Thursday, September 25, 2008

Green Economy Report from U.N. Environment Program


NEW YORK, 24 September 2008 - A new, landmark study on the impact of
an emerging global "green economy" on the world of work says efforts to
tackle climate change could result in the creation of millions of new
"green jobs" in the coming decades.

The new report 1/ entitled Green Jobs: Towards Decent work in a
Sustainable, Low-Carbon World, says changing patterns of employment and
investment resulting from efforts to reduce climate change and its effects
are already generating new jobs in many sectors and economies, and could
create millions more in both developed and developing countries.

Please click here to read the entire UNEP Green Economies Report

Environment chief lied to Congress: Sen. Boxer

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lied to Congress about his rejection of a request from California meant to curb global warming emissions, Sen. Barbara Boxer said on Tuesday.

Boxer, a California Democrat who has called for EPA chief Stephen Johnson to resign, made the statement at a hearing on regulation of greenhouse gases under the U.S. Clean Air Act. Read more

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Waxman Letter: Principles for Global Warming Legislation

**PLEASE NOTE: Representatives Markey, Waxman and Inslee released this letter on April 22, 2008 and are currently circulating to House Members for additional support.

Rep. Markey, Rep. Waxman, and Rep. Inslee Release

Principles for Global Warming Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC — Today on Earth Day, three Congressional leaders on climate and energy issues laid out principles for any effective legislative solution to the challenge of global warming. Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Rep. Ed Markey and Rep. Jay Inslee released “Principles for Global Warming Legislation,” which are designed to provide a framework for Congress as it produces legislation to establish an economy-wide mandatory program to cut global warming emissions. Reps. Waxman, Markey, and Inslee are inviting their colleagues to join them in supporting these principles and conveying their support to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has made enacting legislation to address global warming a top priority for Congress.

“The dangers of global warming are too large to ignore,” said Rep. Waxman. “We must listen to the science and start making major reductions in CO2 emissions. Our principles lay out a just and effective approach to fight global warming and build a clean energy economy.”

“These are legislative principles, and they are planetary principles as well,” said Rep. Markey. “Any solution to global warming must cut pollution, help people, and encourage profits from a clean energy economy. These climate tenets give Congress a roadmap for an economy-wide solution to our climate challenge.”

“Last week, the president outlined a can’t-do policy for a can-do people,” said Rep. Inslee. “These principles lay the groundwork for a bold climate policy that is consistent with our nation’s need for aggressive emissions reductions and our technological capabilities.”

The principles establish a framework for global warming legislation that will avoid the most catastrophic levels of global warming and assist those harmed by the warming that is unavoidable, while strengthening our economy.

The principles recognize four key goals for global warming legislation:

1) Reduce emissions to avoid dangerous global warming;
2) Transition America to a clean energy economy;
3) Recognize and minimize any economic impacts from global warming legislation; and
4) Aid communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from global warming.

The principles include the following elements: strong science-based targets for near-term and long-term emissions reductions; auctioning emissions allowances rather than giving them to polluting industries; investing auction revenues in clean energy technologies; returning auction proceeds to consumers, workers, and communities to offset any economic impacts; and dedicating a portion of auction proceeds to help states, communities, vulnerable developing countries, and ecosystems address harm from the degree of global warming that is now unavoidable.

Rep. Markey is the Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rep. Waxman is the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Rep. Inslee is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and a senior member of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

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The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Madam Speaker,

We salute your leadership on one of the critical issues of our time: the effort to save the planet from calamitous global warming. You have listened to the scientists and recognized the scope and severity of the threat that global warming poses to our nation’s security, economy, public health, and ecosystems. You have made enacting legislation to address global warming a top priority for Congress for the first time in our history. We stand ready to help develop this legislation and enact it into law.

As part of this effort, we have developed a set of principles to guide Congress as it produces legislation to establish an economy-wide mandatory program to address the threat of global warming. Acting in accordance with these principles is critical to achieving a fair and effective bill that will avoid the most dangerous global warming and assist those harmed by the warming that is unavoidable, while strengthening our economy.

The following are the principles we have developed to guide the creation of comprehensive global warming legislation.

Comprehensive legislation to address global warming must achieve four key goals:

1. Reduce emissions to avoid dangerous global warming;

2. Transition America to a clean energy economy;

3. Recognize and minimize any economic impacts from global warming legislation; and

4. Aid communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from global warming.

To meet each of these goals, climate change legislation must include the following key elements.

