Archive for November 2009
Talk, from casual to argumentative form, has exhaustively covered environmental issues, climate change, global warming, or whatever political term you choose to describe the past, current, and future state of the planet. A lot of good has come from talking but at the same time, a lot of talking can lead to gridlock action (action = policy, decision making, implementation, regulation, etc..). I do not know what the talks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) will produce but there will be a lot of talk. As I will be making the trip to Denmark in just over a week to observe the largest congregation of nations discussing climate action, I am preparing myself to be overwhelmed with the complexity of talk surrounding the negotiation and design of global climate policy. Every environmental organization and interest group who can afford the trip will be present and talking in one form or another which will either create an endless learning environment for synthesizing information or the competition for attention will overpower the important take away messages. It will be interesting to see this dynamic in action. As for me, I will be doing a lot of listening.
At some point there is enough talk, assuming it is well supported scientifically, to make informed decisions. Decision making is the most actionable component of “talk” from which real action results. In global talks, infinite amounts of “good” information may never result in an agreeable decision as there are so many interests, but on smaller scales, decisions are made every day by individuals, households, businesses, and governments. In some cases, those who are responsible for making decisions in prevention for, or response to, climate change do not have the resources to make informed decisions. In response to the need for better tools to aid in the communication between scientists, who may or may not be the “talkers”, and decision makers, the climate services sector is emerging. Being a new type of service there is much to be learned and improved upon and it is in my interest to be an effective leader in furthering the communication between those who provide information and those who use it in decision making in order to have a positive impact on the environment.
Will backroom negotiations during President Obama’s trip to China yield unexpected results in Copenhagen? See Richard Wolffe’s report at the Daily Beast.
I see a lot of things over my Facebook feed that annoys me. Usually I just ignore most of it as a sort of white noise that comes with having a Facebook. However, today I saw something that caught my attention. A fellow student at Alma College posted a link that proved that climate change was false. Obviously, if there is definite proof that climate change was false I wanted to see it. I was disappointed to see that the link did not take me to a journal article but rather a webpage for one Roger Hedgecock. Mr. Hedgecock makes some pretty extravagant claims in his post. Rather than summarizing them I am going to directly rebuttal his article piece by piece. (more…)
My name is Merry Walker and I’m attending the COP 15 as a University of Michigan College of Engineering representative. I am absolutely honored to be a delegate for Michigan and hope to gain insight into how science/technology influences policy-making on issues that are inherently science-based but policy-influenced. I believe that government interactions are absolutely crucial to the long-term success of many technical interventions. The complex relationship between technology, business, and policy has slowly been revealing itself to me over time as I’ve been actively seeking opportunities to take classes, attend conferences, and explore new avenues. These experiences have all made me much more aware that the decisions and recommendations that I make as an engineer must make sense in the overall scape of things. Its with this that I enter my next stage of life wondering where I would like to take my career–toward technology or policy. I hope that I don’t have to chose one over the other and that I can combine my passion for policy with my appreciation for engineering. This trip to Copenhagen should help further my understand of how I can strategically blend the two of these important, but all too often disjointed, fields.
The University of Michigan received official observer status for United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Copenhagen from December 7-18, 2009. I am very happy to be part of the University’s delegation that will participate in this year’s Conference of the Parties (COP-15).
As a civil and environmental engineering student, I am trained by my professor’s to apply math and science in solving problems that people face worldwide. I trust that to do this adequately we must pursue an interdisciplinary approach and should integrate information from several fields.
By attending the UN Climate Change Convention I hope to better understand the integration of science and policy. I believe this is an opportunity to place my background in science and technology in a global legislative context.
The exposure to numerous resources, publications and material on several subjects and listening to great debates related to climate change issues will benefit me directly but given my interest in the area I hope to share these ideas with others through this blog.
The intention of the UNFCCC is to negotiate and ratify an international climate agreement and the framework to reduce global emissions that would begin in 2012, the end of the first commitment of the Kyoto Protocol. Over 10,000 people from nearly 200 countries will convene in Copenhagen to express their ideas, advocate and negotiate this commitment to stabilize GHG at a level that prevents climate change.
“At UNFCCC climate change refers to a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and that is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.” (IPCC AR4)
Climate change can be a divisive topic; however, I hope that at COP-15 all participants arrive with an attitude of cooperation.
The Kyoto Protocol is a commitment that sets binding targets for each country to reduce GHG. Each country has different targets but the goal is to collectively reduce GHG by an average of about 5% against 1990 levels during the period of 2008-2012. This is “common but differentiated responsibility.”
Countries must meet their targets through national measures but the Kyoto Protocol helps them by allowing Emissions Trading (Carbon Market), clean development mechanisms (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI).
Although negotiated by many countries in December 1997, the Kyoto Protocol did not come into effect until 2005. This shows the difficulty in trying to pass environmental legislation.
There are several key factors to consider in setting environmental legislation including: the environmental goal, potential impact, existing laws, financial impact and political system. Passing environmental legislation is quite difficult because it is constantly met with an opposition that fears financial losses or difficulty implementing it.
In fact, during a Energy and Policy class lecture, our guest speaker, a VP of environmental management and resources at a prominent energy industry and committee member of Business Environmental Leadership Council of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, the Board of the Council of Great Lakes Industries, Michigan Sustainable Business Form, among others, suggested that no environmental requirement passes that does not provide financial gain to someone. I would be interested in knowing if there is a correlation between a country’s GDP and their environmental requirements.
I hope that through the COP-15 we can change our mentality such that we integrate environmental requirements and financial gain instead of holding them in opposition. I will be interested in learning how our environment and natural resources can be more adequately valued to reflect financial gains.