NYTimes' Friedman: Hope from Google, MIT; McKinsey's Promising Report
- On the eve of the Bali COP-13 meeting to begin to
build the global plan to follow up on the Kyoto
Acccord's limited, incomplete start, here's a
forward-looking report by Thomas Friedman about
new ways of talking about global warming's
consequences -- "global weirding" -- plus
Google's new initiative and the MIT Vehicle
Design Summit that's putting together college
teams around the world to build PHEVs.
Then a very important report by leading business
consultants McKinsey (together with leading
corporate and environmental partners) that
concludes that through a range of solutions, the
US could reduce projected 2030 emissions of
greenhouse gases by up to one-half at relatively
little cost. The report includes considerable discussion of PHEVs.
The New York Times
Sunday, December 2, 2007
The People We Have Been Waiting For
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
It was 60 degrees on Thursday in Washington, well
above normal, and as I slipped away for some
pre-Christmas golf, I found myself thinking about
a wickedly funny story that The Onion, the
satirical newspaper, ran the other day: Fall
Canceled after 3 Billion Seasons:
Fall, the long-running series of shorter days
and cooler nights, was canceled earlier this week
after nearly 3 billion seasons on Earth, sources reported Tuesday.
The classic period of the year, which once
occupied a coveted slot between summer and
winter, will be replaced by new, stifling
humidity levels, near-constant sunshine and almost no precipitation for months.
As much as wed like to see it stay, fall will
not be returning for another season, National
Weather Service president John Hayes announced
during a muggy press conference Nov. 6. Fall had
a great run, but sadly, times have changed. ...
The cancellation was not without its share of
warning signs. In recent years, fall had been
reduced from three months to a meager two-week
stint, and its scheduled start time had been
pushed back later and later each year.
You should never extrapolate about global warming
from your own weather, but it is becoming hard
not to even for professionals. Consider the
final report of the U.N.s Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (I.P.C.C.), which was
just issued and got far too little attention. It
concluded that since the I.P.C.C. began its study
five years ago, scientists had discovered much
stronger climate change trends than previously
realized, such as far more extensive melting of
Arctic ice, and therefore global efforts to
reverse the growth of greenhouse gas emissions have to begin immediately.
What we do in the next two to three years will
determine our future, said the I.P.C.C. chairman, Rajendra Pachauri.
And sweet-sounding global warming doesnt
really capture whats likely to happen. I prefer
the term global weirding, coined by Hunter
Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain
Institute, because the rise in average global
temperature is going to lead to all sorts of
crazy things from hotter heat spells and
droughts in some places, to colder cold spells
and more violent storms, more intense flooding,
forest fires and species loss in other places.
While the Bush team came into office brain dead
on the climate issue and will leave office with a
perfect record of having done nothing significant
to mitigate climate change, Im heartened that
our country is increasingly alive on this challenge.
First, Google said last week that it was going to
invest millions in developing its own energy
business. Google described its goal as RE < C
renewable energy that is cheaper than coal
adding: Were busy assembling our own internal
research and development group and hiring a team
of engineers ... tasked with building one
gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is
cheaper than coal. That could power all of San Francisco.
Its primary focus, said Google.orgs energy
expert, Dan Reicher, will be to advance new solar
thermal, geothermal and wind solutions across
the valley of death. That is, so many good ideas
work in the lab but never get a chance to scale
up because they get swallowed by a lack of
financing or difficulties in implementation. Do not underestimate these people.
Last week, I also met with two groups of M.I.T.
students who blew me away. One was the M.I.T.
Energy Club, which was founded in 2004 by a few
grad students discussing energy over beers at a
campus bar. Today it has 600-plus members who
have put on scores of events focused on building
energy expertise among M.I.T. students and
faculty, and fact-based analysis, including a trip to Saudi Arabia.
Then I got together with three engineering
undergrads who helped launch the Vehicle Design
Summit a global, open-source, collaborative
effort, managed by M.I.T. students, that has 25
college teams around the world, including in
India and China, working together to build a
plug-in electric hybrid within three years. Each
team contributes a different set of parts or
designs. I thought writing for my college
newspaper was cool. These kids are building a
hyper-efficient car, which, they hope, will
demonstrate a 95 percent reduction in embodied
energy, materials and toxicity from cradle to
cradle to grave and provide 200 m.p.g. energy
equivalency or better. The Linux of cars!
Theyre not waiting for G.M. Their goal, they
explain on their Web site vds.mit.edu is to
identify the key characteristics of events like
the race to the moon and then transpose this
energy, passion, focus and urgency on catalyzing
a global team to build a clean car. I just love
their tag line. Its what gives me hope:
We are the people we have been waiting for.