Reduce Emissions to Avoid Dangerous Global Warming

The United States must do its part to keep global temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) above pre-industrial levels. The scientific community warns that above this level, dangerous and irreversible changes to the Earth’s climate are predicted to occur. To meet this goal, the legislation must:

Cap and cut global warming emissions to science-based levels with short and long-term targets. Total U.S. emissions must be capped by a date certain, decline every year, be reduced to 15% to 20% below current levels in 2020, and fall to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

Review and respond to advancing climate science. The effects of global warming are happening much faster than scientists predicted several years ago, and there may be tipping points at which irreversible effects occur at lower levels of greenhouse gas concentrations than previously predicted. A mechanism for periodic scientific review is necessary, and EPA, and other agencies as appropriate, must adjust the regulatory response if the latest science indicates that more reductions are needed.

Make emissions targets certain and enforceable. Our strong existing environmental laws depend on enforceable requirements, rigorous monitoring and reporting of emissions, public input and transparent implementation, and government and citizen enforcement. All of these elements must be included in comprehensive global warming legislation. Cost-containment measures must not break the cap on global warming pollution. Any offsets must be real, additional, verifiable, permanent, and enforceable. The percentage of required emissions reductions that may be met with offsets should be strictly limited, and should be increased only to the extent that there is greater certainty that the offsets will not compromise the program’s environmental integrity.

Require the United States to engage with other nations to reduce emissions through commitments and incentives. The United States must reengage in the international negotiations to establish binding emissions reductions goals under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The legislation must encourage developing countries to reduce emissions by assisting such countries to avoid deforestation and to adopt clean energy technologies. This is a cost-effective way for the United States and other developed nations to achieve combined emissions reductions of at least 25% below 1990 levels by 2020, as called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Transition America to a Clean Energy Economy

Global warming legislation provides an opportunity to create new jobs, while transforming the way we live and work through renewable energy, green buildings, clean vehicles, and advanced technologies. To realize this opportunity, the legislation must:

Invest in the best clean energy and efficiency technologies. A significant portion of revenues from auctioning emissions allowances should be invested in clean energy and efficiency measures, targeted to technologies and practices that are cleaner, cheaper, safer, and faster than conventional technologies, as determined through the application of clear standards set by Congress.

Include and encourage complementary policies. Complementary policies can lower program costs by producing lower-cost emissions reductions from economic sectors and activities that are less sensitive to a price signal. Smart growth measures, green building policies, and electricity sector efficiency policies are important types of complementary policies. The legislation should include federal complementary policies and encourage state and local complementary policies in areas better addressed by states and localities.

Preserve states’ authorities to protect their citizens. Federal global warming requirements must be a floor, not a ceiling, on states’ ability to protect their citizens’ health and state resources. Throughout our history, states have pioneered policies that the nation has subsequently adopted. Addressing global warming requires state and local efforts, as well as national ones.

Recognize and Minimize Any Economic Impacts from Global Warming Legislation

Reducing global warming pollution will likely have some manageable costs, which would be far lower than the costs of inaction. To minimize any economic impacts, the legislation must:

Use public assets for public benefit in a fair and transparent way. Emissions allowances should be auctioned with the revenues going to benefit the public, and any free allocations should produce public benefits. If any allocations are given to polluters, they must be provided only to existing facilities for a brief transition period and the quantity must be limited to avoid windfall profits.

Return revenues to consumers. Revenues from auctioned allowances should be returned to low- and moderate-income households at a level sufficient to offset higher energy costs.

Return revenues to workers and communities. Workers and communities most affected by the transition to a clean energy economy should receive a portion of the revenues to ease the transition and build a trained workforce so that all can participate in the new energy economy.

Protect against global trade disadvantages to U.S. industry. In addition to providing incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions, the legislation should provide for an effective response to any countries that refuse to contribute their fair share to the international effort. These elements will protect energy-intensive U.S. enterprises against competitive disadvantage.

Aid Communities and Ecosystems Vulnerable to Harm from Global Warming

Global warming is already harming communities and ecosystems throughout the world, and even with immediate action to reduce emissions and avoid dangerous effects, these impacts will worsen over the coming decades. To ameliorate these harms, the legislation must:

Assist states, localities and tribes to respond and adapt to the effects of global warming. A portion of auction revenues should be provided to states, localities, and tribes to respond to harm from global warming and adapt their infrastructure to its effects, such as more severe wildfires, intensified droughts, increased water scarcity, sea level rise, floods, hurricanes, melting permafrost, and agricultural and public health impacts.

Assist developing countries to respond and adapt to the effects of global warming. A portion of auction revenues should be provided to help the developing countries most vulnerable to harm from global warming and defuse the threats to national security and global stability posed by conflicts over water and other natural resources, famines, and mass migrations that could be triggered by global warming. Vulnerable countries include least developed countries, where millions of people are already living on the brink, and small island states, which face massive loss of land.

