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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Our Planet’s Future Is in the Hands of 58 People
 
By Roberto Savio*
 
ROME, April 19  2014 (IPS)   –   In case you missed it, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final part of a report on Apr. 13 in which it says bluntly that we only have 15 years left to avoid exceeding the “safe” threshold of a 2°C increase in global temperatures, beyond which the consequences will be dramatic.
 
And only the most myopic are unaware of what these are – from an increase in sea level, through more frequent hurricanes and storms (increasingly in previously unaffected areas), to an adverse impact on food production.
 
Now, in a normal and participatory world, in which at least 83 percent of those living today will still be alive in 15 years, this report would have created a dramatic reaction. Instead, there has not been a single comment by any of the leaders of the 196 countries in which the planet’s 7.5 billion “consumers” reside.
It’s just been business as usual.
 
Anthropologists, who study human beings’ similarity to and divergence from other animals, concluded a long time ago that humans are not superior in every aspect. For instance, human beings are less adaptable than many animals to survive in, for example, earthquakes, hurricanes and any other type of natural disaster.
You can be sure that, by now, other animals would be showing signs of alertness and uneasiness.
 
The first part of the report, released in September 2013 in Stockholm, declared with a 95 percent or greater certainty that humans are the main cause of global warming, while the second part, released in Yokohama at the end of March, reported that “in recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans”.
 
The IPCC is made up of over 2,000 scientists, and this is the first time that it has come to firm and final conclusions since its creation in 1988 by the United Nations.
 
The main conclusion of the report is that to slow the race to a point of no return, global emissions must be cut by 40 to 70 percent by 2050, and that “only major institutional and technological changes will give a better than even chance” that global warming will not go beyond the safety threshold and that these must start at the latest in 15 years, and be completed in 35 years.
 
It is worth noting that roughly half of the world’s population is under the age of 30, and it is largely the young who will have to bear the enormous costs of fighting climate change.
 
The IPCC’s main recommendation is very simple: major economies should place a tax on carbon pollution, raising the cost of fossil fuels and thus pushing the market toward clean sources such as wind, solar or nuclear energy. It is here that “major institutional changes” are required.
 
Ten countries are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution, with the United States and China accounting for over 55 percent of that share. Both countries are taking serious steps to fight pollution.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama tried in vain to obtain Senate support, and has used his authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from vehicles and industrial plants and encourage clean technologies. 
But he cannot do anything more without backing from the Senate.
 
The all-powerful new president of China, Xi Jinping, has made the environment a priority, also because official sources put the number of deaths in China each year from pollution at five million.
 
But China needs coal for its growth, and Xi’s position is: “Why should we slow down our development when it was you rich countries that created the problem by achieving your growth?” And that gives rise to a vicious circle. The countries of the South want the rich countries to finance their costs for reducing pollution, and the countries of the North want them to stop polluting.
 
As a result, the report’s executive summary, which is intended for political leaders, has been stripped of
charts which could have been read as showing the need for the South to do more, while the rich countries
put pressure on avoiding any language that could have been interpreted as the need for them to assume any financial obligations.
 
This should {and we say rather that the word is should - ST.info editor} make it easier to reach an agreement at the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Lima, where a new global agreement should be reached (remember the disaster at the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009? {that we really did not call a disaster as thanks to President Obama – it was in Copenhagen that China came first time on board - ST.info editor }).
 
The key to any agreement is in the hands of the United States. The U.S. Congress has blocked any initiative on climate control, providing an easy escape for China, India and other polluters: why should we make commitments and sacrifices if the U.S. does not participate?
 
The problem is that the Republicans have made climate change denial one of their points of identity.
 
They have mocked and denied climate change and attacked Democrats who support carbon taxing as waging a war on coal. The American energy industry financially supports the Republican Party and it is considered political suicide to talk about climate change.
 
The last time a carbon tax was proposed in 2009, after a positive vote by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, the Republican-dominated Senate shot it down.
 
And in the 2010 elections, a number of politicians who voted for the carbon tax lost their seats, contributing to the Republican takeover of the House. The hope now for those who want a change is to wait for the 2016 elections, and hope that the new president will be able to change the situation – which is a good example of why the ancient Greeks said that Hope is the last Goddess.
 
And this brings us to a very simple reality. The U.S. Senate is made up of 100 members, and this means that you need 51 votes to kill any bill for a fossil fuels tax. In China, the situation is different, but decisions are taken, in the best of hypotheses, not by the president alone, but by the seven-member Standing Committee of the Central Committee, which holds the real power in the Communist Party.
 
In other words, the future of our planet is decided by 58 persons. With the current global population standing at close to 7.7 billion people, so much for a democratic world!
*Roberto Savio, founder and  president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 28th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Atlantic Chapter NYC Group Banner 3

*Full house for February’s Sustainability Event. A standing-room only crowd enthusiastically engaged in a presentation by Ron Gonen,  NYC Deputy Commissioner for Recycling.

Gonen stressed that it is possible for NYC to divert all but 18% of waste from landfills. He explained both the economic and environmental benefits of intensive recycling, and the planning for future residential and commercial composting.  To get composting in your building or neighborhood, ask your city councilmember to contact the Sanitation Dept (hrogers@dsny.nyc.gov). Other presenters included: Brooklyn College Professor Brett Branco, who stressed sustainable use of phosphorous, a finite resource for agriculture; Elizabeth Balkan, a senior policy advisor to Mayor de Blasio, who talked about how the new city law requiring commercial food waste recycling will be rolled out; and Vandra Thorburn, who established Vokashi, a unique composting service using the Japanese method of fermenting organic matter and returning it to the earth.  There was much enthusiastic discussion.

 

Maryland rally
Chesapeake Climate Action Network

 

*On the Bus to Baltimore. On February 20th, about 30 activists, including a number of Sierra Club members, got on a bus at 7:00 in NYC, picking up another 10-15 at two New Jersey stops, to join a rally against an LNG export facility in Cove Point,  Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay.  Dominion Resources which built an import facility there, wants to break its agreement to set aside wetlands and build an export facility on those wetlands. The demonstration was spirited and the speakers, including Sierra Club’s Josh Tulkin, were inspiring. The Reverend Lennox Yearwood, Jr. (see picture) made a strong case to the environmental justice aspect of this issue, see picture right. For more pictures, see here.

 

 

Fossil Fuel Divestment NYC
Divestment Forum Panelists

 

*Fossil Fuel Stock Divestment is a movement that is quickly gathering steam on campuses across the country.  While still principally on campuses, it is moving into city and state governments. Six speakers at a February 26th “Divestment Open House” at the Ethical Culture Society  discussed the divestment movement from a variety of perspectives. Sierra Club’s Lisa DiCaprio (far left in photo), spoke about how successful divestment efforts might shift the way investors view the value of fossil fuel investments, making them less attractive. The presentations were followed by a lively Q&A session with the audience.

 

 


Check out recent posts on our Blog:
A Letter from Minisink, talks about a community’s resistance to the intrusion of a gas compressor station and proposals for a gas power station in their community;  NYC Parks Under Siege, reports about efforts to block the granting  of permission for restaurants to locate in parks; and Promises and Pitfalls in the 2014 NYS Energy Plan raises questions about the State’s newly released energy plan.   And don’t forget to check our calendar for events of interest to environmentalists in and around New York City.

 


If you are interested in volunteering to work on the NYC Group’s online and digital communications, please email Gary Nickerson at    gary@gwntec.com.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

First He Ran the Obama Seder. Now Eric Lesser is Running for Office.

Former White House aide launches campaign for Massachusetts State Senate

The White House Seder in April 2009. Lesser is fifth from President Obama’s right. (White House / Pete Souza)

Back in April 2008, Eric Lesser began what would become a White House tradition when he helped organize a seder for staffers on the Obama campaign trail. “We were feeling a little down because we realized it wouldn’t be possible to get home for Passover,” the 28-year-old recalled. “So we set up our makeshift seder in this windowless basement in the Sheraton in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and when we were down there getting ready to begin, all of a sudden Senator Obama popped his head in and said, ‘Is this where the seder is?’ and asked, ‘Can I join?’ It was actually a little funny, because we were planning to have a bit of a briefer version, but he was very interested in it, and so we went through almost the entire haggadah, which is much more than I had ever done with my own family.”

The seder became a yearly tradition for the Obama family, and Lesser would go on to serve as a special assistant to David Axelrod and later director of strategic planning for the Council of Economic Advisers. He was profiled–along with his weekly shabbat dinners with other young Obama administration staffers–in the New York Times, and then moved on to Harvard for law school, where he’d previously attended college. And just this week, he launched his own political career by announcing his candidacy for State Senate in Massachusetts.

Lesser casts his campaign as a community-building exercise, rather than a particularly partisan affair. “My family wasn’t very political per se, but was very community-oriented,” he explained. “I was very active in my synagogue in Springfield, MA., Sinai Temple. I was active in my synagogue youth group, which was a branch of NFTY. And that was one of my early paths into community work,” he said. One of Lesser’s first political acts was to work with his local community to successfully fight budget cuts for his high school in 2002. “I’m a proud Democrat, but I don’t particularly care if an idea comes from a Democrat, from a Republican, or from none of the above. My focus is on good ideas,” he said. “We didn’t even know what party the community members and the volunteers were, and we didn’t care. What we cared about was that we fought for a good idea.”

Both of Lesser’s parents worked their way through college in New York–his father as a taxi driver–and became professionals in Holyoke, MA. Lesser’s goal is “to give more families that kind of opportunity”–to enable others to live the success story of his own family’s rise into the middle class. At the moment, however, he is still in listening mode. He intends to release “a variety of new innovative policy proposals.” Until then, he’s demurring on hot button issues like the role of charter schools, which has split progressives across the country, and pitted his former boss President Obama against liberal leaders like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. “My goal now is to listen to people, and to make sure I’m hearing from all people in the district, regardless of party or position.”

In the end, Lesser’s hope for his political career is simple. “My background in Judaism is there’s no greater work than tikkun olam, and that’s always been a very strong part of my identity and my motivating force,” he said. “The idea is that you work in some small way to try to leave things a little better off than how you found them.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Politics

 

Obama Orders New Efficiency for Big Trucks.

 

 

President Obama announced the development of tough new fuel standards for heavy-duty trucks while in Maryland on Tuesday. Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — President Obama on Tuesday ordered the development of tough new fuel standards for the nation’s fleet of heavy-duty trucks as part of what aides say will be an increasingly muscular and unilateral campaign to tackle climate change through the use of the president’s executive power.

The new regulations, to be drafted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department by March 2015 and completed a year later so they are in place before Mr. Obama leaves office, are the latest in a series of actions intended to cut back on greenhouse gases without the sort of comprehensive legislation the president failed to push through Congress in his first term.

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The limits on greenhouse gas pollution from trucks would combine with previous rules requiring passenger cars and light trucks to burn fuel more efficiently and pending rules to limit the carbon emissions of power plants. Cumulatively, experts said the à la carte approach should enable Mr. Obama to meet his target of cutting carbon pollution in the United States by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. But they said he would still be far short of his goal of an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

Obama Delivers Remarks on Economy:

The president spoke at the Safeway Distribution Center in Maryland about efforts to bolster the economy and announced plans for new fuel economy standards for trucks.

 

“Improving gas mileage for these trucks is going to drive down our oil imports even further,” Mr. Obama said at a Safeway grocery distribution center here, flanked by a Peterbilt truck and Safeway and Coca-Cola cabs. “That reduces carbon pollution even more, cuts down on businesses’ fuel costs, which should pay off in lower prices for consumers. So it’s not just a win-win, it’s a win-win-win. We got three wins.”

Not everyone sees it that way. United States car and truck manufacturers have lobbied heavily against aggressive increases in federal fuel economy standards, saying that they could increase vehicle prices and diminish safety. More broadly, Republicans have said that the president should not single-handedly impose what they consider onerous requirements on vast swaths of the energy economy when Congress has opted against its own intervention.

The announcement was part of the President’s vow in his State of the Union address last month to advance his agenda “with or without Congress.” But while most of the actions taken since then have been relatively modest, like ordering a study of job training programs, one area where Mr. Obama both has the power to take more sweeping action and seems intent on using it is the environment.

In the case of carbon pollution, Mr. Obama has the legal authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act, which requires the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate any substance designated as a pollutant that harms or endangers human health. In 2009, the E.P.A. determined that carbon dioxide, emitted in large quantities from tailpipes and smokestacks, meets that definition.

While Mr. Obama effectively gave up on comprehensive climate legislation after it stalled in the Senate in his first term, aides said he saw climate change as an area where he could still shape his legacy. He recruited John D. Podesta, a former White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, to join his team as counselor in part to direct a more aggressive approach to the issue.

The administration has recently sought to elevate the issue. Two weeks ago officials announced creation of seven regional “climate hubs” to help farmers adapt to the impact of climate change, like drought and increased pests. Last week in California’s parched Central Valley, Mr. Obama announced a $1 billion “climate resiliency” fund for affected communities. Last weekend while in Jakarta, Secretary of State John Kerry urged Indonesia to sign a major climate treaty and directed American diplomatic missions to make climate change a top priority.

These accompany more assertive actions the administration is taking to reshape the American energy sector. In August the E.P.A. issued rules requiring automakers to double average fleet economy standards for passenger cars to 50.4 miles per gallon by 2025, which the administration said would cut carbon pollution from vehicles in half.

In September the E.P.A. proposed new rules cutting carbon pollution from future coal-fired power plants, a move that has effectively frozen construction of new coal plants. Mr. Obama has directed the E.P.A. to produce by June a draft regulation targeting existing coal plants, a deeply controversial move that could shutter hundreds of facilities.

“They have to do the actions at home to show the rest of the international community that they’re doing the actions they need the rest of the world to do,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, a Washington research organization.

But environmental advocates warn that the E.P.A. rules will be effective only if they withstand legal and legislative efforts to undo them, which is why they want Mr. Obama to be more energetic about selling them to the public. “If you make a push purely on the executive action front and you don’t back it up with measures to bolster public support, a lot of this can crumble under a new administration,” said Michael Levi, a climate change expert at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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Specialists like Mr. Levi also note that no matter what the United States does on its own, it may not matter if Washington fails to persuade other nations, like China and India, to commit to similar actions, which is Mr. Kerry’s assignment.

In his speech here Tuesday, Mr. Obama said that heavy-duty trucks represent just 4 percent of all vehicles on American highways but generate 20 percent of the carbon pollution produced by the transportation sector.

Environmentalists applauded Mr. Obama’s move. Michelle Robinson, director of the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said improving fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks could reduce oil consumption by as much as one million barrels a day in 2035, more than the capacity of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

A coalition of shippers that stand to benefit from lower fuel costs, including FedEx, Wabash National Corporation and Waste Management Inc., welcomed the president’s action and released its own suggestions to shape the administration’s new regulations.

“This collaborative approach will result in realistic, achievable goals and an effective regulatory framework to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Douglas W. Stotlar, president of Con-way Inc., the nation’s third-largest freight company and a member of the coalition.

