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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

The President calls to act – Obama’s climate speech

US-President Barack Obama gave a speech on climate change yesterday. His words could lead to a milestone-process for US climate politics. He made clear that the United States have to play a leading role in the world’s ambitions to tackle global warming.
The plans the president rolled out are foreseeable wide-ranging, including a limit on carbon pollution for the first time in US history.

Emissions need to fall by 17 percent until 2020, the President said. This will “put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution.”

The emissons already dropped last in 2012 on the lowest amount in 20 years. But not for climate security reasons. The moderate economic developement of the United States and the growing use of natural gas (which has an lower amount of carbon dioxide) rather were responsible for the decreasing numbers.

The exact plans

According to the speech he held in Washington, the United States would boost the production of renewable energy, increase efficiency standards and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures.

So what exactly the president wants to happen?

The energy that is harnessed from sun and wind should be doubled, according to Obama. That makes a power supply for more than six million househoulds in the US. The president also spoke about the highly debated Keystone Pipeline-project, that is planed to transport tar sand-oil from Canada to refineries at the Gulf of Mexico. This pipeline will only be build if it „does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.“

Another point was the building of a new nuclear power plant, the first one in 30 years. In opposition to Germany for example US still count on nuclear power as a green and save source of energy.

Impacts for the private sector

Obamas plans also reach for the private sector as well. Besides a fuel consumption that is now enlarged from cars to trucks the President wants to fight the waste of energy in private homes, public buildings or companies by supporting building insulation or energy saving light sources.

So, the speech offers a lot of plans. But what can be done? Nothing can be established immediatly, there’s always a long process about a few years. And Obamas presidency lasts for three more years. But at least the plans would be put in place through an executive order, bypassing the Congress, which has stalemated over climate legislation in recent years.

During his presentation the audience could literally see what all this is about: The oppressive heat of June often forced beads of sweat on the presidents forehead.


June 26, 2013



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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

Climate Change – Back at Business

World Economic Forum 2013: Overview

(CC BY SA 2.0: World Economic Forum/

This year’s edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is up and running at the Swiss mountain resort Davos. It’s the place to be, if you have anything to do with finance and business today. Everyone has descended on Davos, from high level media people to the top notch of the business elite. And there’s no shortage of topics on the agenda this year – the lack of global growth, the euro crisis, of course, and what’s happening in the Middle East. Nothing new here.

But surprisingly there IS something new and unexpected on the delegates’ plates, and it’s called climate change. It’s about time, isn’t it? As if to make a point, a collection of reports that call for prompt and substantial action on climate change, development and sustainability is quite impressive, writes the executive director of the Stockholm Environment Institute, Johann L. Kuylenstierna at RTCC, the official observer to the United Nations climate change negotiations.

There certainly have been a lot of eye-opening climate events over the last year that have grabbed the headlines and left plenty of people baffled. Like the highly debated “pause” in the rise of global temperatures, the inconceivable return of Arctic sea ice or temperatures in Australia that were so high that the Bureau of Meteorologists had to add an extra color to its heat scale.

Two days ago, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called climate change a top priority issue alongside with Syria. That may help the 2,500 people in Davos focus on the climate.

There are quite a few papers and reports that take a look at climate change and it’s implications. The Green Growth Action Alliance led by former Mexican President Felipe Calderón quotes figures that are a stiff wake-up call: some $14 trillion will be needed, say researchers, to be spent on low-carbon industry and infrastructure until 2030. That translates to an investment of $700 billion a year! Calderón’s message is clear: there is no time to waste.

And there’s more: The Global Risks Report 2013 says that stresses on economic and environmental systems are on a “collision course” that could pose “unprecedented challenges” to global and national resilience. Others build cases for addressing climate issues in supply chains and as a strategic response to consumer demands.

None of this is exactly new. But the sheer number of notes or speeches lately could give the climate some momentum in Davos and beyond. Even the fact that US president Barack Obama declared it necessary for the United States to respond to climate change may have been an important sign in itself.


January 25, 2013



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sumisom | Ideas

White House not so green

Last October, U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration announced the White House would be getting a new, green touch – solar panels. And they were supposed to be in place by this spring. Well, it’s now summer and there’s not a single solar panel on the White House.

The president said he wanted to lead by example, and a lot of climate activists are holding him to that. They urged the government to meet the deadline, and they haven’t given up that fight now that the deadline has passed.

What do you think? Could the White House use a green makeover? And will we see solar panels on the famous building?


June 22, 2011



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