Around the globe: We can now see the silver lining on the Cumulo nimbus

Growing up in the Kenyan village of Kochogo, my parents taught me that in life it is very important to give credit where it is due. Since the Kyoto Protocol and probably earlier than that, the U.S. has received a lot of bashing for its laxity in tackling climate change both locally and on the international arena especially with regards to global climate change response deal negotiations at the UN. While it is true that U.S. has been reluctant to get into a binding climate change pact with other nations around the globe, it is now apparent that she has been doing a lot at home to ensure that the growth of her carbon foot print is curtailed.

A few days ago, the Bloomberg New Energy Finance for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy reported in its newly released report that in 2012 the U.S.’s carbon dioxide emission fell to the lowest level since 1994. According to an article in The Guardian, “The reduction in climate pollution – even as Congress failed to act on climate change – brings America more than halfway towards Barack Obama’s target of cutting emissions by 17% from 2005 levels over the next decade. Carbon dioxide emissions fell by 13% in the past five years, because of new energy-saving technologies and a doubling in the take-up of renewable energy.”

In a related study, a joint study conducted between January 16-22, 2013 by Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and Sanford School of Public Policy found that more Americans now believe in anthropogenic climate change and favor government action towards mitigation and adaptation. According to the study, “a slim majority (54 percent) of Americans think that climate change is the result of human activity – also the highest in many years.” The study found bipartisan support for regulating greenhouse gases and for clean energy requirements. However, the study did not find the support for carbon taxes and understanding of carbon markets among Americans widespread. One thing that the study found to persist was the partisan gap along political party lines. Democrats still remain more convinced that climate change is occurring than Republicans. To focus on the two major parties, 70 percent of Democrats are fully convinced that the climate is changing compared to only 27 percent of Republicans. However, 43 percent of Republicans said it is probably occurring but they would do with more evidence.

The foregoing while not the best, reveals a silver lining on the cloud that has been making our future bleak for quite sometime now. It gives a lot of hope and inspires further action to ensure we don’t compromise our own future at the alter of greed and obsession with growth. Every American should pat him/herself on the back for the progress.

Across the North Atlantic Ocean, there is even more good news as the UK government just gave the green light to a 66-mega watt wind farm in Heckington Fen in Lincolnshire near the eastern coast of England. Electrocity Group Ltd, which is the company that will see the establishment of the wind farm says the facility, will become the fourth biggest onshore wind farm in England once it is commissioned. This is a big boost to the green energy agenda, which has been taking root around the globe for quite some time now and which as shown by the US story promises a lot of hope in terms of lowering green house gas emissions, especially CO2 which is the key culprit in the global warming problem.

And finally, a little down South, Kenya’s University of Nairobi recently became the first in the country and probably in the East African region to establish an open access research repository where research work conducted by its faculty would be accessible to the citizens and others as well. This move has the potential to reduce knowledge gap, especially on climate change, that is plaguing most of the African continent. With up to date research findings on topics like agriculture, tourism, fishing and even disaster management, available to the public freely at the press of a button, it is no doubt the open access repository will greatly improve knowledge access and information dissemination. This will subsequently have positive impact on the policy front as well thought out solutions to local problems will be readily available to policy makers for consideration. According to the University, the open access policy is intended to ensure that research and other relevant work reaches many and has a direct impact on policies and practices in Kenya, Africa and worldwide.

From my virtual desk here at the Voinovich School, I say congratulation on the progress made thus far. Aluta continua contra Climate Change.

Until next week, stay eco-conscious!

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