The American Trucking Association took a more cautious view, saying that it had worked with the administration on previous rules. “As we begin this new round of standards, A.T.A. hopes the administration will set forth a path that is both based on the best science and research available and economically achievable,” said Bill Graves, the association’s chief executive.

Mr. Obama pointed to what he called an emerging consensus. “If rivals like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola or U.P.S. and FedEx or AT&T and Verizon, if they can join together on this, then maybe Democrats and Republicans can do the same,” he said.

 

Peter Baker reported from Upper Marlboro, Md., and Coral Davenport from Washington.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 
Tom Steyer at the office of NextGen Climate Action, his political organization, in San Francisco. Jason Henry for The New York Times

 

A billionaire retired investor is forging plans to spend as much as $100 million during the 2014 election, seeking to pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers.

The donor, Tom Steyer, a Democrat who founded one of the world’s most successful hedge funds, burst onto the national political scene during last year’s elections, when he spent $11 million to help elect Terry McAuliffe governor of Virginia and millions more intervening in a Democratic congressional primary in Massachusetts. Now he is rallying other deep-pocketed donors, seeking to build a war chest that would make his political organization, NextGen Climate Action, among the largest outside groups in the country, similar in scale to the conservative political network overseen by Charles and David Koch.

===================================

 

 

In early February, Mr. Steyer gathered two dozen of the country’s leading liberal donors and environmental philanthropists to his 1,800-acre ranch in Pescadero, Calif. — which raises prime grass-fed beef — to ask them to join his efforts. People involved in the discussions say Mr. Steyer is seeking to raise $50 million from other donors to match $50 million of his own.

The money would move through Mr. Steyer’s fast-growing, San Francisco-based political apparatus into select 2014 races. Targets include the governor’s race in Florida, where the incumbent, Rick Scott, a first-term Republican, has said he does not believe that science has established that climate change is man-made. Mr. Steyer’s group is also looking at the Senate race in Iowa, in the hope that a win for the Democratic candidate, Representative Bruce Braley, an outspoken proponent of measures to limit climate change, could help shape the 2016 presidential nominating contests.

Mr. Steyer also prospected for potential donors on a recent trip to New York City, where he met with aides to former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has made championing climate change a focus of his post-mayoral political life, but whose own “super PAC” has focused chiefly on gun control.

“Our feeling on 2014 is, we want to do things that are both substantively important and will have legs after that,” Mr. Steyer said in an interview. “We don’t want to go someplace, win and move on.”

Mr. Steyer, 56, accumulated more than $1.5 billion during his days at the hedge fund Farallon Capital Management, before he retired in 2012. Today, he is among the most visible of a new breed of wealthy donors on the left who call themselves “donor-doers,” taking a page from the Kochs, Mr. Bloomberg and others to build and run their own political organizations — outside the two parties and sometimes in tension with them.

But the newest wave of single-issue super PACs — including groups seeking greater regulation of guns and of campaign fund-raising — has drawn criticism even from those who share those priorities.

“A small number of the richest individuals in America are attempting to use their enormous wealth to purchase government decisions to advance their own personal interests,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a group that favors tighter limits on money in politics. “This is about as far away as we can get from ‘representative government.’ ”

Mr. Steyer poured tens of millions of dollars into a successful 2012 ballot initiative in California that eliminated a loophole in the state’s corporate income tax and dedicated some of the resulting revenue to clean-energy projects. He also has helped finance opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, appearing in a series of self-funded 90-second ads seeking to stop the project.

Those efforts cemented his partnership with Chris Lehane, a California-based Democratic strategist, and heralded the emergence of NextGen Climate, now a 20-person operation encompassing a super PAC, a research organization and a political advocacy nonprofit. The group employs polling, research and social media to find climate-sensitive voters and spends millions of dollars in television advertising to try to persuade them.

It already is among the biggest environmental pressure groups in the country: For example, the League of Conservation Voters, considered the most election-oriented of such groups, reported spending about $15 million on campaign ads in 2012. And while Mr. Steyer has been critical of Democrats who waver on climate issues, he has aimed most of his firepower so far at Republicans.

The new fund-raising push seeks to tap into the booming fortunes of Silicon Valley, where many donors rank climate change as their top political issue. It also signals a shift within the environmental movement, as donors — frustrated that neither Democratic nor Republican officials are willing to prioritize climate change measures — shift their money from philanthropy and education into campaign vehicles designed to win elections.

“There are some people I like and am friends with in the Senate, and if not for Tom’s effort I would probably write a check to support them,” said Wendy Abrams, a Chicago-based philanthropist and donor who raised money for President Obama’s re-election campaign. “But the party is afraid to fight the fight, because they’re afraid to lose more conservative Democratic votes.”

This month, NextGen asked supporters to pick one congressional candidate, from five running this year, for the group to target in its next ads. Four of the five candidates were Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. But the fifth was a vulnerable Democratic incumbent, Senator Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, who has close ties to the oil and gas industries and has been an outspoken supporter of the Keystone pipeline.

It is unclear how aggressively his group will move against other Senate Democrats: Asked whether Democratic control of the Senate was necessary to advance his climate agenda, Mr. Steyer said, “As long as we have this partisan divide on energy and climate, it’s got to be important.”

But he is also seeking to upend the partisan split that has come to infuse the climate debate. In their advertising and research, Mr. Steyer and his aides have sought to craft appeals that would reach beyond affluent white liberals on the coasts. Ads in California were tailored to Hispanic voters by emphasizing the negative health impacts of power plant emissions. In the Virginia governor’s race, NextGen sought to show that a Democrat could win with a message emphasizing “green” job creation over one emphasizing threats to the state’s coal industry.

David Topper, a New York private equity investor who attended the meeting at Mr. Steyer’s ranch, said: “You need to be agnostic as to party. If I find someone who has the right position on climate change, do I care if he owns six guns? Not at all.”

Unlike some on the left, Mr. Steyer has embraced the political toolbox that was opened to wealthy donors and other interests in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which made it easier for businesses, unions and rich individuals to pour unlimited money into elections.

“We have a democratic system, there are parts we would want to reform or change, and Citizens United is prominent in that,” Mr. Steyer said. “But we’ve accepted the world as it is.”

Mr. Steyer said there was no fixed budget for his group and declined to confirm his fund-raising target.

“Is it going to take $100 million? I have no idea,” he said, before suggesting that might be a lowball number. “I think that would be a really cheap price to answer the generational challenge of the world.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Yingli And SolarAid Light Up African School

 

 

by Energy Matters of February 7, 2014

Yingli - SolarAid
Yingli Green Energy and SolarAid joined forces to help Mayukwayukwa High School in Kaoma, Zambia harness the power of the sun.
  
Donated by Yingli Solar and its partners through SolarAid, the system is large enough to meet the lighting requirements of the 600 student school; plus provides cell phone charging for the entire community.
   
“The solar lighting lengthens learning hours, improves education quality and reduces dependence on expensive and toxic kerosene lamps,” said Richard Turner, Chief Fundraiser at SolarAid.
  
The new high school is located in one of Africa’s oldest refugee camps – the Mayukwayukwa Settlement – and was constructed under a UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) program.
  
Less than 10% of rural sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity and families can spend up to a quarter of their income on kerosene for lighting. Kerosene lamps are carbon intensive and are also known to cause respiratory disease in households where they are heavily used. Africans spend billions a year on kerosene and while the fossil fuel may provide light, it also reinforces poverty.
   
“Bringing clean safe light to communities in Africa helps create brighter and better futures for students and families currently living without electricity,” said Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy; the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels.
  
SolarAid has set a goal of ridding the continent of kerosene lamps by 2020 and replacing them with clean power sources; improving the health, education and wealth of Africa’s 110 million households currently living without access to electricity.
  
SolarAid’s focus is the distribution of solar lights that cost as little as $10, pay for themselves after 12 weeks and last for five years.
  
“Quality, compact solar lights increase people’s income by an average of 20% per month,” states the SolarAid web site.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From:

 

Fossil Free NYC Open House
Fossil Free NYC: A Divestment Open House
Wednesday, February 26th, 7- 9pm
New York Society for Ethical Culture
2 West 64th St, NY, NY
(Near Columbus Circle & Lincoln Center)


(** Rain/snow date is 2/27 – hope we don’t need it!)

——–

We are excited that our long-awaited Fossil Free NYC Open House will take place in just over a week.  We are building a movement to shift investment away from the big fossil fuel companies and we need your voice and your action to make this a truly effective campaign. Please RSVP to let us know you plan to join us and help us spread the word.

RSVP to the Open House and learn more about the Fossil Free NYC divestment campaign on the 350NYC website.  Please share this email and our Facebook invitation to the event with your friends.

On February 26th, join 350NYC and partners for an Open House  to launch a fossil fuel divestment campaign in New York City. One by one, cities around the world are making the commitment to divest from fossil fuels and we want New York City to be a leader in this effort.  Come learn what this important movement means for our communities, get the latest news on what’s happening with the city campaign, and how you and your organization can help create a Fossil Free NYC. Join with us to become part of the solution for a sustainable future for all.

If it’s wrong for coal, oil and gas companies to wreck the climate, then it’s wrong for NYC to profit from that wreckage.

You can take action right now to send a message and influence our elected leaders.
Sign the divestment petition to Comptroller Scott Stringer and learn about the Fossil Free NYC Campaign

Event is free and open to the public. RSVP encouraged but not required.
Hosted by New York Society for Ethical Culture.
Co-sponsored by Responsible Endowments Coalition, GreenFaith, and the NYC Grassroots Alliance

 “It is clear that cities and local governments – whose citizens will bear the brunt of impacts from the climate crisis – should refuse to financially benefit from fossil fuels and should seriously consider the future volatility of those assets. We shouldn’t be funding our retirement by investing in companies whose operations ensure we won’t have a safe planet to retire on.” -Mayor’s Innovation Project

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

They had a meeting on February 10th and want you to watch he video. They just do not want to know that we have a Global Warming phenomenon that does not allow us to continue gorging on oil and gas. All what the gluttons of CATO want to see is how the US can now export oil and gas and they make a lot of money by doing so – the hell with the World is what they mean to say.

Boom to Bust? How Export Restrictions Imperil America’s Oil and Gas Bonanza

Policy Forum
February 10, 2014 11:30AM
Hayek Auditorium
Featuring James Bacchus, Former WTO Appellate Body Jurist and Former U.S. Congressman; Scott Lincicome, Cato Institute Adjunct Scholar and International Trade Attorney; and Mark Perry, Professor of Economics, University of Michigan–Flint, and American Enterprise Institute Scholar; moderated by Daniel Ikenson, Director, Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute.

A once-in-a-generation supply shock is transforming global energy markets, lowering crude oil and natural gas prices, and quickly making the United States the world’s largest producer of oil and gas. But energy politics threatens to short-circuit this American economic boom. Of immediate concern are federal regulations — in particular, discretionary export-licensing systems for natural gas and crude oil — that were implemented during the 1970s, an era of energy scarcity. By restricting exports and subjecting approvals to the whims of politicians, the current licensing systems distort energy prices and deter investment and employment in these promising sectors of the U.S. economy. They also irritate global trading partners, likely violate U.S. trade treaty obligations, and undermine other U.S. policy objectives. Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s energy secretary, recently stated that these export restrictions are deserving of “some new analysis and examination in the context of… an energy world that is no longer like the 1970s.” Please join us at the Cato Institute for our examination of these issues.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Green Prophet Headlines – BrightSource’s Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar thermal project, is live

Link to Green Prophet

BrightSource’s Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar thermal project, is live

Posted: 14 Feb 2014

BrightSource, Ivanpah, California, Mojave Desert, US Solar Projects, clean tech, concentrating solar energy, ISEGS, world's largest solar thermal plant, PG&E, NRG Solar, Google, Southern California Edison, renewable energy,

It has been a long, controversial and expensive road for BrightSource Energy, but their 392 megawatt concentrating solar plant is now finally delivering renewable energy to the California grid and it is the largest plant of its kind in the world.

Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System (ISEGS), which is comprised of 350,000 garage door-sized mirrors that reflect sunlight onto boilers atop 40 foot towers, is jointly owned by NRG Solar, Google and BrightSource Energy
a company that started out at Luz International in Israel.

BrightSource, Ivanpah, California, Mojave Desert, US Solar Projects, clean tech, concentrating solar energy, ISEGS, world's largest solar thermal plant, PG&E, NRG Solar, Google, Southern California Edison, renewable energy,

In addition to offsetting roughly 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, the massive solar facility located roughly 50 miles northwest of Needles, California, will deliver solar power to roughly 140,000 homes via California utility companies PG&E and Southern California Edison.

Despite this enormous boost for solar energy, BrightSource Energy has taken a lot of heat from environmentalists and social activists for their five square mile solar project in the Mojave desert.

BrightSource, Ivanpah, California, Mojave Desert, US Solar Projects, clean tech, concentrating solar energy, ISEGS, world's largest solar thermal plant, PG&E, NRG Solar, Google, Southern California Edison, renewable energy,

It took months to resolve the issue of relocating desert tortoises that call the desert home, to make way for thousands of concentrating mirrors, and Native Americans complained that the project destroys sites that are sacred to them.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the towers, which reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, have scorched an astonishing number of birds.

The paper also notes that the energy produced at Ivanpah will cost four times as much as natural gas and boasts a smaller generation capacity to land ratio than conventional plants. In other words, CSP projects like ISEGS require more land than fossil fuel plants.

BrightSource, Ivanpah, California, Mojave Desert, US Solar Projects, clean tech, concentrating solar energy, ISEGS, world's largest solar thermal plant, PG&E, NRG Solar, Google, Southern California Edison, renewable energy,

Despite these downsides, the $2.2 billion plant will produce one third of all solar thermal energy in the United States, and potentially pave the way for similar projects to take flight as well.

:: WSJ

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Lockheed Martin Signs Contract with Victorian Wave Partners to Develop Wave Energy Project.

Published on February 12, 2014

To advance the availability of alternative energy solutions, Lockheed Martin announced today that it has signed a contract with Victorian Wave Partners Ltd. to begin developing the world’s largest wave energy project announced to date. This is a significant step toward making ocean energy commercially available.

Wave power uses special buoys that use the rising and falling of ocean waves to generate electricity. (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin)

The 62.5-megawatt peak power wave energy generation project will be built off the coast of Victoria, Australia, using the PowerBuoy® wave energy converter technology of Ocean Power Technologies (OPT). The project is scheduled to be built up in three stages, with the first stage producing approximately 2.5-megawatt peak power. Once completed, the project is expected to produce enough energy to meet the needs of 10,000 homes. As this project also contributes to Australia’s goal of 20 percent renewable energy by 2020, it has received significant grant support from ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency).

Wave power devices extract energy from the surface motion of ocean waves. Unlike wind and solar sources, energy from ocean waves is very predictable and can generate electricity for more hours in the year than wind and solar. In addition, wave power devices are typically quieter and much less visually obtrusive as compared to wind turbines, which typically run more than 130 feet in height. In contrast, a PowerBuoy is only 30 feet in height above the waterline and is barely visible, as it is typically three miles offshore.

