REEEPing the Benefits of Transnational Networks

REEEP Structure
REEEP Structure

The Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) is an international non-profit based in Vienna, Austria that’s aim is to “accelerate the global market for sustainable energy with a primary focus on developing countries and emerging markets.”[1] Launched in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development by the United Kingdom and several other partners, REEEP has developed into a wide reaching NGO that has implemented over 180 projects in 58 countries. Membership is comprised of national and sub-national governments, international organizations, businesses, and other NGOs. REEEP operates as a public-private governance structure off of donor money and serves their mission by providing funding, information, and connector for clean energy solutions. A critique of transnational governance structures and groups such as REEEP is the overall effectiveness. An evaluation of REEEP’s place in global climate change governance and clean energy markets finds that REEEP is indeed effective.

Changjiang Buildings with Solar Thermal
Changjiang Buildings with Solar Thermal

REEEP’s existence is intrinsically linked to climate change, but also goes beyond just the need for energy that is not derived from carbon-intensive sources. REEEP’s support of clean energy markets is focused on three problem areas: (1) the water-energy nexus, (2) sustainable urban transport, (3) energy efficiency and buildings. Through these three areas they are able to provide services to not only increase the amount of clean energy employed in operations, but also to change the market system in the area in question. One service in particular is the portfolio system. REEEP looks for ventures in the clean energy market that they think will significantly alter the market system. They then invest donor funding into the venture. Their claim is that they “measure ROI not in money, but in markets changed.”[2] A claim not backed up by readily available evidence, but implies that REEEP is looking beyond monetary growth and interested in changing the way the market functions.

REEEP is heavily project based and to go into even a wide breadth of them would be a very large analysis. Though one big project known as Reegle is a shining example of the work REEEP does. Reegle is an informational portal for those interested in clean energy. It receives over 220,000 visitors per month and provides information from nation’s energy profile to a clean energy and climate change glossary. They also claim that many of the visitors are from developing nations. 220,000 visitors in a month is a lot. The information gathered in this portal, just for the energy profile, would take hours of work to gather otherwise. For this reason solely Reegle is a great tool. Another successful project was one in which REEEP funded a roadmap for increased renewable energy in China’s Changjiang River Basin (CJR). This project provided over €160,000 in funding to researchers that prepared a report on global and then implemented two technologies in CJR. The project provided hot water for apartment buildings in the region, as well as another example of successful implementation of a clean energy technology.

The question then is, is REEEP effective? Given the breadth of successful and ongoing projects, as well as continued funding I would judge to say yes. Financially speaking REEEP is in good standing and operating within their prerogatives, as judged by a recent Auditor’s Report.[3] An outside assessment of REEEP was conducted during a National Research Council workshop on “Enhancing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Partnerships.” The report, titled Assessing the Role and Relevance of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) in Global Sustainability Governance found that REEEP is “indeed addressing the goals that it declares.” One criticism was that REEEP focuses attention on the most important emerging renewable energy and energy efficiency markets and neglects the poorer nations, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa. The final judgment though is that given REEEP’s current scale and ability to implement these large projects, it could have “considerable impact in the area of sustainable energy policy.” Given this assessment by those within the NRC and the successful projects that have been implemented thus far, as well as the market impact that can be attributed to REEEP, it is safe to say that this group can be judged as effective.



[1] REEEP Mission,

[2] REEEP Portfolios,

[3] Auditor’s Report 2012-2013, REEEP

Works Cited

“Annual Report 2012/13.” REEEP.


“Auditor’s Report 2013.” PricewaterhouseCoopers.


Pattberg, Philipp, Kacper Szulecki, Sander Chan, and Aysem Mert. “Abstract: Assessing the Role and

Relevance of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP) in Global

Sustainability Governance.” Enhancing the Effectiveness of Sustainability Partnerships (2009):



“Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Partnership .” REEEP.



