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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 13th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Max Gruenig  max.gruenig at eius.org

Dear colleagues,

One can now apply to be a part of Arctic Summer College 2017 at bit.ly/ASCapply2017(link is external)

The deadline for an application is June 8, 2017.


Since 2012, the Arctic Summer College provides an interdisciplinary learning environment to increase knowledge and understanding of the people and the environment of the Arctic. To achieve this, the College focuses on climate change adaptation, natural resource management, biodiversity protection, environmental governance, energy policy, security, and human health. The College is primarily a virtual campus for learning about the environment in the Arctic and exchanging ideas on how collaborative efforts can protect the Arctic from negative impacts of human activities in the High North.

The Arctic Summer College invites practitioners and graduate students from around the world to participate in an expert-led, interactive webinar series in which you will engage with Arctic experts in a variety of fields in real time. During the course, you will build relationships with other participants, develop connections with Arctic professionals, and enter into a larger network of Arctic Summer College Alumni upon completion of the program.

You will benefit from lectures and submit a final paper to earn our Arctic Summer College Student Certification. The final paper can be on a topic of your choice within relevant fields such as sustainable development, environmental protection, and/or international cooperation in the Arctic. Exceptional participants will have the opportunity to publish their work in the peer-reviewed Arctic Summer College yearbook (see also our previous book on Arctic Governance: ecologic.eu/10044(link is externa) and the World Policy Institute’s Arctic in Context Blog.

Additionally, distinguished participants will receive a travel grant to present their research at the 2017 Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland.

9 online lectures will be hosted by Ecologic Institute on Wednesdays from 18:00-20:00 CEST / 12:00-14:00 EDT from July 5 to August 30, 2017.

The participation fee for the Arctic Summer College is 300 USD or 300 EUR.

You can contact us with questions about the Arctic Summer College and the application process at  application at arcticsummercollege.org(link sends e-mail)

We look forward to hearing from you!

Your Arctic Summer College Team,
Max Gruenig, Brendan O’Donnell and Arne Riedel

 arcticsummercollege.org


Max Gruenig
President

Phone 202-550-9072
Skype max.gruenig.ecologic
Twitter @MaxGruenig
web eius.org
 www.linkedin.com/in/maxgruenig
 www.facebook.com/eius.org/

Read our new book: Low-Carbon Energy Security from a European Perspective
 bit.ly/low-carbon-energy

Ecologic Institute US
1630 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20009, USA
Ecologic Institute is an IRC 501(c)(3) public charity

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 30th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

When Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. 150 years ago today, there was consternation on both sides of the Pacific.

American critics railed at the principal negotiator, Secretary of State William Seward, calling the sale “Seward’s Folly” and “Seward’s Icebox.” Russian newspapers are still denouncing the deal.

The Russians sold because they judged the territory a lost cause. After the Crimean War with Britain during the mid-1850s, Moscow determined that Britain would take Alaska in any future conflict.

The transaction cost the U.S. only $7.2 million — approximately $125 million in today’s dollars — to the delight of at least one American paper.

“We have made a fair trade,” argued The Charleston Daily News.
The editors continued, waxing both righteous and pugnacious, that while Europe quarreled over “Eastern questions and German questions, Brother Jonathan” — a national personification and forebear of Uncle Sam — “can sit with sublime indifference on the top of the Alleghenies and spit his tobacco into either the Atlantic or Pacific, whittling huge California timber with a clasp knife made of iron out of his mountains, and mix his cobbler with lemons grown in his own tropics, and cooled with ice brought from his own Arctic circle.”

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• Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s president, visited an Arctic archipelago to reaffirm Moscow’s foothold in the oil-rich region. [Associated Press]

On a tour on the Franz Josef Land archipelago, a sprawling collection of islands where the Russian military has recently built a new runway and worked to open a permanent base, Putin emphasized the need to protect Russia’s economic and security interests in the Arctic.

The Kremlin has named reaffirming the Russian presence in the Arctic as a top priority amid an intensifying rivalry over the region that is believed to hold up to one-quarter of the planet’s undiscovered oil and gas.

“Natural resources, which are of paramount importance for the Russian economy, are concentrated in this region,” Putin said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.

Putin said that current estimates put the value of Arctic’s mineral riches at $30 trillion.

In 2015, Russia submitted a revised bid for vast territories in the Arctic to the United Nations, claiming 1.2 million square kilometers (over 463,000 square miles) of Artic sea shelf extending more than 350 nautical miles (about 650 kilometers) from the shore.

Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all been trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic as shrinking polar ice creates new opportunities for exploration.

Putin said Wednesday that Russia has remained open to a “broad partnership with other nations to carry out mutually beneficial projects in tapping natural resources, developing global transport corridors and also in science and environment protection.”

He also underlined the need for the military and security agencies to “implement their plans to protect national interests, our defense capability and protection of our interests in the Arctic.”

Over the past few years, the Russian military has been conducting a costly effort to restore and modernize abandoned Soviet-era outposts in the Arctic by rebuilding old air bases and deploying new air defense assets in the region.

During the visit, Putin inspected a cavity in a glacier that scientists use to study permafrost. He also spoke with environmental experts who have worked to clean the area of Soviet-era debris.

Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi reported to Putin that the cleanup effort has seen the removal of 42,000 metric tons of waste from the archipelago, most of it rusty metal oil canisters left behind by the Soviet military.

 abcnews.go.com/International/wire…

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Iceland to Private Sector: You WILL Pay Women Fairly

March, 9, 2017

Iceland’s government is set to introduce legislation to parliament that will require all employers with more than 25 employees to obtain certification to prove they are offering equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality, the Associated Press reports.

“While other countries, and the U.S. state of Minnesota, have equal-salary certificate policies, Iceland is thought to be the first to make it mandatory for both private and public firms. The North Atlantic island nation, which has a population of about 330,000, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022,” AP says.

— Rich country progress flatlining. The trend of improving conditions for working women has flatlined within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in recent years, The Economist reports.

“In 2005, 60% of women were in the labor force; ten years later, this ratio had edged up only slightly to 63% (it was 80% for men in both years),” The Economist writes. Meanwhile, the gender wage gap “still around 15%, meaning women as a group earn 85% of what men do.”

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In New York City, New York, USA, the police arrested women leaders of the International Womens’ Day.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 25th, 2016
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ARCTIC CIRCLE GREENLAND FORUM
MAY 17-19 IN NUUK, GREENLAND

The Arctic Circle Greenland Forum is less than three months away. A draft program is now available.

The Forum is being organized in cooperation with the Government of Greenland — Naalakkersuisut — and will focus on the empowerment of indigenous peoples across the Arctic, economic progress, investment, and business development.

The Forum will include sessions on tourism, transport — shipping and airlines, natural resource industries, as well as fisheries and living resources.

Other sessions will be devoted to health and well-being, research and innovation, and benefit agreements for local communities.