“We are applying our design and system integration expertise to commercialize promising, emerging alternative energy technologies, including ocean power,” said Tim Fuhr, director of ocean energy for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “This project extends our established relationship with OPT and Australian industry and enables us to demonstrate a clean, efficient energy source for Australia and the world.”

In this project, Lockheed Martin will provide overall project management, assist with the design for manufacturing of the PowerBuoy technology, lead the production of selected PowerBuoy components and perform system integration of the wave energy converters.

“We are pleased to be working with Lockheed Martin in connection with this exciting project in Australia,” said Charles F. Dunleavy, chief executive officer of OPT. “Development of this project draws on core strengths of both our companies and represents an important undertaking for commercialization of the PowerBuoy technology.”

Victorian Wave Partners Ltd. is an Australian special purpose company owned by Ocean Power Technologies Australasia Pty Ltd. OPT is a leader in wave energy technology development. The company’s PowerBuoy wave generation technology uses a “smart,” ocean-going buoy to convert wave energy into low-cost, clean electricity. The buoy moves up and down with the rising and falling of waves. This mechanical energy drives an electrical generator, which transmits power to shore via an underwater cable. The system is electrically tuned on a wave-by-wave basis to maximize the amount of electricity produced.

Lockheed Martin takes a comprehensive approach to solving global energy and climate challenges, delivering solutions in the areas of energy efficiency, smart energy management, alternative power generation and climate monitoring. The company brings high-level capabilities in complex systems integration, project management, information technology, cyber security, and advanced manufacturing techniques to help address these challenges. Today, Lockheed Martin is partnering with customers and investing talent in clean, secure, and smart energy – enabling global security, a strong economic future, and climate protection for future generations.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 115,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation’s net sales for 2013 were $45.4 billion.

For additional information, visit our website: www.lockheedmartin.com/naturalenergy

Source: www.lockheedmartin.com/

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Science presents a new verdict:

Camels Had No Business in Genesis.

 
The annual camel race in the desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan, in 2007. Radiocarbon dating was used to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the 10th century B.C.— decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible.     Salah Malkawi/Getty Images

There are too many camels in the Bible, out of time and out of place.

Camels probably had little or no role in the lives of such early Jewish patriarchs as Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, who lived in the first half of the second millennium B.C., and yet stories about them mention these domesticated pack animals more than 20 times. Genesis 24, for example, tells of Abraham’s servant going by camel on a mission to find a wife for Isaac.

These anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history. These camel stories “do not encapsulate memories from the second millennium,” said Noam Mizrahi, an Israeli biblical scholar, “but should be viewed as back-projections from a much later period.”

Dr. Mizrahi likened the practice to a historical account of medieval events that veers off to a description of “how people in the Middle Ages used semitrailers in order to transport goods from one European kingdom to another.”

For two archaeologists at Tel Aviv University, the anachronisms were motivation to dig for camel bones at an ancient copper smelting camp in the Aravah Valley in Israel and in Wadi Finan in Jordan. They sought evidence of when domesticated camels were first introduced into the land of Israel and the surrounding region.

The archaeologists, Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the last third of the 10th century B.C. — centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible. Some bones in deeper sediments, they said, probably belonged to wild camels that people hunted for their meat. Dr. Sapir-Hen could identify a domesticated animal by signs in leg bones that it had carried heavy loads.

The findings were published recently in the journal Tel Aviv and in a news release from Tel Aviv University. The archaeologists said that the origin of the domesticated camel was probably in the Arabian Peninsula, which borders the Aravah Valley. Egyptians exploited the copper resources there and probably had a hand in introducing the camels. Earlier, people in the region relied on mules and donkeys as their beasts of burden.

“The introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development,” Dr. Ben-Yosef said in a telephone interview. “The camel enabled long-distance trade for the first time, all the way to India, and perfume trade with Arabia. It’s unlikely that mules and donkeys could have traversed the distance from one desert oasis to the next.”

Dr. Mizrahi, a professor of Hebrew culture studies at Tel Aviv University who was not directly involved in the research, said that by the seventh century B.C. camels had become widely employed in trade and travel in Israel and through the Middle East, from Africa as far as India. The camel’s influence on biblical research was profound, if confusing, for that happened to be the time that the patriarchal stories were committed to writing and eventually canonized as part of the Hebrew Bible.

“One should be careful not to rush to the conclusion that the new archaeological findings automatically deny any historical value from the biblical stories,” Dr. Mizrahi said in an email. “Rather, they established that these traditions were indeed reformulated in relatively late periods after camels had been integrated into the Near Eastern economic system. But this does not mean that these very traditions cannot capture other details that have an older historical background.”

Moreover, for anyone who grew up with Sunday school images of the Three Wise Men from the East arriving astride camels at the manger in Bethlehem, whatever uncertainties there may be of that story, at least one thing is clear: By then the camel in the service of human life was no longer an anachronism.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Vietnam plans to build Hoi An as its first eco-city this year

 

Published  Tuesday, February 11, 2014 by Travel and Tour World.

 

download (6)

 

 

 

 

The Vietnam  central city of Hoi An will promote the use of bicycles this year as part of a plan to build the city into the first eco-city in Vietnam, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

The  Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee of Truong Van Bay told Vietnam News that the city has launched a series of programmes on environmental protection to be used as tourism attractions. Further, the bicycle has been selected as the favourite vehicle for tourists visiting destinations in the city, suburbs and beaches.

 

 

“We encourage local people to use more environmentally friendly vehicles, such as bicycles and battery-powered bicycles, and to walk as they carry out their daily activities in order to keep the city clean and healthy. The city has gradually limited the use of motorbikes in old quarters, prior to banning motorbikes in these areas,” Bay said, adding that motorbikes are only permitted for use at lunch time.

 

 

“Since 2002, the city has successfully operated a pedestrian street in the old quarter and hosted Nature Day for the past four years,” he says.  According to Nguyen Van Hien, head of the city’s natural resources and environment office, bicycles are now used by most women and children in the city. Most foreign tourists use bicycles while touring the city, beaches and villages during their visits to Hoi An city.

 

 

The People’s Committee plans to promote bicycle use among public agencies on Car Free Day in March before boosting their use among local residents.  ”Changing a habit of using motorbikes needs time. The city will target using 100,000 bicycles among local people,” Vice Chairman Bay said.  The ancient city has been the first city in Vietnam hosting a Car Free Day, in an effort to make the environment cleaner in the tourism hub.It has also launched an action programme to stop using plastic bags and the 3-R (reduce, reuse and recycle) programme.

 

 

Last year, this Unesco-recognised world heritage city introduced its solar power public lighting system along the city’s Hoai River Square.  Also, Hoi An has been chosen for the 2013 Townscape Award by the UN-Habitat Regional Office in Asia.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Last night, Friday February 7, 2014, the day of the truly brilliant opening of the Sochi Putin Olympics, here at the UN, present Russia’s true face was shown by its Representative to the UN Olympics – the SDG games – by saying NYET to the idea that Peace, Rule of Law and Good Governance are a main Requirement for Sustainability – as Russia led the weak Despotic Islamic States claiming that National Sovereignty under UN rules precludes us from looking into the Democracy status of UN Member States.

According to the Russians it seems that the greatest achievements of the UN – The Declaration of Human Rights (HR) and The Responsibility To Protect (R2P) are just fictions in the imagination of the Progressive World that shatter when hitting the wall of CULTURE in States of a different Tradition.

So why do the Russians fight the Islamists within their own fiction of a Federation while leading them at the UN? Czar Putin, who on the face of it leads Russia into the modern World, at the same time puts it back into the block of traditionalist Dark Ages of Religion-leading-the-poor into submission?

By the end of the 8th Session of the OWG for the SDGs, when the Hungatian and Kenian co-chairs read the Summary of the week’s discussions that included presentations from Member States, International Agencies and Civil Society, the above mentioned States wanted to express their objections to the non-binding wording of the Summary -by that is the above mentioned Islamic countries led by Pakistan in the absence of Russia – announced they want to speak but were told to submit in writing with the co-chair promising that the letters will be attached to the two pages of the Summary. That was a great move by the co-chairs who toiled very hard during the week to show that Rule OF Law is much better then Rule BY Law which could be understood as giving Apartheid, or God-forbids if Nazism, the cover of Law. The UN was founded to serve much higher ideal – not the interests of Oil-family Saudis or political technocrats Soviets.

In fact – we have found the meeting’s side event of that day – reserved by the El Salvador Delegation (current Vice Chairs of ECOSOC), and with the participation of the only ECOSOC NGO from Turkey – the Journalists and Writers Foundation and the New York based Peace Islands Institute – with speakers from the New York Academe – most relevant to the understanding how the UN, by allowing itself being exploited by autocratic governments – through wrongly designed Foreign Aid programs that bend to the notion of government knows best pushers – does in effect exacerbate global problems – such as climate change and poverty – while enriching the autocrats. When funds are given after a disaster – and distributed via the Member State government bureaucracy – in effect it cuts off interest in preventing money making disasters. The obvious conclusion is thus that if you want to help the people do this only if you can help create an activity that reaches out directly to the poor and to those that are impacted directly. Here you have to reach directly to  governance structure on the ground level. this clearly means entering the Sovereignty area in order to build a way of helping with problem solving talking to those that really know and have the interest to help themselves. In the end – if you help them you also help yourselves in the donor countries because of the global interdependence – the most basic planetary fact today.

 

Latest News

By JULIET MACUR

As the Olympics began, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, made some telling points that sounded like sharp digs at Russia’s president.

By STEVEN LEE MYERS

Russian authorities detained at least 61 people on Friday for holding unauthorized protests, underscoring the government’s efforts to stifle dissent.

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We give here the NYT links – but to read these you will have to sign up with them. That is the business of the Olympics. Free you can get the NBC TV reporting which in Manhattan is on channel 4. There you can follow the sports and some of what happens around them.

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But let me add here the first impression from Putin’s Sochi:

“With an outsize extravaganza that reached deep into the repertory of classical music and ballet, traversed the sights and sounds of the world’s largest geopolitical expanse, soared into outer space and swept across millenniums of history in a celebration of everything from czarist military might to Soviet monumentalism, a swaggering, resurgent Russia turned its Winter Olympic aspirations into reality on Friday night.”

So, why does Russia have to feel insecure and become head to the dog pack at the UN? Why not rather join the Lyons instead?

Why instruct the Ambassador to the UN to take this – don’t mix into our private affairs position – when we are so great but bothered by terrorists in parts of our own territory? Does that point at a self-secure head of State?

If the re-narration of history in the opening ceremony at Sochi occasionally involved some breezing past inconvenient episodes — the Stalinist purges that killed millions, for instance, and the gulags that imprisoned and killed millions more — the ceremony was, in many respects, the introduction to the world of a re-created Russia, one far different from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that hosted the Summer Games in Moscow in 1980.

The national anthem played to the crowd of 40,000 in the stadium and heard by billions more watching on television around the world was the same music played nearly 35 years ago. But the lyrics have been rewritten, with lines about “the united, mighty Soviet Union” and “the great Lenin” replaced by references to “Russia — our sacred homeland” and “wide spaces, for dreams and for living.”

We also found it interesting – the Games were largely financed by Russia’s oil and gas wealth, and by many of the billionaires, so-called oligarchs, who have profited most handsomely from it.

But above all – considering the 20th Century in Europe and remembering it was defined by two terrible regimes – the Right-Wing ideology of Nazism-Fascism and the National Bolshevism masquerading as a proletarian movement, I nevertheless am obligated to recognize that personally – a born Jew – I am still alive thanks to the goodness of the Russian people. It was the Soviets that stopped the Nazi killing machine – not the Americans – though later they also busied themselves with old style Antisemitism as well – for Stalin everything was a soul-less game – and nothing rational about that. Putin grew up under Stalin and as former KGB officer may have picked up some genetic strains that hinder his efforts at really doing the best we believe he would have wanted to do for what he sees as his charges. He is proud of being an ethnic  Russian, of the historic achievements of his people – even if they are active now outside Russia – and tried to get their backing for this Sochi show-case he worked on for over 7 years. This realization makes it so much harder for us to accept Russia’s recent position at the UN.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 5th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

from: Leida Rijnhout
Director Global Policies and Sustainability
European Environmental Bureau (EEB)BOULEVARD DE WATERLOO 341000 BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
Tel: +32 (0) 2 290 88 15 | Mobile+32 (0) 494 89 30 52 | Websitewww.eeb.org/

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) is the environmental voice of European citizens, standing for environmental justice, sustainable development and participatory democracy. We want the EU to ensure all people a healthy environment and rich biodiversity.

Corporate influence in the Post-2015 process
- working paper by Lou Pingeot, published by Brot fuer die Welt, Global Policy Forum and Misereor
As the 2015 deadline for the MDGs fast approaches, UN member states have started negotiations to define a new global development framework for the time after. This process is expected to culminate in 2015 with the definition of a Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda. Corporate interest groups and large transnational corporations such as Unilever, Vale, AngloGold and many others have been actively involved in this process, including the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In addition, the Global Compact has provided a privileged channel for corporate influence in the post-2015 agenda.

A new working paper by Brot f?r die Welt, Global Policy Forum and Misereor provides an overview of the main corporate actors in the post-2015 process and how they shape the discourse on development.

The private sector certainly has a role to play in the future of sustainable development. But the messages and visions of transnational corporations and business associations are worrying. Rather than binding multilateral agreements, they advocate for public-private partnerships and voluntary initiatives that largely leave both governments and private actors off the hook. They focus on growth, free markets and and new technologies (to be provided by the private sector) as a silver bullet solution to eradicate poverty, decrease inequality and preserve the environment, without reflecting on how the current growth paradigm has led us to the situation we face today.

This paper advocates for more transparency around the participation of corporations in UN processes, including their financial support to UN initiatives, and for more reflection on the risks of a corporate, private interests-driven development agenda. The full paper is available here:

www.globalpolicy.org/images/pdfs/GPFEurope/Corporate_influence_in_the_Post-2015_process_web.pdf

For more information, please contact:
Wolfgang Obenland
Program Coordinator
Global Policy Forum
K?nigstr. 37a
D-53115 Bonn
Tel +49(0)228-96 50 707
Fax +49(0)228-96 38 206
wolfgangobenland@globalpolicy.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Kerala bags an United Nations award for sustainable tourism initiatives.

Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014

Kerala Backwaters      Kerala, God’s own country is recognized for its sustainable tourism policies by the United Nations. Kerala tourism is awarded by the United Nations for creating innovative initiatives in sustainable tourism.

This is the first ever UN award for any state in India.

The coveted award from the United Nations was mostly influenced by the sustainable  development initiative in the world famous backwater resort of Kumarakom. According to a press release from the Kerala tourism, they received the award at the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism held in Madrid, Spain.

 

 

Kerala won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance, the highest honour given to the government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives.

Kerala Tourism was chosen for the honour for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.

The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March last year and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment.

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Dr. Tej Vir Singh awarded the UNWTO Ulysses Prize for the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge.

