Who’s Getting it Right on Climate Change?

נשלח 17 במאי 2014, 3:23 על ידי Sustainability Org   [ עודכן 17 במאי 2014, 3:23 ]
Bill Moyers, May 9, 2014

On Moyers & Company this week, environmentalist David Suzuki tells Bill that even as the United States continues to procrastinate tackling climate change, other countries are taking steps toward cutting their emissions and preparing for a more volatile climate future. And in many cases, their efforts have succeeded without the negative economic repercussions that America’s politicians fret over.

The David Suzuki Foundation, a nonprofit group founded by the scientist to research and promote sustainability, gave us a few examples of successful tactics that countries (and a few cities in North America) are using to fight climate change that the US might want to take a closer look at. They note, however, that there “isn’t a country in the world that’s on track to reduce emissions to the extent needed to keep global warming under 2 degrees Celsius (3.7 Fahrenheit)” — the target experts hoped we would meet to avoid the worst effects of climate change


Sweden

One of Europe's tallest wooden buildings, an apartment complex in Vaxjo, Sweden, is seen under construction on August 20, 2007. (AP Photo/John McConnico)

One of Europe's tallest wooden buildings, an apartment complex in Vaxjo, Sweden, is seen under construction on August 20, 2007. (AP Photo/John McConnico)

Sweden has one of the strongest carbon taxes in the world. Instituted in 1991, the tax has enabled the Swedes to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent more than what regulations alone might have achieved, the Swedish Ministry of the Environment estimates. At the same time, the Swedish economy grew by 44 percent. As a result, Sweden was able to achieve its 2012 target under the Kyoto protocol, performing best out of all EU nations. The tax also encouraged sustainable methods of heating buildings, and heating oil use has declined dramatically.

Though the US has considered a national carbon tax, it is nearly impossible that it would pass Congress — even though it’s estimated that a “cap and trade” tax could raise $1 trillion over the course of a decade. California and the Northeastern US do have working “cap and trade” programs in place.


Norway

Norway's "doomsday" seed vault has been built to protect millions of food crops from climate change, wars and natural disasters. (AP Photo/John McConnico)

Norway's "doomsday" seed vault, built to protect millions of food crops from climate change, wars and natural disasters. (AP Photo/John McConnico)

In 2009, Norway pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emission levels by 40 percent of 1990 levels, stepping beyond the EU’s pledge to cut emissions by 20 percent. The country has a few means of achieving these goals; for one, Norway has some of the highest gasoline prices in the world, the result of hefty taxes on petroleum. Norway also has the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, which the government is using to research sustainability. Ironically, the fund is largely the result of the country’s oil wealth.

Each US state currently taxes gasoline — Pennsylvania’s tax is highest — but nowhere near the levels Norwegians are used to. According to the World Bank, while Americans pay roughly $3.67 per gallon, Norwegians pay $9.57.


Germany

Electricity poles and wind turbines in Nauen, near Berlin, Germany, seen on October 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Ferdinand Ostrop, File)

Electricity poles and wind turbines in Nauen, near Berlin, Germany, seen on October 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Ferdinand Ostrop, File)

Germany has some of the strictest building codes and sustainable energy-encouraging laws in the world. The country requires energy-efficiency upgrades to buildings and increased use of renewable energy sources among electricity providers. It also provides financial incentives through subsidies and loans to reduce energy consumption in buildings at all levels of government; at the national level, the funds come from a public investment bank, created for this purpose, sponsored by the German government. The country tries to promote these projects through energy performance certificates and by supporting model projects across Germany.

Some American cities have also pushed sustainable building design — New York City and Portland, Oregon, are two notable examples — as well as many states. Nonprofit groups have also sought to encourage green building through LEED certification. (You can search for a green, LEED building near you.


