most certainly change to the detriment of a population that was unwilling – or unable – to do so itself.

I, for one, am optimistic that this will not be the case. We will innovate in technology and behavior. We will find a solution. I look forward to our shared challenge. Our shared roadmap. Our shared future.

Visit http://futurewewant.org/ to join the discussion.

Meet former President of Costa Rica, learn more about the Carbon War Room

Jose Maria Figueres proudly served his country in the mid 90’s, during which time he passed a nationwide carbon tax (’95). Now he continues to exhibit superb leadership in the environmental/business sector. We met during a media announcement of the Carbon War Room. He is chairman of the board for the War Room, which has an innovative idea for providing alternative jet fuel to airlines (http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/04/idUS69743+04-Dec-2011+BW20111204).

I was happy to see a local, San Diego based company on the list of jet-fuel providers – Sapphire Energy.

For those unfamiliar with the org, “Carbon War Room works on breaking down market barriers for capital to flow to entrepreneurial solutions to climate change, by employing a sector-based approach focusing on the solutions that make economic sense right now.”

Over the weekend, I attended the World Climate Summit, which is the premier event for private sector participants. The CEO of the Carbon War Room, Jigar Shah, spoke eloquently of the role PPPs to establish effective and scalable projects in renewable energy.

Hello from COP17, Durban!

I’m here at the United Nations Climate Convention Conference of Parties (COP), which is now its 17th year. My first COP was last year, where I was the lead of a student delegation from my UCSD graduate program, IR/PS. These are MEGA conferences with 10’s of thousands of people. Anyone and everything to do with climate change gravitates here. Policymakers. Negotiators. NGOs. Media. Business leaders. Activists.

Though expectations reached an all-time high with Copenhagen (COP-15) in 2009, the hopeful were left bewildered as efforts to establish a framework for the second phase of the Kyoto Protocol took a back seat to the global financial crisis.  My friend and mentor, David Victor (UCSD faculty), published an amazing book titled, “Beyond Global Gridlock”. To understand why Kyoto missed the green mark, and why an effective global climate change policy is so elusive to even our planet’s brightest minds, you must read David Victor’s book.

Of course, like most, I would love to see a binding agreement sooner rather than later. However, the “Durban Accords”, like the Cancun Accords, will likely be a commitment to continue to engage in the process, not a push for a tangible result. Even this modest prediction may be too optimistic. Numerous countries are already threatening to breakaway from Kyoto; namely, Canada, Japan, and Russia. The United States, though positive about the goals of reducing global emissions, has always remained on the regulatory sidelines. The EU sits at the center of the effort to mitigate, looking for core support from other major economies. And it is left wanting.

Meanwhile, the trajectory of global emissions and the plight of the vulnerable countries (i.e. food security, access to water, flooding, etc) are becoming exceedingly worse.

Broadly, the topics being intensely debated at this conference are: How can the global community launch the second round of Kyoto commitments? What will replace the Kyoto Protocol and will all major economies participate? How to finance the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to reach US$100bn/year by 2020? Can reduced emissions thru deg. and deforest. (REDD+) improve gender equality? What to do about clean technology transfer, including a clear definition?

Come along with me to explore these issues, learn of new innovations and meet the individuals working to save our planet and our quality of life.