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Sustainability
Moderator(s): David Comis
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Should the US sign the Paris Agreement? 0 D. Comis Premise: The Paris Agreement invites countries to sign the agreement on April 22, 2016.  To date, “the United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28 per cent below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its missions by 28%.”  (US Cover Note INDC).  However, it should be noted that the Paris Agreement does not impose penalties for failure to comply. Key members of the United States Senate have indicated that the agreement is not legally binding, as these binding agreements (Treaties) must be voted upon by the Senate.  “It’s important, too, to note that “treaty” means different things to different entities. The Senate is required to ratify any agreement that binds — with or without an enforcement mechanism — the United States to financial commitments or actions that it does not already take, under law. If the $200 billion global commitment to developing nations had included specific numbers for the U.S. budget, we would have had to ask the Senate. (In fact, whatever money the United States does allocate will have to go through the Congressional budget process.)”  (No, The Paris Climate Agreement Isn’t Binding. Here’s Why That Doesn’t Matter. by Samantha Page  Dec 14, 2015 4:30 pm) Question:  Should the United States sign and ratify the Paris Agreement?  Before answering, please consider reading:  (LEGAL OPTIONS FOR U.S. ACCEPTANCE OF A NEW CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT) By Daniel Bodansky, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University, May 2015 http://www.c2es.org/docUploads/legal-options-us-acceptance-new-climate-change-agreement.pdf
by D. Comis
Friday, January 8, 2016
Common but Differentiated Responsibilities 0 D. Comis Premise: Under the UNFCCC, countries are expected to take action and to pay based on a theory of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions”  (UNFCCC, 1992, pg 2) Question: Should the US concentrate any GHG reduction funds on reducing US GHG emissions first (before helping other countries), or should the US provide international funding (via various USAID or UN mechanisms) to help least developed countries and other developing countries perform GHG mitigation actions and take adaptive actions?  If an international approach is recommended, should the actions be taken in countries that currently have higher GHG polluting infrastructure, or should it be focused on countries with the highest birthrate as they will have the highest potential to pollute in the future.
by D. Comis
Friday, January 8, 2016
Sustainability of Small Island Nations 0 D. Comis Before addressing the question below, I suggest your review "Renewable Energy Freeing Island Nations From Fossil Fuel Prices" December 11, 2015 By Alex Morales, Bloomberg,  which can be found on the Sustainability Division's webpage.   Premise:  The economy of most small island nations are subject to the volatility of the price of oil, and the huge additional cost of shipping relatively small amounts of oil.  As such, many island nations have set goals to move to a clean energy economy.  Doing so provides two options:  1) using as much variable renewable energy as possible (wind, solar, tidal), and filling in the gaps with quick reacting fossil fuel machines (such as a series of diesel generators); or 2) removing the fossil fuel option completely, installing energy storage devices and altering the patterns of daily life to live within the available energy.    Option one has high up-front costs of installing the renewable energy, and limits the type of fossil fuel machines to a series of relatively low efficiency diesels.  While the island remains tethered to the cost of diesel fuel, the effect on the economy is much smaller than before.  Island activities need not be limited by the amount of variable renewable energy available on any given day. Option two has high up-front costs for both the installation of the renewable energy, AND the installation of an energy storage devise(s).  While the nation becomes free of fossil fuel costs, the fabric of the culture, and normal business activities may need to be modified to fit within the daily energy availability.  The nation now becomes hostage to the statistical variability of the weather, and to long term changes in the availability of renewable energy due to climate change (this could be either positive or negative, or both at once – i.e. more energy throughout the year but longer periods of low energy availability). Question: Remembering that:  “ Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development, Chapter 2, Section 1, Paragraph 1), and that sustainable development encompasses more than just water and energy, which of the two options is more sustainable?  Which is preferable in the near term?
by D. Comis
Friday, January 8, 2016
Welcome to the Forum 1 D. Comis Please consider looking at the Sustainability Division webpage for links to a number of articles of interest. A potential topic of interest might be the Paris Agreement.
by D. Comis
Monday, January 4, 2016
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