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EnergyVision: A Pathway to a Modern, Sustainable Low Carbon Economic and Environmental Future

ENE has just released “EnergyVision: A Pathway to a Modern, Sustainable Low Carbon Economic and Environmental Future.” This report describes a framework for adopting a fully integrated and low carbon energy system, based on data from the Northeast that is applicable on a national level.

EnergyVision lays out a new vision for reforms in four key, interdependent areas that can produce a cleaner, lower cost energy system: 1) electrifying buildings and transportation, 2) modernizing the grid, 3) utilizing clean electric supplies, and 4) maximizing energy efficiency. If the changes proposed in this plan are adopted and implemented, states could be far along the path to reaching their goals for 80 percent reductions in carbon emissions.

ENE is excited to present this exciting, positive path forward to a clean energy future and hope that this report inspires your imagination!

They have developed two versions of this report: a short overview and a detailed framework.


NEGOTIATIONS: Peru hopes to take leadership position in 2014 climate talks (Monday, December 2, 2013)

Lisa Friedman, E&E reporter

WARSAW, Poland -- Peru will come out swinging with post-2020 contributions to tackle climate change as it prepares to host a key negotiating session in Lima next year, Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal told ClimateWire.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP 19) to the U.N. climate convention in the Polish capital last month, Pulgar-Vidal said Peru already has taken on serious mitigation cuts. But as host to final talks before a controversially broad new climate treaty is to be signed in 2015 in Paris, he said, Peru intends to show its "progressive" credentials to the world.

"We are doing our domestic homework," Pulgar-Vidal said. "I hope that we can show as the host country that we can put on the table a position soon. We are working on that."



CDL undergraduates are attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP19/CMP9 Warsaw 2013. They will be publishing, researching and blogging. Check out the CDL website.

A burden to share? Addressing unequal climate impacts in the Least Developed Countries

iied | November 2013

David Ciplet, Timmons Roberts, Pa Ousman, Achala Abeysinghe, Alexis Durand, Daniel Kopin, Olivia Santiago, Keith Madden, Sophie Purdom

Less than one-seventh of the US$5 billion needed to fund the Least
Developed Countries’ (LDCs’) most urgent climate change adaptation projects
has been delivered by wealthy countries — a sliver of their annual spending on
their own disasters and globally on fossil fuel subsidies. LDCs played almost no
role in causing climate change, yet from 2010 to July 2013, their deaths from
climate-related disasters were more than five times the global average.
International pledges of climate finance to address this inequality are overall
both inadequate and unmet. The burden of responding to climate change
should fall on those most responsible for causing the problem, and most
capable of addressing it.


Fiscal Year 2013 Sustainability Progress Report

Fall 2013 | Office of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Initiatives, Facilities Management, Brown University

Facilities Management is pleased to present the sixth annual Sustainability Progress Report, which describes the measures taken by Brown University to promote and maintain environmental sustainability both on campus and in the greater community.


Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change Releases Recommendations for the Department of Energy

August 6, 2013 | Implementing the President's Climate Action Plan: U.S. Department of Energy

The Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change released a white paper recommending 20 concrete steps the Department of Energy should take in carrying out the President’s Climate Action Plan.The recommendations include strengthening specific energy efficiency standards, accelerating the development and deployment of low-carbon energy technologies, expanding the use of energy savings performance contracts to save energy at federal facilities, encouraging reforms in state building codes and utility rate structures, maximizing the contribution of power marketing administrations, and analyzing the climate change impacts of liquefied natural gas exports.


From Mexico, Global Lessons for Forest Governance

Solutions Journal
June 2013 | Volume 4 | Issue 3 | Author: David Bray

Until 2007, forests were the orphan of climate change concerns. They had been largely left out of the Clean Development Mechanism, a carbon-offsets program that emerged from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, because of concerns about permanence (forests can burn down) and leakage (a forest conserved in one place can stimulate deforestation someplace else). However, negotiations in Bali that year at the 13th United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) tipped off a shift that turned forests into the darling of climate change negotiations.


