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A Sensible Alternative: Toward an International Energy Transition Plan

Andrew McKillop, Raise The Hammer
We need international and multilateral institutions and measures to deal with the terminal crisis of cheap fossil energy. Part One of a two-part series.
The ideological trap of market-only mechanisms is one reason the Kyoto Treaty is likely unworkable. ..

Now embodied by the World Bank’s Carbon Finance Corporation, these measures, which are essentially porkbarrel gifts to market traders and players, started in February 2005 and are already an opaque, unproductive but very profitable sideshow, operated by a happy few with a licence to print money and a supreme disinterest in achieving real world reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Any kind of constraining legislation for reducing emissions is treated as Stalinist interference with freedom. When the Peak Oil crisis hits, this ideological handicap will surely be thrown aside and replaced by ‘courageous’ – Stalinist – heavy-handed legislation to cut oil use by forced rationing.

Oil prices will zigzag to far-out highs, and the economy will crash. The economy will stay down because world oil supply will fall every year.

What we need instead of this scenario are international and multilateral institutions and measures to deal with the terminal crisis of cheap fossil energy, including both demand side and supply side action.

Demand side cuts are urgent in the high-energy economies and supply side action in the shape of coordinated, big-scale, international development of renewables is necessary worldwide.
(20 Sep 2006)
Mr McKillop goes on to argue for an International Energy Transition Plan that reduces oil intensity (while recognising ‘two types of countries’) and complete energy resource assessments. Part one of two.
As he points out, a Kyoto-type process and timeline (13 years?) is not going to suffice; if you want something done.. -LJ

Bloomberg Sustainability Announcement

StreetsBlog (NYC)
As we reported this morning, Mayor Bloomberg is in California with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to make a major policy announcement on a major, long-term, environmental sustainability initiative. The key components of the Mayor’s plan include:
* The creation of the Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability.
* The undertaking of a major greenhouse gas inventory for City government and the City overall.
* The appointment of a Sustainability Advisory Board to advise the City on environmentally sound policies and practices.
* The creation of a new partnership with the Earth Institute of Columbia
University to provide the City with scientific research and advice on
environmental and climate change-related issues.

Here are some of the more interesting snippets from the City’s press release:

The announcement took place during a visit with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale, California, where the Mayor and Governor talked about the State of California’s groundbreaking sustainability initiatives.

“Now, we intend to make New York City a national leader in meeting the challenge of making ours an environmentally sustainable city. >b>To make New York a truly sustainable city, we need a bold plan to use our land in the smartest way possible,” Bloomberg said (Editor: Clearly the Mayor here is referring to this morning’s Park(ing) Squat in Midtown).

The Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability is led by Director Rohit T. Aggarwala the Office’s mission is three-fold: to help develop a plan for the City’s long-term growth and development, to integrate sustainability goals and practices into every aspect of that plan; and to make New York City government a “green” organization.

The Mayor announced the launch of an unprecedented effort to measure the entire carbon emissions of New York City. This much broader effort, with a target completion date within six months, will give us the first picture of the total carbon impact of everyone who lives in, works in, or visits New York City.

(21 Sep 2006)

Energy rebounds and amplifications

Alex Steffen, WorldChanging
Morgan Williams taught me about a couple key concepts at Balaton: energy rebounds and energy amplifications.

Increased energy efficiency is an obvious good, allowing us to do more of the things we want to do at less cost and with a smaller ecological footprint. But it turns out that for a variety of reasons, people rarely merely implement improved energy efficiency and get on with their lives. Instead, one of two things often happens: either they end up again using more energy (their energy use “rebounds”), or the start down a path where they use even less energy (their energy efficiency is “amplified”).
(21 Sep 2006)

Physicist Takes Energy Efficiency From Theory to Practice

Lonny Shavelson, Voice of America
Berkeley, California – Particle physicist Arthur Rosenfeld shows off a compact fluorescent light
Eighty-year-old particle physicist Arthur Rosenfeld began his career slamming atomic nuclei together at the University of California at Berkeley. Then he moved to a new job: working with refrigerators and light bulbs. That second job, he says, has really paid off to the tune of $800 billion in energy savings from inventions and innovations in his lab. They did that by making refrigerators more efficient. He explains that the appliances used to consume 2000 kilowatt hours of energy a year. “At today’s prices,” he says, “[that] would cost about $250 a year. [Now we’re down] to 450 [kilowatt hours a year].”

You can even hear the difference. Refrigerators from 30 years ago are very noisy. “The 1973 refrigerator was actually a remarkably light and cheap piece of junk,” Rosenfeld observes. “And the motors were incredibly inefficient.” So Rosenfeld got to work, and the sound of his refrigerator, and all American refrigerators today, is quiet.

…But forget about money for a moment. It’s the energy savings, the lack of pollution, the decreased — but still very real — dependence on foreign oil, that count. And Rosenfeld says those gains will need to keep pace with the growing number of energy users in the world. “We’ve done well, but we’re only one half or one quarter of potential savings if we really took it seriously.”
(18 Sept 2006)
Audio available at original.

Heinberg & Holmgren Australia Tour

Global Public Media
Richard Heinberg and David Holmgren recently completed a speaking tour of the capital cities of Australia, discussing oil depletion and permaculture. You can listen to the presentations and download the PDFs from Perth here.
(24 Aug 2006)

$20 trillion bill to save world from fuel crisis
R.Hirsch in London

Steven Voss, Bloomberg/Business Report
London – The world needs to spend $1 trillion (R7.3 trillion) a year on alternative fuels, starting 20 years before the peak in conventional oil production, in order to mitigate fuel shortages, according to a US energy department study. ..

Hirsch, a senior energy programme adviser at research and engineering firm Science Applications International, told the Oil and Money conference in London yesterday that the effort required was similar to “the race for the moon”, and consumers could not rely on oil firms alone to make the right decisions and investments. ..

“It’s not that it’s not out there, but converting it from a resource to a reserve and a reserve to production capacity is a very slow process,” Sadad Ibrahim al-Husseini, retired executive vice-president at Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil exporter, told reporters at the conference. ..
(20 Sept 2006)