Why should I care about Copenhagen?

I am sure you have all heard about the commotion coming from the capital city of Denmark, where the the Copenhagen Climate Conference is taking place. This conference, and the role many hope that the United States will play in the potential passage of major, global climate change legislation, could finally help rein in greenhouse gas emissions. When he joins the conference in a few days, President Obama will propose to slash carbon dioxide emissions by about 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and pledge an 83 percent reduction by 2050 in the United States. Agreement on a global protocol on climate change will succeed those outlined in the Kyoto Protocol when it expires in 2012.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20th century has been caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases – largely a result of human activity such as fossil fuel burning and deforestation.

Click here to learn how Global Warming works.

In 1997, the United States (and China) infamously refused to enter a legally binding agreement with other nations around the world to cut emissions at Kyoto. Only three dozen industrialized nations agreed to sign the Kyoto Protocol. In 2007, the Bali Road Map was born, to “chart the course for a new negotiating process designed to tackle climate change, with the aim of completing this by 2009.” (Source) Well folks, it’s 2009, and now we’re in Copenhagen. Will the United States finally sign on?

Since Kyoto, there has been a strong push for the United States to become a more active participant in the fight against global warming – especially since we are responsible for so much of the world’s emissions – while the U.S composes only 4% of the earth’s population, we emit about 25% of the total global greenhouse gases – Not good. (Source)

Click here for an inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions.

Obama has had his work cut out for him since he entered office, and this is no exception. Much is expected of the President – in short, setting the stage for passage of a comprehensive international treaty to slow global warming. (Source)

The world is watching! Let’s hope that December 18th will begin a new chapter on climate change, as promised by President Obama.

-Elise

WA Governor Gregoire on Earth Day

Since 1970, Americans have set aside April 22 to celebrate the wonders of the big blue-green globe we call Earth—and to renew our resolve to protect it for our children and grandchildren.

On this Earth Day, I want to remind us all that there is no more time to waste.

The respected writer Thomas Freidman has a warning call to signal the importance of what we must do to save and protect our world and our incredibly beautiful state.

He calls it Code Green—a call to arms if you will—to reverse climate change, to make our world safer, and to create a green 21st century economy—all by reducing our use of fossil fuels.

And I firmly believe Washington State—where innovation is part of our very DNA—will lead the way and serve as a model for the country.

A green economy is not just a politically correct slogan for a bumper sticker. Neither our environment nor our economy can survive if we continue to depend so heavily on oil. It’s as simple as that. Oil is too expensive, too volatile, and the rest of the world’s growing populations are too happy to use it as much as we do. So why do we keep forgetting this simple reality?

I’m happy to report that Washington innovators understand Code Green, and they are answering the call of a generation.

First, our innovators are working on using the energy we already have in smarter ways. Second, government and the private sector are developing and creating economies-of-scale for a diverse menu of alternatives from wind power to solar to biofuels.

In short, it’s about harnessing our innovators and our technology to squeeze out every last clean electron we can to reduce our reliance on oil and save money. And we, with our incredible culture of innovation, can lead the world!

Washington State is the fifth largest producer of wind power and we’re working on ways to store it. We’re building solar-power components, and making real breakthroughs in bio-energy. And I’m talking with the governors of Oregon and California to create the first green freeway in the United States from the Canadian to Mexican borders.

We envision Interstate 5 with a network of rest stops where—as President Obama said when he looked at the idea—motorists would get more than a cup of coffee and bathroom break.

And this brings me to an important piece of a green economy—the role of government. We can and must help create markets for alternative-energy development. It’s all about infrastructure and incentives to give our innovators a reason to innovate. And it’s all about 21st century jobs for us and our children.

A carbon cap-and-trade system is already in place in Europe and some eastern states, and awaits action by the U.S. Congress. I want Washington to get out in front on this! We need to make sure our assets—like agriculture and forestry—get the credit they are due; that companies who have already stepped up to the challenge get the credit; that Congress delivers a program that is informed by our expertise so that it works for us.

When nearly $5 gas helped bring this country to its knees last year, I couldn’t help but reflect on how many times I’d seen this Grade B movie before—way back in the ‘70s! Back in the ‘80s!

We’ve been living on borrowed time long enough. It’s time for Code Green.

(originally posted here)

Happy Earth Day!