MCKINSEY SUMMARY FOLLOWED BY REPORT FROM PLATTS (leading energy newsletter)
To read about PHEVs in the report, download the
full PDF and look at PDF numbered pages (not
publication numbered pages): 19,21,25,9,52,64,65, 68-69 (lengthy), 92
McKinsey: Reducing U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What Cost?
Consensus is growing among scientists, policy
makers, and business leaders that concerted
action will be needed to address rising
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United
States. The discussion is now turning to the
practical challenges of where and how emissions
reductions can best be achieved, at what costs, and over what periods of time.
The central conclusion
The United States could reduce GHG emissions in
2030 by 3.0 to 4.5 gigatons of CO2e using tested
approaches and high-potential emerging
technologies. These reductions would involve
pursuing a wide array of abatement options with
marginal costs less than $50 per ton, with the
average net cost to the economy being far lower
if the nation can capture sizable gains from
energy efficiency. Achieving these reductions at
the lowest cost to the economy, however, will
require strong, coordinated, economy-wide action
that begins in the near future.
Project methodology overview
Starting in early 2007, a research team from
McKinsey worked with leading companies, industry
experts, academics, and environmental NGOs to
develop a detailed, consistent fact base
estimating costs and potentials of different
options to reduce or prevent GHG emissions within
the U.S. through 2030. The team analyzed more
than 250 options, encompassing efficiency gains,
shifts to lower-carbon energy sources, and expanded carbon sinks.
Read the executive summary (PDF - 460 KB)
Read the full report (PDF - 4.11 MB)
US could cut GHG emissions up to 50% at 'manageable' cost: study
The US could reduce projected 2030 emissions of greenhouse gases by
one-third to one-half at a "manageable" cost to the economy and without
requiring big changes in consumer lifestyles, according to a report issued
Thursday by management consultant McKinsey & Company and The Conference Board,
a business research organization.
The report, "Reducing US Greenhouse Gas Emissions: How Much at What
Cost?" was based on an analysis of 250 opportunities for reducing emissions of
carbon dioxide and other gases believed to contribute to global warming.
The report said that based on government forecasts, US annual GHG
emissions will rise 35% to 9.7 billion mt of CO2 equivalent in 2030 if no new
mitigation actions are adopted. At this level, emissions would overshoot by
3.5 billion to 5.2 billion mt the targets currently implied by economy-wide
climate change bills introduced in the US Congress.
The McKinsey-Conference Board report said a reduction of 3.0 billion to
4.5 billion mt in 2030 is achievable at "manageable cost using proven and
emerging high-potential technologies--but only if the US pursues a wide array
of options and moves quickly to capture gains from energy efficiency."
"Almost 40% of the opportunity for greenhouse gas reduction identified
comes from options that more than pay for themselves over their lifetimes,
thereby creating net savings for the economy," the report said, adding that
improving energy efficiency in buildings, appliances and industry could, for
example, "yield net savings while offsetting some 85% of the projected
incremental demand for electricity in 2030."
But the report warned that "private sector innovation and policy support
will be necessary to unlock these and other opportunities. Without forceful
and coordinated action it is unlikely that even the most economically
beneficial options would realize their full potential," Ken Ostrowski, a
McKinsey director, said in a statement.
McKinsey said its analysis focused on options likely to yield greenhouse
gas reductions at a cost of less than $50/mt of CO2e.
The report found, among other things, that "opportunities to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions are highly fragmented and widely spread across the
The study said a single option--carbon capture and storage from
coal-fired power plants--offers less than 11% of total potential identified.
The largest sector, power generation, accounts for less than one-third of
the total potential reductions, the report added.
In addition, the report said that cutting emissions by 3 billion mt of
CO2e in 2030 would require $1.1 trillion of additional capital spending, or
roughly 1.5% of the $77 trillion in real investment the US economy is expected
to make over this period.
The study said investment would need to be higher in the early years to
capture energy efficiency gains at lowest overall costs and accelerate the
development of key technologies, and would be highly concentrated in the power
and transportation sectors.
Such investment, the report continued, would "likely put upward pressure
on electricity prices and vehicle costs."
The study also said that "five clusters of initiatives, pursued in
unison, could create substantial progress towards the targets implied by bills
currently before Congress. From least to highest average cost, they are:
improving energy efficiency in buildings and appliances (710-870 megatons);
increasing fuel efficiency in vehicles and reducing carbon intensity of
transportation fuels (340-660 megatons); pursing various options across
energy-intensive portions of the industrial sector (620-770 megatons);
expanding and enhancing carbon sinks, such as forests (440-590 megatons) and
reducing the carbon intensity of electric power production (800-1,570
McKinsey and The Conference Board said the report was produced in
association with DTE Energy, Environmental Defense, Honeywell, National Grid,
Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacific Gas & Electric and Shell.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
Felix Kramer fkramer@...
Founder California Cars Initiative
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --