If Europe Can Do It Why Can’t We? – because we got OIL GUYS as president and vice president

 Sorry about the look of the blog. My scanner did not do a very good job and I tossed

 the piece before I put this up. The point is that if we had not wasted the last 7 years on

two of the worst leaders we have ever elected at the worst time we could do it. George

Bush and Dick Cheney could be remembered as the Americans that killed the Planet.

Sunday, October 14, 2007



Cities act to prevent more climate





AXJO, Sweden—When this quiet city in southern Sweden decided in 1996 to wean itself off

 fossil fuels, most people doubted the ambi­tious goal would have any impact beyond the

town limits.

A few melting glaciers later, Vaxjo is attracting a green pilgrim­age of politicians, scientists and

business leaders from as far afield as the U.S. and North Korea seek­ing inspiration from a city

pro­gram that has allowed it to cut CO2 emissions 30 percent since 1993.

Vaxjo is a pioneer in a growing movement in dozens of European cities, large and small,

that aren’t waiting for national or internation­al measures to curb global warm­ing.

From London’s congestion charge to Paris’ city bike program and Barcelona’s solar power


, initiatives taken at the local level are being introduced across the continent — often influencing

national policies instead of the other way around.

“People used to ask: Isn’t it bet­ter to do this at a national or inter­national level?” said Henrik


 environmental controller in Vaxjo, a city of 78,000 on the shores of Lake Helga, surrounded

 by thick

pine forest in the heart of Smaland province. “We want to show everyone else that you can

accomplish a lot at the local level.”

The European Union, mindful that many member states are fail­ing to meet mandated emissions

cuts under the Kyoto climate treaty, has taken notice of the trend and is encouraging cities to

adopt their own emissions targets. The bloc awarded one of its inau­gural Sustainable Energy


awards this year to Vaxjo, which aims to have cut emissions by 50 percent by 2010 and

70 percent by 2025.

Stepping up for a cleaner Europe

There is a growing green movement afoot in European cities to curb global- warming

without waiting for national or international programs.

Cities controlling carbon dioxide emissions

Vaxjo, Sweden  stoppedusing fossil fuels in

1996; wood chips from sawmills replaced oil at

power plants

 Barcelona, Spain required new buildings in 2006 to install solar

panelsto generate 100 percent of energy for hot water.


Copenhagen, Denmarkintroduced apublic bike service

in 1995, allowing fine pick up and return of bikes at

dozens of stations

Stockholm, Copenhagen and London have set targets to cut CO2

emissions by 60 percent by 2025


SOURCES: City of Vaxjo; AP reporting

Bo­gota, the capital of Colombia, has reduced emissions with the Trans-Mileni

 municipal bus system and an extensive network of bicycle paths.

In Vaxjo, (pronounced VECK-shur), the vast majority of emis­sions cuts

 have been achieved at the heating and power plant, which replaced oil with

 wood chips from local sawmills as its main source of fuel. Ashes from the

 furnace are returned to the for­est as nutrients.

Without stronger na­tional policies promoting biofuels over gasoline, Vaxjo,

for one, will never reach its long-term target of becoming free of fossil fuels.

But it’s doing what it can locally. So-called “green cars” running on biofuels

 park free anywhere in the city. About one-fifth of the city’s fleet runs on biogas

produced at the sewage treatment plant.

Using biofuels instead of gaso­line in cars is generally considered to

 cut C02 emissions, although some scientists say greenhouse gases

released during the produc­tion of biofuel crops can offset those gains.

Vaxjo has also invested in ener­gy efficiency, from the light bulbs used

 in street lights to a new resi­dential area with Europe’s tallest all-wood

apartment buildings. Wood requires less energy to pro­duce than steel or

concrete. Although Vaxjo is tiny by com­parison, the C40 group, including major

 metropolitan centers such as New York, Mexico City and Tokyo, has been impressed

by the city’s progress and uses it as an example of “best practices” around the world.

“They’re a small town,” Reddy said. “Apply that to 7 million? It’s doable but its going

to take a lot longer.”


“We are convinced that the cities are a key element to change behavior and get results,”

said Pedro Ballesteros Torres, manager of the Sustainable Energy Europe campaign.

“Climate change is a global problem but the origin of the problem is very local.”

So far only a handful of Euro­pean capitals have set emissions targets, including Stockholm,

Copenhagen and London. Torres said he hopes to convince about 30 European cities to

commit to tar­gets next year.

While such goals are welcome, they may not always be the best way forward, said

Simon Reddy, who manages the C40 project, a global network of major cities ex­changing i

deas on tackling climate change.

“At the moment a lot of cities don’t know what they’re emitting so it’s very difficult to set

targets,” Reddy said.

More important than emissions targets, he said, is that cities draft action plans, outlining

specific goals needed to reduce emissions, like switching a certain percentage of the public

transit system to al­ternative fuels.

London Mayor Ken Living­stone’s Climate Action Plan calls for cutting the city’s C02

emis­sions by 60 percent in 2025, com­pared to 1990 levels. However, planners acknowledge

the cuts are not realistic unless the govern­ment introduces a system of car­bon pricing.

Barcelona, Spain’s second biggest city, has since 2006 re­quired all new and renovated

buildings to install solar panels to supply at least 60 percent of the energy needed to heat

 water. It’s not only in Europe that cities are taking action o

n climate change.

Several U.S. cities including Austin, Texas; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle

have launched programs to emulate Europe.

We run on local resources said plant manager Ulf Johnsson, scooping up a fistful of wood

chips from a giant heap outside the fac­tory.

He had just led Michael Wood, the U.S. Ambassador to Sweden, on a guided tour of

 the facility, which is considered state of the art. Not only does it generate elec­tricity,

but the water that warms up as it cools the plant is used to heating homes and offices

in Vaxjo.

Every week, foreign visitors ar­rive to see Vaxjo’s environmental campaign. Last year,

even a dele­gation of 10 energy officials from reclusive North Korea got a tour.

A similar but much larger sys­tem is in place in Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital, where

waste heat from incineration and com­bined heat and power plants is pumped through a

 purpose-built 800-mile network of pipes to 97 percent of the city.

Copenhagen is often cited as a climate pioneer among European cities. It cut (f02 emissions

 by 187,600 tons annually in the late ’90s by switching from coal to nat­ural gas and friofuels

at its energy plants. Its goal is to reduce emis­sions by 35 percent by 2010, com­pared to

1990 levels, even more ambitious than Denmark’s nation­al target of 21 percent cuts under

the Kyoto accord.

In 1995, the city became one of the first European capitals to in­troduce a public bicycle service that lets people pick up and return bikes at dozens of stations city-wide for a small fee. Similar initia­tives have since taken root in Paris and several other European cities.

Next, Copenhagen plans to spend about $38 million on vari­ous initiatives to get more resi­dents to use bicycles instead of cars.

Transport is one of the hardest areas for local leaders to control since traffic is not confined to a single area.

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