In a week where Arctic ice has reached a new low and food prices have spiked due to severe droughts in Europe and the United States it feels strange to think that progress is being made in the fight against global climate change. However, over the last couple of weeks four big initiatives have been announced that have potential to make a significant dent in our collective carbon footprint.
Last week, China announced it will spend some $372 billion on clean energy, energy efficiency, and reducing its use of the dirtiest of fossil fuels: coal. Its announcement also made clear that:
Seven Chinese cities and provinces will launch CO2 emissions trading schemes over the next two years ahead of a national scheme later in the decade. (Reuters)
The country is currently the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions.
On Tuesday, Australia and the European Union announced a partnership to create the world’s largest carbon market, which will begin trading by 2015. Harvard environmental economist Robert Stavins encouragingly described the move in an interview:
Given the relatively primitive state of climate change policy around the world, especially considering the scope of the problem, this is a very significant step forward. (Atlantic Cities)
For those keeping score at home, when California’s carbon trading system opens in November it will be the world’s second largest.
Finally, this week the United States stepped up and delivered a big one-two punch:
President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Thursday that would increase the number of cogeneration plants in the U.S. by 50 percent by 2020, a move that would boost U.S. industrial energy efficiency and slash carbon emissions by 150 million tons per year.
Thursday’s executive order came just two days after the White House finalized a rule - developed with U.S. automakers - that would double fuel efficiency standards for automobiles and light trucks to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The EPA said the car efficiency standards will be the most effective domestic policy in place to curb greenhouse gas emissions, cutting as much as 6 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2025.” (Reuters)
Together these initiatives are significant because they include the countries with the largest carbon footprints
, which must be in leadership roles if we are to get a handle on this predicament. We definitely have a long, long way to go and have some epic challenges
before us. But, more and more people seem to be waking up, learning about where we are at, talking with others about it, and then making changes. Positive changes.
In essence, what I’m trying to get across is that it’s important to celebrate the positives. Dwelling on the bad news about our climate and the health of our planet and society can be counterproductive and self-defeating. Instead of feeling stuck, now more than ever I think we need to be awake and aware. Ready to adapt to what’s already in the pipe while finding new, old, and otherwise ways of remaking our homes, our food, our transportation, our cities, our economies, our institutions, and even our thinking that allow us to use energy, ecosystems, and other resources more creatively and wisely over the long term. As Charles Darwin is quoted, but apparently misattributed
"It is not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."
Those are my two bits for now. Have a good long weekend!
(Photo source: Clean Technica