CANCUN, Mexico — World governments begin another attempt Monday to overcome the disconnect between rich and poor nations on fighting global warming, with evidence mounting that the Earth's climate already is changing in ways that will affect both sides of the wealth divide.
During two weeks of talks, the 193-nation U.N. conference hopes to conclude agreements that will clear the way to mobilize billions of dollars for developing countries and give them green technology to help them shift from fossil fuels affecting climate change.
After a disappointing summit last year in Copenhagen, no hope remains of reaching an overarching deal this year setting legal limits on how much major countries would be allowed to pollute. Such an accord was meant to describe a path toward slashing greenhouse gas emissionsby mid-century, when scientists say they should be half of today's levels.
Eighty-five countries have made specific pledges to reduce emissions or constrain their growth, but those promises amount to far less than required to keep temperatures from rising to potentially dangerous levels.
The recriminations that followed the Danish summit have raised questions over whether the unwieldy U.N. negotiations, which require at least tacit agreement from every nation, can ever work.
But Christiana Figueres, the top U.N. climate official, said world capitals are aware of both a growing environmental and political urgency. "Governments need to prove that the intergovernmental process can deliver," she said Sunday.
"They know that they can do it. They know that they need to compromise. I'm not saying it's a done deal. It's still going to be a heavy lift," she said.
About 15,000 negotiators, environmental activists, businessmen and journalists are convening at a resort complex under elaborate security precautions, including naval warships a few hundred yards (meters) offshore in the Gulf of Mexico.
While delegates haggle over the wording, timing and dollar figures involved in any agreement, scientists and political activists at the conference will be offering the latest indications of the planet's warming. Some 250 presentations are planned on the sidelines of the negotiations.
Meteorologists are likely to report that 2010 will end up tied for the hottest year globally since records began 131 years ago.
The U.N. scientific body that won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its climate change report, which called global warming "unequivocal" and almost certainly caused by human activity, is expected to tell the conference its findings and warnings of potential disasters are hopelessly out of date.
Agronomists are due to report on shifting weather patterns that are destabilizing the world's food supply and access to clean water, and that could lead to mass migrations as farmers flee drought or flood-prone regions.
As often during the three-year process, attention will focus on the United States and China, key protagonists representing the industrialized and developing world.
U.S. negotiators may feel further constrained from showing flexibility toward the Chinese after the Republican swing in this month's congressional elections, which brought dozens of new legislators who doubt the seriousness of climate change.
The U.S. has insisted it will agree to binding pollution limits only if China also accepts legal limitations. China, now the world's biggest polluter but also the biggest investor in renewable energy, rejects international limits, saying it still needs to overcome widespread poverty and bears no historic responsibility for the problem.
But Figueres, the Costa Rican diplomat who became head of the U.N. climate secretariat in July, said the public argument may appear more bitter than it really is. At the most recent round of talks last October, "they were working very constructively with each other inside the negotiations," she said.
Robert von Goeben and Laurie hyman are the co-founders of Green Toys Inc., based in the San Francisco Bay area. Von Goeben had many years of experience as a toy designer and also managed a venture capital fund in Silicon Valley prior to starting Green Toys Inc. in 2007. hyman has many years of experience as a marketing executive. hyman and von Goeben brought their expertise together to create a new type of toy company that incorporates sustainability principles as basic values and as key elements of their corporate strategy.
We model our company after innovators like the personal care products company Tom’s of Maine. Tom’s of Maine did not teach a new way to clean your teeth. What they did is give you an alternative to existing products. That is our model. We don’t teach people a new way to play. What we want to do is provide better quality toys for existing play patterns.
Green Toys Inc. manufactures a variety of toys for young children. These include traditional designs for children such as sand play toys, jump ropes, trucks, tea sets, and tool sets. In 2010, Green Toys Inc. released its first products designed for babies and toddlers, including stacking blocks and feed- ing utensils. After three years in operation Green Toys Inc. has over 3000 customers in the uS and Canada, ranging from small specialty toy stores to large retailers such as Whole Foods and Pottery Barn. Sales have grown approximately 70% annually. Green Toys Inc. currently has four employees including von Goeben who is responsible for product design, product development and finance, hyman who is in charge of marketing, an employee who handles shipping and logis- tics, and an employee who is in charge of communications, processing orders, and billing.
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The Clinton Presidential Center
Upon completion of the Clinton Presidential Center, the Library was recognized with a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). In 2005, the Library was awarded with two Green Globes by the Green Building Initiative (GBI) for best practices in energy and environmental design. In 2007, through additional sustainability practices, the Library received a Platinum LEED Certification for Existing Buildings from the USGBC, the only federally maintained facility to receive this recognition. As the first LEED certified building in the state, the Clinton Library has become a catalyst for sustainability for non-profit, governmental, private, and commercial properties in Arkansas. Steven Winter Associates consulted on the project.
Sustainability by the Numbers*
▪ The Center uses 34% less energy than comparable code compliant buildings.
▪ 306 solar panels provide part of the building’s energy.
▪ The Center uses 23% less potable water than a comparable building
▪ The Center uses 99% green cleaning products
▪ Two levels feature bamboo flooring, a highly renewable resource
▪ 95% of the Center’s waste is recycled
▪ Carefully selected screens and glass reduce solar heat gain by 50%
▪ The purchase of renewable energy certificates offsets 100% of the Center’s emissions
*Data courtesy of The Clinton Presidential Center
Cleantech Open winners take prize for water tech - The Cleantech Open announced the winners of its annual startup competition on Tuesday, and as usual the victors offer some insight into what the investors, entrepreneurs and tech executives who serve as judges think may be the next big thing. This year the word was water...read on
Utility makes big bets on solar technology - As solar panel prices have plummeted over the past year, photovoltaic power plants have become a more attractive option for utilities under pressure to meet renewable energy targets...read on
Puzzling Escher-Inspired Rotterdam House Renovation - Ceilings that look like floors, staircases that lead to nowhere, and impossible angles and paths that both ascend and descend at the same time are all hallmarks of famed artist MC Escher's architectural drawings - but who knew you could see them in real life?...Read on
Special Report: Nuclear's lost generation - Over 4,000 builders and engineers are at work on the sprawling Olkiluoto 3 project, whose turbine hall is so cavernous it could house two Boeing 747 jets stacked on top of each other...read on
LEDs Make Clever Interactive Traffic Light Design Possible - Countdown counters are pretty common for pedestrians, letting them know how much time they have to cross. Drivers could use them too, and might even save a bit of time and energy if they were ready to roll when the light changed. Thanva Tivawong has designed this very clever interpretation of a traffic signal that could only work with LEDs...read on
Introducing The Ultimate Modern Gift Guide for the Holidays, which is a curated list of goods for design-savvy folks interested in green innovation.
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