Will Steger Foundation Expedition Copenhagen 2009

The Expedition Copenhagen team consists of Midwest youth who will travel to the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Denmark, December 5-19, 2009. The expedition will be led in part by internationally renowned polar explorer Will Steger, and designed in collaboration with youth climate partners across the region.

Carbon Offset

Posted On Monday, November 30, 2009 by Expedition Copenhagen | | 0 comments


Through a partnership with NativeEnergy, a privately held energy company (www.nativeenergy.com), the estimated carbon dioxide emissions resulting from the travel of Expedition Copenhagen participants have been offset by an investment in the Greensburg Wind Farm in Greensburg, Kansas. On May 4, 2007, a tornado leveled Greensburg, destroying 95% of the homes in the area. In the aftermath, residents committed to rebuilding as “the greenest town in America.” We are happy to support their endeavor.

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India To Hold Obama To Higher Standards

Posted On Monday, November 23, 2009 by Jamie R., WI | | 0 comments

Despite recent statements of doubt by President Barack Obama regarding the passing of a binding treaty in Copenhagen, Indian Prime Minister will push for a stronger stance when meeting with the President on Tuesday, November 24. Check out the article from the Indian Express: Climate meet: India wants 'legally binding substantive' outcome
Agencies Posted online: Monday , Nov 23, 2009 at 1122 hrs
Washington : India does not endorse efforts to dilute expectations from the Copenhagen climate summit and is pushing for a "legally binding substantive" outcome, a matter that will be discussed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talks with US President Barack Obama.

Coinciding with the Copenhagen meet, India is considering a legislation incorporating all its action plans and national missions aimed at reducing dependence on coal based fuels and "improving" the environment by 20 per cent by 2020.

During their meeting tomorrow, Singh and Obama will discuss what kind of outcome is expected from Copenhagen meet beginning on December 7, sources said. India and a number of developing countries want "legally binding substantive outcome" from the meet and do not endorse the recent statement by the US and other APEC nations that a mere political declaration would do.

The sources said that India does not want the world to give up with regard to Copenhagen meet, as is being done by some countries.

India feels that there is still time for Copenhagen conference, particularly its high-level segment beginning on December 16, and efforts should be made to push the negotiations for an outcome mandated by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Bali action plan.

There should be no attempt to pre-empt the Copenhagen meet as 192 countries are involved in it and the consensus would be required even if it is not possible to achieve a legally binding declaration at Copenhagen, some consensus should be arrived at the end, the sources said.

The effort should be to see "how far we can go", they said.

"We should try to get the maximum from Copenhagen and the template should continue to be UNFCCC and Bali action Plan," a source said.

On its part, India does not wish to see any outcome that will diminish the prospect of its development. If the Copenhagen meet fails to arrive at legally binding outcome it should pave the way for such results in the next six months or so. UNFCCC provides for countries furnishing their domestic commitments about what they have done in the past and what they intend to do in the future.

India is willing to adhere to this even if the national commitments have to be submitted periodically.

The sources pointed out India already has a domestic action plan which is voluntary and aimed at specific target. These include solar mission and green India vision which are aimed at "improving" environment by 20 per cent by 2020.

The government plans to encapsulate the various climate action plan in the form of a legislation, the sources said. They said India and the US bilaterally have conversion of views on climate issue even though they may differ at multilateral negotiations.

Both countries agree that there is an inter-link between climate change and energy security and the necessity of use of technology to fight this problem. The sources emphasised that there was critical consensus in India over how to approach Copenhagen meet notwithstanding a recent statement by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh which created confusion before he issued a clarification.

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Art for Climate

Posted On Sunday, November 22, 2009 by Chalie | | 0 comments

As world leaders are getting ready to meet in Copenhagen, Denmark in less than two weeks to negotiate a new global treaty, there have been many movements lead by grassroots efforts in order to keep pressure on President Obama and the Senate on leading and supporting a strong climate policy in the US.

