Initiatives

Help Make an Impact Win a CLASSY Award

“All kids growing up in this generation know how they’re impacting the environment. We’re teaching today’s kids about recycling and being responsible.”
- Shawn Kerr, eighth-grade science teacher at Alcoa Middle School in Alcoa, TN.

Fifteen schools participated in the Make an Impact: Change Our 2morrow (MAI CO2) schools’ challenge, an educational energy conservation competition led by the Center’s Make an Impact (MAI) initiative in partnership with Alcoa. Mr. Kerr’s words sum up the program’s outcome, in which Make an Impact, a corporate employee and community engagement program, expanded the reach of its energy efficiency message to middle and high schools in five Alcoa communities across four states this spring.

Alcoa Middle School principle Jim Kirk holds up the $1,000 check that the school won for being named a regional runner-up in the MAI: CO2 schools’ challenge.

We had high hopes for the MAI CO2 campaign, but our success at engaging a younger audience in acting on energy efficiency far exceeded our expectations. In one month, we reached more than 8,000 students/parents/teachers and motivated them to calculate their carbon footprint with the Make an Impact calculator. The program wasn’t just about students realizing their impact on the earth; we also tried to teach and empower these young individuals to make a difference – by saving energy, money, and the planet. Between March 14 and April 11, participants identified more than 14.4 million pounds of potential carbon savings and an estimated $1.75 million in energy savings.

Survey of Low-Carbon Business Innovation

Download the full survey results paper (pdf)

View the press release

In late 2010, we invited 68 companies to participate in a 27-question survey designed to gather key quantitative data, identify trends, and gauge current activities in low-carbon business innovation. Thirty-five companies, ranging in size from $600 million to $285 billion in annual revenues and with a median annual R&D expenditure of $575 million, completed the online questionnaire; the survey questions for the electric power and banking/financial services sectors were slightly different, to capture the unique characteristics of innovation and technology adoption in those sectors.

The survey’s principal objectives were to gather key quantitative information and gauge business strategies for low-carbon innovation activities, with a particular focus on how companies perceive the associated risks and uncertainties. It is one element of a broader Center study on the most effective methods used by companies today to develop and bring low-carbon technologies and solutions to market. The aggregated results will be combined with a set of four in-depth case studies in a report, Business of Innovating: Bringing Low-Carbon Solutions to Market, to be published in October 2011.

 

Highlights of Key Findings and Analysis

This survey highlights several interesting insights into corporate strategies for low-carbon innovation.

  • Importance of Low-Carbon Innovation. According to the survey results, respondents believe that low-carbon innovation will only become more important for the growth of their companies and the U.S. economy as time passes, ranking (on a 10-point scale from least to greatest level of importance) the importance of low-carbon innovation to their business growth an average 7.5 over the next 5 years, an 8.2 over the next 10 years and an 8.7 over the next 20 years.
  • Role of Public Policy. Respondents emphasized the need for long-term, transparent climate and energy policies as critical to establishing a business environment that would allow for greater certainty and stability for decision-making and investment in low-carbon innovations. Among the nine policy tools listed in the survey, putting a price on carbon was by far the most important action that respondents think the U.S. government could take to advance low-carbon innovation: nearly half (47%; 16 companies) chose establishing a carbon price while the second-most selected tool, with 4 responses, was establishing national low-carbon performance standards, for example, for fuels and/or electricity. Only one respondent believes that low-carbon innovation would be encouraged by the government getting out of the way or doing nothing. The absence of clear policy signals in the United States makes it difficult to anticipate and adapt to regulatory changes, derails low-carbon business innovation strategies or redirects them to markets with more policy certainty.

  • Business Drivers. The survey results suggest that bringing low-carbon innovations to market is a strategic decision to enhance financial growth and respond to customer demand, and is less about the public relations benefits of promoting environmental solutions. All of the five drivers for pursuing low-carbon innovations listed in the survey ranked as important (in the 6.7 to 7.3 range) except for the reputational benefits of “going green” which ranked as only somewhat important to respondents (ranking an average 5.0). Financial growth, anticipating or shaping regulatory changes, establishing expertise in emerging technologies or markets, and current customer demand received approximately equal weighting—on average ranking 7.3, 7.2, 6.9, 6.7, respectively.

  • Beliefs about Customer Adoption. Respondents believe that the most important factor for their customers’ adoption of new low-carbon innovations is the energy or total lifecycle cost reduction afforded by the solution (ranking an average 8.6). Moreover, companies find that customers look for solutions that have a lower total cost of ownership without compromising on the product's reliability or performance, suggesting that customer expectations are quite high when moving from a more traditional, energy-intensive solution to a low-carbon solution. Often, the customers want the new product to cost less and perform as well as, if not better, than the previous solution. Customer concerns about a product’s environmental performance (6.8) and an ability to have a distinctive competitive advantage (7.0) in their market also ranked on average relatively high as drivers for adoption.
  • Risks and Uncertainties. Reflecting these survey findings about the importance of public policy and customer expectations to low-carbon innovation, the majority of respondents (65%) believe that the most significant uncertainty is policy (regulatory changes, tax/subsidy changes) and nearly one-quarter believe that market uncertainty (customer adoption, competing technological standards) is the most significant.
  • Conducive Business Environments. Public policy also played a strong role in respondents’ beliefs about the country or region with the best business climate today for domestic low-carbon innovation. A large majority of respondents find that China and the European Union (EU) have the best overall business climate—representing 45.8% and 37.5% of the responses, respectively—primarily due to supportive government policies and, in China’s case, a strong domestic market. Some of the views on selecting China as the best environment for low-carbon innovation specified that, while the United States has the best business climate for low-carbon innovation, China has a stronger level of investment in low-carbon technologies and supporting public policies.

  • Functional Expertise. Respondents believe that the CEO, Business Unit Leadership, Strategy, and R&D groups are relatively more important than other functions to be involved in all innovation, including low-carbon innovation. Perhaps not surprisingly, given findings about the importance of public policy to bringing low-carbon innovations to market, the companies believe that the Government Relations group is relatively more important for low-carbon innovation than for other types of business innovation. This finding suggests the need to better incorporate policy considerations, opportunities and challenges into the strategy and R&D activities within companies.
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Schools Win $10,000 in Grants as More than 8,000 Students Find Over 14 Million Pounds of Potential Carbon Savings

Press Release
April 21, 2011

Contact: Diana Burkett, 703-516-4146
 

Schools Win $10,000 in Grants as More than 8,000 Students Find Over 14 Million Pounds of Potential Carbon Savings

Alcoa Foundation & the Pew Center on Global Climate Change encourage youth to become environmental ambassadors through Make an Impact Program
 

Washington, DC – Alcoa Foundation and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change announced today that seven schools in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia have won a total of $10,000 after competing in a month-long educational energy conservation competition: Make an Impact: Change Our 2morrow (CO2). Participants from 15 competing schools identified more than 14,400,000 pounds of potential carbon savings and an estimated $1,750,000 in energy savings.

Paul F. Boston Middle School in La Porte, IN was named the grand prize winner and will receive a $5,000 grant and 850 recycling bins for engaging more than 1,160 students, teachers and families in completing the Make an Impact carbon calculator. Regional runner-up schools will receive $1,000 grants and include: MC2 Stem High School in Cleveland, OH; Hunter B. Andrews Middle School in Hampton, VA; Alcoa Middle School in Alcoa, TN; and Castle North Middle School in Warrick, IN. Honorable mentions and $500 grants were awarded to Kesling Middle School in LaPorte, IN and Castle South Middle School in Warrick, IN.

“The Change Our 2morrow challenge engaged more than 8,000 students, parents and community members in learning how to use energy more efficiently,” said Paula Davis, President, Alcoa Foundation. “We are excited that so many individuals share Alcoa’s commitment to conservation and are proud to help inspire the next generation of environmental ambassadors.”

