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EU and US Rapprochement on Climate Change

I have just returned from Washington D.C., and it is refreshing to see an era of closer cooperation between the U.S. and Europe, not to mention the rest of the world, on climate change. As the U.S. delayed meaningful action on climate change for the past 15 years, the EU has set an ambitious target to reduce member states’ CO2 emissions by 20% from 1990 levels by 2020 -- the so-called 20/20/20 initiative. The EU also created the European Trading System (ETS), the world’s first platform for trading of carbon credits. By placing climate change high on his domestic and foreign policy agendas, President Obama has changed the dynamics of climate discussions with the EU and in global climate negotiations, generally. His administration is fully re-engaged in UN negotiations and, along with Congress, is moving forward with domestic cap-and-trade legislation. Domestic legislation would impose mandatory caps on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and set a target to cut emissions by 17% by 2020 and 83% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels. The recent economic stimulus package includes $15bn for alternative energy development, more fuel efficient cars and a “smart grid” to bring them together. The US and European are taking different approaches to solving global warming. While the Obama Administration presents reducing greenhouse gas emissions in terms of opportunities through the power of technology and the creation of a green economy, the EU is mainly focused on shorter-term opportunities to conserve, reining in electricity consumption and using less fuel by driving less and using more fuel-efficient, smaller cars, etc.There is, however, a convergence of EU and U.S. long-term goals on climate change, and this is good news. Read More »

A 10 percentage-point increase in broadband results in a 1.3 % increase in economic growth

For every 10 percentage-point increase in high speed Internet connections there is an increase in economic growth of 1.3 percentage points.This is one of the conclusions from the World Bank report “Information and Communications for Development 2009: Extending Reach and Increasing Impact” just published last week. The report takes an in-depth look at how ICT impacts economic growth in developing countries. The findings are forceful and I see them as an urgent call for action. The reports also identifies the mobile platform as the single most powerful way to reach and deliver public and private services to hundreds of millions of people in remote and rural areas across the developing world.Broadband networks and ICT are a critical foundational element for the information economy and countries’ ability to compete. Countries that take wise and forceful steps to create a competitive ICT market will be able to bring the benefits of the information economy to their citizens. Read More »

US Should Lead in Climate Change Policy

Late last Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed comprehensive energy and climate change legislation that would set our country on a path to reduce its emissions to 83% below 2005 levels by 2050, among other things. If it becomes law, this bill will mark an historic milestone for U.S. climate change policy; one that will help pave the way for the Obama Administration to take a lead role in the upcoming global climate change negotiations this December in Copenhagen, Denmark. Cisco supported the passage of the American Clean Energy & Security Act. We firmly believe that innovation and technological advancement will transform how the world manages its energy and environmental challenges. This bill will help ensure enhanced investment in clean tech and energy innovation, helping solidify American leadership in this expanding market, and fast-tracking important technologies that will secure our energy and environmental future. This is vital for U.S. companies and U.S. investment. Read More »

European Democracy at Work!

On 7 June, I joined citizens across Europe by going to the ballot box to elect the European Parliament for the eighth time; although sadly more than half of the electorate stayed at home. Before the vote, the political chatter had focused on what the reaction of the electorate would be to the economic crisis and how the centre-right EPP grouping (the largest in the Parliament) would fare. The UK Conservatives had announced they would be splintering off from the group with like-minded parties from the Czech Republic and Poland in the new Parliament.While the exact make-up isn’t yet clear, from the provisional results the biggest themes seem to be a dramatic loss for the centre left and a growth in fringe parties. The EPP held its own despite the loss of their UK and Czech chapters. In many countries, the ruling parties were punished in the polls in what is seen as a reaction struggling economies across Europe. That being said, centre-left governments seem to have suffered more. The UK and Portuguese governments were heavily defeated while the opposition Popular Party beat the ruling Socialists in Spain. In contrast, the EPP-affiliated governments in France, Germany, Italy and Poland more than held their own. The far right and anti-immigration parties made significant ground, returning MEPs in the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Slovakia, Hungary and the UK. Read More »

Old MacDonald had….broadband

OK, I admit it -- I’m a Brit abroad and I’m addicted to the BBC website. There’s something very homely about reading stories about the UK, whether it be to commiserate Manchester United’s failure to get over the final hurdle or the latest story about Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent. I was flicking through the site this morning when I came across this piece about broadband ‘not-spots’ in the UK and it set me thinking. There seems to be a growing recognition that everyone needs to have a broadband connection, or even in some quarters that broadband should be considered a ‘right’ for our citizens. But what is it all about? While it may be taken as a given in our tech community, why do we think about it in these terms? Read More »