Dr. Tej Vir Singh, professor and Founding Director of the Centre for Tourism Research & Development (CTRD) in India, has been named winner of the 2013 UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge. The Award honors outstanding members of the academia for their significant contribution to the development of tourism education and research.

Dr. Singh, the Founding Editor of Tourism Recreation Research, the oldest and highly respected, international tourism journal in Asia, is a pioneer in introducing extensive tourism research in the region. A specialist in Himalayan tourism, Dr. Singh has produced several books on tourism and many papers on tourism development and its impacts.

“I would like to commend Dr. Singh´s lifelong dedication to tourism research and his pioneering the concept and practice of sustainability in the field of tourism. His work has inspired many other academicians to develop their own research in the field, contributing greatly to the advancement of tourism education and of the tourism sector as a whole,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

As the Founding Director of the Institute of Himalayan Studies and Regional Development at the University of Garhwal, Dr. Singh started the first Himalayan tourism training course. In 1976, he established the CTRD, a non-government organization devoted to the cause of tourism academics and research, with a special focus on India. Under his leadership, the Centre started an outreach programme that included education, training, research guidance, consultancy, curriculum design, and tourism programme initiation to several Indian universities, management institutions and colleges. Today, the CTRD is recognized for the generation and publication of valuable research on recreation and tourism, and is well-known as a leading organization for developing and disseminating scholarships in tourism in India.

The UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge will be presented during the UNWTO Awards Ceremony to be held on 22 January 2014, within the framework of the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain.

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Volatile Bangkok turns out positive for Indian tourism.

Published on : Thursday, January 23, 2014

bangkok-shutdown        While Bangkok faces a tourism fall due to the ongoing political crisis, Indian tourism reaps the dividends. Thailand government’s decision to impose emergency in Bangkok is supposed to cause a loss of almost B10 billion for the Thailand tourism industry. On the contrary, foreign tourists are preferring to book a holiday in India.
According to the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the volatile political condition in Bangkok has spurred a huge interest of international travelers seeking holiday escapades in Indian. Political volatility has been on the rise in Bangkok, especially in the past few days. A couple of bomb blasts took place in the capital amidst wide protests. Protesters have been trying for more than two months to bring down the government. The Indian embassy in Thailand too is continuously tracking the situation and coming up with updates.
The global tourism industry has seen such shift of choices due to political and violent condition in a particular destination. To site an example, Spain tourism had a major share of international travelers last year owing to the political strife in Egypt. While Bangkok is one of the most popular destinations in Asia, India enjoys the advantage of volatile currency and a plethora of destination choices. In fact, domestic tourism also got a boost as many Indians are also going for home holidays rather than opting for Bangkok as every year about 500,000 Indians visit Bangkok.

 

 

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Tourism can foster sustainable development in Central America – UN General Assembly.

 

Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014

 

unwto GNSustainable tourism is an ally of poverty eradication in Central America and the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – as reflected in the UN resolution on “Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America”.

The 193-member UN General Assembly adopted the resolution unanimously during its 68th session. This represents an important step towards mainstreaming sustainable tourism in the international development agenda and the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (New York, USA, 22 December 2013).

 

Emphasizing that sustainable tourism in Central America is a cross-cutting activity with close linkages to other sectors and thus generating trade opportunities, the UN General Assembly recognizes tourism as a fundamental pillar of regional integration and an engine of social and economic development, income, investment and hard currency in the region. The resolution further “encourages giving appropriate consideration to the issue of sustainable tourism in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda”, which will follow the deadline of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Against this backdrop, the UN General Assembly invites States and other stakeholders, as well as the World Tourism Organization, to continue to support the activities undertaken by the Central American countries for the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism and extend the benefits of tourism to all sectors of society, in particular the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of the population.

 

International tourism in Central America grew significantly in recent years. In 2012, Central America received almost 9 million international tourists who generated US$ 8 billion in revenues, up from, respectively, 4.3 million arrivals and US$ 3 billion in 2000. Today, international tourism accounts for as much as 17% of all Central American exports.

 

The UN resolution was sponsored by 51 Member States: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Vert, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, United States of America, Ukraine and Uruguay.

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Central America poised for tourism growth: SITCA

Published on : Sunday, September 15, 2013

centeral America          The Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration (SITCA), along with the tourism authorities of the seven Central American countries – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvado r, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – have conducted a study on the evolution of the tourism sector in the region over the past 12 years and found a positive forecast of expected 6.1 per cent growth for this year.

       In the period between 2000 and 2012, tourism to Central America has grown by 122.8 per cent from 4.23 million visitors in 2000 to 9.39 visitors in 2012, an annual increase of seven per cent on average stated the study.


Domestic tourism from within the region accounts for 40 per cent while North America accounts for between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of visitors.
Costa Rica and Guatemala received the highest number of visitors, but Nicaragua and Panama have registered the biggest growth in the period covered by the study, moving from fifth and sixth position (in terms of the total number of visitors received) to fourth and third respectively.


The average spend by tourists has also grown considerably over the last 12 years, thanks to an increase in the amount of products consumed, moving from an average spend per person of US$700 in 2000 to US$1,016 in 2012.
Based on the results of the study, it is expected that the number of visitors will increase by 6.1 per cent this year compared to last year, with an expected total of 9.96 million visitors.


For 2013, the average spend per tourist is expected to reach US$1,016.63, compared to US$1,016.18 in 2012. Revenue from tourism revenue is expected to be highest in Panama and lowest in Nicaragua.
The data presented by SITCA shows that the tourism sector in Central America is becoming the main source of revenue for all seven countries and a true driver for the economic growth of the region.

 

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International tourism exceeds expectations with arrivals up by 52 million in 2013.

 

International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts 4% to 4.5% growth – again, above the long term projections.

Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+6%) and Europe (+5%). The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10%), Central and Eastern Europe (+7%), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%) and North Africa (+6%).

“2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies”, he added.

UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by 4% to 4.5% in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8% per year between 2010 and 2020. The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years

“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth”, added Mr Rifai.

2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3% to +4%). In the Middle East (0% to +5%) prospects are positive yet volatile.

 

Europe welcomes most of the new arrivals

Europe led growth in absolute terms, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million. Growth (+5%) exceeded the forecast for 2013 and is double the region’s average for the period 2005-2012 (+2.5% a year). This is particularly remarkable in view of the regional economic situation and as it follows an already robust 2011 and 2012. By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+6%) experienced the best results.

In relative terms, growth was strongest in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), where the number of international tourists grew by 14 million to reach 248 million. South-East Asia (+10%) was the best performing sub-region, while growth was comparatively more moderate in South Asia (+5%), Oceania and North-East Asia (+4% each).

The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of six million arrivals, reaching a total of 169 million. Leading growth were destinations in North and Central America (+4% each), while South America (+2%) and the Caribbean (+1%) showed some slowdown as compared to 2012.

Africa (+6%) attracted three million additional arrivals, reaching a new record of 56 million, reflecting the on-going rebound in North Africa (+6%) and the sustained growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%). Results in the Middle East (+0% at 52 million) were rather mixed and volatile.

 

Russia and China – leading in growth in 2013

Among the ten most important source markets in the world, Russia and China clearly stand out. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of US$ 102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28% in the first three quarters of 2013. The Russian Federation, the 5th largest outbound market, reported 26% growth through September.

The performance of key advanced economy source markets was comparatively more modest. France (+6%) recovered from a weak 2012 and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all grew at 3%. In contrast, Germany, Japan and Italy reported declines in outbound expenditure.

Emerging markets with substantial growth in outbound expenditure were Turkey (+24%), Qatar (+18%), Philippines (+18%), Kuwait (+15%), Indonesia (+15%), Ukraine (+15%) and Brazil (+14%).

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Source: PATA

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Three quarters through his Presidency Barack Obama still did not tackle the  reasons of America’s decline – the fact that its economy is not based on independence that comes only when truly reaching to  the sun – the global source of energy that is not under human stranglehold.

We find the speech lacking in what is really important – and it stressed instead the common, more acceptable thinking. That has not helped us sufficiently when compared to the Obama promise of 2008.

The human examples he presented to the Nation were not those who have managed to move the country despite the gridlock-  instead we saw models of always honored old style dignity and patriotism.

Like every other review of the President’s speech’s  vast sea of topics – we also will just pick for analysis only the topics closest to us – which is obviously the politics of energy and the global environment. But, also true to our style – I am including the full Obama speech with color codes that are reddish for basic policy, green for energy and environment, and bluish for security issues.

 

The Democrats say – FOLLOW PRESIDENT OBAMA’S LEAD!

They say: President Obama just set the agenda for the nation. Now, it’s up to grassroots organizers to make 2014 a year of action – we wonder what the president asks them to do?

WE FOUND HIS SIXTH STATE OF THE UNION VERY DISAPPOINTING.

THIS IS THREE QUARTER THROUGH HIS PRESIDENCY AND PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS NOT YET FREED HIMSELF OF THE “BUSHISMS” HE INHERITED. PLEASE LET US EXCUSE OURSELVES IN ADVANCE FOR CALLING BULL-SHIT BY ITS HONEST CURRENT NAME -  BUSHISM WHICH IF PURSUED IS THE EQUIVALENT OF “BULLSHITISM.”

OK – We know that we used to say that Dick Cheney was the real President in those days – but we are trapped in what we see as a good way of expressing our opinion that we are entering the last quarter of another failed Presidency. G.W. Bush squandered the 9/11 opportunity of declaring that the US and the World at large ought to free themselves from the interests-contrived dependence of the economy on oil by going directly to the nature’s source of energy – the sun. Instead – G.W. Bush went to capture the oil of Iraq as his way of decreasing the country’s dependence on Saudi oil – the Saudis having been the friends of the Bushes and the home base of Al-Qaeda.

Senator Barack Obama  was elected the new President because the country wanted to see change and three quarter through his Presidency he still talks in generalities rather then providing concrete examples for change.

YES – the President did say a lot of important things on the economy and on the society. He devoted a large pat of his speech to Climate Change – true, the country has decreased CO2 emissions by losing its heavy industry to production in foreign lands. He did tackle the health-care National Disaster topic but the country is still at the bottom of the totem-pole of advanced nations. He did tackle problems of gender and the pervert insistence on righteousness where some annoint themselves as judges of the way others live but the country still does not have decent gun-laws.

Obama is indeed the best US politics had to offer in a country – as he said – “where the son of a bar-man – Republican Congressman John Boehner can become  Speaker of the House of Representatives” – his nemesis – or he himself – the son of a single mother can become the President of the strongest Land on earth.” But Obama did not revolutionize the basic assumptions of Washington DC – the belief that the big industrial interests know what is good for this country and as such hold as hostage the world at large. We promise to get back to this point in our posting of today which we know goes against the grain of Washington officialdom.

The New York Times editorial of today says in part —- Every winter since 2009, President Obama has stood at the podium of the House and pleaded for the cooperation of Congress. For the last three State of the Union speeches, he has largely been ignored. That has left a growing trail of unfinished business: background checks for gun buyers, immigration reform, a higher minimum wage, tax fairness, universal preschool.

This year was different. Mr. Obama’s speech on Tuesday night acknowledged the obvious: Congress has become a dead end for most of the big, muscular uses of government to redress income inequality and improve the economy for all, because of implacable Republican opposition. As a result, the remainder of Mr. Obama’s presidency will be largely devoted to a series of smaller actions that the White House can perform on its own.

“America does not stand still, and neither will I,” he said. “So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Taking the offensive by veering around Congress isn’t new for the administration, but it is more important than ever. As the president forcefully described, inequality has deepened and upward mobility has stalled. If Republicans in Congress stymie the public’s needs and desires, Mr. Obama should employ every tool in his box to bypass those barriers. The multistate tour that he plans in the coming days will give him a chance to be even more critical of Congress than he was in the House chamber.

Most of the executive actions in the speech have the potential to make a difference, though their diminished scope demonstrates the lost potential caused by political intransigence.

 

The  QUOTATION OF THE DAY was:

“I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still – and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, in the State of the Union address.

 

But what did he actually propose to do? Who indeed thinks that bringing up the minimum wage of Federal Employees to $10.10/hour will do it?  – That is a nice symbol but not a lantern in the darkness of the US economy – it shows that the Republicans are lower then Democrats – but it still is no major attempt at change. Is this the defiant tone that President Obama set in his State of the Union? Does this signal “A Year of Action?”  “Those at the top have never done better,” he said. “But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled.”

In the G.O.P. Response to Obama’s Speech,  Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State responded by blaming Mr. Obama for the country’s economic problems, but the party’s leaders avoided the language of last year’s government shutdown and hoped to present  “a more hopeful, Republican vision” intended to appeal particularly to women in a midterm election year. Clear political balderdash delivered by a pretty face.

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Obama said:

Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The “all the above” energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades. (Applause.)

One of the reasons why is natural gas. If extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. (Applause.) Businesses plan to invest almost a hundred billion dollars in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built and put folks to work, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas. (Applause.)

That was followed by quite a bit on climate change. We ask – so what now? Does he really need Congress to have a meaningful impact and change the ways how this country does its energy business? Do we have to look at an injured young military man to get the clear idea that this man was sent in harms way in order to serve our government sponsored addiction to Islamic oil?

What is this dancing around the “ALL OF THE ABOVE” if not another way of saying we will go ahead with oil, gas, and coal n the dark alleys of power in Washington and sprinkle some renewables on it – under the sun?

Yes, we agree that methane gas is better then coal and oil, but basing the US future on fracking for gas is no panacea either. We know that the President did not use the word fracking which is not popular anymore.

WHY NOT GO ALL OUT – IN FULL HONESTY – TO THE SUN?

If Cheney-style Bushism stood for the conquest of the Iraq oil, and the poisoning of West Virginia water came from coal mining, then fracking for gas will just finish of other US environments for no reason of real need.

Poor Cory Remsburg was put on display and reminded us of the American casualties of the Asian wars for oil – this rather then the professed principled patriotism is  what I came away with when watching him.

Then my real question is – WHY DID PRESIDENT OBAMA NOT DISPLAY JIGAR SHAH – the LIFE EXAMPLE OF CLIMATE WEALTH?  The man who managed to create a WIN-WIN-WIN company by asking Walmart and other large companies to allow him to use the roof of their large stores in order to supply them with electricity at much lower cost then they had to pay to the electric grid company.

Jigar Shah can even supply excess electricity to the grid – and he did not need Congress to act! He would have been a true American Hero who showed what is possible even with gridlock. It is now, with President Obama traveling to the provinces – that perhaps would allow him the  potential moment to highlight Jigar – and this is why I decided to post this negative view of the true position of the Presidency at the end of its 75% time in office.


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The FULL TRANSCRIPT of President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address – Tuesday, January 28, 2014:

 

 

 

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, my fellow Americans, today in America, a teacher spent extra time with a student who needed it and did her part to lift America’s graduation rate to its highest levels in more than three decades.

An entrepreneur flipped on the lights in her tech startup and did her part to add to the more than 8 million new jobs our businesses have created over the past four years. (Applause.)

