Activists do it locally - Mar 30
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Denmark: Embracing a clean green dream
Mitch Potter, The Star (Canada)
COPENHAGEN - An inner-city harbour with water so clean the fish are for eating and the beaches for swimming. Offshore wind farms in the waters beyond, piped to the power grid on two generations of Danish brainpower. Underfoot, a district heating network that squeezes every possible joule of warmth from some of the world's most efficient electricity plants, keeping 97 per cent of Copenhagen toasty.
And here on the ground, a city where cyclists outnumber motorists during the downtown commute on close to 400 kilometres of dedicated lanes so safe that the vast majority don't even bother wearing helmets, which aren't mandatory anyway.
At first glance, Copenhagen is everything the brochure says: a hand-shaped city where each finger of suburb is separated by green space and in each fingerbone, a transit corridor of trains and buses, car and bike lanes to the central palm, where many of the globe's deepest environmental thinkers can be found.
Or so it all seems, through North American eyes.
(29 March 2008)
Vermont: Taking a baby step in the right direction
Carl Etnier, Barre Montpelier Times-Argus
Earlier this month, Gov. James Douglas signed the Vermont Energy Efficiency and Affordability Act, a version of which he vetoed last year. ... What resulted is a bill with noble but insufficient goals and too little funding to achieve those goals.
To be sure, the new law contains an abundance of provisions that move Vermont forward incrementally on many energy-related fronts that Douglas did not actively oppose last year.
... The real sticking point between Douglas and the Legislature last year came in funding building efficiency. Douglas opposed investing in efficiency, even though a study commissioned by his own administration showed it was an incredibly beneficial investment.
A report to the state showed that every dollar spent improving building efficiency would result in more than three dollars in savings for Vermonters - based on a per-barrel oil price of $44 and that was projected to fall through 2015.
With oil now at $100 per barrel and expected to rise, the payback from efficiency would be even greater than 3-to-1. There is also the multiplier effect of keeping money in Vermont's economy; money spent on oil to heat buildings inefficiently leaves the state, whereas Vermont workers get paid to make buildings more efficient.
Rising energy prices take a bigger bite out of Vermonters' pocketbooks than rising taxes.
... The dollars Vermont families export for fossil fuels could otherwise stay in the Vermont economy, supporting our neighbors and our quality of life while buoying savings and local investment. By any standard, importing fossil fuels imposes a large tax on the Vermont economy. Even excluding the cost of transportation fuels, the statewide bill for fossil fuels in 2008 will be about $300 million larger than the dollars brought into the state by the entire agricultural sector, including dairy, in recent years."
Last year, the Legislature proposed to tax the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant at the same proposed rate for wind turbines, which would have created $12 million to $15 million in new revenues to invest in building efficiency each year, once the tax was fully phased in. Douglas opposed bringing Vermont Yankee's taxes in line with those for commercial wind power (which he doesn't want to see in Vermont anyway).
Carl Etnier, director of Peak Oil Awareness, blogs at vtcommons.org/blog and hosts radio shows on WGDR, 91.1 FM Plainfield and WDEV 96.1 FM/550 AM, Waterbury. He can be reached at EnergyMattersVermont(at)yahoo.com.
(30 March 2008)
This essay by peak oil activist and EB contributor Carl Etnier appears on the front page of the newspaper's "Perspective" section, alongside a column about the same bill by Vermont Governor James Douglas. -BA
Portland (Maine) Releases Sustainability Report
Nicole Clegg, Sustainable Portland Taskforce
Portland Releases Sustainability Report City taskforce creates a roadmap for a sustainable economy, environment, and community in Portland
PORTLAND, Maine - Today, the Sustainable Portland Taskforce released its Sustainable Portland Report and summary. The report outlines strategies and goals to pursue in order to create and support a more sustainable city. The taskforce evaluated the progress already made in the City including partnering with Clean Air-Cool Planet to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the use of bio-diesel by City vehicles, and the creation of more than thirty miles of new recreational trails.
“Climate change, rising energy costs, and economic growth are the key challenges of our time,” stated City Councilor James Cohen. “The Sustainable Portland taskforce spent over a year reviewing the important work that has been done - and what must be done in the future -- to ensure a healthy community, economy, and environment for Portland over the long-term. Portland has been a city for more than 350 years, and the Sustainable Portland report gives us a blueprint for how Portland can succeed for another 350 years.” ...