The Tip of the Iceberg

James Balog is an American nature photographer whose most recent work has been focused around climate change and glacial melt. His project, the Extreme Ice Survey, was founded in 2007 as a mode of educating those on the immediate impact of climate change, as well as proving that the human-induced warming of the planet is having obvious effects on the natural world. It is safe to say that he was successful in his endeavors. I can say this based entirely off of the experience of having him come to Dickinson for a residency he did as a result of winning the Rose-Walters Prize for Global Environmental Activism; previous winners include founder and author Bill McKibben and former EPA Admistrator and current VP for Sustainability with Apple Lisa Jackson. Balog’s visit began before he even arrived on campus with a free public viewing of the film Chasing Ice. This attracted over 500 people and was well received by members of the Dickinson community, as well as the local Carlisle community. Balog arrived the next day after the People’s Climate March in NYC. It was then a whirlwind two days for the photographer that was filled with class visits, informal Q&A sessions, breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. This all culminated in a half lecture and half performance. The performance was a spoken word reading set to a slideshow of images captured through EIS, as well as some of his past work with endangered species. It was captivating.

Alaska, Dry Ice, Water
An activist from Alaska drags dry ice as it sublimates, through the streets of NYC to represent rapidly melting ice.

My experiences with Balog, as I was lucky enough to sit down with him in several smaller settings, were inspirational. He touched on many subjects, from the difficulty of copyright in the media world to how rock climbing has influenced his path through life. The whole time he was here though I kept wondering what the best way to illustrate climate change to large groups actually is. How do we effectively take the knowledge and concern of climate change and help others understand it? Balog seems to have figured out a very effective way to do this. He has made something very difficult to comprehend as a human and he did it with stunning photography. I am still asking myself what might be the best way to represent climate change. Balog’s next piece of work will incorporate the California wildfires and will hopefully draw even deeper connections of human influence on the natural order to disturbances in the climate system.

So, Balog came to Dickinson. It was an incredible experience and we all learned a lot from him. Inspiration flowed and conversations started. I don’t mean to sound cold about his residency, it was truly incredible and I am going to be working on doing something very similar after a I graduate because of my time with him, but what happens now? Where do we take this conversation on our campus? Where do communities take the public showings of Chasing Ice once they are done? How do we enact change? These are the questions. One answer I have seen is continuing the conversation. I plan on attending several follow up events to Balog’s visit over the next few weeks. These events will be conversations about climate change and different sectors of society. Many people asked Balog what they need to do on a personal level to help mitigate and adapt. He flat out told them that he has no idea what they need to do. How could he? He has never met them. He did remind them though that something needs to be done, something more than what is being done now. And I think that is a huge takeaway from the experience. There will not be one thing that a single person or even an entire community can do to mitigate further climate change. Each person, each community, each nation-state will all need to find the solution that works for their political regime, their societal needs, their culture. That patchwork of solutions will be what the negotiators will be discussing in Lima. Finding the common ground and ways to work to meet all needs are what they need to figure out. For the sake of these glaciers, these seemingly lifelike objects, I hope they can figure it out.

Both Sides of a Coin Called Climate Change

Climate Science I have had the incredible opportunity to not only participate in this mosaic, but also to join in the single largest climate change related demonstration ever. While I would have marched in The People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21st regardless of what I am studying now, it does help that I am spending my entire semester studying climate change and have been throwing myself into the world of international negotiations (which this march was aimed at). It is nice for a change to see the other major side to the climate change movement. Near the end of the march, there was no movement though. The people were stuck. The UN had been blocked off by the the immense swath of marchers. This was not a bad thing though, there were simply so many people taking part, that the streets were completely saturated.. There were so many that the organizers had to start diverting marchers from the established pathway because it was becoming difficult for anyone trying to leave the march needing to get out of the streets. This is what is needed though. This meeting of the people and the leaders of the world is necessary. In order to start making serious progress on climate change mitigation and adaptation pressure needs to be applied on world governments. This issue needs to be at the forefront of their minds, as often a possible. It is this demonstration that will hopefully do that. Imagine a world without these types of demonstrations. Where would the great global society be now? How far behind would we be? The march wasn’t just about reducing carbon emissions and trying to get the world’s leaders to get along with one another, it encompassed so much more. There were groups from every walk of life. From Al Gore’s Climate Reality to groups of anarchists. This march wasn’t s single event either. It was held all over the world. There were over 2,600 events in 150 countries, with the main march being in NYC where alone somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 people participated. Even UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined in the march. More of my photos here.