The Make an Impact: Change Our 2morrow (CO2) challenge is part of a new $7 million Alcoa Foundation investment to address regional environmental challenges, improve energy efficiency and enhance global reforestation projects. The investment is aligned with Alcoa Foundation’s sustainability focus: “Reduce, Recycle, Replenish.”

“Students today are plugged in like never before – through computers, cell phones, iPads, and video games – so it makes sense to encourage smart energy choices at an early age,” said Katie Mandes, Vice President of Communications and Director of the Make an Impact program. “Through this challenge we wanted to build awareness of the importance of energy efficiency, and the enthusiastic response to the program showed us that students and communities have an important role to play in our energy future.”

# # #
 

ABOUT ALCOA FOUNDATION
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately US $420 million. In addition to addressing local needs in communities where Alcoa operates, Alcoa Foundation is focused on promoting environmental stewardship, enabling economic and social sustainability, and preparing tomorrow’s leaders through education and learning. Alcoa Foundation was founded more than 50 years ago and has invested more than US $515 million since 1952. More information can be found at www.alcoa.com/foundation.

ABOUT MAKE AN IMPACT
The Make an Impact program, developed by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in partnership with Alcoa Foundation, helps Alcoa employees, their families and surrounding communities reduce energy use, manage their carbon footprint and become an active part of the solution to climate change. The program features:

  • A custom-built carbon calculator with individual carbon footprint analysis.
  • A dynamic website with tips, tools and resources on how to reduce energy bills and live more sustainably.
  • A comprehensive outreach program of educational workshops and hands-on activities to support local action.

The Make an Impact: Change Our 2morrow (CO2) program promotes energy efficiency through a fun and engaging online competition, which features educational resources about energy conservation and an interactive carbon calculator. To find out more about Make an Impact, how your company or organization can sign on or to measure your own carbon footprint, visit www.alcoa.com/makeanimpact

ABOUT THE PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
The Pew Center on Global Climate Change was established in May 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. More information can be found at www.c2es.org.

Alcoa Foundation and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change Launch School-Based Carbon Footprint Challenge

Press Release
March 14, 2011

Contact: Diana Burkett, 703-516-4146

 

Alcoa Foundation and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change Launch School-Based Carbon Footprint Challenge
More than 8,000 students to participate in the Make an Impact: Change Our 2morrow (CO2) challenge with chance to win $5,000 grant

 

Washington, D.C. – Alcoa Foundation and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change today announced an exciting new green education partnership to teach students how their daily actions can reduce harmful emissions and improve the environment.

Set to run from March 14 to April 11, Make an Impact: Change Our 2morrow (CO2) is an educational energy conservation challenge among 8,000 students at 15 schools near Alcoa locations in Cleveland, OH, Hampton, VA, Knoxville, TN, and LaPorte and Warrick, IN. 

The challenge builds on the successful Make an Impact program that has engaged nearly 14,000 Alcoa employees at 18 Alcoa locations across the US, resulting in more than 4.6 million pounds of carbon savings and $3.7 million in energy savings. Alcoa isn’t the only corporation involved, both Bank of America and Entergy have realized an estimated 5 million pounds of carbon savings each from rolling out Make an Impact, proving the value of the program for a wide range of organizations.

“Even small changes in our daily lives can lead to significant improvements for the environment,” said Paula Davis, President, Alcoa Foundation.  “Through Make an Impact: Change Our 2morrow, we want to educate young people about the potential they have to make a difference and inspire them to become green ambassadors in their communities - at school, at play and at home.”

The winning schools are determined based on the highest number of carbon calculator completions, and will receive a $5,000 grand prize grant or one of five $1,000 runner-up grants, earmarked for ‘green initiatives,’ from Alcoa Foundation. The winners will be announced on Earth Day, April 22.

“Knowing the impact of your energy choices is an important first step to change,” said Katie Mandes, Pew Center Vice President of Communications and Director of the Make an Impact program. “We hope this challenge will motivate young people and the entire community to learn how easy it can be to make a difference.”

