Friday, June 27, 2008

CARB Has a Plan

Draft AB 32 Scoping Plan Released for Public Comment
June 26, 2008

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has laid out its draft plan for achieving the objectives of AB 32: to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions statewide to 1990 levels by 2020.

The AB 32 Scoping Plan contains the main strategies California will use to reduce GHGs that cause climate change. The Plan has a range of GHG reduction actions that includes direct regulations, alternative compliance mechanisms, monetary and non-monetary incentives, voluntary actions, and market-based mechanisms such as a cap-and-trade system.

The draft Scoping Plan was released for public review and comment on June 26, 2008. Workshops will follow in July 2008. Comments are requested by August 1, 2008. The Plan will go to the Board for adoption in November, 2008.

Read the draft plan here:

Find a staff presentation summarizing the plan here:

Comments on the draft plan are requested by August 1, 2008. An electronic comment form can be found here:

Read AB 32 here:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Water Industry’s Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases and Promoting Energy Savings

A Presentation from California's Water Energy Climate Action Team (WETCAT)
May 29, 2008

Craig Gaites and Mallika Kumar

This presentation emphasized the role of the water industry in achieving the goals of Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32). Water conservation will be a major component of emissions reduction as 19% of all electricity generated in California is used for the production, treatment, and conveyance of water and 33% of non-power plant natural gas is used for water production, treatment and conveyance.

AB 32 requires a 173 million metric ton reduction in carbon emissions. Currently the state’s Climate Action Team (CAT) has identified ways to cut 72 million tons of emissions. The CAT’s plan is designed to be non-punitive and to stimulate the cleantech economy in California. The plan will be designed to prevent emissions “leakage” (the migration of emissions intensive industries out of California) and will be an example for other states to follow. The plan will likely employ each of the following mechanisms: Market Driven Emissions Controls (Cap and Trade, Carbon Offsets, etc…), Incentives and Rebates, and Direct Regulation of Industry.

The plan will be released on June 26th, 2008. Workshops will be held throughout the state in July.

A supplement to the plan explaining the analysis that went into the plan will be released in late-July. Workshops on the related to the plan supplement will be held in August.

The WETCAT is the arm of the CAT tasked with identifying emissions reduction strategies associated with water conservation. The WETCAT has identified five likely strategies for achieving emissions reduction through water conservation:

1. Water Recycling
The CAT plan may include a mandate that up to 32% of all treated wastewater be used for direct reuse. Wastewater can be used for agriculture, irrigation, industrial cooling, wetland restoration, groundwater recharge, etc…

2. Urban Water Reuse
This strategy involves the capture and utilization of rainwater for non-potable water uses. It also involves the capture of runoff from urban irrigation and other outdoor water uses. Water can also be detained for percolation, or redirected to high permeability areas for percolation, and then recaptured via groundwater wells or simply be used to increase ambient soil moisture and reduce irrigation demands. Modification of existing storm water collection infrastructure will likely be mandated in the plan.

3. Water Conservation Planning
This strategy seeks improvement of water use efficiency through improvement of the water use planning process. WETCAT estimates that a water use reduction of 20% of the current water use can be achieved through improved planning.

4. Improve Efficiency of States Water Delivery Infrastructure
This strategy involves reducing the amount of water lost and energy used during the conveyance of water. The strategy will seek to incorporate energy generation into the conveyance process to offset emissions by producing clean energy.

5. Improve Efficiency of Water Treatment Processes
This strategy involves reducing energy use during the wastewater treatment process and will mirror strategy 4. This strategy will seek to incorporate energy generation into the treatment process to offset emissions by producing clean energy.

Learn more at California's Climate Change portal:

Stanford Symposium Update

Sustainable Places: Leadership in the Public and Private Sectors
Stanford University, March 4, 2008

Mallika Kumar

This symposium brought together sustainability professionals, policy leaders and Stanford faculty to discuss practical solutions to manage carbon emissions, water usage and energy efficiency.

The first panel discussion, moderated by James Sweeney, Professor, Stanford University and a member of Governor Schwarzenegger’s Council of Economic Advisers, focused on sustainability efforts, incentives and challenges in the private sector. The panel comprised of Christina Page, Director, Climate and Energy Strategy, Yahoo, Joseph Stagner, Executive Director, Sustainability and Energy Management, Stanford University and Peter Williams, Chief Technology Officer, Big Green Innovations, IBM. The panel outlined several initiatives undertaken at their respective organizations to combat climate change such as usage of green screens which tracks electricity use, passive cooling to reduce the heat load from servers and deploying new technologies to reduce electricity consumption. Monetary benefits, company policy, brand management and personal commitment were identified as the primary incentives for technological innovations. Employees are also given several incentives to motivate them to reduce energy consumption. For instance, Yahoo set a target of reducing the company’s energy consumption for a month by 20% and the reward was a sumo wrestling match between the Yahoo co-founders!! All the panelists identified the need to understand one’s impact and leverage points before moving forward on sustainability. Misinformation and long-term behavioral changes were identified as the key challenges in the quest for sustainability.