Climatic Change: Connecting Humans Through Sheer Awe

International relations paradigms exist to provide of a framework to begin to understand the way in which the world functions.[1] Claims made from those who think along a certain paradigm generally will clash with the claims or beliefs of another. For instance, realists claim that cooperative global responses to the global environmental crisis that is currently bearing down upon our society and the planet are not possible, given the human track record for working alongside cultures different from our own. Thomas Hobbes, a 17th Century political philosopher, attributed this inability to work together to the lack of a “common power” that would “keep all in awe.”[2] This common power or common law has not been seen throughout the course of human history; different sovereign states have had their own common law, but have constantly come into contact with groups of others who do not share their same beliefs. This has for the majority of human history led to war and conquest, slavery and cultural destruction. Without a common law, there is only “man against every man.”[3] Hobbes was right in his claim. How can cultures with completely opposing ideological beliefs live alongside one another without some sort of conflict? They could come together and put aside their differences and work together on building a sustainable society. This is the sentiment most of us are taught at a young age while going through grade school in the United States. However in the globalized world we now find ourselves, this type of collaborative effort has not been seen. I think this has in part been due to a lack of what Hobbes was referring to as the common power. Unlike the realists I think that global climate change, the common power to keep us in awe to allow cooperative efforts based around one subject, will lead to and has been leading to global cooperative response. This is because global climatic change does not carry a flag different from your own, it does not speak a different human tongue, it does not infringe upon national security, it is a threat to the very existence of our globalized human society. It is for this reason that I think the paradigms that oppose the realists, liberalism and constructivism, offer solutions to the threat that protect “human security” instead of simply “national security.”[4]

HS vs NS

Liberalism and constructivism both stem from the utopian-themed idealism paradigm. They do share the same key factor, peace on a global scale, but use different methods to achieve this. This could be where splits in international climate change agreements and negotiations are seen, such as with the differing opinions on whether or not legally binding agreements for emissions reductions are the solution. Both legally and non-legally binding documents have begun to appear on different scales within the global theater. The Montreal Protocol was one legally binding document that helped bring our species away from being burned up by intense UV radiation. The Kyoto Protocol is one legally binding document that appears to have led to emissions reductions for its signatories that decided to ratify, and for those that did not ratify reductions were not seen. On the other hand the recent Cancun Agreements are an example of progress towards emissions reductions without legally binding agreements.

Source: World Meteorological Organization

The Montreal Protocol is a legally binding agreement to completely phase out- not just reduce- ozone damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). It was the result of a previous framework decision laid out in the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1985. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan referred to it as “perhaps the most successful environmental treaty to date.”[5] Its impact can be seen today as CFC concentrations continue to decrease through this century.[6] The Kyoto Protocol is a similar legally binding agreement that is not meant to address ozone damaging gases, but rather human emissions of greenhouse gasses that are responsible for global warming trends. The Kyoto Protocol was not as successful as the Montreal Protocol.[7] Unlike the Montreal Protocol not every signatory nation-state, including the US, ratified the Kyoto Protocol in the end and this led to it being seen largely as a failure. However, for the countries that did ratify the agreement, total emissions reductions were met. Had the United States ratified the agreement it would have been seen as significantly more successful. This is a piece of evidence for the realist theory that cooperative response is not possible and negotiations will end in a nation-state choosing to protect itself before those outside of its borders. In this situation the US acted in favor of national security, not wanting to risk damaging the US economy simply in the name of reducing GHG emissions.