The Make an Impact: CO2 challenge is part of a new $7 million Alcoa Foundation investment to address regional environmental challenges, improve energy efficiency and enhance global reforestation projects. The investment is aligned with Alcoa Foundation’s sustainability focus: ‘Reduce, Recycle, Replenish,’ and will engage employees and communities where Alcoa operates.

# # #

ABOUT ALCOA FOUNDATION
Alcoa Foundation is one of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., with assets of approximately US $420 million. In addition to addressing local needs in communities where Alcoa operates, Alcoa Foundation is focused on promoting environmental stewardship, enabling economic and social sustainability, and preparing tomorrow’s leaders through education and learning. Alcoa Foundation was founded more than 50 years ago and has invested more than US $515 million since 1952. More information can be found at www.alcoa.com/foundation.

ABOUT THE PEW CENTER ON GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE
The Pew Center on Global Climate Change was established in May 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. More information can be found at www.c2es.org.

ABOUT MAKE AN IMPACT
The Make an Impact program, developed by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change in partnership with Alcoa Foundation, helps Alcoa employees, their families and surrounding communities reduce energy use, manage their carbon footprint and become an active part of the solution to climate change. The program features:

  • A custom-built carbon calculator with individual carbon footprint analysis.
  • A dynamic website with tips, tools and resources on how to reduce energy bills and live more sustainably.
  • A comprehensive outreach program of educational workshops and hands-on activities to support local action.

The Make an Impact: Change Our 2morrow (CO2) program promotes energy efficiency through a fun and engaging online competition, which features educational resources about energy conservation and an interactive carbon calculator. To find out more about Make an Impact, how your company or organization can sign on or to measure your own carbon footprint, visit www.alcoa.com/makeanimpact

Updated Website, Climate Change 101 Series Deliver Credible Information to Advance Climate Action

Press Release
March 3, 2011

Contact: Rebecca Matulka, 703-516-4146

 

WEBSITE, SERIES DELIVER CREDIBLE INFORMATION TO ADVANCE CLIMATE ACTION
Pew Center Updates Website and Climate Change 101 Series

WASHINGTON, DC – Public opinion continues to be divided on climate change and its causes, and as a result, public access to credible, digestible information about climate change is more critical than ever. To help advance a constructive dialogue that leads to climate action, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change refreshed its website and updated its landmark Climate Change 101 report series.

“Now more than ever, the public needs straight answers about climate change,” said Eileen Claussen, President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “The Pew Center is continuing its work to demystify the issue, and our updated website and report series present straightforward and useful climate change information.”

With a fresh new design and easy-to-navigate organization, the Pew Center’s website provides access to the center’s first-rate analyses and publications of key climate issues. One new website feature is the publications library, which allows users to search for and order free copies of Pew Center reports. The website puts the Center’s Climate Compass blog front and center, and presents timely ideas and insights from science and policy experts on topics critical to the climate debate.

The fast-reading Climate Change 101: Understanding and Responding to Global Climate Change includes nine brief reports and helps inform the climate dialogue by providing a reliable and understandable introduction to global climate change. The updated reports highlight the significance of the global negotiations, climate-related national security risks, local efforts to address climate change, the most recent predictions on global temperature changes, and more.

For more information about global climate change and the activities of the Pew Center, visit www.c2es.org.

# # #

The Pew Center on Global Climate Change was established in May 1998 as a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing credible information, straight answers, and innovative solutions in the effort to address global climate change. The Pew Center is led by Eileen Claussen, the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Make an Impact: Working with Businesses to Save Energy, Save Money and Save the Planet

Make an Impact is featured in Environmental Leader's 2011 Insider Knowledge Report, which provides lessons learned from corporate environmental, sustainability, and energy decision-makers.

Below is one of the two articles on the program in Environmental Leader.

 

Make an Impact is a unique employee-focused energy efficiency program of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and three corporate partners. Founded by Alcoa in 2006, the partnership now includes Fortune 500 companies Bank of America and Entergy Corporation and reaches more than 350,000 employees worldwide. A clear program benefit is the opportunity for collaboration, innovation and best practice sharing.