Special discussions will be on Arctic investment structures and representatives from Asia and Europe will present their views on the Arctic.


We have difficulties with the way this Forum is intended. It seems that though justified as a Forum of Greenland and the Arctic for the people of the Arctic – in many ways the Forum misses that if larger scope issues like global warming are forgotten or pushed under the bear-skin rug – the outside business interest will simply wipe out the meager local populations and the gains they hope for will not go to them. We suggest a return to the Reykjavik, Iceland Arctic Circle Forum as the multi-faceted focal point for a rather slow but sustainable development of this last undeveloped region of the globe – that to be honest – becomes accessible only now thanks to effects of global warming. Those are very dangerous effects – and have to be viewed with the larger scope in mind.

PROGRAM DRAFT – More details and speakers will be published in the coming weeks.
MAY 17-19, 2016

TUESDAY, MAY 17
Location: Katuaq – Culturehouse

13:00–14:00
REGISTRATION

14:00–15:00
OPENING SESSION

15:00–16:30
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR THE PEOPLES OF THE ARCTIC

16:30–16:45
COFFEE SOCIAL

16:45–18:00
THE EMPOWERMENT OF THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES ACROSS THE ARCTIC

18:00–19:00
WELCOME RECEPTION
Location: Katuaq – Greenland Culturehouse

WEDNESDAY, MAY 18
Location: Katuaq – Culturehouse

09:00–09:30
REGISTRATION

09:30–10:30
THE FUTURE OF ARCTIC BUSINESS: TOURISM

10:30–10:45
COFFEE SOCIAL

10:45–11:45
THE FUTURE OF ARCTIC BUSINESS: TRANSPORT – SHIPPING AND AIRLINES

11:45–12:45
NETWORKING LUNCH

12:45–13:45
THE FUTURE OF ARCTIC BUSINESS: NATURAL RESOURCES – INDUSTRIES

13:45–14:45
THE FUTURE OF ARCTIC BUSINESS: FISHERIES – LIVING RESOURCES

14:45-15:00
COFFEE SOCIAL

15:00–16:00
INVOLVEMENT OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES – IMPACT BENEFIT AGREEMENTS

16:00–17:00
LOOKING AT THE ARCTIC FROM THE OUTSIDE – THE VIEW FROM ASIA AND EUROPE

17:00–18:30
ARCTIC INVESTMENT STRUCTURES

18:30-20:30
OFFICIAL RECEPTION
Location: Katuaq – Greenland Culturehouse

THURSDAY, MAY 19
Location: Katuaq – Culturehouse

08:30–10:00
HEALTH AND MENTAL WELL-BEING IN THE ARCTIC

10:00–10:15
COFFEE SOCIAL

10:15–12:00
SPECIAL SESSION

12:00–13:00
NETWORKING LUNCH

13:00–13:15
TRAVELING TO ILIMMARFIK, UNIVERSITY OF GREENLAND

13:15-17:30
SIDE EVENT: RESEARCH AND INNOVATION, BY AND FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE ARCTIC
Location: University of Greenland, Ilimmarfik

•13:15-14:30 PRECONDITIONS FOR INNOVATION IN THE ARCTIC

•15:00-15:15 COFFEE BREAK

•15:15-16:30 ROLE OF ARCTIC UNIVERSITIES IN DEVELOPING REGIONS

•16:30-17:30 RECEPTION AT ILIMMARFIK

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Today at the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik we had a session on International Shipping – a Global Challenge and a Challenge to the Arctic. The session was then followed by a break-out session – “Perspectives For Reducing Harmful Emissions From International Shipping in the Arctic and Beyond.”

The sessions were organized by Ing. Christoph Wolff of the European Climate Foundation of the Hague. and The Breakout panel included among others Laura Strickler who advocates the ban on heavy fuel oil in shipping and Bernice Notenboom – a Dutch Canadian that is a Climate Journalist and documentary maker that is now investigating the impact of the shipping industry.

The problem is that the fuel used for shipping is the resid at the refinery -it is the heavy and dirtiest cut in petroleum refining. It has all the metal compounds and when it burns it CREATES ALSO VERY MUCH BLACK CARBON THAT COVERS WITH BLACK THE ARCTIC FORMERLY WHITE ICE. THIS THEN ABSORBS MORE THE SUN AND INCREASES THE RATE OF THE MELTING OF THE ICE.

The International Maritime Organization has managed to turn this subject into a taboo – just don’t talk about it.
These cheap refinery resids obviously are a boon to the shippers and a curse to us all – but are not part of the negotiations on climate change.

Acid rain did focus our attention on the Sulfur content of fuels and scrubbers had to be promised by 2020 – but that is all.
Ports like Rotterdam are starting to legislate on pollution from ships – but the subject is still in its infancy – but did not even reach the UN. The obvious problems being the the particulates or carbon black, the sulfur compounds, the nitrogen oxides
and the obvious CO2.

We learned that the 17 largest ships cause more carbon black cover of the Arctic ice then all the world’s cars. How come that for years we are focused on the automotive industry but never looked into the deeds of the shipping industry? How come?

Further on, from these presentations and from the presentations of Russia relating to the Northern Sea Route, we also learned that the largest numbers of ships are registered under flags of convenience that happen to be members of the SIDS and AOSIS – or those small Island States that stand to lose most from global warming/climate change. Now that is something one must also look into. How come?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 17th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The movie starts in 1956 – in those past World War II days – in the 1950s and 1960s when technology advances that occurred during the war years were turned to other uses and peace was predicted as coming with a United Nations Organization.

The hero of the movie turned to exploration of the Antarctica. The poles were rather unknown areas and maping out the Antarctic continent was a clear target – so was starting scientific work at the poles using vehicles and ships derived from the war effort and a newly freed sense of adventurism. The movie does not try to depict history – it rather goes the route of explaining the drive to understand our planet by going to areas unknown.

At the Arctic Circle Assembly we keep being told that what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic – thus by understanding processes of the Arctic and of the Antarctica, does help us understand what happens in our own parts of the world and this year it is President Hollande who undertook to help us manage our own world by hosting the PARIS2015 Conference whose symbol is in the shape of a falling drop of water of green and yellow sun color with the ubiquitous Eiffel tower in the center.

Luc Jacquet the originator of the movie, at hand for the showing, as part of the French delegation to the Arctic Circle Assembly, did stress that it is only 60 years since we turned from exploration to the clear need of management of the poles.

President Hollande said that thinking that the disappearance of Arctic ice makes it easier to reach out for the minerals, oil and gas, that are now under the ice cover, is a benefit to us is something positive is untrue – this because economics cannot be based on environmental disasters.

