Cool COP Morning: Something to Chu On

Written by David Connell on . Posted in Learn, The Wonk Room

The big must-attend event yesterday was a presentation from U.S. Energy Secretary and Noble Prize Winner Steven Chu. Andy Revkin has a nice run-down of Chu’s main points, which focus on two U.S. initiatives to spark clean energy innovation — innovation hubs and research grants from the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (or Arpa-E). The innovation hubs allow scientists and engineers to work on energy projects with five years-worth of funding, while the grants allow established companies to pay for tests or research they otherwise might not be able to afford.

Chu noted that these two models have already provided some successes — he cited a $4 million grant for photovoltaic research that garnered a $25 million investment from outside firms — but warned that the programs must, by necessity, back a few losers in order to generate those successes. (Dot Earth/The New York Times)

Kate Sheppard has an excellent, albeit pessimistic, overview of the state of the negotiations. She finds the United States sticking to its all-or-nothing “balanced package” approach, which will basically live or die on an agreement with China over transparency and verification of emissions reductions. She also notes that negotiations over a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol have not progressed. The one party that may be able to bring all of these factions together is the European Union, which has signaled a willingness to go forward with a second Kyoto commitment and has supported the U.S. in its “balanced-package approach.” (Mother Jones)

The AP has a similar overview, with a few more details on the dance between the U.S. and China over emissions-reductions verification. Specifically, the wire service notes questions from the U.S. chief negotiator Todd Stern, including: “To whom do countries report their actions? What details need to be reported? Will a panel of experts review the data? Will countries be able to ask questions?” (AP)

Coming off of forest day, Reuters has a nice overview of the current state of efforts to reduce emissions by curbing deforestation. The wire service notes that there has been an uptick in international funding for the reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) programs as well as interest from private businesses that believe they will soon have to comply with emissions-reductions measures. Reuters also notes that forestry projects not only help save on carbon emissions, they preserve biodiversity and habitat for endangered species like orangutans. (Reuters)

Earlier in the week, we noted a study from DARA International on the health effects of climate change the world is already facing and can expect in the future. Mongabay pulls out an interesting fact about the United States from the report. It notes that “of all industrialized nations, the U.S. will face the most harm from a warming world.” The U.S. is particularly sensitive to desertification, rising sea levels, and extreme weather. (Mongabay)

(Image: Steven Chu, Courtesy of Flickr user Center for American Progress Action Fund. Used under a Creative Commons license.)

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