Funds gathered from the Parties for climate change related use, as a result of the Cancun Agreements

That was around the turn of the millennia and now it would seem that the common power that Hobbes wrote of is being felt and seen across the globe. The threat of climate change is no longer some prediction, it is here, and the earth is fundamentally different.[8] For this, collaborative efforts based around this notion of “human security” before “national security” has been on the rise. In 2010 the UN Climate Change Conference was held in Cancun, Mexico. During this, the 16th Conference of the Parties, a non-legally binding agreement was formed and became known as the Cancun Agreements. It established a fund to assist poorer countries in financing emissions reductions and adaptation. It was expected to grow to $100 billion by the year 2020. While the Cancun Agreement has received criticism for its inability to expressly state how the funds will be used, it was surely a positive step towards reducing emissions- especially when compared to the failure in Copenhagen the year before.[9] These non-legally binding agreements are surely representative of a shift in thinking. After Copenhagen many nations must have felt the pressure to ensure some sort of deal be made so that progress could continue to build.

While these examples are not nearly of the scale needed to shift the warming trends currently being seen, they are a start. And while no change in emissions has resulted from one nation standing up and saying that they would be willing to do whatever it takes to help halt emissions now and adapt to shifting climates, that does not mean it is not yet to come. While betting on that happening is not the safest decision, it would appear that the trend for cooperation is beginning to emerge. This year’s decisive COP and next year’s will surely be a time for the “cooperation trend line” to shift up starkly if we are to begin to curb emissions and limit climate change’s impact on human health and security.




Works Cited

The Economist Newspaper. “Atmospheric pressure.” The Economist. (accessed September 10, 2014).

Biello, David . “Dangerous Global Warming Closer Than You Think, Climate Scientists Say.” Scientific American Global RSS. (accessed September 10, 2014).

Bova, Russell. How the world works: a brief survey of international relations. 2nd ed. Boston: Pearson Longman, 2012.

Earth System Research Laboratory. 20 Questions. 2010 Update. Section IV CONTROLLING OZONE-DEPLETING SUBSTANCES Q16. 48-51. (accessed September 10, 2014).

Rogelj, Joeri, Julia Nabel, Claudine Chen, William Hare, Kathleen Markmann, Malte Meinshausen, Michiel Schaeffer, Kirsten Macey, and Niklas Höhne. “Copenhagen Accord pledges are paltry.” Nature 464, no. 7292 (2010): 1126-1128.


[1] Bova, 27

[2] Thomas Hobbes, 1651

[3] Thomas Hobbes, 1651

[4] Bova, 239

[5] Bova, 247




[9] Copenhagen Accords pledges are paltry.

The Cost of Flying to Peru- INCORRECT



During our first class of the semester, while discussing the coming trip to COP20, Neil asked the mosaic to think about the costs of traveling thousands of miles in order to be a part of high-level climate negotiations. For this part of the semester we will not be riding our bikes down the street for class, we will be flying. Air travel is an extremely carbon intensive way to get around, but our only realistic choice (we could sail?). He asked us to reflect on this and during this reflection to ask ourselves how is the carbon emitted from traveling there worth it?

In order to do this I needed to quantify those emissions. Using EPA values for air travel and the emissions per mile of CO2, N2O, and CH4. I then converted those three values into carbon dioxide equivalent values using an EPA calculator. The results are below in Table 1. If you would like the excel worksheet to use for yourself please comment below with an email address. For simplicity’s sake I used four flights as the entire trip. Some of the mosaic will be traveling elsewhere in South America or not returning to Washington DC after the meeting. The four flights are: Flight 1 from Dulles to Panama City, Flight 2 from Panama City into Lima, Flight 3 from Lima to Panama City, Flight 4 from Panama City to Dulles. While this may not be each member of the mosaics travel plans it is easier to group all of us into one. The results are in Table 2. Each flight assumes a total capacity of 177 passengers and spreads the emissions out, per passenger. This means that, according to the EPA, each passenger would be emitting the same amount of carbon as about 25 pounds of coal would, when burned.

Table 1
Table 1




Table 2
Table 2
Eight pounds of coal on a dinner plate.






The question I ask myself now is how do I make that worth it? It may not be a huge amount of carbon emitted, but it is still some and I the entire trip will only be resulting in more. This investigation also brought to mind an article in the Wall Street Journal about the coming “People’s Climate March” in NYC. The author points out the amount of emissions that will result in traveling to and from NYC for the marchers. This could be seen as a counterproductive practice, but I think that it is a good point to make. If we treat emissions from travel similar to an investment, can we assume that some sort of positive return will be had? When the mosaic flies to Peru, we have to work as hard as possible to make sure that the cost of our traveling there is not a negative impact on the atmosphere in the long-term, but that it leads to further reductions down the road. Whether that is from the readers of our blog or directly related to something learned from the COP.