Sustainability Strategic Planning and Advisory Committee Interim Report

April 2013 | Chris Powell, Chair (Director of Sustainable Energy and Environmental Initiative) - Rod Beresford, Co-Chair (Associate Provost) - more ...

In March of 2011, undergraduate students presented a proposal to the Brown University Community Council encouraging the University to develop a Sustainability Strategic Plan. The Sustainability Strategic Planning and Advisory committee was convened by the Provost’s office in Fall 2012. The group was charged with creating a draft proposal, for consideration by the Provost and the President, for a Sustainability Strategic Plan for Brown University.

CES Lecturer Kurt Teichert and CES alum Kai Morrell, serve as members of Brown's Sustainability Strategtic Planning & Advisory Committee.



Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey 2012

March 2013 | Authored by Sharlene Leurig (Ceres) and Dr. Andrew Dlugolecki

The Ceres report, Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey: 2012 Findings & Recommendations, is based on 184 company disclosures in response to a climate risk survey developed by insurance regulators. Surveys were completed by insurers licensed to operate in three states – California, New York and Washington – that require climate risk disclosure. Collectively, these companies represent a significant majority of the American insurance market.


Death of Hugo Chavez Gives Venezuela a Choice on Climate Change

March 18, 2013 | Article by CES MA Alumni Susanna Mage and Research Fellow Guy Edwards

Regardless of one's position on el Comandante Hugo Chávez, the death of the Venezuelan president opens the door for a policy debate on a critical issue for Venezuela and the world's security: climate change. As the 2015 deadline to create a new global treaty on climate change approaches, the question for the oil-rich country looms: will Venezuela be a key architect of an ambitious and equitable deal, or will it sabotage progress?

Read Brown Daily Herald Article

Read The Guardian Article

A New Technique to Simulate Climate Change

March 5, 2013 | Media Contact: Kevin Stacey

Statistical physics offers an approach to studying climate change that could dramatically reduce the time and brute-force computing that current simulation techniques require. The new approach focuses on fundamental forces that drive climate rather than on “following every little swirl” of water or air. And yes, there’s an app for that.


Parent Material and Topography Determine Soil Phosphorus Status in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico

Susanna M. Mage and Stephen Porder

Former CES Graduate Student Suzy Mage’s work with Professor Stephen Porder is published in Ecosystems magazine. The title of the work is Parent Material and Topography Determine Soil Phosphorus Status in the Luquillo Mountains of Puerto Rico.


World Bank Issues Alarming Climate Report

December 7, 2012 | NPR Interview with Jim Yong Kim (Brown 82’)

Countries attending U.N. climate talks were not able to come up with any major agreements on reducing carbon emissions and slowing global warming. This comes after the World Bank issued a report predicting global temperatures could rise by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century — possibly sooner if current promises to curb emission are not kept. Renee Montagne talks about this with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.


Soil Determines Fate of Phosphorous

December 17, 2012 | Author: David Orenstein

Brazil’s soybean yields have become competitive with those of the United States and Argentina, but the soil demands a lot of phosphorous, which is not renewable. In the United States, meanwhile, historical applications of the fertilizer have polluted waterways. What accounts for these problems? It’s the soils, according to a new study comparing agriculture in the three countries.


Rhode Island General Assembly 2011 - 2012 Green Report Card

2012 | Environment Council of Rhode Island

The Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI) offers this biennial report card to highlight important environmental issues considered by the Rhode Island General Assembly in the session spanning 2011 through 2012. The headlines from the last two years have been dominated by pension reform, questionable decisions by the Economic Development Corporation, and municipal bankruptcy. In the fall of 2011, a special legislative session was called to handle a single issue: the unfunded pension liability for state employees. In this context, attention to environmental issues dropped throughout the two year period. Although significant pieces of legislation were passed early on, opportunities for progress on key environmental is-sues were also missed.


