Global energy leaders look to nitty gritty of climate accord
Energy leaders from countries that pump out 75 percent of the world's climate-changing emissions talked Thursday on the nitty-gritty of putting last year's Paris climate accord into action, including funding the needed global technology overhaul.
The annual gathering of energy leaders representing 23 countries and the European Commission was one of their first since December, when heads of 195 countries committed to a deal meant to limit fossil-fuel pollution that is making global weather hotter and more extreme. With the world already about 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than pre-industrial times, nations have committed to limiting warming to another degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) from now, half that if possible.
Convened up the road from Silicon Valley, the session was part cheering session for the clean-energy investment and successes so far, part dire warning for the work yet to be done.
"The urgency of this threat keeps growing," President Barack Obama said in a videotaped message for the energy officials of China, India and other countries in the Clean-Energy Ministerial, a global energy-leaders forum meant to push reductions in carbon emissions. "The Paris agreement has to go into force as soon as possible."
The United States and China both have signed but not yet ratified the climate accord.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and others pointed to the potential miracles of the mundane—like more energy-efficient air conditioners for the 8.5 billion sweaty, crowded residents that Earth will hold in 2030. That change alone would save the annual outputs of thousands of power plants, energy experts said. Summit participants lauded a determined national push for LED lights across India, and applauded a number of other countries launching their own LED campaigns.
"It's the government-private sector partnership that will actually get the work done on the Paris accord," Moniz said.
Members pointed to successes so far. That includes the global economy managing about 3 percent growth last year without seeing the usual accompanying jump in carbon emissions. And countries in the clean-energy ministerial alone invested more than $300 billion in clean-energy investment in the same year.
With 2016 on pace to follow 2015 as the warmest years on record, however, "don't think you've got a handle on it. Because you don't," California Gov. Jerry Brown warned the international political and business leaders and technology mavens.
As much as the world needs cleaner-burning gear, Brown said, it also needs a grim coming-to-terms with what he said should be a World War II-style mobilization to cut carbon pollution.
"The political mind is not there yet," the California governor, an international figure in the climate-change fight, said. "The hour is late."
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