How to Distort Truth and Neglect Facts

There is always a choice. Right now it is an incredibly important choice; the shift away from a the self-destructive habits that have been formed over the years of our development in order to preserve our global society. The petroleum-based ways of life we have come to know so well has reached a precipice. The planet’s atmosphere is filling with greenhouse gasses at an alarming rate; gasses that the industrialized world are mostly responsible for. That means me,, that means President Obama, that means Aunt Alice in Ithaca. We need to change the way we as a global society operate. For too long have we dumped our waste into the atmosphere. Part of this was due to ignorance. However, as of late, it has been due to inaction.

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway’s Merchants of Doubt explains how several scientists in combination with several think tanks have been able to warp truth and distort facts since the mid-20th century. From tobacco smoke and its link to cancer to the denial of global warming, no chance has been missed by these “merchants” to benefit from regulatory inaction and the misdirection of the public. The authors explain that the merchandising of scientific doubt was seen around the 1970s when scientists began to find links between tobacco smoke and higher rates of cancer. Sensing a possible hit to their revenue, the large tobacco firms began to work together, looking for a way to ensure that no such link was ever seen by the public. They found their answer in a few willing scientists who, through some questionable decisions, were able to temporarily keep the public from completing understanding the dangers of tobacco smokes. It is obvious now that what they did was in vain, as the Surgeon General’s warning is very obviously placed on all tobacco products.

Now these groups are turning to climate change denial. The George C. Marshall Institute, an essential part of keeping alive the possibility of Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, found a fresh voice in the climate change discussion. Scientists working within the institute wrote a report that essentially pointed to the sun’s increased solar output as the culprit of a warming Earth. It is also now known that they were wrong. There is now a consensus within the scientific community that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are causing the enhanced greenhouse effect that is currently being experienced. This consensus may not have existed years ago when the denial began, but scientists knew that the chance of an anthropogenic climatic shift was possible. The Marshall Institute was criticized heavily for the report, but they made their way through and the denial still exists today.

Why do this though? Why deny facts and push doubt unto the public? Personal agendas are partly to blame. The scientists at the heart of the doubt-mongering reports- Fred Seitz, Fred Singer, Bill Nierenberg, and Robert Jastrow- were anti-communist and therefore willing to do anything to keep government powers to a minimum, as well as destroy environmentalist who were seen as potential “cousins” to the communists. The think tanks that funded the research received their funding from massive corporations in the concerned industries. These agendas have led policy astray and lended a hand to the inaction experienced today on climate issues. While the debate may still rage on in some corners and inaction still runs rampant, the planet is warming rapidly and everything and everyone is implicated. We have a problem. We know about it. We need to work together to solve it. That starts by agreeing on reality.

Now That We Know The Planet Is Warmer, What Do We Do?

So let’s see if I can get this timeline straight: in 1824 Joseph Fourier began to question how the Earth’s average temperature is determined. He then found that the atmosphere is responsible for trapping infrared radiation that reflects off of the surface of the Earth. Fourier also decided that the atmosphere must let out some of the infrared radiation. In 1859 this phenomenon was tested by John Tyndall. Tyndall discovered that some gases such as Carbon Dioxide are not transparent to infrared radiation, as was the commonly held belief. He proposed that if changes in the concentrations of these gases (now known as the greenhouse gasses) could bring about changes in the climate system. His research was picked up in 1896 by Svante Arrhenius who, using crude data and a pencil showed that by adding Carbon Dioxide to the atmosphere humans could change the temperature of the Earth.

