Posts Tagged ‘carbon neutral’

All riled up from reading about the risk of the renewable energy production tax credit not being extended past the end of this year, I set out to see what I could do to help, as a citizen. I quickly found out, it is not easy, being a full-fledged citizen in America. I thought there would be one website for all citizen directed activism, a clearing house listing all the issues at stake, with a clearly outlined process for each, including petitions, automatic links to representatives in my district, model letters to send, and suggestions for other initiatives. What I found instead are some bits and pieces, here and there:

If you know of any other resources, please share them in your comments.

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Last night, dinner at my house with some Silicon Valley brains. The discussion turned to global warming. I ventured that we needed some leadership and smart policies to force people and corporations into carbon neutral lives. Policies as in carbon taxes and financial incentives for sustainable choices.

I was met with protest: ‘You’ve got to let the market regulate things. It’s the most efficient, most intelligent mechanism. Otherwise you are going to be second guessing, and make matters even worse. Look at the ethanol disaster!’

To which I respond, along with Robert Kennedy Jr., which market? I don’t mind free market capitalism per se, as long as the economic parameters are set correctly. Right now, polluters are polluting the planet, without having to suffer the costs. We are polluting the air with our cars with no direct negative consequences. And as discussed in the Financial Times, water is treated as a free commodity, despite near term world shortages. These are examples of some very serious flaws that need to be fixed.

It’s common sense, folks.

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Yesterday, I wrote with a sense of urgency, about the need for Americans to start questioning their materialistic excesses. And I advocated in no uncertain terms, for a shift in individual behaviors. Not everybody agrees. Last month I attended an E2 presentation by Rick Duke, Director of Center for Innovation at NRDC, and also ex-McKinsey consultant. The topic was a recent McKinsey report on ‘Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost?‘. The ground-breaking study was co-sponsored by a group of environmental and corporate heavy weights: NRDC, DTE Energy, Environmental Defense, Honeywell, National Grid, PG&E, and Shell. From E2:

Rick Duke followed by presenting McKinsey’s findings, which showed that the U.S. can cost-effectively address global warming – doing our part to avoid potential adverse climate impacts estimated to range as high as 20 percent of GDP – if we act immediately and comprehensively to start redirecting capital from old polluting infrastructure to clean solutions. Building, vehicle and appliance efficiency will play a critical role – generating net economic benefits that roughly pay for more expensive measures needed to clean up energy supply. Lastly, Rick emphasized that to enable businesses to scale up solutions, we urgently need three kinds of policy innovation: 1) measures to overcome non-price barriers to energy efficiency, e.g. smart regulation to ensure utilities can profit from delivering efficiency; 2) an effective cap on carbon emissions that puts a price on greenhouse gas pollution; and 3) incentives to develop and deploy emerging low-carbon solutions.

What the E2 summary does not cover, is the point Rick Duke made during his presentation about Americans not needing to make sacrifices in their way of life. This assumes the U.S. implement the policies recommended in the McKinsey report. The sigh of relief in the audience was palpable. You mean, I can keep going. The powers in charge will take care of things? Peter Waldman, also present during the presentation, protested that policy innovation was no substitute for some of the hard choices citizens ought to make. Choices such as driving less and consuming less.

Rick Duke‘s answer: sure, it’s great if people green their lifestyles, but what are the odds? In the mean time, let us forge ahead with policy innovation. I agree with him, and I also want to point the danger of his concurrent message. We cannot afford the luxury of ignoring the role of individual behaviors. It will take all, policy makers, businesses, and citizens, to reach a carbon neutral state.

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No Impact man is both an admirable project and one of my favorite blogs. It got me thinking, though. What will happen to No Impact Man and his family, at the end of their one year project. Will they keep on with their totally carbon neutral lifestyle, or, like extreme dieters on the rebound, will they go back to their old Prada life of indulgence? I realize this is a question about me really, and the extent to which I can sustain a green lifestyle.

Back in April, when I decided to start the La Marguerite blog, my intent was to better understand the psychological barriers that make it hard for regular folks like I to adopt a greener lifestyle. I was not going to try to be greener than I really was. I just wanted to observe and report. Four months later, I am questioning, is that enough? Am I skirting the real issue of my resistance to change, and using the blog project as a way to justify my old ways? When I asked Green Guru, his answer came, sharp and brutal. ‘What are you waiting for? Just do it!’ Not what I wanted to hear. It was good, it forced me to confront my inconvenient truth. I am not ready to give up the small conveniences that make everyday life so sweet, I want a little more time to indulge, I like things just the way they are. This bargaining has been going on for some time. And the blog is my best ally.

This morning, I mentioned to Green Guru, I was going to buy the new Newsweek edition about global warming and denial. He suggested I read it online instead. I protested at first. I love reading my magazines. I love taking them with me, so I have something to keep busy in case I get stuck somewhere. I love clipping articles for my Green folder. I love falling asleep reading the paper or magazines. This time, I relented. I went online and saved all the important articles in a Word document. The rest, the pictures, I could look at later. I am no No Impact Girl, I am a Green Girl Wannabe.

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