It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here: Putting Climate Change Warning Labels on Gas Pumps (Video)

Here’s an idea whose time has come. 

A proposal to bring climate change home through cigarette style warning labels on gas pumps. Presented by an impressive and well informed 16-year-old in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. 

The non-profit organization promoting the labels explains

We’re running out of time with climate change. We need something to shake us out of our sense of complacency. This is it. The labels create feedback by taking faraway consequences – like famine, the extinction of species and extreme weather – and bringing them into the here and now. Their placement on a gas nozzle reminds us that we each contribute to the problem by locating responsibility right in the palm of your hand. Finally, the idea captures the hidden costs of fossil fuel use in a qualitative way; the labels provide information to the marketplace to engage our sense of humanity in a way that a price increase of a few pennies at the pump never will.

If you think this is a good idea: reblog it and share it with your friends and family. Even better share it with them and your city or town’s elected officials too.

(Photos: Our HorizonVideo: Our Horizon via YouTube)

From Xinhaunet:

China will proactively introduce a set of new taxation policies designed to preserve the environment, including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, according to a senior official with the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

China is among the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gas and has set goals for cutting emissions. The government has vowed to reduce carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic output, by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 in comparison to 2005 levels.

Check out the rest of the article here.


• ‘China is getting serious about taming coal’ (Grist)

Tools for Change: ‘Smart Environmental Policy with Full-Cost Pricing’

From The Pacific Institute of Climate Solutions via YouTube:

Canada’s natural resources, ecosystems and wildlife are indispensable to the sustainability of our planet and economy. Despite this, both the public and private sectors do not adequately consider the environmental consequences of production and consumption when calculating their bottom line. There is a growing need for full-cost pricing, a system that adjusts market prices to reflect not only the direct costs of goods and services, but also their impact on our country’s natural capital. Presenting the findings of a March 2012 paper, Dr. Olewiler argues that the onus is on the federal government to create the conditions for full-cost pricing to succeed.

Nancy Olewiler is the Director of the School of Public Policy at Simon Fraser University. Her areas of research include natural resource and environmental economics and policy. She has published extensively, written two widely used textbooks (The Economics of Natural Resource Use and Environmental Economics), and produced numerous reports for the Canadian federal and provincial governments, including studies on energy and climate policy, natural capital, and federal business tax policy. Nancy is the Chair of the TransLink Board of Directors, and has previously served on the boards of BC Hydro and several of its subsidiaries. She is also a member of advisory committees for Statistics Canada, WWF-Canada, Sustainable Prosperity and the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions. 

The Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions has lots of other great solutions oriented talks here


(Graphic source: TEEB4me)

There are two ways to level the energy playing field. The first is to internalize the almost unmeasurably dire cost of fossil fuels, which as a byproduct of their use are radically altering the planet’s climate in ways increasingly inimicable to life as we know it, through carbon taxes and cap-and-trade schemes and such. In Germany, doing this to a sufficient level to make coal more expensive than renewable power would’ve made the domestic coal industry furious. It would’ve been a ferocious political battle. So the Germans under the left-wing Red-Green Coalition in 2000 went another way.

The other way – which gave rise to the feed-in tariff – is to incentivize renewable energy sufficiently to offset the avoided cost of the greenhouse gas it doesn’t create. In a sense, you’re internalizing the practice that has emerged in carbon-priced markets worldwide, in which polluters buy offsets from green energy facilities. Instead of doing such elaborate market gymnastics, you simply build the desired offset into the green energy price through a pricing obligation. Grid operators in countries like Germany buy wind and solar and other renewably generated power at costs high above the cost of coal-fired power, and the added cost is passed on to consumers. In the case of the German energy market, the average household saw energy bills rise by about 40 euros per year (fifty bucks or so) in the first decade of the feed-in tariff.

Writer Chris Turner explains the “two way to level the energy playing field” in his MNN article, 'What have we learned about cheap energy?' 

(‘Renewable Electricity Generation in Germany’ graph: Volker Quaschning via Clean Technica)

From The Montreal Gazette:

Environment Minister Pierre Arcand announced the official adoption of Quebec’s cap-and-trade system to fight climate change Thursday – three days after what Arcand called the federal government’s “utterly regrettable” announcement that Canada will withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol.

Arcand said if industrialized countries abandon Kyoto – the lone legally binding international agreement on greenhouse gas reduction – it becomes all the more crucial for states and provinces to take legislative action to reduce emissions quickly.

Arcand said the cap-and-trade system will be good not just for the climate, but for the economy.

“With the adoption of this legislation, Quebec is positioning itself at the starting line, beside California,” he told a news conference Thursday at Montreal’s Biosphere.

“We are participating in the emergence of an economic tool that will transform one of the most significant environmental challenges of the 21st century into a real trampoline toward a green, prosperous and sustainable economy.”

States and provinces, through endeavours like the Western Climate Initiative, are acting independently to create a linked North American market for carbon credits, which aim to reduce emissions, encourage investment in clean energy technologies, create green jobs and improve public health.

California became the first state to adopt a cap-and-trade program in October, and like Quebec’s system, it comes into full effect in January 2013.

Check out the rest of the article here

    (Photo credit: Globe & Mail)

    From Business Green:

    China looks set to impose a direct tax on its largest greenhouse gas emitters by 2015, according to reports in state media.

    Proposals for an environmental tax are being reviewed by the Ministry of Finance and are expected to come into force before the end of the 2011-2015 five-year plan, the state news agency Xinhua reported today, citing government sources.

    The prospective tax is the latest in a series of measures from the Chinese government designed to curb the country’s soaring greenhouse gas emissions, which oil giant BP recently estimated made up a quarter of the world’s total in 2010.