One of these efforts comes from our friends at 1Sky with “Make Art for Climate” campaign. From October 28th until December 1st groups have gathered and are still gathering together to create art that sends a message to our President to step up his efforts for strong climate legislation. In the month of December these pieces of art will be delivered to members of the Obama Administration and the Senate in order for them to receive a visual reminder of what is truly needed for us as a country and as a world.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to participate in one of these gatherings. I met with my policy mentor and friend from 1Sky Katy Walters and some other friends that joined and created a piece of art that we believe represents our urgent need for a strong binding climate bill in the United States and treaty in the Copenhagen Negotiations. I have to say it was a great opportunity as a group to get together and have a good time, enjoy some good conversation and fun while at the same time knowing that we were doing something positive to make a difference.

I hope that more of you get inspired on doing something similar in anticipation to the negotiations and if you want more details check out www.1sky.org. Groups like this one are getting together across the country and you can always also start one of your own. Lets ensure that we do everything possible to pressure our leaders and have them know that we are all concerned for our future, the future of the youth and that of coming generations.

Chalie

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Michigan Youth Select New Leaders!

Posted On Thursday, November 19, 2009 by Danielle | | 0 comments

This week the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition (MSSC) selected new leaders to participate in the group's Steering Committee (SC) - the governing body of the organization. The MSSC is an established Non-for-profit organization committed to engaging the youth of Michigan to become active citizens campaigning for the just, balanced distribution and use of social, political, economic and environmental resources to improve our communities, our state and our planet. The organization has been instrumental in the youth climate movement in Michigan, gathering support from campuses and organizations all across the state. All of the new SC members bring with them a wealth of talent and experience that is truly inspirational and will continue to keep the MSSC as an effective youth organization in Michigan. New members represent different colleges/universities and organizations throughout the state, from Detroit to Grand Rapids, Lansing and Kalamazoo. The MSSC began with only a handful of interested students so it is amazing to see the number of schools, organizations and youth that are involved today. I had an opportunity to interview Josh Lycka, a new SC member from Grand Valley State University (my school as well!) about his hopes for the future of the MSSC and the youth climate movement in Michigan. Lycka, a sophomore at GVSU, has been a passionate leader on campus as Treasurer of the Student Environmental Coalition. He will be a great asset to the MSSC as he transitions into this new leadership role. Check out his video interview! video The MSSC is also a common thread that ties together the 3 Expedition Copenhagen Michigan delegates - Sarah, Chris and I. We all began our youth organizing with this group, and we became good friends throughout the years. This Sunday, November 22nd we are hosting an event at the Michigan Energy Options Demonstration Home (405 Grove Street in East Lansing, 48823) from 4 - 6 pm, and you're invited! We will be talking about our upcoming trip and you will have a chance to send your messages with us to the negotiations. Delegates are bringing books full of messages that we have collected this fall to the negotiations. It’s a great chance to share with the world what you want to see come out of these negotiations. Congratulations to all new Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition Steering Committee members. You are all talented and amazing leaders and I look forward to working with you in the coming months!

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Ensuring Accountability from Elected Leaders

Posted On Thursday, November 19, 2009 by Sarah M | | 0 comments

Ensuring Accountability from Elected Leaders

Written by: Sarah Mullkoff

Exactly two weeks from now, eleven of my fellow youth climate engaged friends and I will be traveling to Copenhagen for the 15th Conference of the Parties on Climate Change.

Throughout the fall, our anticipation has been brewing as to what to expect of the negotiations. There has been uncertainty to if this year’s negotiations will actually result in a binding agreement, or just another step along the way. Analysts have predicted four options that could occur: no agreement, a decision or set of decisions, a politically implementing agreement, or a new legally binding protocol. (http://www.iied.org/pubs/pdfs/17074IIED.pdf)

Despite ongoing speculative domestic legislation and other unreliable politics, our youth delegation stands strong with our stance of demanding a strong, just, binding agreement to come be agreed upon this December.

This past weekend we learned of disheartening news from President’ Obama’s administration, admitting that a comprehensive climate deal was beyond reaches this year. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/16/science/earth/16climate.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=UN%20climate%20negotiations&st=cse

Considering this, I thought back to one year ago, when this man became elected President of the United States, running by a platform promoting change. 2008 was the largest youth voter turn out in history, and for many of my peers, it was the first Presidential election we had voted on. In fact, many of my peers worked specifically on election work last year running a campaign, Powervote worked tirelessly to demand that the American public elected leaders that would commit to making clean energy a top priority in the election.