Brown's Support of Latin American Platform on Climate Receives Positive Endorsement

Guy Edwards | October 12, 2012 | Brown’s Climate and Development Lab

Over the past two years, the Watson Institute partnered with Brown’s Center for Environmental Studies to provide partial support for Visiting Fellow Guy Edwards.  Edwards has led Brown student participation in the United Nations negotiations in Cancun and Durban, and in a web portal on climate change in Latin America called and on the Global Conversations website.  


Exploring Climate Change Resilience Strategies in Rhode Island Urban Under-served Communities

The Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI), concerned about the frequent neglect of low-income communities and communities of color in many key stakeholder processes, especially as those processes relate to climate change mitigation and adaptation planning, sought to fill that potential void in the work of the Rhode Island Climate Change Commission by preparing this report.


Trees and the Urban Heat Island Effect: A Case Study for Providence Rhode Island

Spring 2012 | Brown University Center for Environmental Studies

Why are cities so much hotter on summer days and evenings than surrounding woodlands and fields? The urban heat island effect refers to developed areas that are hotter than surrounding rural areas due to the abundance of man-made materials there. These materials, such as concrete, brick, and asphalt, absorb the sun's energy much more than trees or other plants, and in turn warm the air around them. In addition, vehicles and buildings in urban areas generate heat from burning energy.

"One straightforward and cost-effective way for the city to buffer itself from heat waves stood out among all the rest: to plant and care for trees."


March 2010 Floods - What have we learned?

Spring 2011 | Brown University Center for Environmental Studies

Everyone in Rhode Island remembers the pictures of the Warwick Mall in the middle of a lake. The weather forecasters standing in a foot of water on I-95 as the major interstate was closed due to flooding. The helicopter footage of the Warwick and West Warwick wastewater treatments plant completely inundated with river water.

After nearly two months of research and interviews, a group of students in the Center for Environmental Studies is releasing six reports that document the work that has been done over the past year. CLICK HERE TO READ THE REPORT

Click on the Following Links for Press:

See Press Release

Imprint of the Past: Ecological History of Greenwich Bay, Rhode Island

ESCH, C. G., E. J. Shumchenia, M. Charpentier, AND M. C. PELLETIER. Imprint of the Past Ecological History of Greenwich Bay, Rhode Island. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-12/050, 2012.

Because environmental problems are often caused by an accumulation of impacts over several decades or even centuries, it is necessary to look at the environmental history of an area to understand what happened, and why, before solutions can be devised. This case study of Greenwich Bay, a small sub-estuary of Narragansett Bay, describes the connection between the development in the watershed and the ecology of the bay.



Least Developed, Most Vulnerable: Have Climate Finance Promises Been Fulfilled for the LDCs?

David Ciplet, Timmons Roberts, Mizan Khan, Spencer Fields & Keith Madden

As part of the Copenhagen Accord, wealthy nations pledged to help developing countries transition to a lower-carbon economy and to deal with the current and future impacts of climate change. The pledges were substantial, but by no estimate adequate: US$ 30 billion of ‘fast-start finance’ (FSF) over three years from 2010-2012 which was to be ‘new and additional,’ with a ‘balance’ of funding between mitigation and adaptation.

This paper includes a systematic review of the reports filed to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2012 of the nations that promised to provide this US$ 30 billion in FSF over the period. Expanding upon our FSF assessments for 2010 and 2011 and our 2011 transparency scorecard,we assess whether wealthy nations transparently contributed a fair-share of the US$ 30 billion pledge, while balancing adaptation and mitigation funding, sourcing funds through UNFCCC channels, and without reverting to debt-inducing loans in the place of grants.

This report focuses, in particular, on the extent to which wealthy nations are meeting their obligations to the world’s 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs). This is critical given the heightened vulnerability of this group of nations. Over the period from 1980 to 2011, LDCs have experienced 66 percent of all deaths from climate-related disasters, while only constituting 12 of the world’s population.Thus, people in LDCs arefive times more likelyto die from climate-related deaths than those in other parts of the world.


Past Century's Global Temperature Change Is Fastest On Record

In the past 100 years, average temperatures on Earth have changed by 1.3 degrees. Previously, that large of a swing took 5,000 years. That's the word from researchers who pored over temperature data going back to the end of the last ice age.