An autoworker fine-tuned some of the best, most fuel-efficient cars in the world and did his part to help America wean itself off foreign oil.

A farmer prepared for the spring after the strongest five-year stretch of farm exports in our history.

A rural doctor gave a young child the first prescription to treat asthma that his mother could afford. (Applause.) A man took the bus home from the graveyard shift, bone-tired but dreaming big dreams for his son. And in tight-knit communities all across America, fathers and mothers will tuck in their kids, put an arm around their spouse, remember fallen comrades and give thanks for being home from a war that after twelve long years is finally coming to an end. (Applause.)

Tonight this chamber speaks with one voice to the people we represent: It is you, our citizens, who make the state of our union strong. (Applause.)

And here are the results of your efforts: the lowest unemployment rate in over five years; a rebounding housing market — (applause) — a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs for the first time since the 1990s — (applause) — more oil produced — more oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world, the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years — (applause) — our deficits cut by more than half; and for the first time — (applause) — for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.

(Cheers, applause.) That’s why I believe this can be a breakthrough year for America. After five years of grit and determined effort, the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth.

The question for everyone in this chamber, running through every decision we make this year, is whether we are going to help or hinder this progress. For several years now, this town has been consumed by a rancorous argument over the proper size of the federal government. It’s an important debate — one that dates back to our very founding. But when that debate prevents us from carrying out even the most basic functions of our democracy — when our differences shut down government or threaten the full faith and credit of the United States — then we are not doing right by the American people. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, as president, I’m committed to making Washington work better, and rebuilding the trust of the people who sent us here. And I believe most of you are, too. Last month, thanks to the work of Democrats and Republicans,Congress finally produced a budget that undoes some of last year’s severe cuts to priorities like education. Nobody got everything they wanted, and we can still do more to invest in this country’s future while bringing down our deficit in a balanced way.

But the budget compromise should leave us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not creating new crises.

And in the coming months — (applause) — in the coming months, let’s see where else we can make progress together. Let’s make this a year of action. That’s what most Americans want, for all of us in this chamber to focus on their lives, their hopes, their aspirations. And what I believe unites the people of this nation, regardless of race or region or party, young or old, rich or poor, is the simple, profound belief in opportunity for all, the notion that if you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead in America. (Applause.)

Now, let’s face it: That belief has suffered some serious blows. Over more than three decades, even before the Great Recession hit, massive shifts in technology and global competition had eliminated a lot of good, middle-class jobs, and weakened the economic foundations that families depend on.

Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened. Upward mobility has stalled. The cold, hard fact is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by; let alone to get ahead. And too many still aren’t working at all.

So our job is to reverse these trends.

It won’t happen right away, and we won’t agree on everything.

But what I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I. (Applause.) So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do. (Cheers, applause.)

As usual, our first lady sets a good example. Michelle’s — (applause) — well. (Chuckles.) (Cheers, applause.) Yeah. Michelle’s Let’s Move! partnership with schools, businesses, local leaders has helped bring down childhood obesity rates for the first time in thirty years, and that’s an achievement — (applause) — that will improve lives and reduce health care costs for decades to come. The Joining Forces alliance that Michelle and Jill Biden launched has already encouraged employers to hire or train nearly 400,000 veterans and military spouses. (Applause.)

Taking a page from that playbook, the White House just organized a College Opportunity Summit, where already 150 universities, businesses, nonprofits have made concrete commitments to reduce inequality in access to higher education and to help every hardworking kid go to college and succeed when they get to campus.

And across the country — (applause) — we’re partnering with mayors, governors and state legislatures on issues from homelessness to marriage equality.

The point is, there are millions of Americans outside Washington who are tired of stale political arguments and are moving this country forward. They believe, and I believe, that here in America, our success should depend not on accident of birth but the strength of our work ethic and the scope of our dreams. That’s what drew our forebears here. It’s how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America’s largest automaker — (applause) — how the son of a barkeeper is speaker of the House — (cheers, applause) — how the son of a single mom can be president of the greatest nation on Earth. (Cheers, applause.)

Now — (sustained cheers and applause) — opportunity is who we are. And the defining project of our generation must be to restore that promise.

We know where to start. The best measure of opportunity is access to a good job. With the economy picking up speed, companies say they intend to hire more people this year.

And over half of big manufacturers say they’re thinking of insourcing jobs from abroad. (Applause.)

So let’s make that decision easier for more companies. Both Democrats and Republicans have argued that our tax code is riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here, and reward companies that keep profits abroad. Let’s flip that equation. Let’s work together to close those loopholes, end those incentives to ship jobs overseas, and lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs right here at home. (Cheers, applause.)

Moreover, we can take the money we save from this transition to tax reform to create jobs rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, unclogging our commutes — because in today’s global economy, first- class jobs gravitate to first-class infrastructure. We’ll need Congress to protect more than 3 million jobs by finishing transportation and waterways bills this summer. (Cheers, applause.) That can happen.

But — but I’ll act on my own to slash bureaucracy and streamline the permitting process for key projects, so we can get more construction workers on the job as fast as possible. (Applause.)

We also have the chance, right now, to beat other countries in the race for the next wave of high-tech manufacturing jobs. And my administration’s launched two hubs for high-tech manufacturing in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Youngstown, Ohio, where we’ve connected businesses to research universities that can help America lead the world in advanced technologies.

Tonight, I’m announcing we’ll launch six more this year. Bipartisan bills in both houses could double the number of these hubs and the jobs they create. So, get those bills to my desk and put more Americans back to work. (Applause.)

Let’s do more to help the entrepreneurs and small business owners who create most new jobs in America. Over the past five years, my administration has made more loans to small business owners than any other. And when 98 percent of our exporters are small businesses, new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help them create even more jobs. We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA.” (Applause.)

Listen, China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines; and neither — neither should we. We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender. Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. And that’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery. (Cheers, applause.)

There are entire industries to be built based on vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel. And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly and needless litigation. (Applause.)

Now, one of the biggest factors in bringing more jobs back is our commitment to American energy. The “all the above” energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades. (Applause.)

One of the reasons why is natural gas. If extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change. (Applause.) Businesses plan to invest almost a hundred billion dollars in new factories that use natural gas. I’ll cut red tape to help states get those factories built and put folks to work, and this Congress can help by putting people to work building fueling stations that shift more cars and trucks from foreign oil to American natural gas. (Applause.)

Meanwhile, my administration will keep working with the industry to sustain production and jobs growth while strengthening protection of our air, our water, our communities. And while we’re at it, I’ll use my authority to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations. (Applause.)

Now, it’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar too.

Every four minutes another American home or business goes solar, every panel pounded into place by a worker whose job can’t be outsourced. Let’s continue that progress with a smarter tax policy that stops giving $4 billion a year to fossil fuel industries that don’t need it so we can invest more in fuels of the future that do. (Cheers, applause.)

And even as we’ve increased energy production, we’ve partnered with businesses, builders and local communities to reduce the energy we consume. When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars. In the coming months I’ll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.

And taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. (Applause.)

But we have to act with more urgency because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air.

The shift — (applause) — the shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require some tough choices along the way.

But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. (Applause.) And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did. (Cheers, applause.)

Finally, if we’re serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement — and fix our broken immigration system. (Cheers, applause.) Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted, and I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same. Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades. And for good reason: When people come here to fulfill their dreams — to study, invent, contribute to our culture — they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everybody. So let’s get immigration reform done this year. (Cheers, applause.) Let’s get it done. It’s time.

The ideas I’ve outlined so far can speed up growth and create more jobs. But in this rapidly-changing economy, we have to make sure that every American has the skills to fill those jobs.

The good news is, we know how to do it. Two years ago, as the auto industry came roaring back, Andra Rush opened up a manufacturing firm in Detroit. She knew that Ford needed parts for the best-selling truck in America, and she knew how to make those parts. She just needed the workforce. So she dialed up what we call an American Job Center; places where folks can walk in to get the help or training they need to find a new job, or a better job. She was flooded with new workers, and today, Detroit Manufacturing Systems has more than 700 employees. And what Andra and her employees experienced is how it should be for every employer and every job seeker.

So tonight, I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead an across- the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now. (Cheers, applause.) That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life. It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs. And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.

I’m also convinced we can help Americans return to the workforce faster by reforming unemployment insurance so that it’s more effective in today’s economy. But first, this Congress needs to restore the unemployment insurance you just let expire for 1.6 million people. (Cheers, applause.)

Let me tell you why.

Misty DeMars is a mother of two young boys. She’d been steadily employed since she was a teenager, put herself through college. She’d never collected unemployment benefits, but she’s been paying taxes.

In May, she and her husband used their life savings to buy their first home. A week later, budget cuts claimed the job she loved. Last month, when their unemployment insurance was cut off, she sat down and wrote me a letter, the kind I get every day. “We are the face of the unemployment crisis,” she wrote. “I’m not dependent on the government. Our country depends on people like us who build careers, contribute to society, care about our neighbors. I am confident that in time I will find a job, I will pay my taxes, and we will raise our children in their own home in the community we love. Please give us this chance.”

Congress, give these hardworking, responsible Americans that chance. (Cheers, applause.) Give them that chance. Give them the chance. They need our help right now, but more important, this country needs them in the game. That’s why I’ve been asking CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers a fair shot at new jobs, a new chance to support their families. And in fact, this week many will come to the White House to make that commitment real.

Tonight I ask every business leader in America to join us and do the same because we are stronger when America fields a full team. (Applause.)

Of course, it’s not enough to train today’s workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education. (Applause.)

Estiven Rodriguez couldn’t speak a word of English when he moved to New York City at age 9. But last month, thanks to the support of great teachers and an innovative tutoring program, he led a march of his classmates through a crowd of cheering parents and neighbors from their high school to the post office, where they mailed off their college applications. And this son of a factory worker just found out he’s going to college this fall. (Applause.)

Five years ago we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C., are making big strides in preparing students with the skills for the new economy — problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, math.

Now, some of this change is hard.

It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it is worth it — and it is working.

The problem is we’re still not reaching enough kids, and we’re not reaching them in time, and that has to change.

Research shows that one of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education. (Applause.) Last year, I asked this Congress to help states make high-quality pre-K available to every 4-year-old. And as a parent as well as a president, I repeat that request tonight.

But in the meantime, 30 states have raised pre-k funding on their own. They know we can’t wait. So just as we worked with states to reform our schools, this year we’ll invest in new partnerships with states and communities across the country in a race to the top for our youngest children. And as Congress decides what it’s going to do, I’m going to pull together a coalition of elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropists willing to help more kids access the high-quality pre-K that they need. (Applause.) It is right for America. We need to get this done.

Last year, I also pledged to connect 99 percent of our students to high-speed broadband over the next four years. Tonight I can announce that with the support of the FCC and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, and Verizon, we’ve got a down payment to start connecting more than 15,000 schools and 20 million students over the next two years, without adding a dime to the deficit. (Cheers, applause.)

We’re working to redesign high schools and partner them with colleges and employers that offer the real-world education and hands-on training that can lead directly to a job and career. We’re shaking up our system of higher education to give parents more information and colleges more incentives to offer better value, so that no middle- class kid is priced out of a college education. We’re offering millions the opportunity to cap their monthly student loan payments to 10 percent of their income, and I want to work with Congress to see how we can help even more Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt. (Applause.)

And I’m reaching out to some of America’s leading foundations and corporations on a new initiative to help more young men of color facing especially tough odds stay on track and reach their full potential.

The bottom line is, Michelle and I want every child to have the same chance this country gave us. But we know our opportunity agenda won’t be complete, and too many young people entering the workforce today will see the American Dream as an empty promise, unless we also do more to make sure our economy honors the dignity of work, and hard work pays off for every single American.

You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment.

Women deserve equal pay for equal work. (Cheers, applause.)

You know, she deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. (Cheers, applause.) A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship. (Applause.) And you know what, a father does too. It is time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. (Laughter, cheers, applause.) This year let’s all come together, Congress, the White House, businesses from Wall Street to Main Street, to give every woman the opportunity she deserves, because I believe when women succeed, America succeeds. (Cheers, applause.)

Now, women hold a majority of lower-wage jobs, but they’re not the only ones stifled by stagnant wages. Americans understand that some people will earn more money than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success. That’s what America’s all about. But Americans overwhelmingly agree that no one who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. (Applause.)

In the year since I asked this Congress to raise the minimum wage, five states have passed laws to raise theirs.

Many businesses have done it on their own. Nick Chute is here today with his boss, John Soranno. John’s an owner of Punch Pizza in Minneapolis, and Nick helps make the dough. (Laughter.) Only now he makes more of it. (Laughter.) John just gave his employees a raise to 10 bucks an hour, and that’s a decision that has eased their financial stress and boosted their morale.

Tonight I ask more of America’s business leaders to follow John’s lead. Do what you can to raise your employees’ wages. (Applause.) It’s good for the economy; it’s good for America. (Sustained applause.)

To every mayor, governor, state legislator in America, I say, you don’t have to wait for Congress to act; Americans will support you if you take this on. And as a chief executive, I intend to lead by example. Profitable corporations like Costco see higher wages as the smart way to boost productivity and reduce turnover. We should too. In the coming weeks I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour because if you cook — (cheers, applause) — our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you should not have to live in poverty. (Sustained applause.)

Of course, to reach millions more, Congress does need to get on board.

Today the federal minimum wage is worth about twenty percent less than it was when Ronald Reagan first stood here. And Tom Harkin and George Miller have a bill to fix that by lifting the minimum wage to $10.10. It’s easy to remember: 10.10. This will help families. It will give businesses customers with more money to spend. It does not involve any new bureaucratic program. So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise. (Cheers, applause.) Give ‘em a raise.

There are other steps we can take to help families make ends meet, and few are more effective at reducing inequality and helping families pull themselves up through hard work than the Earned Income Tax Credit. Right now, it helps about half of all parents at some point. Think about that. It helps about half of all parents in America at some point in their lives.

But I agree with Republicans like Senator Rubio that it doesn’t do enough for single workers who don’t have kids. So let’s work together to strengthen the credit, reward work, help more Americans get ahead.

Let’s do more to help Americans save for retirement. Today most workers don’t have a pension. A Social Security check often isn’t enough on its own. And while the stock market has doubled over the last five years, that doesn’t help folks who don’t have 401(k)s. That’s why tomorrow I will direct the Treasury to create a new way for working Americans to start their own retirement savings: MyRA. It’s a — it’s a new savings bond that encourages folks to build a nest egg.

MyRA guarantees a decent return with no risk of losing what you put in. And if this Congress wants to help, work with me to fix an upside-down tax code that gives big tax breaks to help the wealthy save, but does little or nothing for middle-class Americans, offer every American access to an automatic IRA on the job, so they can save at work just like everybody in this chamber can.

And since the most important investment many families make is their home, send me legislation that protects taxpayers from footing the bill for a housing crisis ever again, and keeps the dream of homeownership alive for future generations. (Applause.)

One last point on financial security. For decades, few things exposed hard-working families to economic hardship more than a broken health care system. And in case you haven’t heard, we’re in the process of fixing that. (Scattered laughter, applause.)