Successful employee engagement in sustainability efforts differs for each corporation, but there are a few constants: 

  • Leadership from the top and a strong implementation team are critical.
  • Employ multiple engagement strategies. Make an Impact includes a customized website, workshops with experts and local advocates, community volunteering, and a best-in-class carbon calculator that provides a personal analysis and recommendations to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Scale globally, implement locally. Use local experts and services to ground the program in the community; this also increases the opportunity for behavior changes.
  • Successfully reinforces business relationships with community stakeholders.
  • Back it up with data.  Employees like to know their efforts are meaningful.  Make an Impact provides corporate partners the ability to track engagement in a variety of ways.
  • As part of its commitment to address climate change, Bank of America introduced MAI to associates in the US and UK in 2010. In its first six months, the program has attracted more than 2,400 visitors to the website and identified 5 million pounds of potential carbon savings by employees. In 2011, the company plans to introduce the program to employees in additional markets and double potential carbon savings and calculator usage.
  • Entergy Corporation uses the program to engage both customers and employees and has customized the program so that it offers benefits to local non-profits and disadvantaged consumers. Entergy has also added an offsets component to its program - including a commitment to double pledges made through its website.
  • Alcoa has a goal to reach 50 percent of its workforce with the program by 2012; to date it has introduced the program in 16 states and two countries and this year will launch a community/schools engagement module in five states, roll out in two additional countries and five additional states.
  • Employee engagement is a key component to corporate sustainability efforts. One Alcoa employee attending a workshop in Washington was inspired to suggest improvements to plant operations that saved the company nearly $120,000 in auxiliary power costs. When employees make the efficiency connection, the results can be unexpected and significant. Visit http://makeanimpact.c2es.org  and learn more.

To receive a full copy of Environmental Leader's 2011 Insider Knowledge Report, click here.

 

Download a copy of our ads from Environmental Leader's 2011 Insider Knowledge Report

Make An Impact advertisementBusiness Innovation Project advertisementBELC advertisement

--Appeared in Environmental Leader, February 2011
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Low-Carbon Business Innovation Project

How Can Business Accelerate Innovative Solutions to the Climate Challenge?

We launched an in-depth study on low-carbon business innovation with generous funding from Hewlett-Packard (HP). Innovation in low-carbon technologies is critical to achieving the greenhouse gas emissions reductions necessary to addressing climate change while maintaining robust economic growth. Businesses are an important engine of the low-carbon innovations that are vital to solving the global climate change problem. This project is a research effort to understand how leading companies successfully execute low-carbon innovation strategies with the aim of helping to accelerate this type of innovation in the U.S. and global economy.



 

Check out our podcasts on low-carbon business innovation:

  • C2ES President Eileen Claussen discusses the roles business and government play in advancing low-carbon innovation.
  • In advance of the report's release in October, report author Andrew Hargadon sat down with us to outline some of the key concepts that will be included in the work.
  • Bob Hilton of Alstom, one of the four low-carbon innovation case study companies, talks about Alstom's development of carbon capture and storage technologies that can dramatically reduce carbon emissions in the coming years.



 

Learn about the top three technologies available today that will have the biggest impact on achieving low emissions growth.

Follow all the latest Innovation Project tweets at #BizInnovate

 

See our ad in Environmental Leaders 2011 Insider Knowledge Report

Make an Impact

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The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions has partnered with member companies Alcoa, Entergy, and Bank of America on Make an Impact - a unique community focused project aimed at raising awareness and mobilizing action on climate change in communities throughout the United States.
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Initiatives

This section of the website includes our past and present initiatives.

Solutions in Steps, Not Leaps: The Year in Review and a Look Ahead

By Eileen Claussen
December 20, 2010

2010 was a year of highs and lows.

On the high side were global temperatures; 2010 will mark the hottest year in recorded history. At the start of the year, there was also the short-lived high of thinking we might be on the precipice of meaningful action in the U.S. Congress to protect the climate. Finally, at year’s end the climate talks in Cancún delivered (surprise!) tangible results in the form of agreement on key elements of a global climate framework.