Maintaining this priority, we now have the responsibility to demand our elected officials accountability on such issues on a clean energy economy to secure the protection of our climate.

President Obama could have a tremendous influence on affecting our domestic legislation by attending the UN Conference, as our policy choices influence the rest of the worlds decisions. It is quite possible that the president will not make any progression towards an international climate treaty. As youth, we have the moral responsibility to hold our president accountable. There is no longer time for business as usual, we demand that the time for change is now!

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R to the Evolution

Posted On Monday, November 16, 2009 by Jamie R., WI | | 0 comments

Revolution never come with a warning. Revolution never send you an omen. Revolution just arrives like the morning, ring the alarm time to wake up this morning. ~Michael Franti & Spearhead
With just a few short weeks & a few long days before landing at the climate movement's ground zero, I feel like a Scooby Doo character who is running in place before setting off in an all out sprint! The other week Al Gore made a great appearance on David Letterman to promote his new book Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis and to talk Copenhagen. Gore stated that although the grassroots movement is the largest this world has ever seen, it has yet to reach a critical mass. It is up to us to prove that statement wrong. All the amazing folks I've had the opportunity to talk to here in Wisconsin on the platform of climate solutions are ready for revolution -- we want climate justice, climate equality and REAL, BINDING, SUSTAINABLE climate solutions. That is the message that I will carry to and advocate for in Copenhagen. To the folks I have talked to and to all those readers that I have not yet had the opportunity to meet -- revolution is ours to make. It is every voice, every song, every noise that we create that will break the barrier to create a critical mass. The volume is rising... I hear it... I feel the vibrations... it moves my soul and moves me to act... we need it to be LOUDER.
It's like the end of Horton Hears A Who... there is a jungle of doubt willing to fight to prevent change, to spout all the reasons that a world with 350ppm, a world run on sustainable energy, a world led with a positive, green foot forward and the creation of a dramatic, binding, just climate treaty is not logical or possible. Amidst the clamor of doubt, we must stand strong with loud voices, clanging every pot and drum and using our voices to let them know that WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE! We can break the sound barrier and create a critical mass that is impossible to ignore. We are the movement. We are the ones that create the revolution. And just like Horton, we will stand strong amidst powerful, threatening opposition. And just like every Who in Whoville, we will yell and make every noise possible to let global leaders and communities know that WE ARE HERE. We will reach a critical mass. We will reach a tipping point, where our position will be held as the only viable solution. We must continue to put pressure on our officials through visual actions in our communities and through letters & phone calls. Every person, every voice is necessary.

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Voices from Illinois students

Posted On Thursday, November 12, 2009 by Liana.B.Baker | | 0 comments

On my speaking tour at Chicago-area high schools, I’ve been inspired by a lot of students who know a lot about climate change—much more than I knew at their age. I am collecting their messages to bring with me to Copenhagen while I try to build an audience for my dispatches from the climate talks. So far, I have been impressed with how well informed and compelling their messages have been. Here’s a look at some of them: “If people in the world recycled and respected the world, global warming events would not occur. Cutting down on using so much oil and coal could affect change. Also, reducing the damage to the earth’s ocean and rainforest can also produce a cleaner and better atmosphere for animals, plants and human beings. If there was anything I could change, it would be for people to stop damaging life for money, and to respect the beauty of this world. There must be other ways to way to gain profits without making many resources we need to become extinct or even disappear. – Ashanti Wiley, YouthBuild Lake County, Waukegan, Illinois To world leaders: How dare you not react to these devastating world changes. Do you not care about your children’s futures. Do we not matter? Hopefully you’ll hear us out on this matter or we’ll make sure you will never see office. This is not a threat but a promise. Signing off as an angry spectator. –Brittany Hawthorne, YouthBuild Lake County, Waukegan, Illinois What’s more important? Cheap, dirty, outdated technology, or the future of our planet and species? Think with your brains and not with your wallets. What you decide in Copenhagen will literally be the future of the Earth and everything on it. Don’t agree on some lame, unspecific treaty that all countries must follow. You have the power to decide our future. –Unsigned member of New Trier High school’s environment club, Winnetka, Illinois To those with a known voice; My name is Glenna Siegel, and being a singular sophomore, I possess only a quiet voice. However my ideas exceed by small impact. I ask you, now, to help magnify my voice. Please consider our options regarding the presented climate bill in congress: we act against climate change or become victims of our own demise. I hope that people feel strongly in preserving our natural resources. I understand whatever energy inefficient acts we have already supported, but those choices should not depict our future decisions. Whether we fund energy alternatives rather than offering numerous tax educations, I as a future taxpayer, would comply. Our steady increase in carbon dioxide emissions cannot and will not decrease with the sporadic treehugger. The nation and the world must join and pass legislation to decrease emissions. So please, if you share my feelings, speak for me and all other others who are not heard. I appreciate your effort towards a global decrease in carbon emissions. You actions do not go unnoticed by us students. Thank you for time and energy. —Glenna Siegel, member of New Trier High School’s environment club, Winnetka, Illinois