The second panel discussion, moderated by Felicity Barringer, National Environmental Correspondent, The New York Times, focused on municipal and state leadership. The panel comprised of Larry Goulder, Professor, Stanford University, Dian Grueneich, Commissioner, California Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom and Mary Nichols, Chairman, California Air Resources Board. The panelists discussed the need for uniform regulations at both the state and federal levels and for coordination between the states. For instance, most states do not have any building standards but California has decided to adopt a zero net energy building standard. This lack of uniformity could result in leakage and movement of industries from out of California. The panelists also outlined several strategies to raise public awareness about climate change such as programs in schools, taxes on pollution and lower payroll taxes and an instrument to calculate carbon dioxide output in real time on the MUNI bus.

The symposium was sponsored by Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment and the Energy Crossroads.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Science Academies Call for International Action on Climate Change, Global Health

The National Academy of Science, June 10, 2008

Today the science academies of the G8 countries, as well as China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa, issued statements urging leaders worldwide to take action on two pressing global challenges. To mitigate and adapt to climate change, nations must begin a transition to being "low-carbon societies," a shift that will require energy-saving changes in all sectors -- from housing to transportation to industry -- and the development of a range of clean energy sources. Meeting global health challenges, such as infectious disease outbreaks and the rising incidence of lifestyle-linked diseases such as diabetes, will require stronger collaboration among nations, as well as the strengthening of their health systems and health work force.

Read the complete statement here:

Monday, June 9, 2008

No Water? No Condos.

Water-starved California slows development
Jennifer Steinhauer, NY Times, June 7, 2008

As California faces one of its worst droughts in two decades, building projects are being curtailed for the first time under state law by the inability of developers to find long-term water supplies.
Water authorities and other government agencies have begun denying, delaying or challenging authorization for dozens of housing tracts and other developments under a state law that requires a 20-year water supply as a condition for building. The state law was enacted in 2001, but until statewide water shortages, it had not been invoked to hold up projects.

“The water in our state is not sufficient to add more demand,” said Lester Snow, the director of the California Department of Water Resources. “And that now means that some large development can’t go forward. If we don’t make changes with water, we are going to have a major economic problem in this state.”

Governor Schwarzenegger sees addressing the state’s water problem as one of his key goals, and he is hoping against the odds to get a proposed $11.9 billion bond for water management investments through the Legislature and before voters in November. The plans calls for water conservation and quality improvement programs, as well as a resource management plan for the delta. Among its most controversial components is $3.5 billion earmarked for new water storage, something that environmentalists have vehemently opposed, in part because they find dams and storage facilities environmentally unsound and not cost effective. The critics also point out that the state’s agriculture industry, which uses far more water than urban areas, is being asked to contribute little to conservation under the governor’s plans.

Read the complete story here:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Heated Exchange: Update

Vote on climate bill is blocked in Senate
H. Josef Hebert, AP, June 6, 2008

Senate Republicans blocked a global warming bill that would have required major reductions in greenhouse gases, pushing debate over the world's biggest environmental concern to next year for a new Congress and president.

Democratic leaders fell a dozen votes short of getting the 60 needed to end a Republican filibuster on the measure and bring the bill up for a vote. The Senate debate focused on bitter disagreement over the expected economic costs of putting a price on carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas that comes from burning fossil fuels. Opponents said it would lead to higher energy costs.

Read the complete story here:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Let's Get Ready to Ration

Schwarzenegger declares statewide drought in California
Don Thompson, AP, June 4, 2008

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proclaimed a statewide drought after two years of below-average rainfall, low snowmelt runoff and the largest court-ordered restrictions on water transfers in state history.

The governor issued an executive order Wednesday that directs the state Department of Water Resources to speed water transfers to areas with the most severe shortages. Schwarzenegger has ordered state officials to help local water districts with water conservation efforts and directed them to help farmers suffering losses from the drought.

Dry conditions are damaging crops, harming water quality, and causing extreme fire danger across the state. Many communities already are requiring water conservation or rationing.

Find the story here:

More here:

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Heated Exchange

Is the US Ready to Put a Price on Carbon?
Zachary Coile, SF Chronicle, June 3, 2008

The Lieberman-Warner bill titled the "Climate Security Act" (S2191) began debate in the Senate this week. The bill's aim is to reduce US carbon emissions by nearly 70% by 2050. President Bush has already threatened to veto it, but it is unlikely to reach his desk. Senate Democrats acknowledge the bill has little chance of passing, but believe the debate will increase the chances for passage in the next Congress. The bill would require about 2,100 major U.S. emitters - mostly coal-fired power plants, oil refineries, and chemical plants - to pay for the right to emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Proceeds from selling or trading those permits could total over $6 trillion over the next 40 years, and would be reinvested in renewable energy and rebates to consumers.

Read more here:

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