Putting it all in Context

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While City Atlas is primarily a resource for New Yorkers to see all the great sustainability initiatives their neighbors are already engaged in and how they can get involved–so we can get our multiplier effect on–there is of course the bigger picture. You don’t see a tremendous amount of political talk on here because we try and focus on the work people are already doing without anyone giving them directions to do so.  Hence our belief in the power of the bottom-up.  But bottom-up, will ultimately have to meet the top-downers in our mutually beneficial middle. So, in case anyone else needs another reason to feel slighted (frustrated, confused, undermined, insert adjective here_____) by the political process these days, I offer you some fuel for your fire, with specific regard to climate change and renewable energy legislation.

Image via:World's National Museums and Art Blog

A few weeks ago, 285 investors with assets worth $20 trillion issued a report essentially saying, we want governments to address climate change. Please? An actual quote from the 2011 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change says, “Private investment will only flow at the scale and pace necessary if it is supported by clear, credible and long-term policy frameworks that incentivise investments in low-carbon technologies rather than continuing to favour carbon-intensive energy sources.”

Want more? Ok. People who are not worth $20 trillion, but drive the technology that these 1%-ers want to invest in, have basically said that this know-how already exists–we are waiting for your help (hey government, that’s you!) to get it out there. Eleven of the world’s top engineering societies, which includes 1.2 million engineers from four continents signed on to the statement.

Let’s play matchmaker. We have technology. And we have investors for said technology. I don’t really need to tell you what that pesky little step is, that is very successfully and destructively halting the sanctity of that marriage–no, it is not Kim Kardashian–believe it or not!

In this top-emailed story from the Times on Wednesday Paul Krugman does a nice job of telling you that people standing in the way of renewable energy are just blatantly lying at this point. Getting energy from the sun is, in the near future, going to be cheaper than burning coal.  All sass aside, while its fun to call them pesky and little, in reality, their impact is huge. 2010 was the largest leap in carbon emissions on record. Global output was 564 million tons more than it was in 2009. Guess who accounts for about half of that? China and America…

So, think about all that other stuff I said on top and rest assured that we have technology and money and a healthily growing renewable energy sector. Over the same period that emissions rose 6%, investments in renewables increased by 30% and soared to $243 billion.  Let’s go for trillions, shall we?

Now, back to local action. We appreciate your patience for this beyond-New York interruption.

Love, The City Atlas Team