Now — a pre-existing condition used to mean that someone like Amanda Shelley, a physician’s assistant and single mom from Arizona, couldn’t get health insurance. But on January 1st, she got covered. (Applause.) On January 3rd, she felt a sharp pain. On January 6th, she had emergency surgery. Just one week earlier, Amanda said, that surgery would’ve meant bankruptcy. That’s what health insurance reform is all about, the peace of mind that if misfortune strikes, you don’t have to lose everything.

Already, because of the Affordable Care Act, more than 3 million Americans under age 26 have gained coverage under their parents’ plans. (Applause.)

More than 9 million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage — 9 million. (Applause.)

And here’s another number: zero. Because of this law, no American, none, zero, can ever again be dropped or denied coverage for a pre-existing condition like asthma or back pain or cancer. (Cheers, applause.) No woman can ever be charged more just because she’s a woman. (Cheers, applause.) And we did all this while adding years to Medicare’s finances, keeping Medicare premiums flat and lowering prescription costs for millions of seniors.

Now, I do not expect to convince my Republican friends on the merits of this law. (Laughter.) (Chuckles.) (Laughter.) But I know that the American people are not interested in refighting old battles. So again, if you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, increase choice, tell America what you’d do differently. Let’s see if the numbers add up. (Applause.) But let’s not have another 40- something votes to repeal a law that’s already helping millions of Americans like Amanda.

(Cheers, applause.) The first 40 were plenty. We all owe it to the American people to say what we’re for, not just what we’re against.

And if you want to know the real impact this law is having, just talk to Governor Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who’s here tonight. Now, Kentucky’s not the most liberal part of the country. That’s not where I got my highest vote totals. (Laughter.) But he’s like a man possessed when it comes to covering his commonwealth’s families. They’re our neighbors and our friends, he said. They’re people we shop and go to church with — farmers out on the tractor, grocery clerks. They’re people who go to work every morning praying they don’t get sick. No one deserves to live that way.

Steve’s right. That’s why tonight I ask every American who knows someone without health insurance to help them get covered by March 31st. Help them get covered. (Applause.) Moms, get on your kids to sign up. Kids, call your mom and walk her through the application. It’ll give her some peace of mind, and plus, she’ll appreciate hearing from you. (Laughter.)

After all, that — that’s the spirit that has always moved this nation forward.

It’s the spirit of citizenship, the recognition that through hard work and responsibility, we can pursue our individual dreams, but still come together as one American family to make sure the next generation can pursue its dreams as well.

Citizenship means standing up for everyone’s right to vote. (Applause.) Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened, but conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working together to strengthen it. And the bipartisan commission I appointed, chaired by my campaign lawyer and Governor Romney’s campaign lawyer, came together and have offered reforms so that no one has to wait more than a half hour to vote. Let’s support these efforts. It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy. (Cheers, applause.)

Citizenship means standing up for the lives that gun violence steals from us each day. I have seen the courage of parents, students, pastors, and police officers all over this country who say “we are not afraid,” and I intend to keep trying, with or without Congress, to help stop more tragedies from visiting innocent Americans in our movie theaters and our shopping malls, or schools like Sandy Hook. (Applause.)

Citizenship demands a sense of common purpose; participation in the hard work of self-government; an obligation to serve to our communities.

And I know this chamber agrees that few Americans give more to their country than our diplomats and the men and women of the United States armed forces. (Extended applause.) Thank you.

Tonight, because of the extraordinary troops and civilians who risk and lay down their lives to keep us free, the United States is more secure. When I took office, nearly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, all our troops are out of Iraq. More than 60,000 of our troops have already come home from Afghanistan. With Afghan forces now in the lead for their own security, our troops have moved to a support role. Together with our allies, we will complete our mission there by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over. (Applause.)

After 2014, we will support a unified Afghanistan as it takes responsibility for its own future.

If the Afghan government signs a security agreement that we have negotiated, a small force of Americans could remain in Afghanistan with NATO allies to carry out two narrow missions: training and assisting Afghan forces and counterterrorism operations to pursue any remnants of al-Qaida. For while our relationship with Afghanistan will change, one thing will not: our resolve that terrorists do not launch attacks against our country. (Applause.)

The fact is that danger remains. While we’ve put al-Qaida’s core leadership on a path to defeat, the threat has evolved as al-Qaida affiliates and other extremists take root in different parts of the world. In Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Mali, we have to keep working with partners to disrupt and disable these networks. In Syria, we’ll support the opposition that rejects the agenda of terrorist networks. Here at home, we’ll keep strengthening our defenses and combat new threats like cyberattacks. And as we reform our defense budget, we have to keep faith with our men and women in uniform and invest in the capabilities they need to succeed in future missions. (Applause.)

We have to remain vigilant.

But I strongly believe our leadership and our security cannot depend on our outstanding military alone. As commander in chief, I have used force when needed to protect the American people, and I will never hesitate to do so as long as I hold this office. But I will not send our troops into harm’s way unless it is truly necessary, nor will I allow our sons and daughters to be mired in open-ended conflicts. We must fight the battles — (applause) — that need to be fought, not those that terrorists prefer from us — large-scale deployments that drain our strength and may ultimately feed extremism.

So even as we actively and aggressively pursue terrorist networks, through more targeted efforts and by building the capacity of our foreign partners, America must move off a permanent war footing. (Applause.) That’s why I’ve imposed prudent limits on the use of drones, for we will not be safer if people abroad believe we strike within their countries without regard for the consequence.

That’s why, working with this Congress, I will reform our surveillance programs because the vital work of our intelligence community depends on public confidence, here and abroad, that privacy of ordinary people is not being violated. (Applause.) And with the Afghan war ending, this needs to be the year Congress lifts the remaining restrictions on detainee transfers and we close the prison at Guantanamo Bay — (applause) — because we counter terrorism not just through intelligence and military action but by remaining true to our constitutional ideals and setting an example for the rest of the world.

You see, in a world of complex threats, our security, our leadership depends on all elements of our power — including strong and principled diplomacy. American diplomacy has rallied more than 50 countries to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and allowed us to reduce our own reliance on Cold War stockpiles.

American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated. (Applause.) And we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve — a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear.

As we speak, American diplomacy is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in the difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the state of Israel — a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side. (Applause.)

And it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program — and rolled back parts of that program — for the very first time in a decade. As we gather here tonight, Iran has begun to eliminate its stockpile of higher levels of enriched uranium.

It’s not installing advanced centrifuges. Unprecedented inspections help the world verify every day that Iran is not building a bomb. And with our allies and partners, we’re engaged in negotiations to see if we can peacefully achieve a goal we all share: preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)

These negotiations will be difficult; they may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and we’re clear about the mistrust between our nations, mistrust that cannot be wished away. But these negotiations don’t rely on trust; any long-term deal we agree to must be based on verifiable action that convinces us and the international community that Iran is not building a nuclear bomb. If John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan could negotiate with the Soviet Union, then surely a strong and confident America can negotiate with less powerful adversaries today. (Applause.)

The sanctions that we put in place helped make this opportunity possible. But let me be clear: if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. (Applause.) For the sake of our national security, we must give diplomacy a chance to succeed.

(Applause.) If Iran’s leaders do not seize this opportunity, then I will be the first to call for more sanctions and stand ready to exercise all options to make sure Iran does not build a nuclear weapon. But if Iran’s leaders do seize the chance — and we’ll know soon enough — then Iran could take an important step to rejoin the community of nations, and we will have resolved one of the leading security challenges of our time without the risks of war.

And finally, let’s remember that our leadership is defined not just by our defense against threats but by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe, to forge greater cooperation, to expand new markets, to free people from fear and want. And no one is better positioned to take advantage of those opportunities than America.

Our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known. From Tunisia to Burma, we’re supporting those who are willing to do the hard work of building democracy. In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully and to have a say in their country’s future. Across Africa, we’re bringing together businesses and governments to double access to electricity and help end extreme poverty. In the Americas, we’re building new ties of commerce, but we’re also expanding cultural and educational exchanges among young people.

And we will continue to focus on the Asia-Pacific, where we support our allies, shape a future of greater security and prosperity and extend a hand to those devastated by disaster, as we did in the Philippines, when our Marines and civilians rushed to aid those battered by a typhoon, and were greeted with words like, “We will never forget your kindness” and “God bless America.”

We do these things because they help promote our long-term security. And we do them because we believe in the inherent dignity and equality of every human being, regardless of race or religion, creed or sexual orientation. And next week the world will see one expression of that commitment when Team USA marches the red, white and blue into the Olympic stadium and brings home the gold. (Cheers, applause.)

My fellow Americans, no other country in the world does what we do. On every issue, the world turns to us, not simply because of the size of our economy or our military might but because of the ideals we stand for and the burdens we bear to advance them.

No one knows this better than those who serve in uniform. As this time of war draws to a close, a new generation of heroes returns to civilian life. We’ll keep slashing that backlog so our veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned and our wounded warriors receive the health care — including the mental health care — that they need. (Applause.) We’ll keep working to help all our veterans translate their skills and leadership into jobs here at home, and we will all continue to join forces to honor and support our remarkable military families.

Let me tell you about one of those families I’ve come to know.

I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program, the ceremony. He was a strong, impressive young man, had an easy manner. He was sharp as a tack. And we joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.

A few months later, on his 10th deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.

For months, he lay in a coma. And the next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, hours of grueling rehab every day.

Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again, and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.

“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”

Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit. (Cheers, applause.) Cory. (Extended cheers and applause.)

My fellow Americans — my fellow Americans, men and women like Cory remind us that America has never come easy. Our freedom, our democracy, has never been easy. Sometimes we stumble; we make mistakes; we get frustrated or discouraged.

But for more than two hundred years, we have put those things aside and placed our collective shoulder to the wheel of progress: to create and build and expand the possibilities of individual achievement; to free other nations from tyranny and fear; to promote justice and fairness and equality under the law, so that the words set to paper by our founders are made real for every citizen.

The America we want for our kids — a rising America where honest work is plentiful and communities are strong; where prosperity is widely shared and opportunity for all lets us go as far as our dreams and toil will take us — none of it is easy. But if we work together; if we summon what is best in us, the way Cory summoned what is best in him, with our feet planted firmly in today but our eyes cast towards tomorrow, I know it’s within our reach.

Believe it.

God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

———————————————————-

and for further fairness we also give the link to:

State of the Union responses reflect GOP rivalries

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 26th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Kumi Naidoo | Don’t Bet on Coal and Oil Growth
Kumi Naidoo, Reader Supported News
Naidoo writes: “A mind-boggling sum of about $800 for each person on the planet is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. … The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. This should be an impressive amount of money for anyone reading this.”
READ MORE

 

How the Coal Industry Impoverishes West Virginia
Omar Ghabra, The Nation
Ghabra writes: “There’s a joke circulating among Syrians who fled the brutal conflict devastating their country to the quiet mountains of West Virginia: ‘We escaped the lethal chemicals in Syria only for them to follow us here.’ Of course, what’s happening in West Virginia right now is no laughing matter.”
READ MORE

———-

By Kumi Naidoo, Reader Supported News

 

25 January 14

 

mind-boggling sum of about $800 for each person on the planet is invested into fossil fuel companies through the global capital markets alone. That’s roughly 10 percent of the total capital invested in listed companies. The amount of money invested into the 200 biggest fossil fuel companies through financial markets is estimated at 5.5 trillion dollars. This should be an impressive amount of money for anyone reading this.

 

By keeping their money in coal and oil companies, investors are betting a vast amount of wealth, including the pensions and savings of millions of people, on high future demand for dirty fuels. The investment has enabled fossil fuel companies to massively raise their spending on expanding extractable reserves, with oil and gas companies alone (state-owned ones included) spending the combined GDP of Netherlands and Belgium a year, in belief that there will be demand for ever more dirty fuel.

 

This assumption is being challenged by recent developments, which is good news for climate but bad news for anyone who thought investing in fossil fuel industries was a safe bet. Frantic growth in coal consumption seems to be coming to an end much sooner than predicted just a few years ago, with China’s aggressive clean air policies, rapidly dropping coal consumption in the U.S. and upcoming closures of many coal plants in Europe. At the same time the oil industry is also facing slowing demand growth and the financial and share performance of oil majors is disappointing for shareholders.

 

Nevertheless, even faced with weakening demand prospects, outdated investment patterns are driving fossil fuel companies to waste trillions of dollars in developing reserves and infrastructure that will be stranded as the world moves beyond 20th century energy.

 

A good example is coal export developments. The large recent investment in coal export capacity in all key exporter countries was based on the assumption of unlimited growth of Chinese demand. When public outrage over air pollution reached a new level in 2012-2013, the Chinese leadership moved swiftly to mandate absolute reductions in coal consumption, and banned new coal-fired power plants in key economic regions. A growing chorus of financial analysts is now projecting a peak in Chinese coal demand in the near future, which seemed unimaginable just a couple of years ago. This new reality has already reduced market capitalization of export focused coal companies. Even in China itself, investment in coal-fired power plants has now outpaced demand growth, leading to drops in capacity utilization.

 

Another example of potentially stranded assets is found in Europe, where large utilities ignored the writing on the wall about EU moves to price carbon and boost renewable energy. Betting on old business models and the fossil-fuel generation, they built a massive 80 gigawatts of new fossil power generation capacity in the last 10 years, much of which is already generating losses and now risk becoming stranded assets.

 

Arctic oil drilling is possibly the ultimate example of fossil companies’ unfounded confidence in high future demand. Any significant production and revenue is unlikely until 2030, and in the meanwhile Arctic drilling faces high and uncertain costs, extremely demanding and risky operations, as well as the prospect of heavy regulation and liabilities when (not if) the first major blowout happens in the region. No wonder the International Energy Agency is skeptical about Arctic oil, assuming hardly any production in the next 20 years. Regardless, Shell has already burnt $5 billion of shareholders’ money on their Arctic gamble.

 

Those investing in coal and oil have perhaps felt secure seeing the global climate negotiations proceed at a disappointing pace. However, the initial carbon crunch is being delivered by increasingly market-driven renewable energy development, and by national level clean energy and energy efficiency policies — such as renewable energy support schemes and emission regulation in Europe, or clean air policies in the U.S. and in China. Global coal demand, and possibly even oil demand, could peak even before a strong climate treaty is agreed.

 

Investors often underestimate their exposure to fossil fuels, particularly indirect exposure through e.g. passively managed pension funds and sovereign debt of strongly fossil fuel dependent states. Assessing exposure, requiring fossil energy companies to disclose and reduce carbon risks, and reducing investments in sunset energy technologies will lead to profitable investment in a world that moves to cleaner and smarter energy systems.

 

Improving competitiveness of renewable energy, growing opposition to destructive fossil fuel projects, concerns on water shortage and the imperative of cutting global CO2 emissions all point in the same direction: Governments, companies and investors should all be planning for a world with declining fossil fuel consumption — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because it makes economic sense. It is the direction the world will be moving to — faster than many yet anticipate.

