This month, you can catch up on our latest work when an interview with our own Peter Eisenberger and me airs on CNBC and Fox Business.
The 21st Century Television interview with Peter and me helps explain the carbon market and Global Thermostat’s role, and it examines the technology we are using to confront global warming.
The program will air on CNBC June 11 at 11:30 pm PT and on Fox Business June 22 at 8:30 am PT.
“Technology is often touted as the savior that will rescue us from our misbegotten ways, redeem us and put us on the track to utopia.” This article by David Doody examines ways technology can help us address pressing global issues. To read the full article, which discusses Global Thermostat’s work capturing carbon, click here.
Below, you will find Graciela Chichilnisky’s response to the following question from the Climate Experts’ Forum:
There was progress last week on technical matters such as forestry credits, technology transfer and, importantly, the EU’s fast-start financing commitment – but now that the ministers have arrived, Copenhagen talks are getting down to the central issues of binding emissions agreements and long-term financing. Was last week largely a waste of time?
The first week of the Copenhagen summit was somewhat chaotic and mostly about positioning – not very helpful. From my point of view it was difficult but very valuable.
The first week of the Conventions of the Parties always focuses on ‘technical issues’ in preparation for the political ministers’ meetings during the second week. At Copenhagen the first week ended yesterday – Monday. After a long and arduous week of negotiations I was able to introduce new wording into the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) about ”negative carbon” technologies that could qualify for funding under the carbon makret and CDM process that has allocated so far about $25bn to developing nations. Negative carbon is necessary for the low emitting nations – Africa, Latin America and the small island states – to get significant funding from the Clean Development Mechanism for clean development, adaptation and mitigation. This was not possible until now.
The new wording may change all this. So far CDM funding has mostly gone to the large emitters, such as China and India – because they have more emissions to reduce. Africa, for example, emits only 3% of the global emissions and has little to reduce. With negative carbon technologies however Africa could reduce 20% of the carbon in the atmosphere – namely it can reduce much more than it emits. On this basis the low emitter nations can be significant assisted by the CDM – and can become important contributors to resolving climate change risks.
There are several ‘negative carbon’ examples involving projects that reduce more carbon from the atmosphere than what they emit:
For example, REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is carbon negative, another example is a technology that “sucks carbon from air” and was recently advocated by Dr Pachauri of the International Panel on Climate Change as being necessary for averting climate change at this late stage of the game. One can build power plants that suck carbon from air, reducing atmospheric carbon while they produce electricity. With the wording we now introduced during the first week of the negotiations – I expect a solution for the climate negotiations that involves building power plants that suck carbon from air in Africa, Latin America and the small island states. This would involve a $200bn-a-year fund – underwritten by the OECD nations with private funding – for the purpose of building power plants in low emitter nations for development, adaptation and mitigation. This can also create new jobs and expand exports in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations, all together a win-win solution for the world economy. A private-public fund of about $200bn a year would suffice to get positive results all around – a possibility that negative carbon technologies have now made possible. I will be working on this solutions from now on, as part of the CDM process.
Graciela Chichilniskyis the architect of the carbon market of the Kyoto Protocol and the co-author of Saving Kyoto.
To read all responses, please visit the Climate Experts’ Forum
By Graciela Chichilnisky
Director, Columbia Consortium for Risk Management, and Professor of Economics and Statistics, Columbia University
The opportunity at this junction is for wealthy nations to help themselves while assisting developing nations to build their own energy infrastructure — and at the same time help avert climate change.
Developing nations need energy to protect themselves from the extremes of climate change, as well as to develop and fight against poverty. Adaptation and mitigation efforts need energy. The International Energy Agency reports that the largest increases in energy demand in the next decades will come from developing nations, rather than from wealthy nations.
This situation provides a uniquely profitable opportunity for U.S. energy industry to help build power plants where they are needed most, focusing the industry’s efforts in regions of the world with the largest increases in energy demand. Clean energy is of course a great new area of business, and it includes building solar, wind and other clean power plants, all of which increase energy available without producing emissions. The strategy is one of the smartest moves that the energy industry can make at this stage. As reported by Rep. Markey, for example, a recent McKinsey study noted that 80 percent of India’s 2030 infrastructure remains to be built.
This strategic opportunity for the energy industry was discussed since the first days of the Copenhagen conference.
But there is a further opportunity that has not yet been observed, and has the potential to transform the investment strategies of the energy industry worldwide while helping the poorest developing nations achieve funding for their infrastructure from the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol. It could help resolve the current impasse between the industrial and developing nations about funding for adaptation and mitigation of the extreme damages produced by climate change.
All that is needed to achieve what is proposed here is the adoption of appropriate emissions limits to continue existing ones post 2013. Because of the carbon market, such limits will automatically unleash the positive business changes that reported below.
New technologies that suck carbon from air are available today, as reported recently by Dr. Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These technologies allow power plants that co-generate power production with carbon capture from air to be built. The approach has the ability to suck more carbon than what is produced, namely produce “negative carbon” – or a “carbon sink” namely an area that absorbs more carbon than it emits.
Power plants of this sort could be built with funding from the Kyoto Protocol Clean Development Mechanism, as they clean the atmosphere. The process can also be very profitable for the energy industry, as it adds the value of carbon credits to the value of the electricity sold when built in poor nations. This can make the world’s energy industry a best friend of the environment as well as a major investor in developing nations energy infrastructure.
The solution proposed here favors the wealthy nations’ energy industry, as it increases its exports and creates domestic employment. It also favors the developing nations who get to build new energy infrastructure. When coupled with the “negative carbon feature” that is mentioned above, this ensures that funding can be achieved from the Kyoto Protocol mechanism for regions such as Africa, Latin America and the Small Island States that until now could get little in terms of CDM investments. With this approach these nations can capture more carbon than they emit.
The approach is therefore attractive to developing nations as well as to private investors in developed nations who routinely invest in the energy field.
On this basis, I have proposed the creation of a $200 bn/year private fund to be underwritten by OECD nations (so as to reduce the largest slide of risk) designed to build power plants that suck carbon from air in the poorest nations of Africa, Latin America and Small Island States.
These plants can sell power as well as carbon credits, thus obtaining funding for their development. Developing nations from low emitting regions can be compensated with carbon credits for reducing more carbon than what they emit (negative carbon). The fund I propose could well become a solution for the current impasse in Copenhagen, as it will bring substantial funding and energy that are needed for adaptation and mitigation in developing nations. It will also favor employment creation and exports from OECD nations, and would be part of a strategy of focusing in demand growth areas that favors the world’s energy industry in OECD nations.
I welcome Rep. Markey’s response to the proposal presented here, and how it could perhaps help the passage of his excellent climate change bill when it goes to Senate.