News

US Group Urges Radical Cuts in Carbon Emissions

Multimedia

Audio

A leading U.S. advocate for combating climate change has unveiled an ambitious plan to drastically slash global carbon emissions over the next 12 years, saying aggressive action is both necessary and feasible. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington.

Both major U.S. presidential candidates say they are committed to putting the United States on a path to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other so-called "greenhouse gases" by 60 to 80 percent by the year 2050. Meanwhile, EU officials say they are working on a more immediate plan to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

None of these initiatives or proposals is sufficient, according to Lester Brown, who heads the Washington-based Earth Policy Institute. Rather than trimming emissions by one-fifth by 2020 or by more than half by 2050, Brown says the world needs to slash greenhouse gases no less than 80 percent by no later than 2020.

If that sounds overly-ambitious, Brown offers three basic strategies for reaching the goal.

"One is to systematically raise energy efficiency throughout the world economy. The second is a massive shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. And the third: a ban on deforestation and a very ambitious tree-planting initiative that involves the planting of billions of trees," said Brown.

Brown was speaking via teleconference with the U.S. and international news media.

When it comes to energy efficiency, according to Brown, replacing old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent lighting would reduce global electricity consumption by 12 percent. That would allow the United States and other countries to close hundreds of coal-fired power plants, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Brown also recommends the large-scale adoption of wind, solar, and geo-thermal power to boost non-polluting electrical output. The increased power capacity could be used to charge the batteries of next-generation plug-in hybrid vehicles being developed by U.S. and Japanese automakers. A shift away from combustion engines combined with renewed investment in public transportation would have a dramatic positive impact on carbon emissions.

Brown says leaders across the globe are attempting to weigh how great a reduction in greenhouse gases is politically feasible, but that this is the wrong approach. Rather, Brown says, politicians should be asking how great a reduction is necessary to avoid ecological catastrophe in the future.

"In looking at the climate issue, I think we are looking at more than just climate. We are looking at food security. If we stay with business as usual, we are probably going to lose the Greenland ice sheet and see from that a 23 foot [7 meter] rise in sea level," added Brown. "The result would be hundreds of millions of 'rising sea' refugees around the world."

Critics of proposals to radically alter energy consumption often argue that such plans are costly to implement and would constrain economic growth. Brown says the long-term costs of inaction are greater, and that governments should consider lowering taxes on income while raising taxes on energy consumption and pollution.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs