Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cap'n Dividend

An hilarious '50s style promotion for a very cool concept - cap and dividend (essentially a cap and trade system, with an auction of carbon allowances, the proceeds from which get distributed to the public in the form of a dividend - to offset rising energy costs).

In Mass, we're already starting to see the benefits of cap and trade auctions (though not in the form of dividends) - the RGGI proceeds (about $13 million in Sept and $14 million in Dec) will go in part towards supporting the Green Communities Act, which will reward communities that meet conservation and efficiency standards with funds for renewable energy projects.

Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will soon be introducing the Cap and Dividend Act of 2009 - shoot your reps an email and tell them you support the concept.

Stay going...

The End of Coal, the Start of Something New

A couple of quick news clips from the sustainability in higher ed movement that I think in someways are emblematic of the transformation our global society is going through.

The first comes from Duke, where the last rail car of coal was delivered this week. (a closer look shows that they'll still be getting some coal - though a lot less - by truck, at least for a while longer, and they're switching to natural gas - fewer emissions but not a long-term sustainable solution -- but the main point remains, this is a big, exciting step towards climate neutrality and sustainability):

"The efforts are part of Duke's goal to become a climate-neutral campus, a pledge made by President Richard Brodhead in 2007, as part of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment."

The second is an Op-ed piece by David Shi, President of Furman University, who does an excellent job of conveying the importance and power of the collective action represented in the ACUPCC. The examples of what they've already done and are planning to do give an exciting sense of the solutions that exist and the new ways we can design our buidlings, campuses, communities, institutions, etc. to create a fossil-fuel free, sustainable future. He also provides a great concrete example of how the collective action of the ACUPCC is helping to beneift all the schools involved, in a more coordinated way than if they were all just 'going it alone':

And finally, while I'm in a roll posting links, here's a new article about the ACUPCC Carbon Offset Prtocol, the development of which we at Second Nature helped coordinate:

Stay going...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Renewable Electricity for the Commonwealth

Just a quick post, with a quick "just do it" tip for our fellow Massachusetts residents: Often the challenges seem overwhelming and it's tough to know what one person can do to really make a difference. The differences we make will in large part be the result of many seemingly small (when viewed in isolation) actions. Of course these add up - in terms of each of our individual impacts, and our collective impacts, which eventually tip the system into a new state of being - hopefully one that is sustainable.

So here's an easy one: start buying renewable electricity. National Grid has the GreenUp Program, which gives a few options for ways to buy electricity produced from renewable sources. We went with New England Green Start 100% from Mass Energy (the "content label" link shows the exact breakdown -mostly small hydro, some biomass and a little solar and wind). It adds 2.4 cents per kwh - which is modest considering what you get, and totally worth it, and at the same time something we're constantly working to offset through cost-savings from demand-reduction (with energy efficient lighting and applicances, and lots of behavioral stuff - air drying clothes, powerstrips swithced off, lights off, etc. - on the efficient lighting check out these two recent blog posts on LEDs from Aedi Construction and Planet Blue Solutions - they're not just for stand-by lights anymore).

Most of us are generally familiar with the benefits by this point - avoiding the bad: GHG emissions, dependence on foriegn fossil fuels, the many problems with domestic fossil fuels (mountain top removal and fly ash slurry spills from coal, for example), volatile fossil fuel prices, finite supplies, health problems, etc... And promoting the good: living off abudant solar gain (in the form of solar electricity, solar thermal, wind, hydro, biomass), promoting local, resilient energy systems (which support healthy, resilient, local economies), stablizing costs, and driving down costs through scale.

That little little added cost per month is still there, of course - and aside from a fulfilling sense of doing the right thing, and the ability to reduce your carbon footprint, you don't see much direct benefit. But it's that's much more incentive to reduce your demand - and by sending a powerful message to the market, you'll be helping to shift the whole grid system to a clean future - answering the 10-year challenge to Repower America, and tackling a big piece of global SP1 violations. And as a final kicker, a portion of the extra cost is tax-deductible.

So sign up today! (and if you're not in mass, check out your utility company - most have these kinds of programs going - and if they don't you can buy some RECs, and help tighten the supply in those markets to push the development of more renewable generation facilities). Stay going.

Friday, February 06, 2009

National Teach-In

Yesterday was the National Teach-In on Global Warming Solutions - 100s of campuses, churches, and organizations held meetings and events to learn about and discuss the solutions we need to implement, and make plans to connect with local and national political leaders.

The group developed a web-cast to kick-off events and provide some background. A lot of it focused on the Presidential Climate Action Project - a report developed by leading thinkers like Ray Anderson, David Orr, Hunter Lovins, and many more, to provide a road map for the new administration on how to take meaningful and effective action in the first 100 days to put the country on the path to economic recovery, and a clean and just energy future. The webcast is about 45 minutes, and worth the watch, check it out:

Stay going...