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Exciting New Clean Energy Tech

Posted On Wednesday, November 11, 2009 by Chalie | | 0 comments

Lately I have been hearing a ton of new creative ways in which clean energy is being created! Things anywhere from cultivating algae to burn as a fuel oil all the way extremely efficient fuel cells, and taping into unlimited solar energy. Energy sources are changing and will continue to change. I am feeling hopeful that the transition is happening to these new clean energy technologies. I have to admit that one of the technologies that I am really fascinated by are the fuel cells. Particularly the Bloom Energy Fuel Cells, these not only not have to combust fuel (which causes way less GHG emission) but also may use a variety of hydrocarbons as fuel (bio fuel are a type of hydrocarbon) . The really exciting thing about this fuel cell is that one of its by-products is Hydrogen which could be used to fuel up hydrogen vehicles! The idea behind this type of fuel cell is that eventually home owners could get one of these fuel cells (once prices start coming down) and install them at home. With this not only would homeowners be able to generate their own electricity at home, but excess energy could also be sold to the grid and all of this while reducing GHG emissions exponentially from the system. Another extremely interesting source of energy that is being studied right now is the Space Solar Power. This is not your regular photovoltaic system, this is a grand scale mirror arrangements done in space that would project solar radiation to a pad on earth where the energy could be captured. Check out more details on this technology here. It would theoretically be a source of energy that produces no GHG emissions and that could be tapped into 24-7. There are many new resources for clean energy that are either here, or still coming down the road. We just need to make sure to be aware of this and start making the transition from dirty old fossil fuels to the energy of the future!

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The Power of Broad Representation- Locally and Abroad

Posted On Wednesday, November 11, 2009 by Danielle | | 0 comments

Governments need to start looking at Grand Rapids, MI for new ways to engage citizens in local politics. This week I gave a presentation to Mayor Heartwell's Youth Council and Youth Commission, a group of about 20 middle and high school students that have been agents of change in their community. These young people follow what is happening in the city and write proposals giving suggestions about next steps from the perspective of youth. Tuesday, November 10th City Manager Greg Sundstrom proposed 125 job cuts to help close the city's deficit of $28 million. After my presentation the students looked over documents explaining these cuts and are preparing for a meeting with the Mayor next week to provide their suggestions. The budget crisis that is being faced Grand Rapids right now is occurring around the country - cities are facing huge deficits and need to find a way to close the gap. But maybe the way decision have been made in the past will not work for our future. It's a step in the right direction for the City of Grand Rapids when they created a way for youth to get involved in local politics. It's more sustainable, and I view it as a great opportunity for the city to have all voices in the community represented, especially when making so many tough decisions. And it is even more important when these decisions will affect the residents of younger generations the most. Giving these young, active students the chance to voice their opinion about an issue will help ensure that we will have future leaders who already understand the need to represent everyone in their community. At the negotiations this December we need to be striving for the same kind of representation. But this time our community is not our city, state or country - rather we are a part of a global community. And if we want all voices to be heard, then it is important to support others in their quest to join the conversation. Typically however this has not been the story. Developing nations - such as India, the Maldives, Thailand, Brazil - are more negatively affected by the rise in global greenhouse gases, even though they produce the least amount of emissions. This situation puts the more polluting developed nations - including the United States, European Union, Australia, and Canada - in a more powerful position at the negotiations. But it also implies that these nations have a moral imperative to do something to solve the problem. We, in the developed countries, have a tremendous responsibility as global citizens to take bold action on climate change and assist other countries as they adapt. One of the easiest ways developed nations can begin this process is by supporting teams of negotiators from developing countries. Historically developing countries have been able to send very few, if any negotiators to the conference due to a lack of financial resources, further causing their views to be underrepresented. And unfortunately the number of youth at these negotiations follows this same trend. What developed nations can do is help fund delegations, including youth to improve the overall representation. But then they must also listen to these countries and finally take responsibility for their role in helping to cause anthropogenic climate change. It is important to the International Youth Delegation, and to delegates with the Will Steger Foundation, that there is broad representation as these meetings. Especially the youth voice. Like the students in Grand Rapids who will be affected by the decisions made now more that any other demographic, so to will the youth of the world at these negotiations. With a broader representation of youth viewpoints at these negotiations we have a better likelihood of achieving a bold, just and binding treaty. It is the youth voice that will hold key countries accountable and remind participants of what is at stake.