But alas, the lows won out for most of 2010 as a trumped-up email controversy, continuing economic unease, and growing anti-government sentiment in the United States undermined the effort to forge lasting climate solutions at all levels. 

Congress. Until quite recently, the Pew Center and many others were actively supporting cap and trade as the number-one climate policy solution. After the House passed a fairly comprehensive energy and climate bill in June 2009 that had a cap-and-trade system at its core, we actually thought that it might become the law of the land.

Before long, however, it became eminently clear that the Senate would not be able to pass a similar bill. The 2010 U.S. elections, which brought more doubters of climate change into the halls of Congress, only made it clearer that comprehensive climate action is off the table for now.

EPA. With Congress unable to pass comprehensive climate legislation in 2010, attention turned to what EPA might be able to do under existing authorities. And it turns out that EPA can do quite a lot by taking reasonable steps that have garnered critical support from the business and environmental communities. In late October, for example, the agency announced a sensible proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve fuel efficiency for medium and heavy-duty vehicles. This was followed by a November announcement that will go a long way to making sure that new industrial facilities use state-of-the-art technologies to boost efficiency and reduce emissions.

Of course, opponents of these and other EPA regulations will surely raise a ruckus, and there will be loud cries in Congress to delay the regulations and even cut funding for the EPA. But the possibility remains that the agency could conceivably begin to chip away at U.S. emissions in the months and years ahead.

State Actions. Looking beyond Washington, state capitals were the focus of creative thinking and leadership on the issue of clean energy in 2010. Massachusetts, for example, set a statewide energy efficiency standard in 2010 supported by $1.6 billion in incentives. Meanwhile, California voters upheld the state’s greenhouse gas reduction law by defeating Proposition 23. This marked the first direct vote on addressing climate change in the United States, and it won in an overwhelming fashion.

But the overall story regarding climate action in the states was more mixed. While several regional climate initiatives continued to push forward, the November elections brought to the nation’s statehouses a group of new leaders who adopted strong stands against climate action in their campaigns. We will stay tuned to see how their campaign rhetoric translates into governing.

International. The agreement reached by international negotiators in Cancún in December closed out 2010 on a positive note. The Cancún Agreements import the essential elements of the 2009 Copenhagen Accord into the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, including a stronger system of support for developing countries and a stronger transparency regime to better assess whether countries are keeping their promises. The Cancún Agreements also mark the first time that all of the world’s major economies have made explicit mitigation pledges under the Convention.

Of course, the ultimate goal of the continuing international talks should be a legally-binding climate treaty, but in Cancún we saw countries agreeing on incremental steps that will deliver stronger action in the near term and lay the foundation for binding commitments down the road.

Looking Ahead. Looking ahead, I believe 2011 holds promise only if those of us who support climate action can learn from what happened in 2010. In recent years, domestic and international efforts largely centered on a “big bang” theory of trying to achieve everything at once. Instead, it’s instructive now to take a cue from Cancún and accept that a step-by-step approach to building support for climate solutions offers our best shot at progress. 

Calling on the new Congress to pass cap and trade or similarly comprehensive solutions will be a nonstarter, for example.  But there may be an opportunity on Capitol Hill for less sweeping steps to reduce U.S. emissions.  

Supporters would do well to spend the next several months laying the groundwork for incremental solutions by strengthening communications with the public. We need to do a better job of helping people understand both the risks and the opportunities presented by climate change. In the same way we buy fire insurance to protect against an event that has a statistically small chance of happening but would result in severe damage, acting now to cut emissions reduces our vulnerability to severe events that are likely to become more common in a warming world. And the success of the “No on Prop 23” campaign in California suggests that there remains a healthy appetite among the general public and in the business community (which provided substantial support for the effort) to back well-framed climate solutions. 

After a year of highs and lows, we still must aim high in our efforts to address one of the greatest challenges of our time. But we should also heed the lessons of the past year and work for more modest victories now that can keep us on the path to longer-term solutions. 

by Eileen Claussen, President, Pew Center on Global Climate Change-- December 2010
Eileen Claussen
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