THe run-up to the Paris2015 meeting has already produced over 150 single country commitments for action – this is 150 out of the 193 member states of the UN, but as we know this covers already 85% of the fossil carbon emissions. Hollande did not call for a 100% coverage but seems to be content to go ahead and work with the committed and get them to improve their commitments so we can reach the goal of a global warming that is not higher then 2 degrees Celsius – a goal we are still from ith the present commitments. Ms. Christiana Figueres t, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) hat was supposed to be in Reykjavik as well, did not come. We would have liked to hear from her further details about the 150 plus that did make those commitments so far – and what is even more interesting – who are those 40 members of the UN that made no commitments yet. Are they indeed part of our planet?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 16th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Iceland has achieved the use of renewable energy for 100% in its electricity generation – this from geothermal and hydropower. Its needs for heating energy are answered from geothermal sources. So, it needs older fashion energy – diesel and gasoline mainly for transport and emergency generators.

Its main use of electricity is in the Reykjavik urban area in the south-east area and in the west – at the ALCOA aluminum smelters.

We heard clearly that energy should not be viewed as a goal for itself but only in context of energy use because we are indeed interested in the services made possible with energy. But then there is no way not to think of the Arctic as potential new supplier of oil and gas to the world and that was the gist of this pre-Arctic Circle Assembly meeting at the Reykjavik University.

The excellent range of speakers included Charlie Ebinger of Brookings on technology and geopolitics evaluation, William Moomaw of Tufts on the reality of Environment costs, and Christine Russell from Harvard on the impact media has on what these other speakers dealt with. This besides the Icelanders own contributions on the topic of electricity.

It was indeed all fine except that I missed the basic introduction that ought to have been that the main security comes from what I like to state – the NEGA-WATT or the energy that was saved – the energy efficiency that should be the first letter in energy studies rather then starting with the cost of energy and the impact of this cost on energy use. If you start with efficiency and try then to fill the remaining needs from renewable sources – then we have the chance to get energy security.
In our opinion it is this that can distance us from the perceived need to take actions driven by issues we call energy security.
In this respect it was enlightening how Ms. Russell said PERCEPTION IS REALITY and she remarked as well that we do not talk of energy security but stress in reality ENERGY INSECURITY… The way the media presents these topics leads then to very slanted actions and that is our real difficulty with the energy base that may lead to environmental disasters like the wastelands left behind in what used to be the Canadian tar sands industry.

Let us see how the subject of Energy Security will fare out in the main Arctic Circle Assembly meetings this week.
This in particular that pleas will be heard from he organizers of Paris2015 – Ms. Figueres and President Hollande.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

There are two ways of thinking about the effects of human behavior on the environment – one that looks at the end results and points at the need to decrease these effects – this way of thinking leads to us dealing with the symptoms of the desease we created. If we can afford the time we ought to take instead a deeper look at the problem and enter a new path for the economy – one that allows for change – a new true Culture Change – that avoids the polluting industry – the air-polluting self imposed dependence on fossil fuels. We can then build a new economy based on using the free energy supplied to us amply by the sun – this after we did our best first – to decrease the use of energy in all our activities.

The first line of reacting to the problem is represented by those trying to benefit from the commerce in carbon credits. The second line of thinking has brought about Jonathan Rosenthal’s New Economy Coalition that brings together all those that can show that by creating higher energy use efficiency and then supplying the remaining needs from renewable energy sources, the whole economy at large, and their own companies in particular, are clear winners.

From a think tank point of view, two particular geographical areas and the particular groups of Nations in those areas, present special possibilities for study.

One such area are the countries of the Arctic Circle Assembly that meet this week in Reykjavik, Iceland d. The second group of nations are the Small Island entities. what these two groups have in common are new reserves of oil that one ought to work hard to keep from developing them. The difference between the two groups of Nations is in the difference in size and their economies.

Global warming has brought about the melting of ice at the two poles and this “uncovering” of the mineral resources at the Arctic region makes it easier to get to these resources – the question opens thus – would these countries be better off leaving these resources untouched as a reserve for future generations?

SIDS nations are small in land but large in sea territory where reserves of oil and gas have been found. These nations live mainly from tourism and the slightest oil spill presents a non-reversible harm to their white sand beaches. The dilemma they have is in a nut-shell the question about the potential temporary help to their development in the immediate term versus their potential loss of a future. How can one figure policies that help the SIDS decide to leave most of these oil reserves underground?

Tomorrow,Thursday October 15, 2015, in Reykjavik, there will be a chance to hear what the organizers of the Paris2015 Global Conference have in mind. Under the guidance of Iceland’s President H.E. Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and with H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco at his side, he will have the convener of COP21 of UNFCCC and the Paris2015 event – Ms. Christiana Figueres, and the host of Paris 2015 – H.E. Francois Hollande, President of France, tell the Arctic Circle Assembly audience, and the whole world, the seriousness of the situation that they are tasked to find a solution for. Later in the program the SIDS will have their chance as well. By going to these two special groupings of Nations, the organizers of Paris 2015 have thus a chance to get a hearing at fora that take the subject out of the mostly unreceptive environment of the UN.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 21st, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

13 May 2015
Iceland: reducing the world’s carbon footprint

Iceland is a global leader in clean energy generation, carbon reduction and green business and Climate Action spoke to Thordur H. Hilmarsson, Director of Foreign Direct Investment at Promote Iceland, to find out how investors and businesses are benefiting and what the country is doing to enable such growth.

Can you tell us a bit about Invest in Iceland?

The central location of Iceland between North America and Europe, the availability of secure and renewable electricity in addition to many other factors such as a pro-business environment and availability of land make Iceland an attractive location for many types of industries. Invest in Iceland is the information and services centre for foreign investors and businesses interested in exploring how this value proposition can be of value to their business.

Can you expand on the data centre opportunities in Iceland and how is this offering cost savings and renewable energy solutions for international companies?

Minimising the carbon footprint of data while reducing cost is a challenge that Nordic Iceland rises to and companies such as BMW are already leveraging on this opportunity. 100 per cent of the electricity on the Icelandic transmission and distribution grid is green, produced harnessing of geothermal resources or the power of Iceland‘s glacial rivers. The electricity is not only renewable but also highly cost competitive and available via long term contracts that ensure predictability in the operations. Because of the cool oceanic climate of Iceland data centers can use ambient cooling year round. Cooling is the largest non-value adding factor in the power consumption so this is important.

Iceland is connected to both North America and Europe with high bandwidth and relatively low latency submarine fiber cables. Both the overseas connection and the backhaul is redundant.

Can you tell us a bit about how Iceland is reducing its GHG emissions and decreases its CO2 exposure?

With 85 per cent of the country‘s primary energy needs met by renewable hydro and geothermal resources, Iceland is a world leader in renewable energy. Iceland‘s energy use per capita is also among the highest in the world as over 80 per cent of all electricity generated is sold to energy intensive industries. Today Iceland has hydroelectric power stations with a total installed capacity of nearly 1986 MW and geothermal power stations with a total installed capacity of 665 MW.