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Facing Off On FaceBook

Posted On Monday, November 09, 2009 by Aurora C | | 0 comments

What do you say when someone disagrees with something that you believe to be true? What do you say when people argue against a mission? When I first went to work in White Earth (Gaa-waabaabiganikaag) Minnesota-learning all that I did with the land, people and environment-I thought that maybe this is what I was suppose to be doing. I say that if I care about the land and people, these are the things and the issues I should be covering and helping with. Over the years I have come across a few people that do not agree with certain things about coal, oil, gas and industry. Yes-it can be difficult when you're the only person in a roomful that thinks and feels a certain way about an issue. Even more so when you take action, even if that action is not an intentional direct attack against people or businesses, somewhere that action has an effect. It is much easier to immerse yourself when everyone is encouraging and in agreement with you. You almost feel and begin to think that the rest of the world is with you too. And then you come across people that do not agree with you, sometimes those people are close to you. Do you let your views, values and ideas flow?? Sometimes maybe, sometimes not. But I found myself wondering, what should I do? Do I consistently argue facts to them? Do I listen intently and understandingly to what they say? As I have been using my social medias to spread the word about Copenhagen and climate change issues, I have gotten great responses and some not so great responses. Some of the responses, although they could be seen as negative, are only responses regardless of their negation. Some said that Climate Change is a phony issue, that if you want to be green-to be green-turn off your computer, plant a tree, "switching" to green renewables isn't going to lessen the cost of our current resources-and there will be no new creation of jobs, only a job shift from one sector to another. And they're right. It is a phony issue, they are entitled to their opinions, not their own facts. It shouldn't be seen as a dire "switch", but an alternative, an option, because some do not have any. The shifted jobs from industry someday may no longer be and the "sustainable jobs'' will. There is only so much of a resource to use, it will change too. There are options. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you see. Even if it is to a complete stranger on FaceBook about Climate Change, even if it is your brother-in-law! I will listen to what they have to say, try and understand their thinking, but my concern and mission will always be for the people and for this Earth (Aki').

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News came in from the U.N. Barcelona climate talks last week that African countries had walked out on the negotiations. They were protesting developed countries’ unwillingness to set firm carbon reduction commitments, saying the talks could not continue without rich nations assuming their responsibilities. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has determined that developed countries must cut emissions by 25-40% by 2020 from 1990 levels in order to avoid the worst consequences of global warming. Norway is the only country that has made a 40% commitment.

The boycott of the negotiations by African countries lasted one day and made a powerful statement about the status of the talks. Rich countries are trying to maneuver around the changes they must make for a successful agreement, including setting binding emissions targets and creating an international compliance mechanism necessary to measure emissions levels. Meanwhile, developing countries are already experiencing the affects of climate change in the form of extreme weather and ecological change.

Developed countries, comprising only 20% of the world’s population, have been the significant contributors of global greenhouse gas emissions that are hurting developing nations first and worst. We have also enjoyed economic prosperity that gives us greater capacity to mitigate climate change. Because of these factors, we have tremendous responsibility as global citizens to lead in taking bold action on climate change and assisting other countries as they adapt.