France

Water vapour billows from smokestacks at the incineration plant of Ivry-sur-Seine in the outskirts of Paris on Thursday, December 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Water vapour billows from smokestacks at the incineration plant of Ivry-sur-Seine in the outskirts of Paris on Thursday, December 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

France’s ambitious environmental policy is aimed mainly at cutting greenhouse gas emissions, with the government committed to reducing such gasses by 75 percent by 2050. France has banned fracking, even though it has the greatest potential, along with Poland, for recoverable shale gas in Europe. After protests by environmental groups, France cancelled exploration licenses held by two oil companies in 2011.
Last month, France’s new energy and environment minister said in a press conference that she wanted to accelerate investment in renewable energies like wind, solar, biomass and marine energy, and to improve the country’s insulation of buildings, in part, through providing financing for better insulating low-income housing.

America is in the midst of a natural gas boom and fracking is an extremely popular method of extraction. But several towns across the US have banned it, and New York state has refused to allow it until at least April 2015. Efforts are also underway to ban fracking in California.


China

A Chinese worker dusts solar panels at the Shandong Hilight Solar Co. Ltd. factory in Zouping county in east China's Shandong province on 23 October 2013. (Dong naide / Imaginechina via AP)

A Chinese worker dusts solar panels at the Shandong Hilight Solar Co. Ltd. factory in Zouping county in east China's Shandong province on 23 October 2013. (Dong naide / Imaginechina via AP)

With pollution levels alarmingly high in a number of its cities, China has taken aggressive steps to clean up its skies. In fact, China has become the leading investor in the global trillion-dollar renewable energy market, knocking the US into second place. China has also installed more clean energy technologies — such as solar panels and wind turbines — than any other country. In 2013, it spent $4.3 billion to install 62 million smart meters, devices that communicate directly with energy suppliers and help to reduce pollution. In response to the pollution plaguing its cities, the government has set up a $1.65 billion fund aimed at reducing fossil-fuel consumption in its most polluted cities.

California, United States

Vehicles line up at a Shell station in Sacramento, California on Friday, March 7, 2014. California is first state to regulate motor vehicles for their contributions to global climate change (fact check needed). (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Vehicles line up at a Shell station in Sacramento, California on Friday, March 7, 2014. California is first state to regulate motor vehicles for their contributions to global climate change (fact check needed). (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California’s historic AB1493 was the first law in the country to tackle the issue of greenhouse emissions from automobiles head on. Under the law, automakers that produced cars and small trucks were required to significantly cut down on greenhouse emissions — 22 percent less by 2012 and 30 percent by 2016. The standards laid the groundwork for national standards, announced in 2012, that require American-made cars and light trucks to average 34.5 mpg by 2016, and the US auto fleet to average 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

British Columbia, Canada

English Bay, Vancouver, BC

British Columbia’s carbon tax has helped bring down the province’s emissions by 19 per cent per capita compared to the rest of Canada (fact check needed). (Wikimedia Commons)

British Columbia’s carbon tax — which took effect in 2008 — has been characterized as the heftiest in the Western Hemisphere. It has helped reduce the province’s emissions by 19 per cent per capita, compared to the rest of Canada, and fuel consumption has declined an estimated 15 to 17 percent. Over the same period, the BC economy outperformed the country on the whole.

In fact, British Columbia has joined with three American states — Washington, Oregon and California — to devise the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy; their plan is to cut greenhouse gas emissions — particularly those related to transportation — and strengthen infrastructure, creating a united West Coast. These jurisdictions collectively represent 53 million people, and an economic region with a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion — making it the world’s fifth-largest economy.


Bogota, Colombia

Residents bike to their destinations on the annual car-free day in Bogota, Colombia, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Residents bike to their destinations on the annual car-free day in Bogota, Colombia, Thursday, February 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Fernando Vergara)

Sustainable transport is this city’s key to fame, with over 300 km of bike paths crisscrossing the town. At the center of it is a network of paths, or “ciclovías,” open on Sundays and holidays, that attract millions of bikers, skaters, joggers and walkers. This infrastructure has reduced traffic and created health, environment and economic benefits. Bogota has been described as a “Happy City” where urban design initiatives have promoted its citizens’ wellbeing.

The city’s ciclovías have inspired numerous other cities to follow suit, including New York. Across the US, increasing numbers of commuters are choosing to bike to work, in part because of the growing number of bike routes through American cities.


Source: billmoyers.com


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