During his keynote address at the Asia Society Washington, D.C. center awards dinner, where he was honored for his efforts on climate change, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said “climate change is the greatest challenge facing science.” Chu added that we must all “understand the challenge of containing climate change.” Introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, California, who mentioned the need for a “three-dimensional (cultural, economic, and political) engagement between the U.S. and Asia,” Chu said that the U.S. “innovation machine” can create the scientific knowledge and tools needed to fight climate change (if the right policies are set).
However, the difficult part will be spreading that valuable scientific knowledge, as well as those tools, across national boundaries. In the case of energy-efficient buildings, Chu argued local knowledge drives local building development, and needs to be updated to ensure best practices in energy-efficient buildings quickly go global. “Buildings are local. We don’t ship buildings to Denmark.” He described the type of knowledge needed for creating energy-efficient buildings as a sort of “hands-on,” practitioner’s knowledge –“it’s like a gardener’s craft or like those who know how to cook well.” Still, he thinks it is possible to “teach each other how to capture carbon, how to create more energy-efficient buildings.” To those who argue that any intellectual property (IP) transferred overseas should be protected, Chu added “it’s not about intellectual property (IP), it’s about people.” He also argued that the case for energy efficient buildings is economic — highly energy-efficient buildings can reduce current energy consumption by four-to-five times, putting “more money into people’s pockets.”
Climate change is an international problem, and “we need to get to a sustainable energy world.” Chu argued that young people will be key to this effort. He urged young people to tell their parents: “If you care about me, don’t give me a world that will heat up by four-to-five degrees.”
In related news, new research from Nicholas Stern, and other climate scholars, argues that today’s atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are already high enough to cause a global increase in temperature of between 2 and 2.4 degrees celsius. According to Der Spiegel, the research argues that “drastic and immediate” emissions reductions would be “impossible, and “an overshoot of the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations needed to constrain global warming to 2 degrees Celsius is thus inevitable.” The paper argues that the world must begin to set adaptation plans for a three-to-five temperature increases, while continuing to mitigate Co2 emissions. Read the article