Assist wildlife and ecosystems threatened by global warming. A portion of auction revenues should be provided to federal, state, and tribal natural resource protection agencies to manage wildlife and ecosystems to maximize the survival of wildlife populations, imperiled species, and ecosystems, using science-based adaptation strategies.

These principles, if adopted as part of comprehensive climate change legislation, will meet the United States’ obligations to curb greenhouse gas emissions and also will provide a pathway to the international cooperation that is necessary to solve the global warming problem.

We commend these principles to you and hope that you find them helpful as we move forward together to develop and adopt global warming legislation.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Burlington's Climate Action Plan

The City of Burlington is engaging in thoughtful conversation regarding our city's carbon footprint and how to walk more lightly on the earth.

THIS Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 5:30 pm at Contois Auditorium is the first meeting of a series for anyone wanting to get involved in the Climate Action Plan (CAP) re-write process. Mark your calendar!

During this event, you will hear from Jenn Jenkins of UVM (also a contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the international level) on the impacts of climate change and then city staff will present the results of the greenhouse gas emissions inventory conducted during the last few months. Before the meeting ends, you will also get a chance to meet with teams contributing to the CAP through the following working groups:
Team leaders will be in touch with their group members for subsequent meetings. If you have any questions, contact folks at Burlington's Legacy Project.

I would like to encourage everyone to participate in their process whether it be through the Working Groups or at the Legacy Town Meeting on December 9th, 2008. Every action we take as individuals to improve our impact and consumption is a part of a greater whole. Thanks so much for all you do already!

Meeting Overview (9/15/08)

Last night's meeting was a blast! Thanks so much to all of you who participated and have committed to putting together a fantastic Hunger Banquet to raise awareness and solidarity for hunger, poverty, and injustice right here in Burlington.
A special thank you goes out to the folks at Burlington Bay Market and Café for hosting us.

We had several new faces join us last night and after brief introductions, Nathaly shared a bit about Oxfam's work on the international scale and the work of the Vermont Oxfam Action Corps at the local level.

During August's meeting, participants decided on hosting a Hunger Banquet in Burlington to engage the community regarding hunger and poverty. However, due to the number of new folks in the group, it was important to discuss this again to confirm it was something people thought was worth the time and energy to put together. Kathy, Lee, Natalia, and Colin had all attended Hunger Banquets hosted in the past and could share a bit regarding their experiences. Each person could attest to how powerful the experience had been for them, but we still wanted to ask ourselves what the purpose of the event would be.

Were we seeking simply to build awareness about hunger?
Were we looking to draw more folks into the Action Corps?
How valuable would this sort of one-time event be in the bigger scope of things?

We had to stop to compare the benefit of preparing a Hunger Banquet as opposed to engaging in other types of local action. In the end, we decided to move forward with the event planning, as long as we remained mindful about making the experience be more than just another thought-provoking event and to connect it with real action.

We selected the first weekend in December (one night from the 4th - 7th) in order to keep it within the holiday season when folks are more likely to reflect on these issues and agreed to reconvene to work out logistics and make some major thematic decisions regarding guest speakers or panelists, general order of the program, and take-home message in two weeks time.

  • Participants will be compiling ideas over the next few weeks via email. To weigh in on the conversation, contact
  • Kevin will be looking into using the the St. Andrew's Church meeting space as the event venue.
  • Colin & Nathaly will be working out a budget for the event from what is available to the Oxfam Action Corps.

Monday, September 29th @ 6PM
UVM's Davis Center (location tbd)

Friday, September 12, 2008


Hi folks -

I'm sorry to say we won't be able to meet at the Skinny Pancake. They're having a staff end-of-summer party on Monday evening so we will be re-locating to:

The Burlington Bay Market & Café
125 Battery Street (corner of Battery & College Sts)
Monday, Sept 15th, 6-7:30pm

Light snacks/appetizers will be purchased for the group. If you are able, bring a couple dollars to chip in.

I will do my best to call each of you who said they would be attending directly to alert you of the location change. Thanks for understanding. Please give me a call at 802-578-6277 if you have any questions.

Peace and Love,


Thursday, September 11, 2008

September Monthly Meeting

Hello fellow activists:

Please join us for the next monthly meeting to plan November's Hunger Banquet.

WHAT: VT Oxfam Action Corps Monthly Meeting
WHERE: the Skinny Pancake Creperie (corner of Lake & College Streets)
WHO: anyone interested in helping fight hunger, poverty, and injustice--YOU!