Meanwhile, legislation on climate change here at home in the United States has become increasingly politicized. Republican members of the Environment and Public Works Committee boycotted the scheduled mark-up of the climate change bill after having already received an extension to amend the bill. Closer to home, nearly all Republican gubernatorial candidates in Minnesota reject global warming science and the human impact on climate. Political stances such as these seem so out of place in the context of international climate talks that have been taking place for more than a decade. In particular, the African boycott of the Barcelona negotiations highlights the absurdity of the energy bill boycott that took place in the United States.

Expedition Copenhagen delegates recognize that developed countries including our own will be tempted to drag their feet when it comes to commitments in Copenhagen. We recognize that it is our role to emphasize the importance of the outcomes of this conference to our own futures. It is also important to us that we join together with other youth from developed and developing nations in a global movement to bring sense to these negotiations and demand leadership from developed countries. By assuring there are international youth viewpoints at these negotiations, we have a better likelihood of achieving a bold, just, and binding treaty. That is why the Will Steger Foundation has partnered with other North American organizations to sponsor the attendance of a robust youth delegation from Latin America. We will be fundraising for these youth as well as for ourselves. Please consider donating to this cause.

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Lifestyles of the Young & Inspired

Posted On Friday, November 06, 2009 by Jamie R., WI | | 0 comments

Keep your champagne wishes and caviar dreams Robin... this generation is making their own wishes come true and the dreams realities. One high school in particular has fueled great passion in my heart and spirit here in Racine, WI. Walden III High is Racine's green school. The students and teachers alike are inspired, empowered and work diligently every day to walk their talk, to live the lifestyle they teach and learn every day. Walden installed solar panels on their roof, a garden where an empty lot once stood, and, most recently, an aquaponics system in their basement. Have I mentioned that students planned and implemented these initiatives? The older class is committed to creating a leadership system that ensures that each class that follows them feels included and empowered to sustain these projects and establish new ones every year. Here are some of their words that I will take to Copenhagen: "I hope the Copenhagen conference will help get the ACES bill passed. I think it's cool that America is trying to do something about global [climate] change!" ~ Amber, Racine,WI "I think it's really amazing that change is finally starting -- Pass the ACES bill; change is up to our generation." ~Marissa R., Racine, WI Check out this video to see more. With the furious movement towards revolution at home, I take the momentous steps forward to Copenhagen to continue the message to our US & global elected officials that the youth of Wisconsin are committed to finding climate solutions and to taking local actions to support this global initiatives. (I understand that many in my generation will not get the weak 80s pop culture reference I began this small note with; Google search Robin Leach, biggest Aussie gone American TV host before the croc hunter.)

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SD on the Smart Grid Map

Posted On Friday, November 06, 2009 by Jamie | | 0 comments

President Obama's recent announcement of federal investment in a national energy grid has resulted in two SD energy cooperatives starting smart grid systems. Black Hills Power and Sioux Valley Southwestern Electric Company will begin installing smart meters for 92,000 members in SD, MN, and ND. Meters will allow residents to monitor their electricity usage, thus giving them the ability to choose when to run appliances based on the times when rates are lowest (and there is less load on the system). Scientific studies have shown the potential to reduce the strain on times of peak loads by 15% and result in an average 10% decrease in electricity bills per household. While the project begins for system installation, Augie Green members (a group of environmentally-minded college students) are busy writing letters to show their support for this transition to energy alternatives that allow individuals to be more aware of their energy consumption and make choices that benefit not only the environment but their checkbooks. For more information, read: PARKS, NOREEN. Environmental Science & Technology, 43, 9, 2999-3000, 2009. also: Gabrukiewicz, Thom. "S.D. energy gets $9 million boost." Argus Leader. 27 Oct. 2009.

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SD on the Smart Grid Map

Posted On Friday, November 06, 2009 by Jamie | | 0 comments

President Obama's recent announcement of federal investment in a national energy grid has resulted in two SD energy cooperatives starting smart grid systems. Black Hills Power and Sioux Valley Southwestern Electric Company will begin installing smart meters for 92,000 members in SD, MN, and ND. Meters will allow residents to monitor their electricity usage, thus giving them the ability to choose when to run appliances based on the times when rates are lowest (and there is less load on the system). Scientific studies have shown the potential to reduce the strain on times of peak loads by 15% and result in an average 10% decrease in electricity bills per household. While the project begins for system installation, Augie Green members (a group of environmentally-minded college students) are busy writing letters to show their support for this transition to energy alternatives that allow individuals to be more aware of their energy consumption and make choices that benefit not only the environment but their checkbooks. For more information, read: PARKS, NOREEN. Environmental Science & Technology, 43, 9, 2999-3000, 2009. also: Gabrukiewicz, Thom. "S.D. energy gets $9 million boost." Argus Leader. 27 Oct. 2009.

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Learning How to Negotiate: A Simulation to Find a Solution

Posted On Friday, November 06, 2009 by Danielle | | 0 comments

The Copenhagen climate negotiations are fast approaching- just 30 more days until we are there! In preparation for the talks I have been focusing on learning more about my role and how I can be most effective. While reading blogs, and keeping up to speed with the progress of the US Senate climate bill have been helpful, there's nothing better than gaining actual experience. That is why yesterday I choose to participate in an UN climate negotiations simulation at Michigan State University (MSU), hosted by their Environmental Science and Policy Program. Sarah, another MI delegate and an alumni of MSU, attended the event with me.
The purpose of the simulation was to highlight the difficult task ahead if the world is going to combat climate change. The negotiations this December are very important in ensuring that we begin to build a clean and just energy future. After completing the simulation is was even more apparent that we need to start taking action today, regardless of our state or national legislation. In the simulation participants were split up into 3 groups: Developed countries (US, Canada, EU, Australia etc), Developing A countries (China, India), and Developing B countries (South African and Asian nations, Maldives etc). The number of people in the group represented the percent of the world that they make up- meaning that the Developed countries had the fewest (only 4), Developing A was the largest bloc, and Developing B was significantly larger than the Developed group, but smaller than Developing A. Sarah and I were both negotiating for the Developing countries. After splitting up into groups we were briefed on the tools being used in this simulation. Students at MIT along with the Sustainability Institute have created C-ROADS, a climate change modeling device that inputs the different group's emission reduction targets and produces the scenario in comparison to maintaining Business as Usual (BAU) policies. The version that the UNFCCC will be using in the negotiations is more complex than ours, but the results still matched up closely to the predictions made using that model. Our frame of reference was the year 2100 and the goal was to be at 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere with no more than a 2* rise in temperature, and very little if any sea level rise. BAU policies would result in a world unknown to any human civilization. The important thing to remember through these negotiations is that the developed nations, particularly the United States, have contributed significantly to climate change. And the developing poor countries are most effected by the shift in climates while contributing the least, if at all, to the problem. Understanding this concept is key for negotiators if they want to develop a strong and bold climate treaty. The simulation was split up into 3 negotiating periods. During the first round each bloc of countries only negotiated with themselves. The reduction targets and money put into a fund for mitigation and adaptation were not enough, and negotiating this way proved to be ineffective. The second round however yielded even worse results. The Developing A and Developing B countries decided to form a coalition and demand concessions from the Developed countries before attempting to negotiate. As a result the Developed countries felt no reason to talk further, and the round ended with no progress made. The final round was the last chance that the world had to come together and generate a comprehensive emissions reduction target for the different groups and to provide the necessary funding needed to help developing countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. In this round the Developed country negotiators chose to split up and talk with both developing country blocs separately. Every group gave into certain concessions put in place by all negotiators and we were able to come up with a new set up numbers to put into the model. As negotiators for the world we were confident that we had come up with something that will put us on the path to be at 400 ppm of CO2, 1-2* temperature increase, and no sea level rise by 2100. Boy were we surprised. As the results came in it was obvious that even with our best efforts, we missed the mark by 34%. While we significantly decreased the threat, the earth's atmosphere would still be above 450 ppm of CO2, and witness a 3* rise in temperatures as well as dangerous sea level rise. What I took from this simulation is the extreme importance of these negotiations. We have the ability to make significant headway in reducing our GHG emissions today, and the money to fund initiatives to aid developing countries. We also have the support of the public. But what is currently lacking is the political will to come up with a bold, just and binding treaty in Copenhagen. And without that we will have even tougher decisions to make in the future. This simulation helped prepare me for what the actual negotiations will look like. My hope is that negotiators will be more successful than we were in coming up with a plan. I know we can do it, policy makers just need to realize that they can as well.

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