================================================================================

Following our original posting, we watched today the Fareed Zakaria show at CNN/GPS and reporting from Davos – from the World Economy dialogues, he pointed out that 85 people own as much wealth as the lowest 3.5 billion people of the World.

Then he also mentioned that the 5 members of the family that owns Walmart own a disproportionate part of the wealth of the US – to be exact – just as much as 42% of all Americans.

He also said that there were no problem if everybody would improve their economic standing and the few at the top just grow more – but the reality is that the Middle class is receding and the explanation is that we moved from the human based Manufacturing Age to a machine based Manufacturing Age that does not need humans in the production line. This is endemic and this spiral is bound to drive us further down.
Now a big company like Apple employs only 50,000 Americans – so he has a true argument.

Because he mentioned Walmart this triggered my Sustainable Development thinking as I know that the Walmart company is in partnership with Mr. Jigar Shah in order to decrease their expenditure on electricity by allowing him the use of the roofs covering their stores to produce with photovoltaics the electricity they need. In effect they just did what the US government ought to campaign for. If they are so smart they indeed deserve being so rich – and they put the rest of us to shame because we do not have the initiative to improve our lives by ourselves.

In the context of this posting – why do we not rebel against those in Washington that insist the government sends dollars overseas to buy oil when there is no compelling reason to continue this man-made dependency on unneeded resources? Just think what array of industries could spring up from alliances like that of Jigar and Walmart? The whole Davos exercise ought to be reorganized – the apple of the economy is rotten not because of high-tech apples but because of the intentional subsidization of the old low-tech industries and the move to a globalized market that does not allow for globalized sustainability. You can bet safely that the Koch Brothers will push the US deeper in the hole of retardiness – this because it benefits their old ways of making money.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 10th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

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  I’m Ed Begley, Jr. I’m a fossil fuel free kind of guy. I ride my bike everywhere I can. That’s why I say don’t invest in fossil fuels.

— Ed Begley, Jr., actor, director, and environmentalist


About the Fossil Fuel Free Balanced Fund

Since 2005, Green Century’s Balanced Fund has been 100% fossil fuel free by not investing in the exploration, drilling, refining, or production of oil, gas, or coal. The Balanced Fund seeks to invest in well-managed companies that strive to maximize their environmental advantages and minimize their environmental risks. The Balanced Fund is almost 50% less carbon intensive than the S&P 500® Index¹ as measured by the international data and analysis firm Trucost.²

About Green Century Capital Management

Green Century Capital Management (Green Century) is an environmentally responsible investment advisory firm. Founded in 1991 by a network of environmental non-profit organizations, it manages the fossil fuel free Green Century Balanced Fund. Green Century also leads a successful shareholder advocacy program that aims to protect our forests, water, and air.

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² The analysis was performed by leading environmental data and analysis firm Trucost® and is based on measuring the tons of carbon emissions per million dollars of revenue of the companies held by the Balanced Fund and those of the companies included in the S&P 500® Index, as of January 31, 2013.

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###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 8th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

IT IS ALL ABOUT SOLAR ENERGY – Direct Solar and Wind Energy that can replace fossil carbon already now!
When it comes to heavy trucks – the CNG industry comes into play as well – so it is not just that electricity replaces the need for gasoline – but natural gas will replace the need for diesel as well – so here we will ask ourselves eventually – who still needs a petroleum refinery?

http://i1.wp.com/cleantechnica.com/files/2013/04/wind-turbine-solar-panel-globe.jpg

 

17 Cleantech Champions

 cleantechnica.com/2014/01/01/10-c…

17 Cleantech Champions
by Zachary Shahan
CleanTechnica

There are actually thousands of cleantech champions out there, and many of them are CleanTechnica readers. I was actually a bit hesitant to make this list because of that – there are going to be a lot of people not on this list that really could be. However, in honor of the tremendous work some of these people are doing, I felt compelled to write this up.

Importantly, beyond the main work they are doing, this piece is particularly focused on highlighting cleantech leaders who make their presence and views known in the public eye. We’re in the business in moving the public pendulum towards cleantech, and I greatly value the cleantech business and science leaders who also do so…

1. ELON MUSK – Tesla Motors, Solar City …

JIGAR SHAH -  SunEdison, Carbon War Room, Jigar Shah Consulting …

3. CARLOS GOSH – Nissan, Renault, Electic Vehicles …

4. DENISE BODE – AWEA (Wind Energy)

5. Mark Z. Jacobson – Renewable Energy for New York

6. DANNY KENNEDY – Sungevity Solar, The Solar Foundation, Solar on the White House …

LYNN JURICH – SunRun …

8. HERMANN SCHEER – died 2010, was Member of German Parliament who fought for Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) …

9. LISA JACKSON (US EPA) & STEVEN CHU (US Department of Energy) – for their leadership

10. BILLY PARISH – Solar Mosaic

11. SULTAN AHMED AL JABER – Masdar, AbuDhabi

12.  ADNAN Z. AMIN – IRENA, Abu Dhabi

13. BOB LUTZ – GM Cherry Volt, Via Motors VTRUX – an electric car proponent despite being a conservative Global Warming denier.

14. AL GORE – Global Warming tied to fossil fuels.

15. NAWAL AL-HOSANY – Masdar and the Zayed Future Energy Prize. Abu Dhabi

16. DAN YATES & ALEX LASKEY – Opower

17. PAUL SCOTT – Plug-In America, Nissan Leaf

 

 

Where the Green Jobs Will Be in 2014
by Jigar Shah
LinkedIn

In the movie, “The Graduate,” Dustin Hoffman returned home from college and got one word of career advice: “Plastics.”

 

That was 1967 – and 35 years later, words are “solar, buildings, and heavy trucks.”Maybe the hottest of the three is solar.Each sector and others add up to jobs.

Luckily, a decade ago, maybe I was just young and crazy – or ahead of my time by accident.But, my “plastics” was clearly “solar.” The result was that I used it to be part of building a multi-billion dollar industry.  Since then, I have been privileged to build wealth in many other sectors within the resource efficiency space including batteries, solar hot water, and hydroponic greenhouses.

The wealth I am talking about is not a few people making millions, but millions of people making a real living. So let’s look at why there is a huge demand in these areas – and what jobs need to be filled in this new world I call “Climate Wealth.”

The demand is driven by the fact that across the broader resource efficiency industry, renewable energy costs have declined while traditional-energy costs have risen.Since 1999, fuel budgets are up 300 percent and electricity bills up 25 percent.These market dynamics make it clear that there is a real opportunity for stably priced, clean energy solutions that save people money.

First, the solar industry, now at $13 billion, has added more than 15,000 people in 2013 and looks to increase hiring in 2014. Compared to a decade ago, solar has stabilized as an industry. And, the past year, solar stocks have risen 140 percent. Notable names like Solar City and SunEdison have more than doubled in the past year. Their stock rise is driven by a realization by most investors that solar can now be cost effective without government subsidies.

There are emerging hot growth markets in Minnesota, Georgia, and Iowa plus continuing growth in existing hot geographic markets like Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and Washington DC.With this level of broad support, the solar industry will be adding jobs at a feverish clip next year.

Many of the open positions are in sales, construction and project management. Plus, there are many open positions in marketing, public relations, accounting, data analysis, and finance. A good starting point to find open positions is the Solar Energy Industries Association website – seia.org.

Second, since 1975, the energy efficiency retrofit industry has always had promise but failed to really hit the mark. But 2014 is looking very different. The big growth area is in continuous commissioning of buildings – otherwise known as Big Data. Companies like Intel, IBM, AT&T, Siemens, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric, SCIEnergy, Building IQ, Entouch, Informa and others have finished their R&D and raised the growth capital they need to accelerate deployment in 2014.

These companies work with existing building management systems that have been largely collecting dust for over 20 years. The data from these systems can be fed real-time into the “cloud” allowing Big Data companies to pinpoint where the building is losing energy and often fix the problems remotely. In some cases, specific instructions can be sent to the building owners on low cost and no costs repairs and upgrade that maintenance crews can fix during routine rounds.

Navigant Consulting predicts that annual revenue in the building management systems space worldwide will grow from $56.9 billion in 2013 to $100.8 billion by 2021.2014 will be about getting their products into the marketplace at scale.To do so, they need sales people and data specialists – probably more than 1,000 of them per month.

Third, the heavy truck industry will also see a big focus in 2014.Peterbilt and others sold more natural gas trucks in 2013 than ever before. According to the American Trucking Research Institute, diesel costs over $0.59/mile, compared to less than $0.25/mile for natural gas.

As more natural gas trucks get on the road, folks driving diesel trucks are being priced out of the market. That means diesel truck owners have to buy a new truck or retrofit their existing trucks to burn up to 50 percent natural gas. They can also add some aerodynamics and anti-idling solutions to stay competitive.

Companies have been selling these technologies for 15+ years – since I was working as a contractor to the Department of Energy. What’s different today is not $4/gallon diesel – it is the competitive threat of all of the new natural gas vehicles hitting the market place.

There will construction jobs for new refueling stations, mechanics needed to repair these natural gas systems, manufacturing jobs in the USA to keep the inventory stocked, sales jobs, and training for thousands of shops that want to learn how to perform these retrofits.T. Boone Pickens was right, but his timing was off because of the lack of help from Washington DC.So the USA spent $150B more for diesel since 2008 than necessary, but as Winston Churchill said, Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing after they exhaust all other options.

Other industries are going to turn the corner in 2014 with the bulk of their job growth probably coming in 2015.These industries include local agriculture solutions, solar hot water, battery storage for buildings, transoceanic ship retrofits, combined heat and power, car sharing, and many other resource efficiency industries.With over 100,000 companies in the United States alone that are gearing up for these opportunities – resource-efficiency solutions look to represent the largest wealth creation opportunity of a generation.

The resource-efficiency sector will have at least a 40-year growth span for jobs and careers. “Plastics” has officially been replaced.

Photo: Elena Elisseeva / shutterstock

www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140107161202-258664-where-the-green-jobs-will-be-in-2014?goback=.nmp_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1&trk=object-title?goback=.nmp_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1&trk=object-title

 


17 Cleantech Champions


Image Credit: Solar panel, wind turbine & globe via Shutterstock

There are actually thousands of cleantech champions out there, and many of them are CleanTechnica readers. I was actually a bit hesitant to make this list because of that — there are going to be a lot of people not on this list that really could be. However, in honor of the tremendous work some of these people are doing, I felt compelled to write this up.

Importantly, beyond the main work they are doing, this piece is particularly focused on highlighting cleantech leaders who make their presence and views known in the public eye. We’re in the business in moving the public pendulum towards cleantech, and I greatly value the cleantech business and science leaders who also do so. Lack of awareness and lack of the strong citizen/political push that could come from greater awareness are perhaps now the largest barriers to the cleantech revolution. We need cleantech leaders and “business celebrities” or “political celebrities” who really know the story to get out there and help in informing the public.

17. Paul Scott 

Founder of Plug In America, leading Nissan Leaf salesman, former solar salesman. Overall, one of the leading EV advocates in the world, and has been for a long time. Gets out there and writes articles on sites such as CleanTechnica, and also good at coming up with grand ideas for getting more attention on electric cars.

Where to follow Paul online? Twitter

16. Opower guys, Dan Yates & Alex Laskey

Dan & Alex co-founded what has become perhaps the best home energy management company in the world. They also do a good job of getting out into the public eye and giving excellent presentations.

Where to follow Dan & Alex online? Dan: Twitter. Alex: Twitter?

15. Nawal Al-Hosany

Dr Nawal Al-Hosany is director of sustainability at Masdar and also the director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. With Masdar being a $15 billion effort to become something like the Silicon Valley of cleantech, her leaders is pretty huge. Nonetheless, Nawal somehow finds a way to provide CleanTechnica and others with original guest posts and interviews in order to advance global cleantech awareness.

Where to follow Nawal online? Twitter and maybe also LinkedIn

14. Al Gore

As one of the most notable figures working to fight global warming, Al has to be on this list. While he focuses a lot on the problems of global warming and fossil fuels (not exactly the focus of this list), he also delves into cleantech topics quite a bit. And there’s really no possibility to untie the important global warming–cleantech link.

Where to follow Al online? Google+Twitterhis blog

13. Bob Lutz

Bob was a key GM notable behind the Chevy Volt. He is also now pioneering electric trucks with the Via Motors VTRUX. Bob gotten on Fox News and also written articles on conservative media outlets — places where he has some sway as a global warming-denying extreme conservative — in order to defend electric vehicles. Despite coming from a career in the highly entrenched auto industry, Bob says that an “electric car future [is] definitely coming.”

Where to follow Bob online? Good question…

12. Adnan Z Amin

Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency. I think that says enough, but I’ll add that Adnan gets out there and writes some great articles on blogs around the world (including here). Furthermore, he gives some of the best presentations out there on renewable energy.

Where to follow Adnan online? Good question…

11. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

I’ve already mentioned Masdar. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the CEO of this cleantech monster. The responsibility of that massive effort must create quite a bit of pressure, yet this CEO seems to handle the position with tremendous ease and coolness. He also delivers exceptional presentations on a variety of cleantech matters. Hopefully I’ll be able to nab an interview with him at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, but I’m not so sure — last year, he was very quickly zipped in and out of the numerous events where he was speaking.

Where to follow Al Jaber online? Huffington Post?



10. Billy Parish

Billy is the co-founder and president of Mosaic (originally termed Solar Mosaic). Mosaic is already having a big effect in the solar energy space through the possibility of decentralized investment in solar energy projects — solar energy investing for “the common Joe.” But Mosaic’s offering still hasn’t hit the majority of the US or other countries (at least, the option for “the common Joe” to invest hasn’t). I think it will see tremendous growth in the years to come, but even if it didn’t, it has had a profound impact on the solar energy market. Billy does an excellent job of getting the good solar word out there to the public, which includes posting articles here on CleanTechnica. Overall, Mosaic’s blog is one of the best solar blogs around, which I assume Billy has had some influence over.

Where to follow Billy online? Twitter

9. Lisa Jackson & Steven Chu

Both Lisa and Steven were exceptional in the roles as the director of the EPA and US Secretary of Energy, respectively. I think they would have done even much more if not held back by higher-ups, but even with the opportunities they were given, they were excellent at promoting cleantech and cutting into the harm caused by fossil fuels. Lisa and Steven stepped down from the roles in the US government this year, but both have gone on to do other important work in the cleantech space. Lisa is actually now the vice president of environmental initiatives at Apple, the high-valued brand in the world. Lisa and Steven were both often in the public eye and were very good public communicators and verbal champions of the cleantech revolution.

When a popular Onion joke about Steven sleeping with a solar panel came out, the clever Nobel-prize winner put out a great response:

“I just want everyone to know that my decision not to serve a second term as Energy Secretary has absolutely nothing to do with the allegations made in this week’s edition of the Onion. While I’m not going to confirm or deny the charges specifically, I will say that clean, renewable solar power is a growing source of U.S. jobs and is becoming more and more affordable, so it’s no surprise that lots of Americans are falling in love with solar.”

