En-Roads ‘Thinking’ Workshop

by Rachel Holmes

James Adams and the EnROADS simulation

James Adams and the EnROADS simulation

“Play back assumptions we get sent, if you don’t like them – change them”

Andrew Jones

On the 30th January 2014, Miriam Maes and collaborators at the Solar Trade Association and German Marshall Fund undertook a ‘thinking’ workshop among a select group of high network and highly eclectic key influences.  Participants included:

James Adams (Alexa Capital), Peter Ainsworth (Environmental Agency), Alissa Burger (Climate Interactive), Robbie Campbell (Veolia Environmental Services UK Plc), Gareth Davies (Pöyry Management Consulting Ltd), Yvonne Deng (Ecofys bv), Paul Drummond (University College London), Steve Fawkes (Energy advisor), Leonie Greene (Solar Trade Association), Rachel Holmes (Foresee), Christopher Huhne (Zilkhabiomass), Vahid Jalili (Sabien Tech), David Joffe (Committee on Climate Change), Drew Jones (Climate Interactive), Sally Jones (Foresee), Miriam Maes (Foresee), Elena Marro (Solar Trade Association), Doug Parr (Greenpeace), Ivo Spreeuwenberg (National Grid), Tim Vink (Honeywell), Andrew Warren (Association for the Conservation of Energy), Caroline Watson (Global Action Plan)

Andrew Jones of Climate Interactive presented the MIT developed technology En-Roads, a simulation capable of predicting climate conditions arising from various scenario’s of energy use. Informed by lengthy research and qualified by the science community as ‘fit for its purpose’, En-Roads postulates with some authority, how much an immediate decrease in the use of fossil fuels is required and equally an increase in energy efficiency, renewable energies, and a carbon tax or price is needed to stay within the maximum of a 2°C  global temperature rise. Its calculation is equally inclusive of adjustable considerations ranging from population density to carbon price to global GDP, unearthing surprises for professionals and novices alike.  Importantly, En-Roads reveals how intricately interwoven the energy and climate physical system is, emphasising that there is no single solution for a very present climate crisis.

This holistic approach is reflected in GMF’s commitment to transforming not only what is discussed around tables, but also the personal mentalities both shaped by and shaping our cultural habits in relation to energy and climate.  As such, an atmosphere of communication and community distinguished the En-Roads workshop; encouraging real dialogue and making space for disagreement as an important aspect of learning and progress. By identifying the synthesis of action required for change, the En-Roads workshop reframed the climate problem as an opportunity for transformation and collaboration.

Big Expansion of Small Energy

Green Conservatism: Move over Big 6, we need the Big 60,000

In this vibrant essay on popular decentralised community energy the Rt Hon Greg Barker MP, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change writes:

Thanks to falling costs and innovation, if approached with sufficient financial rigour, affordable big expansion of small energy is achievable. We can build the big 60,000. Success will require the government as an active partner in growth. But the prize is growth, jobs, economic resilience, a better deal for the consumer, a cleaner, greener, safer environment and energy security.

An extract from this essay first appeared in The Guardian under the title Gas isn’t the bogeyman.  Along with impassioned argument for diversity in popular community decentalised energy, Greg Barker asserts that we can achieve a cleaner, more decentralised energy sector, but environmentalists should recognise that gas is part of the answer.  He cites that choice, competition and a dynamic market are all a recipe for success.

This piece forms part of a collection of essays for Green Alliance: Green conservatism: protecting the environment through open markets.

You can read the essay in full here.

Biden pushes India to cut super-warming chemicals

While Vice President Joe Biden may have left India at the end of last week without a deal on super-greenhouse gases, he nonetheless succeeded in putting the issue front and centre of US – India relations, according to a report by Lisa Friedman for Energy and Environment Publishing.

Speaking at the Bombay Stock Exchange, Biden called for the two countries to curb the refrigerants known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.  Far more potent as atmospheric warmers than CO2,  if left unchecked they are expected to contribute to 19 percent of global warming by 2050.

Friedman notes that India and China are among the biggest producers of HFCs and have long been the two biggest holdouts to a global deal under the Montreal Protocol.  But this summer the deal struck between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping represented a breakthrough.

Paul Bledsoe, a Senior Fellow on Energy and Climate at the German Marshall Fund of the United States said:

I think there was a sense India was going to be the last holdout and it might take a while. But this level of attention is unprecedented, I think India is now isolated on the issue and is going to see significant pressure – not just from the US, but the Micronesians and low-lying states, as well.

As the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit the White House in September, Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development, hopes a deal is on the horizon:

When India agrees to the HFC amendment, as China’s President Xi did in his summit last month with President Obama, the world will be assured of climate mitigation equivalent to 100 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050 -five to ten times more that the Kyoto Protocol has done to date.  This will avoid up to 0.5ºC of warming by the end of the century, and significantly slow down climate impacts.

A vibrant and eclectic Board of Trustees

I am delighted to have been unanimously elected onto the Board of Trustees of ClientEarthactivist lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet.

I am inspired by what ClientEarth do and who they are and am thrilled to be involved as a trustee.  I am looking forward to contributing my own skills to the this award-winning NGO:

  • ClientEarth is Europe’s first public interest environmental law organization.  Founded in 2007 and now operating globally, it uses advocacy, litigation and research to address the greatest environmental challenges of our time, including biodiversity loss and climate change. Its work is always built on the solid foundations of law and science.
  • In relation to environment, energy and climate change, ClientEarth supports governments and organisations in ensuring suitable legislation and regulation is in place
  • This year ClientEarth won Business Green’s NGO of the Year award.