This next meeting will focus on setting some of the details for the Hunger
Banquet that was decided upon during August's meeting. Please come with ideas
for speakers, venue, music and local partners who we could work with. As
always, we welcome and encourage you to bring a friend!

Weather permitting, we will sit at on the round outdoor tables, otherwise, find
us inside! Bring a couple bucks if you're interested in sharing some
appetizers (our group gets a discount).

If you are unable to attend the meeting, but have some ideas or would like to
weigh-in on the date for the event, please share! (Email or call 802-578-6277). We will share meeting
notes through the blog.



Sen. Leahy values international adaptation programs

ADAPTATION: State Department outlines climate needs for poor countries (09/05/2008)
Lisa Friedman, ClimateWire reporter
A new Bush administration report acknowledges that poor countries will need billions of dollars in assistance to help cope with the impacts of climate change.

In a report to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), officials at the State Department and other agencies said international adaptation is "emerging as a more prominent issue." Industrialized countries, including the United States, they said, are helping to ensure that developing nations have the tools they need to deal with problems like food scarcity and a rise in coastal flooding.

"The ultimate goal of adaptation is to develop resilient societies and economies that have the knowledge and capacity to address both the challenges and the opportunities presented by changing climatic conditions," federal officials wrote. "In this sense, adaptation is of a piece with broader development efforts."

Congressional aides and international development leaders praised the State Department for recognizing a serious global threat. But many also slammed the report, calling it a hasty piece of work that underestimates the enormous job of preparing poor countries to face the consequences of a climate crisis they had little hand in creating.

"To the extent they've begun to engage, I think that's a good thing," David Waskow, climate change program director for Oxfam America, said of the State Department. But, he said, "They underplayed the scale of the need."

Even if countries drastically reduce emissions immediately, scientists say changes already locked into the system mean most nations will be affected by climate change. Developing countries -- many already suffering from extreme poverty and heavily dependent on agriculture -- will bear the brunt of sea level rises and changing weather patterns.

International agencies, led by the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, have widely recognized that wealthy nations with long histories of heavy industrial emissions are responsible for the climatic damages poor countries now face, and should take the lead in addressing the problems. Adaptation, or helping countries cope, is central to international climate negotiations.

Still not a priority, Democrats and climate activists charge
Leahy, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that oversees State Department funding, last year called on the agency to join with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Environmental Protection Agency to assess the adaptation needs of developing countries and lay out the measures America is taking to help them.

"Senator Leahy believes climate change is one of the most challenging and potentially serious problems facing the world," said Tim Rieser, Democratic clerk to the subcommittee. The senator called for the study, Rieser said, "to determine what the administration is doing about it."

He described the 40-page report as a broad-brush overview that doesn't go far enough. The good news, he said: "They're no longer talking about how [climate change] is a hoax."

"At least they're acknowledging that it is a serious problem that requires global cooperation," Rieser said. But, he added, "It doesn't really tell us much that we didn't already know. If anything, it reaffirmed what we suspected -- it's not a priority. There's no strategy in place, and there's minimal funding. The report indicates this is barely on their radar screen."

Melanie Nakagawa, international program attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, also called the report "not very thorough" and was one of several who noted that the report includes large parts of a USAID study published last year.

"They do a scant review of existing literature," she said. "Sadly, it looks like they gave this important issue not the due time it deserves."

Legislation requiring the study was signed into law in December, but according to a Federal Register notice, the State Department convened the interagency delegation to create the report on Aug. 21.

A yearlong State Department focus
But a State Department spokeswoman said Thursday that the agency has been focused on international adaptation for more than a year. The report, she said, built directly on work the agency has been doing to lead an interagency effort for the National Security Council principals committee. Representatives from 16 agencies and White House offices helped prepare the report, she said.

"The issue of adaptation is one of the core issues being addressed through the UNFCCC," the spokeswoman said. "Clearly, the State Department is engaged fully on that."

The agency noted that helping developing countries adapt to climate change could cost from $10 billion to $50 billion, citing Oxfam numbers. It also stressed that industrialized countries should not shoulder the financial burden.

"The scale of the potential cost suggests that adaptation efforts should leverage funds dedicated to development assistance, and that the donor community alone cannot take responsibility for adaptation in the developing world," the authors wrote.

"The role of the donors should be to provide tools, information and assistance to developing countries so they can entrain the resources -- human and financial -- of the private sector as well as donors to build resilient futures."

Nakagawa said that as negotiators work toward a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement, international adaptation needs to see more attention.

"This report merely scratches the surface to outline what is currently needed and will be needed to address the adaptation needs of developing countries," she said.