Where to follow Lisa & Steven online? Lisa: Twitter. Steven: good question… (Steven, please share a bit with us on Google+ or Twitter! I suggest Google+ since it has a little bit of math in its name.)

8. Hermann Scheer

I was initially making this list about current cleantech champions, but then Herman Scheer came to mind and I couldn’t leave him out. If he were alive today, he’d surely be higher up on this list. Hermann was one of the key people behind the German feed-in tariff (FiT), which has transformed renewable energy sectors, especially the solar energy sector, globally. I would say that the FiT is inarguably the most important renewable energy policy in history, and Hermann was crucial to its implementation.

Unfortunately, Hermann did rather suddenly in 2010 at the age of 69. As summarized on Wikipedia: “Fourteen days before his death he was seen live on German television[7] making a statement in the Bundestag about a highly explosive (“hochbrisant”) 60 billion euro breach of contract (“Vertragsbruch”) by Germany’s privately owned nuclear power corporations.[8] He suddenly died in a hospital in Berlin from heart failure[9] after an unspecified short and severe illness.[10]

6 (tie). Lynn Jurich

Lynn Jurich is the co-founder and co-CEO of Sunrun, which pioneered solar leasing and PPAs for homeowners and is now apparently the “#1 home solar company.” The rather short Wikipedia bio for Lynn is actually quite good, so I’ll just use that here: “Jurich was named as one of the Ten Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs by Fortune in 2009, and received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2010 award in Northern California together with SunRun co-founder Ed Fenster. Jurich serves on the Sierra Club Foundation Board of Directors and holds an MBA and BS from Stanford University.” I haven’t seen Lynn in the public eye much, but I have seen one or two videos with her.

Where to follow Lynn online? Good question…

6 (tie). Danny Kennedy

Danny Kennedy came from a Greenpeace background to start up one of the biggest solar companies in the world, Sungevity. He’s now the president of Sungevity and also serves on the boards of The Solar Foundation and Mosaic. Other notable side projects include spearheading the “Solar on the White House” push and writing Rooftop Revolution: How Solar Power Can Save Our Economy—and Our Planet—from Dirty Energy. Danny is quite often interviewed by the media and does an excellent job — perhaps the best around — at communicating the… well, rooftop revolution. A couple of videos I highly, highly recommend are this TEDx talk and this recent interview on Bloomberg TV.

Where to follow Danny online? Twitter (where he even does solar-inspired shout-outs to little guys like me) and Google+ (one of the first cleantech leaders I’ve seen there).

5. Mark Z Jacobson

Mark Z Jacobson has done exceptional research in the renewable energy sector. But that’s obviously not enough to land someone on this list. Mark has also led by getting the word out (perhaps more than anyone else) that renewable energy is indeed capable of powering the world with current technology, and cost competitive. This year, he even showed up on the Late Show with David Letterman to talk about powering New York with renewable energy.

Where to follow Mark online? Twitter (he even posts drafts of research he’s working on there!)

4. Denise Bode

She actually stepped down from her role as the CEO of AWEA around this time last year, but she was so instrumental and so effective at growing the wind energy business in the US (and, thus, globally), that I thought she deserved to be pretty high on this list. For a number of reasons, wind energy is further along (as far as low costs and high capacity) than solar energy. Denise was an excellent face and voice of the wind industry, and even had the courage and ability to go to battle with misinformants on Fox News. As a Republican, she had a bit more sway with Republican politicians, voters, and media agencies, but she still had to battle with a massive amount of misinformation there. And I think she did that exceptionally well.

Where to follow Denise online? Huffington Post?

3. Carlos Ghosn

Alongside Elon Musk (sorry, he didn’t make the list ;) ), Carlos Ghosn is probably the most notable EV advocate out there. As the head of both Nissan and Renault (Chairman & CEO of both), he also has a lot of power to make magic happen. Right now, with a couple of medium-market EV models available and a fairly aggressive push to have his companies lead the electric revolution, Carlos definitely claims the top spot for electric vehicle sales. Also, I just love this man. His comments are so spot-on, so sharp, and cut through the BS faster than Fox News creates it (well, I guess I wouldn’t go that far). I love his attitude and his wicked-fast mind, and I look forward to seeing him continue to transform and grow Nissan and Renault.

Where to follow Carlos online? Good question….

1. Jigar Shah

I had a really hard time deciding which one of these top two people should be #1, so I finally decided to make it a tie. Jigar Shah founded SunEdison, which pioneered a financing model that would lead to explosive growth in the solar industry. He grew SunEdison into a solar giant and then moved on to other things. From 2009 to 2012, Jigar was the CEO of the Carbon War Room, “a global organization founded by Richard Branson and Virgin Unite to harness the power of entrepreneurship to unlock the potential of proven climate change solution technologies to be deployed at scale,” as Wikipedia summarizes it. He was fundamental in the growth and influence of the Carbon War Room, but then moved on to consulting as CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting (odd name…). Jigar serves on the board of more cleantech startups than there are months in the year, probably more than there are days in the month — I’d actually be curious to know the exact number. His influence in the industry is broad, deep, and powerful. He is consistently publishing insightful articles (including a CleanTechnica one with a very counter-intuitive message), answering interview questions, and participating in podcasts.

Where to follow Jigar online? TwitterGoogle+, and perhaps LinkedIn. He’s all over the place.

1. Elon Musk

Come on, this was more obvious than daylight. The man is CEO and Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors, which has transformed the electric vehicle and arguably even the entire automobile industry. He’s also the chairman of SolarCity, one of the largest solar power companies in the world. Earlier this year, he was named to the TIME 100 list, a list of the “most influential” people in the world. He is often making public statements about solar and EVs, and he even tweets a bit.

Where to follow Elon online? Twitter, where he regularly engages with the public, makes some quite big announcements (and bigger hints), and even tweets stories from simple bloggers like me. To give an indication of his influence, Elon has nearly 500,000 followers in the land of the little blue bird, about 100 times more than the person on this list with the third-most followers (Jigar Shah — nearly 5,000) and only behind former US Vice President Al Gore, who has about 2.7 million.

 

Think I missed a beat by not including someone? Drop that person’s name in the comments below.

 

Keep up with all the hottest cleantech news & commentary here on CleanTechnica. Subscribe to our newsletter to get a roundup of our stories in your inbox every day.

Image Credit: Solar panel, wind turbine & globe via Shutterstock


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is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.


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Read more at cleantechnica.com/2014/01/01/10-cleantech-champions/#slXFlKPquLqwm5BM.99

There are actually thousands of cleantech champions out there, and many of them are CleanTechnica readers. I was actually a bit hesitant to make this list because of that — there are going to be a lot of people not on this list that really could be. However, in honor of the tremendous work some of these people are doing, I felt compelled to write this up.

Importantly, beyond the main work they are doing, this piece is particularly focused on highlighting cleantech leaders who make their presence and views known in the public eye. We’re in the business in moving the public pendulum towards cleantech, and I greatly value the cleantech business and science leaders who also do so. Lack of awareness and lack of the strong citizen/political push that could come from greater awareness are perhaps now the largest barriers to the cleantech revolution. We need cleantech leaders and “business celebrities” or “political celebrities” who really know the story to get out there and help in informing the public.

17. Paul Scott 

Founder of Plug In America, leading Nissan Leaf salesman, former solar salesman. Overall, one of the leading EV advocates in the world, and has been for a long time. Gets out there and writes articles on sites such as CleanTechnica, and also good at coming up with grand ideas for getting more attention on electric cars.

Where to follow Paul online? Twitter

16. Opower guys, Dan Yates & Alex Laskey

Dan & Alex co-founded what has become perhaps the best home energy management company in the world. They also do a good job of getting out into the public eye and giving excellent presentations.

Where to follow Dan & Alex online? Dan: Twitter. Alex: Twitter?

15. Nawal Al-Hosany

Dr Nawal Al-Hosany is director of sustainability at Masdar and also the director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. With Masdar being a $15 billion effort to become something like the Silicon Valley of cleantech, her leaders is pretty huge. Nonetheless, Nawal somehow finds a way to provide CleanTechnica and others with original guest posts and interviews in order to advance global cleantech awareness.

Where to follow Nawal online? Twitter and maybe also LinkedIn

14. Al Gore

As one of the most notable figures working to fight global warming, Al has to be on this list. While he focuses a lot on the problems of global warming and fossil fuels (not exactly the focus of this list), he also delves into cleantech topics quite a bit. And there’s really no possibility to untie the important global warming–cleantech link.

Where to follow Al online? Google+Twitterhis blog

13. Bob Lutz

Bob was a key GM notable behind the Chevy Volt. He is also now pioneering electric trucks with the Via Motors VTRUX. Bob gotten on Fox News and also written articles on conservative media outlets — places where he has some sway as a global warming-denying extreme conservative — in order to defend electric vehicles. Despite coming from a career in the highly entrenched auto industry, Bob says that an “electric car future [is] definitely coming.”

Where to follow Bob online? Good question…

12. Adnan Z Amin

Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency. I think that says enough, but I’ll add that Adnan gets out there and writes some great articles on blogs around the world (including here). Furthermore, he gives some of the best presentations out there on renewable energy.

Where to follow Adnan online? Good question…

11. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

I’ve already mentioned Masdar. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the CEO of this cleantech monster. The responsibility of that massive effort must create quite a bit of pressure, yet this CEO seems to handle the position with tremendous ease and coolness. He also delivers exceptional presentations on a variety of cleantech matters. Hopefully I’ll be able to nab an interview with him at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, but I’m not so sure — last year, he was very quickly zipped in and out of the numerous events where he was speaking.

Where to follow Al Jaber online? Huffington Post?


Read more at cleantechnica.com/2014/01/01/10-cleantech-champions/#slXFlKPquLqwm5BM.99

There are actually thousands of cleantech champions out there, and many of them are CleanTechnica readers. I was actually a bit hesitant to make this list because of that — there are going to be a lot of people not on this list that really could be. However, in honor of the tremendous work some of these people are doing, I felt compelled to write this up.

Importantly, beyond the main work they are doing, this piece is particularly focused on highlighting cleantech leaders who make their presence and views known in the public eye. We’re in the business in moving the public pendulum towards cleantech, and I greatly value the cleantech business and science leaders who also do so. Lack of awareness and lack of the strong citizen/political push that could come from greater awareness are perhaps now the largest barriers to the cleantech revolution. We need cleantech leaders and “business celebrities” or “political celebrities” who really know the story to get out there and help in informing the public.

17. Paul Scott 

Founder of Plug In America, leading Nissan Leaf salesman, former solar salesman. Overall, one of the leading EV advocates in the world, and has been for a long time. Gets out there and writes articles on sites such as CleanTechnica, and also good at coming up with grand ideas for getting more attention on electric cars.

Where to follow Paul online? Twitter

16. Opower guys, Dan Yates & Alex Laskey

Dan & Alex co-founded what has become perhaps the best home energy management company in the world. They also do a good job of getting out into the public eye and giving excellent presentations.

Where to follow Dan & Alex online? Dan: Twitter. Alex: Twitter?

15. Nawal Al-Hosany

Dr Nawal Al-Hosany is director of sustainability at Masdar and also the director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize. With Masdar being a $15 billion effort to become something like the Silicon Valley of cleantech, her leaders is pretty huge. Nonetheless, Nawal somehow finds a way to provide CleanTechnica and others with original guest posts and interviews in order to advance global cleantech awareness.

Where to follow Nawal online? Twitter and maybe also LinkedIn

14. Al Gore

As one of the most notable figures working to fight global warming, Al has to be on this list. While he focuses a lot on the problems of global warming and fossil fuels (not exactly the focus of this list), he also delves into cleantech topics quite a bit. And there’s really no possibility to untie the important global warming–cleantech link.

Where to follow Al online? Google+Twitterhis blog

13. Bob Lutz

Bob was a key GM notable behind the Chevy Volt. He is also now pioneering electric trucks with the Via Motors VTRUX. Bob gotten on Fox News and also written articles on conservative media outlets — places where he has some sway as a global warming-denying extreme conservative — in order to defend electric vehicles. Despite coming from a career in the highly entrenched auto industry, Bob says that an “electric car future [is] definitely coming.”

Where to follow Bob online? Good question…

12. Adnan Z Amin

Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency. I think that says enough, but I’ll add that Adnan gets out there and writes some great articles on blogs around the world (including here). Furthermore, he gives some of the best presentations out there on renewable energy.

Where to follow Adnan online? Good question…

11. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber

I’ve already mentioned Masdar. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber is the CEO of this cleantech monster. The responsibility of that massive effort must create quite a bit of pressure, yet this CEO seems to handle the position with tremendous ease and coolness. He also delivers exceptional presentations on a variety of cleantech matters. Hopefully I’ll be able to nab an interview with him at the upcoming Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, but I’m not so sure — last year, he was very quickly zipped in and out of the numerous events where he was speaking.

Where to follow Al Jaber online? Huffington Post?


Read more at cleantechnica.com/2014/01/01/10-cleantech-champions/#slXFlKPquLqwm5BM.99

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 30th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Following the trail of – Jigar Shah’s “CREATING CLIMATE WEALTH – UNLOCKING THE IMPACT ECONOMY” we found the -

Carbon War Room   (CWR).

www.carbonwarroom.com/?

         The Carbon War Room accelerates the adoption of business solutions that reduce carbon emissions at gigaton scale and advance the low-carbon economy.

The Carbon War Room (CWR) is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) and think tank working on issues regarding market-based solutions to climate change. While its main offices are in London, New York City and Washington, D.C., Carbon War Room also has associates based around the world.

 

Founded by Richard Branson of the Virgin Group and founding CEO Jigar Shah in 2009, the Carbon War Room (CWR) harnesses the power of entrepreneurs to implement market-driven solutions to climate change and create a post-carbon economy.

Its current president is José María Figueres, formerly the President of Costa Rica, and of the family of present Secretary General of the Bonn based UNFCCC.

 

CWR has various initiatives in operation including Shipping Efficiency, Green Capital, Renewable Jet Fuels and Smart Island Economies.

The focus of CWR includes 7 major environmental areas:    Agriculture,  Energy Supply,  Forestry,  Industry,  Buildings, Transport and Waste Management.

Carbon War Room focuses on the market barriers that reinforce the status quo and prevent capital from flowing to sustainable solutions with compelling returns. Often, strong policy is a necessary but insufficient condition, and technology is not the bottleneck: Capital has to flow to solutions in a well-functioning market-place.

 

 

CWR Vision

Our vision is a world where over $1trillion invested in climate change solutions is an annual occurrence, not a historic milestone (Bloomberg New Energy Finance).

In this world, market barriers will not exist in any sector where profitable carbon reduction solutions exist; and entrepreneurs who are passionate about preserving our planet’s resources are simultaneously tapping in to the economic opportunity of our generation. There is no Planet B.

Agents of change are entrepreneurs of all kinds from start-ups and the investment community to corporates, policy makers, academia and     other non-profits.

 

Contact Address
1020 19th ST NW #130
Washington, DC 20036

Telephone
+1 202.717.8448

###