Skip ahead to 1938, when Guy Stewart Callendar spoke on the topic of climate change before the Royal Meteorological Society. He argued that rising levels of Carbon Dioxide were leading to rises in global temperature averages. After World War II the U.S. office of Naval Research began to pour money into scientific research. Some of this research was very useful in understanding climate change. It was justified by the idea that in war, controlling the natural elements or at least predicting them could lead to victory. Roger Revelle was one of the benefactors of this funding. He and Hans Suess published a paper that while contradictory in writing showed the the oceans would absorb some of the atmospheric carbon but not all. After this publication it became obvious to Revelle and others interested in studying climate change that if carbon emissions were to increase exponentially, then real changes in the climate could be seen within several decades.

During the 1950s Charles Keeling was building an instrument that could accurately measure Carbon Dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. In 1960 he published his findings, a rise in annual concentrations of atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. This publication led to the recognition, that research into the possibility of Global Warming, was serious. Over the next two decades more funding was put into the hands of scientists researching elements of global climate change. These scientists began to organize and share findings at meetings and conventions. The field was becoming increasingly interdisciplinary. Certain environmental disasters and Earth Day also lent a hand to the credibility of the research. The public began to become informed, and concerned. This meant that the political sphere was getting involved too.

With a combination of interdisciplinary research, advances in technology, and interest from parties such as NASA it was becoming clear that greenhouse gasses resulting from human activity were leading to a warming planet. This led to several international conventions and agreements. In 1990 the first IPCC report stated that the planet has been warming and continued warming is extremely likely. That has really brought us to where we are today, heading into COP 20, with a big decision to make and not a large amount of time to make it. It is recognized by large governments what is going on. Parties are coming to the table, but they are not communicating.

Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming tells that tale that I wrote of above in much more detail. It describes the wrong turns that research took in the face of what appeared to be good evidence. It shows the influence war and political games had on the research as a whole. More importantly it leaves a message just at the end that tells how every single human being will need to adjust the way they live as the planet warms. Part of this begins with staying informed and informing others, it also means acting responsibly whether that means walking to the farmers market instead of driving to the supercenter, or choosing to act on behalf of the world’s citizens while sitting as a member of the United States Congress instead of on behalf of industry lobby groups.


Making it in this New World

It is going to be difficult. What is “it” you may be wondering? It is the transition from one way of life to a completely antithetical way of life that is about to occur. It is the future conditions that have been crafted inadvertently throughout the development of the modern world. It is what Bill Mckibben is desperately warning about in eaarth, a planet that has a new set of operating standards. Earthquakes where they used to not be, destructive droughts, unpredictable changes to agriculture, dangerous diseases spreading rapidly into new territory, and dangerous global conflicts. Having been fortunate to sit down and converse with Mckibben, as well as see him speak to several different audiences, I can hear the sense of desperation in his written works, as well as the tremendous hope he has for our species in the “new world” as he puts it. But as I told you before, it is going to be difficult.

The difficulty does not simply rise from the monumental shift away from fossil fuels that is necessary, but it also lies in the mystery of what society will look like when the dust settles, if it ever does settle. There are innumerable proposals in existence, just as many as there are for a definition of sustainability. From the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Futures Study on renewable energy in the United States to’s goal of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to Exxon Mobil’s devotion to burn all of their carbon reserves in order to ensure a secure future. Consensus has not been reached, but we can hope it will be this year and next at the COP. Mckibben offers a strong general solution that I would gladly follow; focus on community.

How do we survive in a new world when we have adapted to a completely different set of rules? Assuming rapid adaptation on a massive scale will keep the crops from drying out and our population centers above the rising tides we would need one of two things; either a strong central government and international organization to make change happen- I am pretty sure that we do not want to go down that road- or see an overwhelmingly amount of the population begin to change. The latter seems to be more within our reach, at least in the US. We are not there yet though. Climate change deniers still exist, people are still belching carbon from their exhausts, and Exxon Mobil still plans on not letting any of their reserves be stranded investments by burning them all.
What is to be done then? We must educate, advocate, and grow a community around curbing carbon emissions. Mckibben wasn’t the first to recognize the importance of community. It is a recurring theme in progressive thought. The word is becoming overused, Mckibben admits it, but that does not mean it is not important. It is also merely a first step, because once this community is strong enough to enact change then we must begin to change.

-Justin McCarty