Earlier this year The Worldwatch Institute went to Santo Domingo for the 2011 Caribbean Clean Energy Business Forum. Alexander Ochs, the Director of our Climate and Energy team, presented on our Low-Carbon Energy Roadmap methodology and upcoming work in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Jamaica.

Other presenters included Rene Jean-Jumeau, the Coordinator of the Energy Sector Management Unit at the Haitian Ministry of Public Works, Transport and Communications and one of our key partners in Haiti. He spoke about the Haitian energy system and the needs and opportunities for investment in renewable energy.

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By Haibing Ma and Lini Fu  

China has launched more than 100 ”Eco-City” initiatives in recent years, according to a 2009 World Bank report—more than any other country worldwide. These efforts have proven to be an investment hot zone and appear to be a timely mechanism for building China’s sustainable future, particularly as the country urbanizes rapidly. But actually implementing these diverse projects has hit its own sustainability snags, putting a halt to or even shelving several initiatives and putting many others in serious question. 

Photo copyright belongs to infzm.com

Finnish professor Eero Paloheimo, in his pioneering book on the concept, Syntymättömien sukupolvien Eurooppa (The Way Towards a New Europe), observes that most existing theories and designs for Eco-Cities worldwide share a common goal: to enhance the wellbeing of citizens and society through integrated urban planning and management that fully harnesses the benefits of ecological systems, and protects and nurtures these assets for future generations. According to Paloheimo, an Eco-City should embrace the two basic features of: 

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On Monday evening, Worldwatch hosted a well-attended official side event at the United Nations Climate Conference in Cancún titled “Low-Carbon Energy Roadmaps: Insights from Those Who Are Leading the Way.” The event explored Worldwatch’s unique approach to designing energy roadmaps worldwide and highlighted a handful of countries that are making measurable progress in the path toward low-carbon development.

Dan Kammen speaking at the Worldwatch event

The panel consisted of Norbert Gorissen from the German Federal Environment Ministry (BMU), Rae Kwon Chung from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (and South Korea’s former climate ambassador), the World Bank’s new renewable energy czar Dan Kammen, Jiang Kejun from the Energy Research Institute of China, and Nelly Cuello from the Dominican Republic’s National Council on Climate Change. The meeting was moderated by Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin.

Following an opening presentation by Alexander Ochs, Worldwatch’s Energy and Climate Director, the panelists shared thoughts on how their countries (or in Kammen’s case, the World Bank and California) aspire to position themselves as leaders in creating low-carbon development strategies. Each of these players is moving ahead with ambitious policies even in the absence of real progress at the international level.

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Bjørn Lomborg—one of the most controversial figures on the climate change scene—previewed his new film, “Cool It,” at the Heritage Foundation on Tuesday, October 5, in Washington, D.C.  Directed by Ondi Timoner, “Cool It” is a documentary that begins by chronicling Lomborg’s early life and career in Denmark and ends by outlining his plan to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This may seem like a reversal of course for a self-proclaimed “skeptical environmentalist,” but Lomborg maintains he has always thought that climate change is a real and important issue. He said in my conversation with him after the screening that he felt climate change needed to be addressed, and that the film is a vehicle to articulate his solutions.

Bjørn Lomborg

Bjørn Lomborg - Wikimedia Creative Commons / Simon Wedege

Lomborg proposes a plan that relies on investment in research and development. The plan has a budget of $250 billion per year, set to equal an estimate of what the EU will spend to reach its two key climate policy goals: 1) reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 2) simultaneously achieving a 20 percent renewable share in its overall energy supply. In this assessment of the EU 20/20/20 policy for the Copenhagen Consensus Center (a think-tank that Lomborg founded and now directs), the policy would yield only three cents of benefit for every Euro invested and decrease global temperature by just 0.05 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. Rather, Lomborg argues, this money, equivalent to 1.3 percent of the EU’s GDP, should be invested in research and development.  He suggests that such an R&D fund be financed by a global carbon tax of $7 per metric ton. [For more on the economics of climate change, read the recent ReVolt post, “Climate Change and Its Cost – What Is at Stake?”]

In “Cool It,” Lomborg explains his plan to invest $100 billion a year on R&D of green energy technologies and $1 billion a year on R&D for geo-engineering. While the film spends most of its 89 minutes discussing new green energy technologies, it does highlight some geo-engineering proposals that plan to temporarily manipulate Earth’s climate to offset the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. [Geo-engineering will be the topic of a forthcoming ReVolt post.] After the R&D, there is $149 billion a year left in his budget, which Lomborg intends to spend on adaptive technologies (retroactive climate change management) and other pressing global issues, such as poverty, malnutrition, and clean drinking water.

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