Low-Carbon Energy Strategy for North America Recommended
GLOBE-Net, May 22, 2013 – Creating a North American energy strategy makes “a lot of sense” says a Nobel Prize winner and U.S. presidential advisor who also warns that not addressing climate change is like “playing Russian roulette.”
While Canada’s political leaders continue to disagree over the merits of establishing a national energy strategy, the United States and Mexico are keenly interested in creating a North American energy strategy, says Mexican-born Nobel laureate Mario Molina, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego.
“It would make a lot of sense,” said Molina, who has served President Barack Obama and former president Bill Clinton on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and also worked extensively with Mexico’s energy and environment ministries.
[stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” width=”200″ bcolor=”add3d5″ bgcolor=”add3d5″ image=”null”]Molina is also director of the Mario Molina Center for Energy and Environment in Mexico City.[/stextbox]
“We have the support (for a North American energy strategy), and – I have not yet communicated to our Canadian colleagues – but certainly at very high levels in Mexico and the United States,” Molina told a meeting in Calgary of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) established under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
JPAC is a 15-member, independent volunteer body that provides advice and public input to the NAFTA environmental commission’s council (www.cec.org/council), which comprises the environment ministers from the three NAFTA countries.
Molina, who shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1995 for his work on compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons adversely affecting the ozone layer, was a keynote speaker at JPAC’s “Greening North America’s Energy Economy” two-day public consultation meeting in Calgary in late April.
Molina said that creating a North American energy strategy was one of four recommendations that members of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology made in two recent meetings with Obama. The other recommendations included:
- Putting a price on carbon emissions so the marketplace can work to find the cheapest emissions reductions through a new international agreement in the post-Kyoto period;
- Increasing investments in energy-technology research, development and demonstration; and
- Expanding international cooperation on deploying advanced energy technologies.
Molina also told his Calgary audience that “the world is playing Russian roulette by not addressing climate change.”
Referring to data from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he noted that in the absence of an international policy to stabilize carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, global mean surface temperatures could rise from a minimum 3 to 4 °C up to 7°C. (See http://www.cec.org/2013JPAC/Mario_Molina.pptx).
Molina, quoting an opinion piece written by climate scientists Robert Corell, Jeff Masters and Kevin Trenberth that was published in Politico in November 2012, said that “a warming climate puts more energy into storms, including hurricanes, loading them with more rainfall and the stronger winds pushing more of a storm surge.” ( See here).
The three climate scientists – each at different organizations – concluded that climate change is worsening some recent extreme weather events such as super storm Sandy.
“If experts and scientists are right about climate change, it is just a matter of time before society will naturally agree to put a price on carbon internationally,” Molina said. “As this has a high probability of happening, why not get started right away and get ahead of the curve?”
Molina also told his Calgary audience that recent data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed a global system of fossil fuel subsidies and taxes that is “horribly overcomplicated and illogical.”
The total value of fossil fuel subsidies in 2011 for OECD countries amounted to more than US$80 billion, with three-quarters of it going to the petroleum industry, he said.
The OECD’s principal conclusion was that government support for oil, coal and natural gas development is still increasing across the developed world, Molina said.
By Elona Malterre
Elona Malterre is a professional writer and published author with nearly three decades of writing and teaching experience in numerous genres. She is the editor of EnviroLine. This article was first published in Enviroline and is reprinted here in part with the kind permission of the author.
The Changing Energy Landscape of North America will be a major topic at GLOBE 2014, the next in the celebrated GLOBE Series Conferences on the business of the environment taking place in Vancouver Canada, March 26-28, 2014. Reserve your place now. Check here for more details.