Saturday, 23 March 2013

News Shoot: Bringing walk to the talk - Pacific Energy Summit

It's time for the Pacific to get serious about renewable energy - that's the shout-out coming from the organizer's of the Pacific Energy Summit, being held over the next three days in New Zealand. The summit aims to bring together the leaders of the Pacific's island nations - with their plans for the clean energy transition clasped firmly in hand - and marry them to donors able to turn roadmaps into destinations. A touted aim of the summit is to flip a decade or more of good intentions and pilots schemes into action that will see Pacific islands generating around half of their energy needs renewably.

The island nations are being represented by the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands, among many others. On the donor side, the summit has the EU, the Asian Development Bank and Australian AID. The conference co-host is New Zealand; its Foreign Minister, Murray McCully said the summit has the goal of "committing several hundred millions of dollars in new infrastructure.”

Ambitious, but necessary, if the developed world is to help nations at the mercy of both accelerating climate change, and energy infrastructure hooked on fossil-fuels. “What we are attempting is at the very ambitious end of the scale. But the goal of substantially reducing the dependence of Pacific countries on imported diesel for electricity makes this worth a serious effort.” [Read more here]

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

When islands bicker..

The flow of carbon emissions from extraction to consumer. 
We all know that efforts to sow together a global climate change accord have repeatedly come apart at the seams, apparently because of short-sighted national interests. It's called the 'tragedy of the commons' - why should country C (let's call them China..) hold back on its CO2 emissions, when the country U (mmm... maybe the US?) has benefited so much from their inglorious track record of global pollution? And why should country U have to keep cutting its use of the planet's carbon sinks, when country C is so recklessly expanding its use of the same (despite the fact that in a globalized economy the emissions belong to everyone..)

What's not so apparent is that those same arguments, being used by global actors in the tragic drama we call 'climate change', are also being flung around on a much smaller stage - by those those living on some of the islands sitting on the very front-line of global warming. The Hawaiian Islands are just such a provincial venue, and the drama being played out there is a riveting (and increasingly important) one.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

'We are not drowning, we are fighting'

That was the emphatic and positive message being heard in chants, war songs challenges and dances yesterday, from those most immediately threatened by climate change. Celebrating a Warrior Day of Action, young people from fourteen Pacific Island nations took part in protests and demonstrations of their opposition to the energy policies that are driving their nations beneath the waves.

Mikaele Maiava, spokesperson for the '350 Pacific' organization behind the day of action, said they were "laying down a challenge to the fossil fuel industry. It is their coal and oil and gas vs. our future. They cannot both coexist. And it is our future that has to win." And beyond their exhortations, these are nations who are prepared to act as well as chant.

One of the fourteen nations involved - Tokelau in the central Pacific - became the first nation in the world to turn off the diesel generators, and switch on the solar panels,  relying solely on solar for its energy needs. Another, Fiji, is well on its way to achieving a target of 90% energy from renewable sources by 2015 - with nearly half its energy now from renewables.

Such actions stand in stark contrast to the hand-wringing by leaders of the worst polluters like the US and China, whose fine words on climate change mask actions geared for expanding exploitation of fossil fuel resources like coal, tar sands and shale oil. Time for a little Warrior Action from Obama and Jinping?