Environment Forum

Stern, in center of climate pessimism, hopeful about U.S.

July 15, 2011

Nicholas Stern, the British economist who warned five years ago that global warming could cost the world’s GDP as much as 20 percent a year by 2050, hasn’t given up on the United States  taking action on climate even though he’s down on Washington for not passing a bill that would do just that.

from Commodity Corner:

Getting down to business at U.N. climate talks a hard task

August 4, 2010

A U.N. concession to delegates at this week's climate talks in Bonn to take off jackets and ties due to recent high temperatures may be going to some participants' heads.

from The Great Debate:

For real results on climate, look beyond Copenhagen

December 11, 2009

-- Aron Cramer is the president and CEO of BSR, a global business network and consultancy focused on sustainability. He is also coauthor of the forthcoming book Sustainable Excellence (Rodale 2010). The views expressed are his own.  --

Thank you, EPA: U.S. solar companies

December 8, 2009

tomwernerMany businesses chafed on Monday at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s declaration that greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health.

Forest carbon schemes – new hope for the Amazon?

December 4, 2009

By Stuart Grudgings

In the tiny settlement of Boa Frente on the banks of a tributary to the Amazon river, bright blue butterflies flitting through trees and the constant squawks of parrots add to the feeling of a paradise on earth. The poverty endured by most of its residents quickly shatters that illusion, but environmentalists hope this village and 35 others in Brazil’s Juma reserve could be a model for saving the world’s greatest forest from destruction.


This feature about the Juma REDD project, which stands for Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, gives a fuller account of the issue.
REDD projects, in which reserves in developing nations with forest like Brazil and Indonesia receive funds from rich nations looking to offset carbon emissions, have emerged as one of the few areas in which a strong deal is possible in the divisive United Nations climate talks in Copenhagen this month.
My trip to Juma, which lies about an hour’s flight from Manaus city in Brazil’s vast Amazonas state, gave me an idea of how much is at stake as the seven-seater plane glided over a carpet of unspoiled forest that stretched to the horizon on every side. I also found that opinion is starkly divided over how to go about REDD schemes and whether Juma, whose backers include Coca Cola and hotel chain Marriott, is a desirable model.
For the 320 families in the reserve, the benefits are already becoming clear. As well as a $30 monthly stipend for all families, Boa Frente has gained a smart new school with Internet access that stands in sharp contrast to the simple huts that residents live in.  If the REDD scheme takes off according to plan they could stand to gain $7 million a year by 2020 from carbon credit sales. That would go some way towards fulfilling a long-held truism of Amazon protection — that people will only stop cutting down trees when it becomes more valuable to keep them standing.
Yet some environmentalists I spoke to back in Manaus were surprisingly critical of the project. One worried that such projects would create dependency among the families and do little to address what he saw as the main causes of their poverty — a lack of markets for forest products. Another head of an environmental group who has worked with river communities for decades said that Juma community leaders were being manipulated by the project and were losing their freedom.
While REDD certainly represents new hope for preserving the Amazon and other tropical forests, there is a largely unheard debate over how they should best serve the interests of the forest dwellers who will have to live with them.

Travel agent scraps “medieval pardons” for emissions

October 16, 2009

A travel agent is ditching an offer allowing holidaymakers to pay extra if they feel guilty about the greenhouse gases created by their flights, saying it’s like selling “medieval pardons”.

Beyond hybrid green technology – tribrids, quadbrids next?

May 13, 2009

This portable electric recharging device could be a lifesaver if you break you leg on a windswept mountaintop in the middle of the night and find that your mobile phone battery is dead when you try to call for help.

A scheme by any other name…

May 7, 2009

It was a discussion that would have made George Bernard Shaw smile. The British Nobel Prize-winning writer said America and England were separated by their common language.

State-by-state rules best for US carbon from cars?

January 26, 2009

President Barack Obama set in motion a process on Monday that may eventually allow California and other states to set tougher greenhouse gas pollution and efficiency standards on cars than those mandated by the federal government. 

How much electricity do you use in a year?

January 16, 2009

It was a disarmingly simple question but, embarrassingly, I didn’t have a clue when first asked that 18 months ago. Even though I’d have to describe myself as a genuine tightwad when it comes to expenditures, I simply had no idea, strangely enough, about how much money my four-person household was spending on electricity — nor how much carbon dioxide was being produced.