Today almost 90 per cent of Iceland‘s houses and buildings are heated by natural hot water

Utilisation of geothermal resources for space heating started for real in the 1930s but the effort was greatly accelerated by the global oil crisis of the early 1970s. Today almost 90 per cent of Iceland‘s houses and buildings are heated by natural hot water and the geothermal water is also used for melting snow, outdoor swimming pools, greenhouses and fish farming to give some examples.

Renewables for heating in Iceland is already saving 7 per cent of GDP or equivalent 3000 US $ per capita every year this is stated in the latest newsletter published by Geothermal ERA-NET.

The energy situation in Iceland is unique because all electricity is produced using renewable resources and around 90 per cent of space heating in the country is also powered by renewable sources. Opportunities for reducing GHG emissions lie therefore primarily in the transport sector. There are many initiatives ongoing in this sector in Iceland, both when it comes to transport on land and on sea, and the government of Iceland is committed to utilising the opportunity inherent in our energy situation for even further reducing emissions.

In July 2014 Iceland and China entered into a free trade agreement. How will this help boost climate action projects?

This extensive FTA, effective as of July 2014, offers unprecedented opportunities for North American and European companies to gain a foothold in one of the largest markets in the world. This includes material such as polysilicon, produced from silica or quartz powered by Iceland’s renewable energy resources, and used to produce further renewable energy as solar panels. Carbon fibers, used to reduce consumption of fossil fuel by reducing the weight of vehicles or for windmill generating green power, do also fall under the FTA.

Under the terms of the new FTA, there are zero tariffs on the vast majority of products both exported from, and imported to, China. This includes all industrial products exported from China to Iceland—or 99 per cent of the current export market—as well as any Icelandic products under the 7,830 tariff lines, which currently accounts for 82 per cent of the country’s exports to China.

Even a quick glance at EU/US customs duties on products exported to China reveals the immediate benefits enjoyed by companies based in Iceland

Even a quick glance at EU/US customs duties on products exported to China reveals the immediate benefits enjoyed by companies based in Iceland: Carbon fibres and any fabric from these fibres incur 17.5 per cent customs from EU/US exporters, fresh and/or cool fish incurs 10-12 per cent customs, and poultry 20 per cent customs. None of these products would face any tariffs if exported from Iceland.

Iceland has topped the Global Peace Index for the last two consecutive years. How has this helped to boost clean energy investment in the country?

Safety and stability are important factors when investors choose where to locate new facilities. This is especially important for sensitive operations such as data centers and industries that are sensitive for disruption such as energy intensive industries.

At COP21 in Paris this year, governments are due to agree a landmark new global and binding climate deal. What opportunities could this present to Invest in Iceland?

The climate change presents no opportunities as such but increased international awareness of the problem and the importance of active measures to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases does. Both companies and consumers are increasingly aware of the origin of the energy needed to provide the required goods and services. Iceland enjoys the unique situation that all the electricity produced and fed onto the national transmission grid is from renewable resources, hydro, geothermal and wind. This means that regardless of where in Iceland new companies decide to locate, they can only buy renewable energy.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 29th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Coming Clean – The blog of Executive Director Michael Brune, The Sierra Club.
July 23, 2015


Obama’s Arctic Error: A Bad Call on Shell


The Obama administration inched a little closer to disaster yesterday when it issued almost-but-not-quite final approval to Royal Dutch Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea this summer. Because Shell’s capping stack (a critical piece of emergency response equipment) is currently on its way to Portland, Oregon, aboard a damaged icebreaker that requires repairs, the oil company is allowed to drill only part way into the seafloor — stopping short of where the oil is. If and when the capping stack gets to the proposed drilling site, Shell could then reapply for permission to resume drilling the rest of the way.


Last week, I wrote about why letting Shell into the Arctic makes no sense. It’s a case of taking huge risks to get something we don’t need. In fact, not only do we not need that oil and gas — we can’t even afford to use it if we want to meet the urgent imperative to limit climate disruption.

So why has the administration allowed things to go this far? If this were a wedding with a reluctant bridegroom, we’d be listening to the minister clear his throat and gaze out over the congregation. I don’t know. Maybe, even though they know this is a bad idea, they just don’t have the guts to call it off.

But you know what? That’s the wrong analogy. What’s about to happen in the Chukchi Sea is more like a blind date than a shotgun wedding. Even if Shell manages to get its act together with its exploratory drilling this summer, it will still need approval for commercial drilling, and it will be even harder to make a case that such drilling can be done safely. Shell would also need to install hundreds of miles of pipeline, both on the seafloor and dry land. The process could take a decade or more, and every step along the way, we have opportunities to make the case that clean energy is better for our country and our planet. And the longer this drags on, the more obvious it will be that drilling in Arctic waters is an unnecessary invitation to disaster.


When Shell’s damaged ship arrives in Portland, we’ll be there. When Shell cuts corners or takes dangerous risks, we’ll be there. When this or any other administration flirts with selling more oil leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, we’ll be there, in the courts and on the streets. We’re in this for the long haul, along with the hundreds of thousands of Americans who’ve already joined the growing #ShellNo! movement. We’re in it for the Arctic, for the wildlife, for the Native Alaskans, and for the climate. And we’re in it to win.

We will not rest until President Obama cancels all drilling and future leases and protects the Arctic Ocean.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 30th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The THIRD ANNUAL ARCTIC CIRCLE ASSEMBLY
OCTOBER 16 – 18, 2015
REYKJAVÍK, ICELAND

PRESIDENT OF FRANCE – WILL ATTEND THE ASSEMBLY and Deliver an Opening Speech linked to the Climate Negotiations at COP 21.

At a meeting at the Élysée Palace in Paris on April 17th, the President of France, François Hollande, accepted an invitation from President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson to deliver an opening speech at the October Assembly. The attendance by President Hollande is linked to the upcoming climate negotiations COP21 in Paris in December and the relevance of the Arctic to those negotiations.

PRESIDENT XI JINPING – And Offered to host a special CHINA SESSION at the Assembly.

President of China XI Jinping has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson endorsed China’s participation in the Arctic Circle Assembly and declared his decision that China will host a special Plenary Session at the October Assembly in Reykjavík.


CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL – suggested a special plenary GERMANY and the ARCTIC SESSION at the Assembly.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has in a recent letter to President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson announced her support for the Arctic Circle and its importance as a venue to present the involvement of Germany in the future of the Arctic. Consequently, the program of the October Assembly in Reykjavík will include a special Plenary Session on Germany and the Arctic.

More Assembly news in the coming weeks.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 28th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Thawing Ice and Chilly Diplomacy in the Arctic.

The Opinion Pages | Editorial
Thawing Ice and Chilly Diplomacy in the Arctic.