    Most notably, the country’s latest five year plan includes targets to reduce carbon intensity, the amount of CO2 produced per unit of GDP, by 17 per cent from 2011 to 2015.

    To ensure the target is met the government has launched wide-ranging incentives to drive investment in low carbon energy, introduced tough new fuel and energy efficiency standards, and piloted carbon trading mechanisms in several provinces.

    Check out the rest of the article here.

    (Photo credit: Urban Age)

    From The Guardian:

    China's light bulb moment – a bright idea hovering over its collective head – is a desperately needed glimmer of hope in a world that appears unable to resist its headlong charge into climate darkness.

    The commitment by the world’s workshop to end the manufacture of wasteful incandescent light bulbs comes on the same day as a record rise in greenhouse gas emissions was revealed, putting global warming ahead of the worst-case scenarios envisaged by the world’s scientists. The economy may seem to be barely flickering in the west, but globally it is on full beam.

    While switching to compact fluorescent bulbs – 75% more efficient than incandescents – has become unremarkable in some developed nations, the significance of China’s move should not be underestimated. Almost 20% of global electricity is used for lighting and the pollution it causes is equivalent to half of all the cars on the world’s roads. And we should be hoping for more light in the world in the future. In India alone, 400 million people live without electricity, condemned to darkness when the sun sets.

    With China churning out billions of efficient bulbs, costs will fall further. That means it will be possible to cut carbon emissions from lighting around the world – perhaps by as much as half – without denying the most basic of amenities to the world’s poor.

    Lighting is one of the more visible ways that increased energy efficiency can be delivered. Despite being by far the cheapest way of tackling climate change – often paying for itself in months – efficiency measures are too often put in the shade by shinier, more attractive energy technologies.

    Check out the rest of the article here.

    (Photo credit: Reuters)

    From Fast Company:

    Many consumer goods companies have environmental initiatives. Think of Dell’s e-waste recycling program, for example. Or P&G’s commitment to 100 percent renewable energy. Or the Chevy Volt, even. 

    But, as laudable as these are, you might argue that they are secondary to a larger problem. All these companies still want us to buy more products. If a consumer goods company truly wanted to be sustainable, they might suggest that we consume a little less, or at least price their goods at a cost that reflects their true impact. 

    Which is a crazy idea, of course. What company would ask us to consume less of their things, and make their stuff deliberately more expensive? 

    Patagonia, for one. The Californian apparel company last month launched an initiative encouraging their customers to reduce, repair, reuse, and recycle their clothing and equipment. Their ad even features the line: “Reduce what you buy,” in bold caps, much like something out of an anti-capitalism rally. 

    "We realized that what was really needed was a mutual responsibility between company and customer for the full lifecycle of stuff," Rick Ridgeway, Patagonia’s environment VP. "So we would try to reduce the amount of stuff that people buy, fixing products if they were broken, and asking people to clean out their garages and closets, so that if you have clothes you are no longer using, you put them back into circulation."

    As part of its Common Threads scheme, Patagonia offers to repair its clothes (for a “reasonable” fee) on a 10-day turnaround. It also will help you sell its clothes via an eBay channel or at 

    Specifically, Ridgeway points to analysis showing that humanity currently uses natural resources 1.4 times the rate at which the earth can restore them.

    "The main thing is that we’re trying to get people to wake up, and we have a lot of loyal customers who appreciate our willingness to initiate dialogue like this," he says.

    "We want to challenge other businesses too. The fundamental assumption that we can continue on a growth economy is flawed in the long term. We need to start talking about what we are going to do about it.”

    "We don’t want to criticize people. We want to ask them to start thinking about their business practices and create a dialogue. All apparel companies have to ask where they are going to be in five, 10, 20 years’ time, when the natural resources of this planet are in increasingly critical condition."

    Check out the rest of the article here. The story is also covered over at Time Magazine.

    (Image credit: Ecouterre)

    From the Toronto Star:

    Climate change will cost Canada and its people about $5 billion a year by 2020, a groundbreaking analysis for the federal government warns.

    Costs will continue to climb steeply, to between $21 billion and $43 billion a year by the 2050s — depending on how much action is taken on reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions and how fast the economy and population grow, the analysis says.

    “Climate change will be expensive for Canada and Canadians,” says the report from the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, issued Thursday.

    “Increasing greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide will exert a growing economic impact on our own country, exacting a rising price from Canadians as climate change impacts occur here at home.”

    The roundtable is a group of business leaders, academics and researchers chosen by the federal government to advise Ottawa on how to deal simultaneously with challenges in the economy and the environment.

    The group models several different economic and environmental scenarios to come up with its costs, but generally assumes that the world will be able to contain global warming to about two degrees by 2050, as promised.

    The report is among the first thorough attempts to put a price tag on global warming specifically in Canada. It builds on previous research that mapped out the physical effects of climate change in regions across the country.

    The study also looked at the cost effectiveness of a range of adaptation strategies. It found that most strategies were well worthwhile — efforts such as improving forest-fire protection, planting resilient trees, controlling pests, banning new buildings in areas at risk of flooding and limiting pollution.

    Since adaptation can generally be quite effective, the roundtable recommends the federal government invest in programs that help Canadians adapt and also boost the country’s paltry expertise and research in that area.

    At the same time, Canada should do what it can to reduce emissions here and around the world, the report urges. Canada’s contributions to global warming are not large, but the effects of other countries’ emissions on Canada are astronomical, it points out.

    Check out the rest of the article here and access the report here.

    (Graphic credit: NRTEE)