Thursday, May 17, 2007

World Mayors to Act on Climate Change (from Champaign, IL)

I managed to get out for some exercise during my trip to Champaign. I ran through part of the U of I campus and marvelled at the scale of the place. It dwarfs WPI, where I matriculated in 1994. I am sure the entirety of my college could fit within U of I's basketball stadium. The university has their own power plant, using coal, natural gas, and oil to provide up to 70MW of electricity for the campus. The plant also provides steam to serve the 252 buildings on campus. We visited the plant on Wednesday morning. I was a tag-a-long on this visit, and did not have the opportunity to ask questions about the technologies involved in maintaining environmental compliance and what looming CO2 emissions regulations would have on their plant. They are small enough that they may have quite some time to adjust.

The NYTimes and the Agence France Presse both covered the recent meeting of the C40 Large Cities Climate Group Summit that took place in New York City this week. Mayors of 500 cities from around the globe attended the event to illustrate their commitment to reducing GHG emissions globally. The number of cities that are members of the C40 more than doubled from the 18 that marked the inaugural C40 event in London in 2005. Cities are expected to see a massive influx of population over the next few decades, especially in poor and developing countries with little in the way of environmental regulations. Part of the C40's mission is to develop policies aimed at helping these cities cope with and reduce their emissions potential.

The NYTimes took pains to draw attention to the link between the C40 group and former President Clinton. Given the potential for environmental issues to be a key element of both parties' 2008 presidential campaign, it makes good sense for the Clintons to mark the environmental territory in the event that Mr. Gore decides to pick of the ball and run with it. After all, he cannot own the issue. There have been no indications that Mr. Gore is planning to run, but one never can tell. With the coverage of the 2008 campaign seemingly at a fever pitch so soon, mainly because we would prefer not to think about the nastiness in Iraq, I am sure we will hear of any tiny unsubstantiated rumor about Mr. Gore's intents.

It is good to see more "green" topics making the news. We all would like to save the planet, we would just rather not be inconvenienced by it in any way. Will we manage to find some way to mass market environmentalism to make it a consumer product? Is the exploding interest in greening capitalism real, or is it a way to make as all feel good about working the way we do in what is essentially a system impossible to fix? Certainly, making these statements is no excuse to throw up one's hands and quit. I suppose I would rather work toward changing the way we view and participate in our corporations and our economy than sit back, complain, and do nothing.

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