ClientEarth has remarkable founders:

  • Michael McIntosh has been the president of the McIntosh Foundation since 1971. Through the philosophy of building lasting institutions dedicated to public service, the foundation has been instrumental in founding many non-profit organisations that are today the leaders in their fields.
  • Winsome McIntosh has served on the board of the McIntosh foundation since 1972 and has four decades of experience in the wider philanthropic community.
  • Founding CEO James Thornton, named by The New Statesman as one of 10 people who could change the world, and picked by The Lawyer as one of the top 100 lawyers in the UK.

Their combined vision is for an Earth where people can achieve their full potential within a diverse, resilient biosphere.

And their mission: to use law as a tool to mend the relationship between human societies and the Earth.

I am joining a truly vibrant and eclectic Board of Trustees.

GMF launch Lugar Institute for Diplomacy and Congress: Lugar and Kerry attend

The German Marshal Fund of the United States last week officially launched The Richard G Lugar Institute for Diplomacy and Congress which will:

work to change the way the United States Congress relates to the International community by improving communication and understanding betweek the Washington diplomatic corps and Congress.

The occasion was attended by senators – including Senator Lugar himself – members of the House of Representatives and US Secretary of State, John Kerry.  They were joined by founding members of the Lugar Diplomacy Institute – Ambassador Srdjan Darmanovic of Montenegro, Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal of Morocco and founding partner Wolfgang Pordzik of DHL.

President of GMF, Craig Kennedy, observed that

GMF’s work is becoming increasingly global, beyond the traditional transatlantic frame.  The Lugar Institute’s mission of strengthening ties between diplomats and lawmakers in Washington fills a great need to support robust diplomacy in a complex globalised world.

Here are more details, including the GMF press release.

The German Marshall Fund of the United States strengthens transatlantic cooperation on regional, national and global challenges and opportunities in the spirit of the Marshall Plan.

Miriam Maes is Senior Fellow of the GMF’s Climate and Energy Program which aims ‘to advance transatlantic leadership on scalable policy and business solutions to reduce the risks of climate change and achieve a low-carbon, secure, and affordable energy future, while conserving natural resources’.

[updated to include details of The German Marshall Fund of the United States]

Increasing energy costs will weigh on French exports

So says a recent report by the French think-tank, The Council of Economic Analysis (CAE) analysed by Anne Eveno in Le Monde.  The report, along with advocating the pressing need to invest in innovation, goes on to advise prudence regarding the rate of decommissioning France’s nuclear plants.

According to Le Monde, this CAE report has added a new voice to the debate on energy. Rating the impact of higher energy prices on the competitiveness of enterprises, the report assumes an increase in world energy prices of 50% for oil and gas over the next twenty years, and more than 15% for coal.  Higher fuel prices, coupled with the development of renewable energy means higher electricity prices by up to 30% for households and 16% to 24% for companies by 2017.

The CAE calculates that:

a 10% increase in electricity prices in France would reduce the value of exports by an average of 1.9% and a similar increase in gas prices would reduce the value by 1.1%.

Assuming a 20% increase in electricity prices for industry by 2017,  the value of French exports – excluding energy – would be reduced by 3.8%, a cost 16 billion Euros.  The report notes that:

the effect would be concentrated on the largest exporters in the most energy-intensive sectors

The upshot of the report is on the need to invest in innovation; it suggests that facing the future reality of high energy prices is a powerful incentive to investing in new technologies, products, services and innovations.  CAE acknowledges that research on technical exploitation of shale gas should continue and that

the future of energy prices also requires innovation in energy production, not only in its use.

However, the report emphasize that the use of shale gas in France – in addition to its positive impact on employment and the trade balance – would not effect prices as significantly as in the United States where they fell by 67% in five years.

Here is the full report in English

Launch of International Energy Agency report

IEA PanelLast month, The German Marshall Fund of the USA hosted a panel discussion to occasion the launch of a new report by the International Energy Agency entitled

Limiting global warming to 2°C:  Can Europe and the USA Keep the Climate Window Open?

The discussion, moderated by Miriam Maes, Senior Fellow of the GMF’s Climate and Energy Program, featured Fatih Birol, Chief Economist of the International Energy Agency; Jos Delbeke, Director-General for Climate Action at the European Commission; Tom Brookes, Managing Director of the Energy Strategy Centre at the European Climate Foundation, and Simon Ashwell, Senior Manager for Government Affairs & Policy at General Electric.

Here are details of the discussion and links to the report itself.

Does President Obama’s climate plan amount to war on coal? Moniz responds

In an interview with the Associated Press, the US Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz dismisses claims from Republicans and some coal-rich states that the President’s climate plan amounts to a war on coal.

He went on to say that:

coal will continue to play a major role in meeting America’s energy needs, even as the Obama administration seeks to reduce carbon emissions and combat global warming

Read The Huffington Post article.

Q&A with Michael Levi

Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment at the Council on Foreign Relations Michael Levi is a blogger and author, most recently of The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity and the Battle for America’s Future.

Levi talks to Bryan Walsh, Senior Editor and energy and environment writer for TIME magazine about Canadian oil sands, ‘the myth of energy and independence and why we need a negotiated peace settlement to end energy wars’.

In his Ecocentric column in a piece entitled Energy, Independence and Other Myths, Walsh dubs Levi his ‘favourite energy wonk’, ‘a smart, pragmatic observer of the energy wars‘ and of Levi as a writer says he ‘knows how to cut through specious arguments on both sides of the energy and climate debate while keeping in target the bigger challenges…

Not only is this Q&A well worth a read, for it’s scope, vision and vibrant humour, but it looks very much like the book is too.  Certainly Walsh rates it ‘one of the best analyses of the amazing changes taking place in the energy sphere today’.  Do take a look.