Clean Energy 2030…Google Earth Engine

In 2008 proposed a plan to reduce dirty energy dependence by 2030. The plan has been updated.

The Plan

Recently, has created an app for Google Earth called ‘Google Earth Engine’ using 25 years of satellite image data to be analyzed for forest cover change in tropical forest. There plan is for the data to serve as a basis for REDD carbon market analysis.

I bring these up because – after watching America’s Congressional and Executive bodies make a mess of the discussion on both ‘paying for their already eaten pizza’ as well as future budget discussions – it seems the likelihood of our leadership being ‘leaders’ on meaningful issues is slim. It amazed me that they 1) made a crisis, 2) were unable to rationally discuss solutions, 3) …after three weeks of this ‘fiddling’… passed any budgetary decisions to a ‘commission’.

I defer energy discussions for term limit discussions. Congress should not be a career!

A Slow Start for Forest Carbon Markets

But such carbon credits have found demand only in a small, thinly traded voluntary carbon market, as countries struggle to agree on new, binding emissions cuts under U.N. climate talks.

“There is growing impatience with the multilateral process, not only from practitioners such as myself, but more importantly, from many forest countries,” said Christian del Valle, environmental markets and forestry director at BNP Paribas in London.

“Thus far the multilateral process has not delivered meaningful on-the-ground results, and forests continue to be lost because the only accessible price signal today indicates they are worth more cut down than standing,” he said.

A full U.N. climate deal could create a market through which rich, polluting countries could buy carbon credits, paying for forest protection in the process, just as they pay for clean energy projects now under the Kyoto Protocol’s existing carbon offset market, the Clean Development Mechanism.

So far, the only demand for forest carbon credits has been in the voluntary carbon market, worth $424 million last year, which lacks the binding rules of the Clean Development Mechanism.

Governments like those of Norway, Germany, Britain and the United States have pledged $6.5 billion to help poorer countries develop systems to reduce emissions from deforestation, but that is seen as only a halfway measure. Private-sector involvement will be essential.

Recent studies suggest that between $17 billion and $33 billion per year is needed to achieve a U.N. Environment Program recommendation to halve global emissions from deforestation by 2030.

“We are not going to get the scale of what we need without participation by the private sector,” said Donna Lee, who was the lead U.N. negotiator on REDD for the United States and is now a consultant for the advisory group Climate Focus.

“There is a disconnect between the understanding by countries and negotiators and the private sector of what the private sector needs in order to participate in REDD,” she said.

The Article

Two Troubling Issues

In trying to develop our business plan for a Rhode Island Farmland Fund, I’ve been interrupted today by two friends….with news from other friends…that reinforce two of my biggest cultural anxieties. The first is an excerpt from John Phipps whom I consider a voice of reason in the industrial agriculture community. He is speaking about the current debate on the national debt ceiling:

I think many assume there is a script somewhere and the actors are just peaking the dramatic tension. I do not. I think we are being led by badly misinformed, power-motivated politicians who would just as soon push the economy back into recession on the gamble it would be blamed on their opponent.

Because we really don’t know how this failure would play out, there seems to be a curious sense of “Let’s find out!” floating around DC-wannabees. After all, if it goes very badly there will be plenty of mud to be splashed on everyone, and perhaps more of it will stick to the other guy. If you are currently out of power, there could be a “What do we have to lose?” mentality.

The other was an email from Peter Gengler with a link to an article on global warming driven by the thought of Bill McKibben:


McKibben speaks about the need for radical action on carbon emissions.

A Potential Mess

This is an interesting article that hints at the international problems that arise in developing countries when industrialized countries begin to purchase carbon offset credits from forests -an international version of carpetbaggers combined with little regulation and financial management in the developing countries. 

Think of what this implies to a U.S. energy bill that allows for international REDD offsets.