There's plenty of evidence that the climate has warmed up over the past century, and climate scientists know this has happened throughout the history of the planet. But they want to know more about how this warming is different.


A New Latin American Climate Negotiating Group: The Greenest Shoots in the Doha Desert

Timmons Roberts and Guy Edwards|December 12, 2012 - 2:50pm

Well-worn stories of dinosaurs like the United States and India battling it out in the United Nations climate change negotiations in Doha last week (see my previous post, titled "Doha Climate Change Negotiations: Moving Beyond the Dueling Dinosaurs to Bring Together Equity and Ambition") continue to crowd out other, more positive stories that need to be told. Rather than retelling the story of sticking points between the rich countries of the global North and those of the developing South, it’s crucial to see where something new is breaking through. The greenest shoots we saw at COP18 were from a group of developing countries scarcely mentioned in the media’s fascination with conflict and acrimony between the different Parties and blocs.



Wealthy nations are still not meeting their Copenhagen climate finance pledges.
While we await the final numbers from a few contributors, reports submitted to
the UNFCCC in May 2012 show that only two of the ten contributors committed
their ‘fair share’ of fast-start climate finance, assessed on their capability and their responsibility for the problem.



In Spring of 2010, Center for Environmental Studies students led by Professor Timmons Roberts drafted the Rhode Island Climate Risk Reduction Act of 2010, legislation that resulted in the creation of the 28 member RI Climate Change Commission. In the wake of Sandy, the Commission released its first report, “RI Climate Commission 2012 Progress Report: Adapting to Climate Change in the Ocean State: A Starting Point." Professor Roberts is Co-Chair of the Health and Welfare working group of the Commission.



Interview held at the Lund Conference on Earth System Governance with Timmons Roberts, Brown University.

You’ve done a lot of work on climate finance; talk a little bit about the difficulties involved in that issue.

You need to keep account of both the contributors and the receivers of these funds. You have to figure out who should get money and who should pay, and how to transfer the funds. This is a huge managerial problem. 



iied | November 2011

David Ciplet, J. Timmons Roberts, Mizan Khan, Linlang He, Spencer Fields

There is an ever-widening chasm between the support developing countries need to adapt to climate change, and the funding promised and delivered by wealthy nations. This paper looks at the Durban negotiations and the steps countries should take to ensure the developed world can meet its agreed responsibilities: establish funding sources based on international trade; define annual targets for the scale-up; and adopt a transparent, centralised accounting system.



iied | September 2011

David Ciplet, J. Timmons Roberts, Martin Stadelmann, Saleemul Huq, Achala Chandani

In 2009, developed countries pledged US$30 billion of ‘fast-start climate finance’. Transparent reporting on climate finance is essential for governments to plan mitigation and adaptation activities and for civil society to hold contributors and recipients to account for how climate funds are spent. This briefing presents a new scorecard based on the extent to which developed countries meet a set of common-sense criteria in their climate finance reports to the UN. It reveals that we have a long way to go in making climate finance transparent and urgently need an international registry of funds that provides comprehensive, detailed, consistent and transparent accounting and reporting measures at the project level.



Annual Report 2011

The Ecosystems Center was founded in 1975 as a year-round research center of the MBL. Its mission is to investigate the structure and functioning of ecological systems, predict their response to changing environmental conditions, apply the resulting knowledge to the preservation and management of natural resources, and educate both future scientists and concerned citizens.



Authors: Michael J. Tierney | Daniel L. Nielson | Darren G. Hawkin | J. Timmons Roberts | Michael G. Findley | Ryan M. Powers | Bradley Parks | Sven E. Wilson | Robert L. Hicks

In this introductory essay to the special issue, we introduce a new dataset of foreign assistance, AidData, that covers more bilateral and multilateral donors and more types of aid than existing datasets while also improving project-level information about the purposes and activities funded by aid. We utilize that data to provide a brief overview of important trends in foreign aid.


