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The Importance of the U.S.-China Climate Accord

Last week, the United States pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26% from 2005 levels before 2025, and China agreed to stop growing its carbon emissions by 2030. Since we do not have a world government and are unlikely to get one...

Posted November 19, 2014    

Under the Republican Congress, All Environmental Politics Will Be Local

With the Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate in January, Oklahoma's Senator James Inhofe is likely to once again serve as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, a position he held from 2003-2008 during George W. Bush's...

Posted November 14, 2014    

A Key Lesson from Superstorm Sandy: We Still Need a Rainy Day Fund

Last week was the second anniversary of "superstorm" Sandy and, for many in the northeast, it is a reminder of the fragility and interdependence of modern life. The New York Times profiled the transformative effect the storm had on some of the...

Posted November 7, 2014    

The Symbolic Politics of Climate Diplomacy

Last week, the European Union began the process of setting the agenda for the climate negotiations scheduled for Paris in late 2015. They agreed that by 2030 Europe would cut emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels. Writing in the New York Times,...

Posted October 30, 2014    

Why We Are Working With Colleagues in China to Develop Sustainability Metrics

I am in no way an expert on China, but one need not be an expert to understand that China's elite know they are in the midst of a deep crisis of environmental sustainability. I visited Beijing last week to finalize a partnership between Columbia...

Posted October 22, 2014    

Sustainable Consumption and the World of Endless Images, Voices, and Ideas

The world we are creating with global communications and global economic production is fast becoming a true global society. Nevertheless, place -- or home -- continues to have meaning as both communities and nations become even more treasured in a...

Posted October 17, 2014    

The Transition to Renewable Energy is Difficult but Feasible

The United States Energy Information Agency estimates that 11% of the world's total energy comes from renewable sources, a number they project will grow modestly to 15% by 2040. They also estimate that 21% of the world's electricity came from...

Posted October 7, 2014    

It's Time to Abandon the Delusion of a Carbon Tax

At the United Nations last week, President Obama urged the nations of the world to follow our lead and begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The president has moved aggressively to use the powers of the Clean Air Act to begin the decade-long...

Posted September 30, 2014    

Mayor Bill de Blasio Pivots Toward a Sustainable New York City

Nine months into his mayoralty, with over 300,000 climate marchers having massed in Manhattan, and a U.N. climate meeting just finished, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decided the time was right to renew the city's sustainability effort. The...

Posted September 25, 2014    

Learning from the Era of American Environmental Leadership

This past week, I had the honor of attending a new class at Columbia taught by Tom Jorling and Leon Billings on the origins of American environmental law. Jorling and Billings have accomplished a great deal in their long careers. Billings worked for...

Posted September 10, 2014    

Plastic Bags, Nuclear Waste and a Toxic Planet

Last week we saw California move a step closer to banning one-time-use plastic bags and the Federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission legalize above-ground storage of nuclear waste. What's the connection? Every once in a while I think it is useful to...

Posted September 3, 2014    

Solar Could Grow Faster if We Had a Functioning Federal Government

It is obvious that the United States federal government is struggling to perform basic governance functions and, as I wrote earlier this summer, it is incapable of leading the transition to a renewable economy. Nevertheless, one of the key elements...

Posted August 27, 2014