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 27, 2015

Photo -The Yamal Liquified Natural Gas project, a Russian-French-Chinese joint venture, in the Arctic Circle. Credit Kirill Kudryavtsev/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

So long as the Arctic was mostly frozen solid, the biennial meetings of the eight-nation Arctic Council attracted relatively little attention with their discussions on ways to cooperate on environmental protection, search-and-rescue operations and the like.

But with melting ice opening up northern shipping lanes and access to vast troves of oil, gas and minerals — and with Russia increasingly alienated from the other members on the council and assertive in its claims to the far north — the past weekend’s council meeting in the far-northern Canadian city of Iqaluit sometimes seemed as frigid as the outside air.

At the meeting, the United States assumed the rotating two-year chairmanship of the Arctic Council, whose other members are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden as well as six indigenous groups of the far north. Secretary of State John Kerry declared that protecting the delicate Arctic environment from the consequences of climate change will be a top American priority over the next two years. As important a task will be to prevent the clash with Russia over Ukraine from undermining the cooperation on which the council has operated for the past 20 years.

Russia has steadily increased its military presence in the far north. On the eve of the meeting, a hard-line Russian deputy prime minister, Dmitri Rogozin, traveled to the North Pole to open a scientific research station — and to make clear that Russia intended to protect its claims to the Arctic region, which he proclaimed “a Russian Mecca” on Twitter. In an added provocation, Mr. Rogozin traveled through Norwegian territory on his way, though he is among the Russian officials blacklisted from traveling to much of Europe.

The Obama administration has declared that tensions with Russia will not change its focus on ocean safety, economic development and climate change.

The danger of the Arctic’s falling prey to East-West hostility was sufficiently clear to prompt a group of 45 international experts, government officials and representatives of nongovernmental organizations to meet in Washington in February and issue a unanimous report urging that the region remain outside geopolitical confrontations.

The Arctic Council, never intended to debate military matters, must remain a forum for finding ways to sort out competing claims peacefully.

At the peak of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to ban military activity on the other end of the Earth, in Antarctica. And today, despite all the hostility over Ukraine, the United States and Russia have continued to work together in outer space, showing that cooperation is possible. In the Arctic, it’s essential.

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A version of this editorial appears in print on April 28, 2015, on page A26 of the New York edition with the headline: Thawing Ice and Chilly Diplomacy.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 18th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Environment
How Elves and Dragons Are Doing a Fantastic Job of Protecting Iceland’s Environment
Originally Icelanders used mythological creatures as a way to deter people from coming to their island, now they protect it.

By Sola Agustsson / AlterNet
April 13, 2015

In Iceland, where my father is from, it’s perfectly reasonable for people to think elves exist. Over half the population believes in, or at least entertains the existence of these invisible, magical and often mischievous creatures. I have relatives who are marine biologists, professors and agnostics who will not deny that elves, the huldufólk, or “hidden people,” reside in communities underneath rocks, living in detached harmony with humans and the natural world. For the most part, elves ignore humans until they interfere with their habitat.

When developers try to destroy rocks that are known elf homes or churches, things get spooky. A notorious example is the Álfhólsvegur (elf-hill) road in Kopavogur, which was eventually moved to accommodate the elves after machinery continued to mysteriously break down and construction accidents began to frequently occur in the 1930s. Fifty years later, plans to rebuild the same road were again halted when the same issues resurfaced, and workers refused to go near the hill with any machinery. Similar cases of construction machinery malfunctioning or natural disasters occurring when people attempted to disturb elf homes have led many Icelanders to abandon development over elf sites.

Over the last few decades, elves have gotten political representation in Iceland. An emerging group of elf advocates have formed alliances with environmentalists, and have managed to prevent major roads and homes from being built over rocks where elves are rumored to live.

Elf advocates have not always been successful in defending their invisible friends, as in the case of the Ófeigskirkja boulder, which was eventually moved after an 8-year battle with developers. Some argue that the process of protecting elf territory, and taking elf issues seriously, gives elves time to adjust to leaving their homes. “It cannot be denied that belief in the supernatural is occasionally the reason for local concerns and these opinions are taken into account just as anybody else’s would be…Issues have been settled by delaying construction projects so that the elves can, at a certain point, move on,” the Iceland Road and Coastal administration stated.

It’s difficult to imagine why elves garner so much respect in Norse culture. In America, we think of elves as Santa’s pointy green factory workers. But according to 18th- and 19th-century legends, Icelandic elves are anything but servile. They have been known to seek revenge on people who betray them, but also provide good fortune to those who pay them respect. Roughly the same size as humans, they are invisible, and have been described by scholar Terry Gunnell as “beautiful, powerful, alluring, and free from care.”

Some Icelanders go as far as to allegedly have sex with elves. “Sex with humans is boring,” writes self-proclaimed elf sex expert Hallgerdur Hallgrímsdóttir, who is fed up with dating her own kind. “Elf sex is possibly the safest sex on earth. They don’t carry sexually transmitted diseases and you can’t get pregnant or make an Elverine pregnant unless you both want to, which is not unheard of.”

The island of fire and ice, full of geysers, waterfalls, glaciers, fjords, natural hot springs, and vast mossy fields, is a landscape people want to preserve, and one that fosters the belief in supernatural forces. Elves and other mythological beings came to represent a way of understanding the natural environment, and also human consciousness. “Many things indicate that the hidden people originate in our unconscious: They resemble us in many ways, though they are more spirit-like and invisible, and to see the elves, must to either be given permission by them, or have a special ability. They can have supra-human capacities; and they can be both better and worse than humans,” says Haukur Ingi Jónasson, a theologian and psychoanalyst.

Though defending elf homes is not merely about Icelandic belief in superstition, but also in respecting the natural, non-human world. “Icelanders are few in number, so in the old times we doubled our population with tales of elves and fairies,” says President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Even Icelandic-born singer Bjork admitted to believing in elves when asked by TV host Stephen Colbert: “It’s sort of a relationship with nature, like with the rocks. (The elves) all live in the rocks, so you have to. It’s all about respect, you know.”

“Iceland is full of álagablettir, or enchanted spots, places you don’t touch – just like the fairy forts and peat bogs in Ireland. They’re protected by stories about the bad things that will happen if you do. This word of mouth, passed down over generations, is usually more effective than an official preservation order,” says Terry Gunnell, professor of folklore at the University of Iceland.

Iceland’s rising tourist industry could be one factor in maintaining the existence of not just elves, but other Icelandic mythic characters, such as trolls, sea monsters, and dragons.

One example is the Lagarfljótsormur, the Icelandic version of a Loch Ness monster. Resembling an aquatic brachiosaurus, myths of this serpent date back to 1345, though most sightings of the monster have occurred in the 20th century. Stories of the wormlike monster breathing poisonous fire and killing civilians abound, and sightings of the creature are said to foreshadow natural disasters. In 2014, the Fljótsdalshérað municipal council declared that the Lagarfljótsormur exists, though some speculate that this was a ploy to attract monster-seeking tourists.

Originally Icelanders used these mythological creatures as a way to deter people from coming to their island. Thirteenth-century cartographers depicted Icelandic coasts as utterly terrifying, laden with sea monsters, mermen, serpents and other unclassifiable mutants in order to dissuade explorers from settling there. On some ancient maps, the northern region of Dreki is ominously marked “Here be Dragons,” and is rumored to be populated by sea monsters.

Coincidentally, this same area is also thought to have untapped oil resources of interest to private companies who have recently gotten licensing rights to search for oil there. In a 2014 agreement, oil companies agreed to pay 10,000 ISK per square kilometer per year for the exclusive right to search for any useable resources.

While elf activists have been vocal about disturbing elf territory, there have yet to be sea dragon advocates rushing to defend the fire-breathing aquatic monsters of the Dreki region, or the Lagarfljótsormur for that matter. Elves have been known to cause mischief, but sea monsters have been less than desirable residents in Iceland, having been rumored to eat children.

Still, many Icelandic environmentalists are wary of disturbing the arctic region. Though beliefs in these otherworldly characters may seem ridiculous, the traditions have promoted a worldview of existing in harmony with the natural world rather than merely dominating it.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARCTIC – IS IT POSSIBLE?

Author : Kapil Narula
10 Feb 2015

 www.maritimeindia.org/CommentryVi…

The Arctic is a unique region which plays a very important role in the earth’s ecosystem. It regulates the earth’s climate, influences the ocean currents, has rich biodiversity and is home to a substantial indigenous population. Therefore, sustainability should be a prerequisite condition for development in the Arctic.

‘Sustainability’ is the ability of a system to continue a desired behaviour indefinitely. An example of such a sustainable system is tropical rain forests in which the inherent processes continue in a cyclic manner to support life. On the other hand, ‘development’ is the process of growth. When these two words are conjoined it implies ‘continuous growth’. Hence the word ‘Sustainable Development’ is actually an oxymoron because any kind of growth cannot be indefinite.


While ‘Sustainable Development’ is rightly understood as a multi-dimensional concept, having economic, environmental and social dimensions, an extended definition also includes inter and intra-generational equity as well as inter-species equity, as its fundamental principles. However, people often misunderstand it as simultaneous and continued growth in all three dimensions. This understanding is flawed as these dimensions have competing goals and therefore there has to be a trade-off between these goals. As an example, any kind of economic growth has negative environmental externalities and there may be accompanying social impacts which may lead to collapse of societies. Therefore sustainable development needs to be perceived in a way that explicitly conveys the core idea that the growth of the economy and the society is constrained by environmental limits.


If ‘Sustainable Development’ of the Arctic region is viewed from the above perspective, one is forced to define environmental limits prior to looking at economic opportunities in the region. Further, the impact of development in the region on culture, societies and the traditional way of living of the indigenous people should also be minimal. Hence it is important that any activities which are undertaken in the Arctic region should be carefully examined for the foreseeable impacts which they might have on the region as well as on the ecosystem of the earth.

Let us consider two major issues which are threatening the sustainability of the Arctic region: ‘resources’ and ‘routes’. The scramble between Arctic nations to control both these and the intent of extra regional powers to share the trickledown benefits, have resulted in countries engaging in active geopolitics on the Arctic. While some countries like India are keenly interested in science in order to increase their understanding of climate change, other countries such as South Korea are looking at the economic benefits which they can reap as fallout of increased shipping in the region.

Let’s talk about resources first. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the region contains 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 15 per cent of its oil. These valuable energy resources have been fossilised over millions of years. From the viewpoint of sustainability, the ‘strong sustainability’ condition defines that the ‘economic capital’ (produced capital such as infrastructure, knowledge etc.), and ‘natural capital’ (environmental assets such as fossil fuels, biodiversity and other ecosystem structures) are complimentary, but not interchangeable. This implies that natural capital needs to be preserved sufficiently, as it has to be passed to the next generation and cannot be replaced with economic capital. Hence the amount of fossil fuels and minerals which can be extracted from the Arctic region should be limited to the regeneration rates of these resources. Obviously, this would mean that only miniscule amounts of resources can be extracted and therefore the strong sustainability condition is difficult to meet, in the case of energy and mineral resources. An alternate interpretation for resources can be as follows: the non-renewable resources which are extracted should be replaced by an equivalent amount of substitutes for that resource. This interpretation can however serve as a prerequisite condition for resource extraction, if the Arctic has to be developed sustainably.

The strong sustainability condition is often diluted to a ‘weak sustainability’ condition which allows unconditional substitution between economic and natural capital. This implies that natural resources may be used as long as economic capital is increased. Proponents of this approach claim that the energy which is extracted now, can be used to increase economic capital, so that the total amount of capital for the next generation remains unchanged. However, most often this weak sustainability condition is also violated and the extracted resources are consumed by the existing generation without a thought for the future generations.

On the issue of new shipping routes, the strong sustainability condition in the Arctic region would be met as long as the rates of waste generation from shipping and related activities do not exceed the assimilative capacity of the Arctic eco-system. This condition therefore requires that while the shipping routes may be used, there should be stringent environmental regulations controlling the operation of shipping in the region. Notwithstanding the strict enforcement of rules, the environmental risks remains high due the uncertain nature of floating ice, harsh climatic condition, risk of human or technical failure and the fragile nature of the environment. An oil spill either from offshore drilling or accidents at sea, marine pollution due to leaks and untreated waste disposal at sea are other challenges, which will have an impact on the marine environment in the region. However, as long as the environmental impact on the ecosystem is within the acceptable limits, shipping in the region could be classified as sustainable. But the question is “Do we have enough know-how on the Arctic ecosystem to even attempt defining such limits?” Further, what is the guarantee that there would be no accidents such as those involving the drilling ships, ‘Noble Discoverer’ and the ‘Kulluk’, operated by Shell off the Alaskan coast in 2013 which led to suspension of further drilling in the region. The answers to these questions are not easy and hence prior to allowing navigation of ships through the ice floes infested waters, one must carefully examine the environmental risks which the region is exposed to, if unrestricted shipping is allowed.

It can, therefore, be concluded that there are many challenges to sustainable development of the Arctic region. However, such a possibility exists, provided stringent rules and regulations are followed for shipping and a limited amount of resource extraction is permitted in the region. How would this development unfold, is a question which none can predict, but one can only hope that the Arctic Council adopts some guidelines which imposes certain limits and restriction on shipping and resource exploration activities in the Arctic region.

**************************************************

(*The author is a Research Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Navy or National Maritime Foundation. He can be reached at  kapilnarula at yahoo.com)

Kapil Narula
Cdr (Indian Navy)
Research Fellow
National Maritime Foundation
Airport Road, NH-8
New Delhi- 110 010
Ph:+91-11-26156520 Extn: 112(O)

AND

PhD Research Scholar
Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research
Goregaon (East), Mumbai

ARTICLE WRITTEN “towards the run up to the Indian National Maritime Foundation Annual Conference.”
The National Maritime Foundation is dedicated to “Nurture India’s Maritime Interests.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 30th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

The Arctic Circle 2014 ASSEMBLY October 30 – November 2, 2014
PROGRAM -Version THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30

 arcticcircle.org/sites/arcticcirc…

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31 – PLENARY SESSIONS

08:30–10:30 Opening PLENARY SESSION
Location: Silfurberg, Second Level, Harpa
X
WELCOME REMARKS
Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson,
President of Iceland

X
OPENING SESSION I
Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson,
Prime Minister of Iceland.
Sauli Niinistö,
President of Finland.
X
OPENING SESSION II
Angela Merkel,
Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Sam Tan Chin Siong,
Minister of State, Singapore.
José Ángel Gurría,
Secretary General of OECD.
X
OPENING SESSION III
Vincent Rigby,
Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials and Assistant Deputy Minister of
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada.
X
OPENING SESSION IV
Lisa Murkowski,
United States Senator.
Admiral Robert J. Papp,
U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic and
former Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.

CHAIR:
Alice Rogoff,
Publisher,
Alaska Dispatch News.

________________________________________
followed by programs till 20:00

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Scrolling down further the conference program – other political figures are:

The President of Finland, the Foreign Secretary of the UK, The Premier of Quebec.
Other dignitaries are from the Faroe Islands, Spitzbergen, Svalbard,Norway, Greenland, Japan, Korea, France, Italy, The Sakha Republic (Yakutia) of Russia and the State of Maine of the US, as well as the Inuit Circumpolar Council.

Interesting how the Arctic Circle Assembly does not differentiate between States and Sub-State units.
=======================================.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Education for green growth – new issue of “Green Growth the Nordic Way”.

from Michael Funch
october 23, 2014


Education for green growth – new issue of “Green Growth the Nordic Way”.

In the latest issue of “Green Growth the Nordic Way” you can read about a number of projects the Nordic Council of Ministers has initiated or supported to secure a stronger focus on climate and sustainability issues in the school systems of the Nordic countries.

Read more at www.nordicway.org

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

Feature articles:

1. “The Great Nordic Climate Challenge” aims at raising the awareness of secondary school pupils around climate issues in a fun and playful way, while giving them instruments to actually monitor and change their own activities in a more a climate friendly manner.

2. Adult education and university teaching is the focus of two other projects, one a follow up to the Rio+20 UN conference on sustainable development, the other part of the Nordic Prime Ministers’ green growth initiative that provides the mainstay of this magazine.

3. Finally, the Biophilia educational project aims to incorporate the teaching materials based on the singer Björks eponymous work into the teaching of children in Nordic schools to stimulate their curiosity and interest in the natural sciences.

Taken as one, these projects fall well in line with a Nordic tradition for encouraging an open and playful education system, with room for independent thinking and proactive initiatives.

Read the new edition of Green Growth the Nordic Way: www.nordicway.org

Follow us on facebook or find more background information at www.norden.org or www.norden.org

Venlig hilsen/Kind regards

Michael Funch
Seniorrådgiver/Kommunikation
Senior Adviser/Communication

Direct +45 21 71 71 43
 mifu at norden.org

Nordisk Ministerråd
Nordic Council of Ministers

Ved Stranden 18
DK-1061 København K
Tel +45 33 96 02 00
 www.norden.org

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Dr.Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist, Founding Director of the MIT Energy Initiative and Director of the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment, a former Undersecretary of DOE in charge of disposing of nuclear materials including those of Russia, he came to Head DOE in May 2013 after Nobel Laureate Steven Chu decided to return to academia.

Prof. Steven Chu was a vocal advocate for more research into renewable energy and nuclear power, arguing that a shift away from fossil fuels is essential to combating climate change. For example, he has conceived of a global “glucose economy”, a form of a low-carbon economy, in which glucose from tropical plants is shipped around like oil is today. On February 1, 2013, he announced he would not serve for the President’s second term and resigned on April 22, 2013. The position then fell to Prof. Moniz who seems to be more in tune with the President’s “All of the above” energy concept.

Secretary Moniz appeared today, October 6, 2014, before the New York Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in a conversation with Matthew A. Winkler, Editor in Chief, Bloomberg News. This was a very active day that started at NYU – energy.gov/epsa/agenda-energy-inf…

Agenda: Energy Infrastructure Finance. A Public Meeting on the Quadrennial Energy Review, Hosted by the United States Department of Energy and with Opening Remarks by

The Honorable Ernest Moniz, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy and
The Honorable Carolyn Maloney, Member from New York of the United States House of Representatives

The event dealt with: ATTRACTING AND MAINTAINING CAPITAL FOR ENERGY TRANSMISSION, STORAGE, AND DISTRIBUTION (TS&D); BANKABILITY OF ELECTRICITY TS&D INFRASTRUCTURE; OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR NATURAL GAS AND LIQUID FUELS TS&D INFRASTRUCTURE.

The CFR meeting was titled “A Conversation With Ernest Moniz” and after a short lunch was followed at CFR by a Panel “The Battle of Interests Over the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals” where Ms. Gail Fosler, formerly President of the Conference Board and now provider of advisory service for global business leaders and public policymakers, presided over discussants: Carol Adelman, Director, Center for Global Prosperity, Hudson Institute; Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations; and Fred Krupp. President, Environmental Defense Fund.

CFR showed interest also in the Arctic region emergence as a source of oil and gas as per: www.cfr.org/polar-regions/emergin…

In our posting we cover only the Ernest Moniz presentation before the CFR, as we feel this presentation introduced the Administration’s thinking without distraction from the conflicting interests of the 2014 various protagonists.

Asked what are the three main tasks of his Department, Professor Moniz opened by saying that a main task of his work is Energy Security, and going back to Jim Schlesinger who when the Department was established said this has to be considered in a collective context with the US allies, Moniz now mentioned the EU and specifically also the G7 and the immediacy of the need to assure heating gas for this winter for the Ukraine. In parallel he said he must devise a long-term plan on which he works with Canadian and UK experts even if the Russians do supply for now gas to Ukraine – the problem of energy security remains.

A second Question was if “All of the Above” is capable of handling the CO2 issue? The answer was that everything they do is geared to carbon reduction. Carbon sequestration is pushed with projects in this area involving enhanced oil recovery and oil production. Then there is the increased energy use efficiency in vehicles. Reduced dependence on oil is promoted and a new large bio-refinery will soon be opened in Kansas. So – it is nuclear, renewables, efficiency for the long-term and the use of gas in the mid-term. In the electricity production, wind use was increased by 45% and solar by 6%. LED is a great economic success. The stress is on aiming in 2015 to set goals of reduction in CO2 emissions by 17% in general with a reduction of 30% in the electricity sector. Most of this via sector by sector energy efficiency.