Renegades Keep Climate Finance Tracking a Wild West

By J. Timmons Roberts / Outreach Magazine

For a stretch of U.S. history back in the 1800s, two forces struggled to impose their social order on the expanses of the nation’s vast Western frontier.  On the one side were citizen “settlers” and their officials, trying to impose national laws from the East to make the place safe for building a society where joint problems like safety, land ownership, and building basic infrastructure got dealt with in a consensual and predictable way.  On the other side were bands of renegades or “outlaws,” who furtively sought the treasures of the land through their ability to terrorize the settlers and other bands of outlaws.


Press release: Embargoed until 19 September at 00.01am

Donor nations get low scores on climate finance transparency scorecard

David Ciplet and TimmonsRoberts from Brown University’s Center for Environmental Studies, helped author a score card on the climate finance transparency.  Developed countries are being far from transparent about the climate-change finance they promised to developing nations at the Copenhagen summit in 2009, according to a scorecard published today (19 September) by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).


RI Chefs & Farms Raise $48,835 for Farm Fresh RI

Local flavors abounded at the 5th Annual Local Food Fest on Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 at Castle Hill Inn & Resort in Newport, RI. The event, now in its fifth year, featured a dozen Rhode Island chefs, each paired with a local farm. Chefs prepared dishes featuring the freshest, most seasonal ingredients for a sold out crowd to savor, and Rhode Island vineyards and breweries offered samples. A silent auction, live music from the Fox Point Rounders, and other festivities, all took place overlooking the beautiful bay views from Castle Hill. This year Farm Fresh Rhode Island raised $48,835 for their programs to provide fresh, local food to all Rhode Islanders, thanks to a great team effort and our generous sponsors.






Outreach - a multi-stakeholder magazine on environment and sustainable development

“A Collective Commitment”? Nailing down Climate Finance in Cancun and Durban

The surprisingly positive conclusion at Cancun was as much about the process as the substance of the two key texts that are now in place to advance the negotiations over the next year leading to Durban.   There were standing ovations at the transparent and inclusive process that brought the year of negotiations to a close, putting some of the bad feelings of Copenhagen behind us...


The Mycota of Rhode Island By R. D. Goos

 A Checklist of the Fungi Recorded in Rhode Island (Including Lichens and Myxomycetes)

The centerpiece of this peer-reviewed book is a taxonomic listing of fungi, including lichens and myxomycota, known or likely to occur in Rhode Island. Each listing for the approximately 1,700 species includes a taxonomic classification, synonymy, and bibliography, as well as notes on hosts, substrates, medical or economic significance, common name, and status in the state. Other useful features in the book include a short introduction summarizing the history of mycology in Rhode Island, a bibliography of taxonomic and evidentiary sources, 11 pen-and-ink illustrations by Roberta Calore, and an index that includes all taxonomic entries as well as substrates and general topics.

The Mycota of Rhode Island is available from August 2010 directly from RINHS for $60.00 ($54 for RINHS members) +$10 S&H to U.S. addresses.

Order by contacting RINHS by mail at P.O. Box 1858, Kingston, RI 02881, by e-mail at, or by phone at 401-874-5800.

The Huffington Post - 26 November 2010

At climate summit, all eyes on Brazil

Guy Edwards, research fellow in environmental studies, co-authors this op-ed about the world climate summit in Cancun. The article examines whether Brazil will assume the role of leader for developing countries who generally do not have the means to combat global warming and extreme weather events.

Full report online:
See news release:

18th November 2010

Keeping a big promise: options for baselines to assess “new and additional” climate finance
CIS Working Paper 66/2010

Martin Stadelmann (University of Zurich), J. Timmons Roberts (Brown University), Axel Michaelowa (University of Zurich)

All major climate policy agreements - the UN Framework Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and recently the Copenhagen Accord - have stated that climate finance for developing countries will be ”new and additional”. However, the term “new and additional” has never been properly defined. Agreeing a system to measure a baseline from which “new and additional” funding will be calculated will be central to building trust and realizing any post-Kyoto agreement. We explore eight different options for a baseline, and assess each according to several criteria: novelty to existing pledges, additionally to development assistance, environmental effectiveness, distributional consequences, and institutional and political feasibility. Only two baseline options do well on these criteria and are therefore viable: "new funds only" and "above pre-defined business as usual level of development assistance".

25th, October 2010

Calculating Commitment to the Climate

BRUSSELS — There was a surge of optimism at the Copenhagen climate conference, when the U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, backed an international aid package worth hundreds of billions of dollars to help poor countries counter threats like rising seas and desertification. The surprise announcement by the United States to join the European Union and other wealthy nations in making the pledges represented a singular moment of global cohesion during an event remembered more for its unremitting acrimony...


N AT U R E | VO L 4 6 7 | 2 1 O c T O b E R 2 0 1 0

Articles: Ecology - Plant patterns predict collapse :: Drug Development - Worm surgery on a chip :: Oceanography - Cold water rising in the Pacific :: Energy - Plenty of energy, not well shared.


October 2010

Copenhagen’s Climate Finance Pledges

A number of commentators have rightly blamed the train wreck in Copenhagen on a lack of trust between parties, especially between developed and developing worlds.  Out of the confusion came one seemingly clean and ambitious promise in the Copenhagen Accord that might support rebuilding that trust: “Scaled up, new and additional, predictable and adequate funding…

Rich nations failing to keep Copenhagen promise to help poor nations adapt to climate-change Research published today shows that developed nations are failing to keep the promise they made last year to provide adequate finance to help the world’s poorest countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The paper — published by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) — includes a five-point plan to enable developed nations to fulfill their pledges and build the trust needed to advance the next session of UN climate-change negotiations, which begin on 29 November in Cancun, Mexico.

Ecological Economics

From constraint to sufficiency: The decoupling of energy and carbon from human needs,
1975–2005 - Julia K. Steinberger a, J. Timmons Roberts b

In this article, we examine the evolving relationships between energy, carbon and indicators of
human development. By conducting a novel longitudinal analysis, we find evidence of previously undescribed secular trends; we project these trends to 2030 and consider their implications.


Three New ecbi Publications on Climate Finance
Available on the ecbi homepage (
Apologies for cross-postings

Climate Finance after Tianjin
How to reach a deal at Cancún?
This ecbi Policy Brief by Benito Müller looks at whether the progress and momentum of the LCA finance negotiations in Tianjin could be harnessed to bring about a successful outcome at Cancun, and what that would be.

How many people does it take… administer long-term climate finance?
David Ciplet, Benito Müller, and J. Timmons Roberts address the question of whether it is possible to give some estimate of how many people it would need to manage the sorts of sums currently talked about with regards to longer-term climate finance.

National Funding Entities
Their role in the transition to a new paradigm of global cooperation on climate change Luis Gomez-Echeverri presents a new report on National Funding Entities (NFEs) in the lead-up to Cancun this December.

Civil society organizations look to build on Cochabamba success in Cancun

In April this year, the First World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth drew over 35,000 people to the Bolivian city of Cochabamba. The challenge it posed to the climate establishment for failing to reach an agreement in Copenhagen, as well as its substantive accomplishments, are considered a revolution in social mobilization around the mounting threat of climate change.


Preliminary Assessment of RI's Vulnerability to Climate Change and Options for Adaptation Action

Graduate Seminar on Special Topics in Environmental Studies:
Urban Adaptation to Climate Change

Professor Timmons Roberts, Kathryn Birky, Kimberly Damm, Noah Fisher, Dayanch
Hojagyedliyev, Jeremy Knee, Loreana Marciante, Cicely Marshall, Courtney
Mattison, Courtney McCracken, Sara Mersha, Jessica Pagan and Kyle Poyar
March 2010
Copenhagen's climate finance - six key questions

Co-authored by CES Director Timmons Roberts
February 3, 2010

Billions at stake in climate finance: four key lessons
Co-authored by CES Director Timmons Roberts
December 4, 2009