No Borders for the CCP

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Cities are some of the most populated areas around the world, which make them a practical starting point for raising awareness and initiating action towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Cities are an important area of concentration for production and consumption, therefore a number of environmental issues arise in cities around the world. The Cities for Climate Protection is a transnational network, which concentrates on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in urban spaces. “The ICLEI’s Cities for Climate Protection program originated as both climate change and sustainability began to become significant issues for local authorities.”[1]This network effectively advances its objectives with respect to governing climate change by promoting renewable energy and clean development in cities worldwide. The actions performed by the Cities for Climate Protection emphasize how critical local governments are in the response to global climate change.

Participation in the Cities for Climate Protection is different than other transnational networks, in which the CCP is not an exclusive organization and they “seek to recruit as many members as possible.”[2] Once a program member, the CCP network is committed to assisting in the reduction of local emissions through, “a series of five milestones of progress, involving conducting an emissions inventory, setting an emissions reduction target, formulating an action plan, implementing policies, and monitoring progress.”[3] The ICLEI’s offers assistance for cities to pursue these five milestones. The Cities for Climate Protection program, as a transnational governance network, is both beneficial at local and international levels. Cities that are members of the program have access to financial resources, interact in a support network compromised of international cities, and have the ability to voice their environmental concerns. The CCP Australia, for example, has access to national funding specifically set aside for the program. Success has been seen through the CCP Australia resulting in, “saving 4.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2007/8 and a total of 18 million tonnes since the program started.”[4]

The campaign of the CCP focuses on a collective effort made by cities, which creates a more effective route rather than having cities competing with each other. The CCP encourages membership by focusing on appealing strategies such as cost reductions. The U.S. city of Denver, Colorado has its own success with the CCP, “Denver’s municipal government invested $1.6 million into installing light-emitting diodes into all red traffic lights and ‘don’t walk’ signs across the city. The LEDs, having longer life spans and lower energy requirements, led to a $5million savings in energy use and maintenance for the city.”[5]The success of the CCP shows that tackling the issues of global climate change can be extremely productive even at a local level.

Growth of the CCP has also led to a global effort against climate change. “Today the CCP has 674 members responsible for 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.”[6] Teamwork seems to be a recurring theme in governance for global climate change. The CCP and other transnational networks can collectively contribute to mitigation of global climate change. The ICLEI has set up a network compromised of strong, diverse local organizations, which together will improve communities around the world and work together against the larger threat of climate change.




[1]Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2010. 55, Print

[2] Ibid,68.

[3] Ibid, 62.

[4] Bulkeley, Harriet, and Peter Newell. Governing Climate Change. London: Routledge, 2010. 67, Print

[5]Fay, Chris. “Think Locally, Act Globally: Lessons to Learn from the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign.” Innovations: A Journal of Politics 7 (2007): 1-12. Web.

[6] Ibid.

Actors pretend for a living, the rest of the population does not.


Tuesday morning actor Leonardo DiCaprio addressed world leaders at the UN Climate Summit. What was this product of hollywood doing in a room full of heads of states? Well, he compared his acting career of “pretending for a living” and “solving fictitious problems” to how humankind is confronting climate change, pretending it is not happening to our planet. I’m sure many of us has seen hollywood “climate-fiction” films such as The Day After Tomorrow, but we must be able to differentiate fact from hollywood’s fiction. Is getting the fictitious world of hollywood involved in the fight against climate change an effective wake up call? How do we get the people to stop pretending and face reality?


Read DiCaprio’s full speech here






Hobbes vs. Rousseau: The State of Nature


Philosopher Thomas Hobbes had a pessimistic view of mankind; he argued that humans are naturally self-centered. On the other hand, philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau takes a more opportunistic approach and argues that humans are innately good and it is civilization that is destructive. What does this have to do with climate change? Hobbes would say that the greedy nature of mankind drives us to deplete our natural resources. Whereas Rousseau would say that capitalism is the root of evil! So which philosopher should we take after? Will changing the greedy systems within society put an end to global warming or will other issues arise? Or do we change humankind to be less self-centered?

Climate change has a global effect regardless of which countries are contributing or emit the most greenhouse gases. Historically, changes in the environment were not of a geopolitical concern until changes in the natural weather patterns were discovered. Since then, climate change has been a topic of international politics. The consequences of climate change are going to affect each region of the world differently. When these issues arise there becomes a more important question of who takes responsibility, who pays for action, and who bears the cost all without furthering inequalities between nations. Climate change has the ability to widen the inequality gap between nations, especially developing nations who are the most susceptible to the adverse effects of global warming. Action on climate change has mostly been focused on the industrialized world, for example the UNFCCC states developed countries should take initiative towards climate change, but should developing countries be allowed to continue to emit greenhouse gases in order to gain a higher socioeconomic status?

As a globe, we share the environment therefore there should be a global effort at cooperation. There are different approaches to international regime such as realism, liberalism, and constructivism. Realism is driven by self-interest and power, comparably a Thomas Hobbes perspective. According to Dr. Russell Bova, “For realists, the expectation that global environmental crisis will lead to cooperative responses is both naïve and contrary to the record of human history.” (Bova 249-250) The liberalist approach involved a more mutual understanding of sharing the costs and interests, advocated by Rousseau. Constructivism is a knowledge-based approach that analyzes climate change at a social level. If we take the liberalist approach then we must question societal structures that create this constant competition for power and wealth. In a world without forces of competition we could reduce our emissions and potentially live in a better world. In order to fight against climate change, we, as a global community, must take a more selfless approach and start making sacrifices because we are in this  together. Dealing with global climate change is essentially a problem of cooperation and solving issues of interest and power. We must all be allies and prevent global warming from turning into world war III.      iStock_000019699158XSmall

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.