From here the discussion moved to the UN and the obvious that global challenges cannot be met without the Chinese and the European’s cooperation. “we saw at the UN strong statements by China, India, and he expects from these introductory statements a Paris outcome that has in it declarations of goals that are different by the different States. Asked directly if the target of 2 degrees Centigrade is realistic – the answer came in one word – “Challenging.” Then he enlarged by saying – “I would focus first on coal.” He feels bullish on solar – costs are coming down. 2000-2009 the US had no photovoltaic production now we have 9 plants and 12 under construction. He expects Europe to show leadership in the run-up to the 2015 meeting in Paris. “We will continue to encourage China, India, Brazil. and we will be a lot on airplanes.”

So far there was nothing new in what we heard except the emphasis on interdependence. Then came questions about exports from the US and about natural gas. His answers started by saying that the international market looks very different from 1975 when the laws forbidding exports of oil and gas from the US were passed. That is when we established DOE and the Petroleum Reserve etc. Ultimately exports are an issue for the Department of Commerce and not for DOE. There are also changes in production methods and at the petroleum refinery to be considered. He also pointed out that crude oil changed into products was not under those laws.

On the Keystone Pipeline he said that it was under the Secretary of State responsibility. On gas he predicted that exports cannot start before the end of 2015 – “so it is not an answer to Ukraine.”
Further, on a question about Eastern Mediterranean gas he said that this is also no answer for Europe’s needs. We consider these answers as newsworthy replies by the Secretary.

An added topic I was able to talk about with the Secretary after his presentation relates to the US position on supplies of oil and gas from the Arctic. He remarked that at the end of 2015 the Arctic Circle Council moves to the US for two years and he sees rather the subject from an environmental angle. To my great satisfaction I heard from him the old Sheik Yammani adage that the Age of Oil will end not because of a lack of oil. He also pointed at Shell Oil’s problems with their attempt at drilling for Arctic oil. With this attitude by the US I am now even more curious then ever of what will be the underlying spirit at the end of this moth’s meeting in Reykjavik of the 2014 Arctic Circle Assembly.

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

from:  Charles Ebinger, Brookings Institution FPEnergySecurity@brookings.edu

New Report: Oil and Gas in the Changing Arctic Region

Dear Colleagues:

The Arctic is changing. A shrinking polar icecap—now 40 percent smaller than it was in 1979—has opened not only new shipping routes, but access to 13 percent and 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas, respectively.

Today, the region’s vast energy, mineral and marine resources draw substantial international and commercial interest.

What can the U.S. do to strengthen the Arctic offshore oil and gas governance regime as it takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015?

In a new report, Offshore Oil and Gas Governance in the Arctic: A Leadership Role for the U.S., authors Charles K. Ebinger, John P. Banks, and Alisa Schackmann review the current framework regarding offshore Arctic energy exploration, and recommend efforts the U.S. should take to assert leadership in the region, such as:

  • Establish oil spill prevention and response as a guiding theme for its Arctic Council chairmanship;
  • Appoint a U.S. Arctic ambassador;
  • Accelerate development of Alaska-specific oil and gas standards; and
  • Strengthen bilateral arrangements with Russia and Canada.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Establish oil spill prevention, control, and response as the overarching theme for U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2015-2017.
  • Create the diplomatic post of “Arctic Ambassador.”
  • Establish a Regional Bureau for Polar Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.
  • Accelerate the ongoing development of Alaska-specific offshore oil and gas standards and discuss their applicability in bilateral and multilateral forums for the broader Arctic region.
  • Strengthen bilateral regulatory arrangements for the Chukchi Sea with Russia, and the Beaufort Sea with Canada.
  • Support the industry-led establishment of an Arctic-specific resource sharing organization for oil spill response and safety.
  • Support and prioritize the strengthening of the Arctic Council through enhanced thematic coordination of offshore oil and gas issues.
  • Support the establishment of a circumpolar Arctic Regulators Association for Oil and Gas.

 

To learn more, watch this video and read the new policy brief from the Brookings Energy Security Initiative:

www.brookings.edu/ArcticEnergy

 

“I congratulate you and your collaborators on the report and
on the Energy Security Initiative. The active interest and involvement of Brookings in Arctic affairs is, and will be,
of enormous importance for the future development of the region.”

—H.E. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland (written to Dr. Charles Ebinger)


We hope you will find this new report an informative primer on Arctic governance and a dependable reference in discussing Arctic affairs. We encourage your feedback by emailing ESI Project Coordinator Colleen Lowry at clowry@brookings.edu.

Warm regards,

Charles K. Ebinger
Director, Energy Security Initiative at Brookings

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

   Josef Friedhuber/Getty Images

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

from the goals of the assembly –

 

“The Arctic Circle is nonprofit and nonpartisan. Organizations,  forums, think tanks, corporations and public associations around the world are invited to hold meetings within the Arctic Circle platform to advance their own missions and the broader goal of increasing collaborative decision-making without surrendering their institutional independence.

The Arctic Circle is designed to increase participation in Arctic dialogue and strengthen the international focus on the future of the Arctic. Participating organizations will maintain their full institutional independence, identity and decision-making abilities. To this end, the Arctic Circle aims to create opportunities for everyone to attend different meetings, conduct their own networking and engage in one-on-one informal discussions. Organizations will be able to decide their own agendas and convene their own meetings.”

The Reykjavik 20013 meeting was the Assembly’s Inaugural – to be followed by a 20014 Assembly in a location that was to be decided at a closed meeting following immediately the open 2013 meeting. We post this now because the 2014 meeting was set already – it wil be held at the same place in Reykjavik September 5-7, 2014. Then in 2015 it will move to Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

“Following the meeting, participating organizations will be invited to a brainstorming session to contribute ideas for the 2014 Arctic Circle assembly.”

it said – Eventually – date and location – will be posted on – www.arcus.org/events/arctic-calen…
and   www.state.gov/documents/organizat…

 

NOW THE NEW MATERIAL CAN BE FOUND WITH THE HELP OF INFORMATION WE JUST RECEIVED:

As someone who attended the inaugural Arctic Circle Assembly, held October 12-14, 2013, in Reykjavík, Iceland, you might like to see our latest brief, which summarizes the event and describes the mission and structure of the Arctic Circle.

 

The Assembly attracted more than 1,200 attendees from more than 40 countries and proved to be the most diverse international gathering of its kind.

 

You can download the brief at ArcticCircle.org. We encourage you to share it with interested colleagues and with other individuals and organizations in your network to promote participation at the second annual Assembly.

 

Thank you for participating in the Arctic Circle
and helping advance the dialogue on  these crucial issues.
We look forward to reconvening with you September 5-7, 2014, in Reykjavík.

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