Who would like to turn right at Machu Picchu?

Jo Llama Macchu Picchu

Mark Adams describes Machu Picchu as a sublime sight.  From many google images (and I mean many) I too agree that it is quite a sublime site.  From steep hikes, the changing of altitudes, and the deep history that lies here, why should we not turn right at Machu Picchu?

In Adams’ book “Turn Right at Machu Picchu”, he narrates his adventure in retracing the steps of Hiram Bingham in the process of studying Bingham’s life and Incan history.  Bingham has been accused of stealing and just “rediscovering” Machu Picchu since there were people already living there once he got there.  Adams set out to discover what Machu Picchu really was.

Throughout his journey, Adams encounters locals, comes across untouched Incan ruins, and a funny Australian guide John Leivers who wears the same clothes everyday.  He does an amazing job in weaving together two stories and adding a nice kick to it.  He truly discovered the lost city one step at a time.

Not only am I excited for COP20, but Machu Picchu has been on my list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to visit.  I am very happy and grateful that I have the opportunity to do two very wonderful things at such a young age.

Who wants to believe that Lord Voldemort has returned?

voldy returns

• Cigarette smoke causes lung cancer.
• Massive sulfur emissions, primarily released from power plants, are causing acid rain.
• The CFCs we put in aerosol cans, air-conditioners, and refrigerators are depleting the ozone layer.
• Humans are causing global warming.
Voldemort is back.

What do the phrases have in common? No one wants to hear them. No one wants to hear that their activities are harming themselves or the planet. No one wants to hear that the dark lord of the wizarding world is coming to create a pure blood society.

If you believe these facts (save Voldemort’s return), then you feel guilty until you change what you are doing. If you hear even one little whisper that the fact might not really be a fact at all, then you can cling to that whisper and carry on with your life, guilt-free and change-free.

The Freds (Fred Singer and Fred Seitz) knew about this flaw humans have. Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway tracked their careers and they’ve been working in the industry of doubt for a while. They started when smoking cigarettes was still advertised as “healthy” and tried their best to keep it that way. The truth eventually won out, but the Freds did slow down the progress.

Undeterred that their previous claims on cigarettes had been proven false, they worked their way through the years to cast doubt on disarmament, acid rain, the ozone hole, secondhand smoke, and then global warming. As long as some scientist could deny that these harms were occurring, politicians and mass media could still claim “debate.”

So why did these two physicists make these claims on issues that were outside of their expertise again and again even after they were proven wrong each time? “Our product/ byproduct harms people” is not a great slogan. This means decrease in revenue and increased government restrictions; this change means money. A lot more money than it takes to fund the Freds and their friends to take your side.

So these Freds, they worked on writing their own reports, slandering other scientists, and talking to politicians. Most recently, they worked to keep the “climate change debate” alive and well. F. Seitz is now dead but F. Singer still writes the occasional opinion piece dismissing global warming. Their business has become something much larger; people in power now realize just how valuable doubt is in slowing, even halting, a response to climate change. More than 97% of scientists believe that humans have caused climate change and our earth is warming. Yet, in 2010, surveyed Americans of voting age and found that almost half (45%) of them think most scientists do not agree that climate change is occurring.

Corporations are using media outlets to trick us into believing that climate change is something that the scientific community is unsure about. They present the facts like there are two equal sides, when there aren’t. Presenting two opinions makes sense when debating politics, but it doesn’t transfer well to science. In the scientific world, uncertainty about an issue requires more research, not a debate.

John Oliver has a better way of representing this debate in the media; have a televised debate with 3 climate change skeptics and 97 climate scientists who say humans are the cause of climate change.
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So what I’m proposing is change in how the media feeds us, and how we swallow their message. We need to demand the unpleasant truth. It’s not fun. We don’t want to cut emissions and spend money and pass new regulations. We don’t want to acknowledge that Voldemort is back because it’s so much nicer to pretend he isn’t.

But no matter how much we pretend, the climate has changed and it’s getting worse. We put too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now we have to collectively toughen up and deal with climate change head on.

A New Narrative of Change

I come from an incredibly liberal household in a very progressive area of the country. So, growing up I was always very aware of climate change and what it might mean for my future. I was raised to care about environmental issues and taught to make the connections between them and other issues in society, politics and the economy from an early age. Coming from this background I was always shocked and put off to hear how the issue of climate change challenged by unbelieving Americans. Until reading Merchants of Doubt, my first reaction was to blame their own ignorance and be angry with what I perceived as their apathy. However, I have come to see a different side of the story, one in which they were instead misguided by people they trusted to have the facts. I am still stunned and outraged by the people who spread misinformation as a tool for their own personal agenda but it is unfair to always accuse the listener.

Earlier this summer I read a booklet entitled Organizing Cools the Planet: Tools and Reflections to Navigate the Climate Crisis, and in it I found a quote that resonated. It said that too often, “Activists assume that because something is true, it will be meaningful to the people [they are] trying to reach. But In fact, the opposite is often the case: if something is meaningful, people believe it to be true” (26).  The merchants of doubt in otherwise settled scientific matters were successful because they could tell a story that was easy to listen to and believe. However, going forward it is important for us, who know the facts, to give meaning to them in an accessible way. Climate change clearly cannot be tackled with only a handful of people and a few simple cures. The importance of giving the crisis a face and a narrative is crucial to create positive change, especially going forward into COP20.


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