Archive for January, 2012

Global Green Room Interview: Gary Gero

January 31st, 2012

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We have worked with Gary Gero almost as long as we’ve been an organization, beginning when he worked for the city of Los Angeles and we were offering green building workshops for cities in California. He is now President of the Climate Action Reserve (formerly the California Climate Action Registry) and recently talked to our staff about his work on greenhouse gas (GHG) offsets. Below, his answers to our Global Green Room Interview questions.

What would surprise us about your work?

I’d say two things are surprising. First is the fact that our work demonstrates that a surprisingly diverse and broad range of interests can find common ground in promoting solutions to global climate change. Our board of directors is comprised of leaders from environmental nonprofits like NRDC and EDF; government agencies from California, Mexico, and Canada; the business world, including energy companies like Shell Oil; and agricultural interests like the California Farm Bureau Federation. This mix is reflective of the work we do on a daily basis to bring together and collaborate with very different stakeholders across the board. The second surprise is that the government, including the California Air Resource Board, is increasingly looking to credible third-parties, such as the Climate Action Reserve, to actually help implement their climate programs. These types of public-nonprofit partnerships in the regulatory arena are very rare and are, I believe, only possible in this instance because of the integrity and strength of the program we have built.

Who is your hero?

My view is that there are very small handful of people who are truly transformative as leaders and who truly rise to the title of Hero with a capital H. So in my mind the real heroes are the everyday, unsung folks who strongly believe that we must take action to protect our environment and transform our economy and who ACT on that belief every day in their personal and professional lives. There are many thousands of people who work for environmental nonprofit organizations rather than take a big paycheck in a corporation, or people who are working inside of corporations and who constantly fight to make the environment a priority, or are in government and truly believe that the government can affect change and work hard every day to bring that change about.  These are the people that I admire most and that I consider heroic.

What has been your greatest success?

I think that having built the Climate Action Reserve from the foundations of the California Climate Action Registry and having it grow to become the largest and most trusted carbon offset program in the U.S. is our greatest success. We have pivoted from being a voluntary emissions reporting program for the State of California into an independent certifier of GHG offsets in the U.S. and Mexico and we have accomplished that very quickly and successfully. I am proud to have led this transformation, but could not have done it without the leadership that preceded me nor without the support of a great board of directors, a smart and dedicated staff, and all of our program partners.

What about a failure or challenge? And have you learned a life lesson or found a silver lining to that failure or disappointment?

I’ve had my share! A lesson I learned many years ago while working in the City of Los Angeles still sticks with me. I had worked very hard to research and craft a purchasing policy for the City that would have protected tropical rainforests. I consulted many external experts, including many environmental nonprofits, to quickly craft this policy, but when I brought it to the City Council, it was quickly shot down. As I reeled from the failure, I learned an important lesson that simply having the best policy or program proposal is not alone sufficient. Just as important, or perhaps even more so, is building support for an idea by engaging all stakeholders and bringing them along with you. Some time after that experience I saw an African proverb that says “When you run alone, you run fast. When you run together, you run far.” I truly believe that if we are going to seriously combat global climate change, we need to build a broad coalition, so that we can run far.

If you had the power to make one global and green change, what would it be?

I would find a way to cheaply capture the clean, abundant, and ubiquitous renewable energy in the sunshine that bathes this planet every day so that we would never have to burn another dirty drop of oil or clod of coal to power our economy.

Blowin’ in the Wind: Global Green at the Pole

January 30th, 2012
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Sebastian Copeland and Eric McNair-Landry at the Pole of Inaccessibility.

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Sebastian Copeland and Eric McNair-Landry at the South Pole.

It’s an awesome start to the new year for Global Green friend and board member Sebastian Copeland and Eric McNair-Landry, who successfully completed a three-month transcontinental crossing of Antarctica. The team started in November 2011 and reached their goal on skis and kites in 81 days. The Antarctica Legacy Crossing — 100 years after Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole – was a historic, three-month journey for the travel team. They became the first to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility (POI) from the Eastern coast of Antarctica without outside support or motorized transportation (in the photo above, they are next to a bust of Lenin, the only remaining sign of a Russian station that was abandoned more than 50 years ago); they also linked the POI to the geographic South Pole, opening the route for the first time without motorized transportation or outside assistance; finally, they opened a never-before traveled course linking the Antarctic coasts east to west, via two of its poles. We will eagerly await the documentary Sebastian plans to release, as well as a book of photographs documenting the expedition. More on his website and blog.

Eric McNair-Landry successfully completed a three-month transcontinental crossing of
Antarctica. The team started on November 5th, 2011, on the east coast of the continent and in total
covered 3,854 km (approx. 4100 adjusted km or 2,600 miles) on skis and kites, in 81 days.
The Antarctica Legacy Crossing — 100 years after Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott reached the South Pole –
was a historic, three-month journey for the travel team. They became the first to reach the Pole of Inaccessibility (POI) from the Eastern Coast of Antarctica, without outside support or motorized transportation (in the photo above, they are next to a bust of Lenin, the only remaining mark from Russian station that was abandoned more than 50 years ago; they linked the POI to the geographic South Pole, opening the route for the first time without motorized transportation or outside assistance; finally, they opened a never-before traveled course linking the Antarctic coasts east to west, via two of its poles.

I’m Stuck in a Bad Relationship, Part 1

January 30th, 2012
I’m stuck in a bad relationship.
I think you’re stuck in a bad relationship too.
In fact, I think we’re all stuck in a bad relationship.
And I’ll tell you why. Starting with a little story.
Two planets walk into a bar.
One has amazing peaks, and lush valleys, and deep blue oceans. She has clear skies and verdant forests.
The other planet? She’s sick, she’s barren, she’s pockmarked and brown, and burning up with a fever.
They belly up to the bar, size each other up.
The healthy planet looks over at the sick planet and says, “Darlin’, you don’t look so well. Do you really think you should be out? Shouldn’t you be home resting?”
The sick planet says, “Well, if you had just gotten the news that I got from my doctor, you’d need a drink too.”
“Why what’s wrong?”
“Well, he just said I have a case of something called the Humans.”
The healthy planet says, “Oh don’t you worry about that! I used to have Humans and look at me now.”
The sick planet says, “Well, how’d you get better?”
“Well darlin’, I just got rid of them.”
As this joke and its dark humor illustrates, the planet — Earth — will be fine without us, but we cannot live without a healthy planet.
We are stuck in a bad relationship with planet Earth, with Mother Earth. And what’s the hallmark of a good relationship? Respect, trust, communication.
Well, we’re certainly not listening to the planet, are we? The planet is speaking loud and clear, if not screaming at us — about deforestation, ocean acidification, climate change.
And we’re just not listening, we’re not responding. Rather, we just keep taking while our “partner” continues to suffer, while we thrive in so many ways.
Well, it’s not just the planet that we’re stuck in a bad relationship with —  it’s women and girls as well.
As the planet suffers, we see that women and girls suffer too.
The UN recently released a report on this very topic: women, gender equality, and climate change. The report states:
Women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men — primarily as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change. Furthermore, they face social, economic, and political barriers that limit their coping capacity.
So, what do we do? How do we get out of this bad relationship and how do we learn from what’s going on?
A year ago, I was fortunate enough to journey to a place where these two challenges — these two bad relationships — are more interlinked than anywhere else perhaps on planet Earth.
I joined V-Day, their amazing founder Eve Ensler, and others on a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place that is rich in so many ways, but particularly in natural resources, including rare-earth minerals. These rare-earth minerals are essential to our cell phones and other electronic goods that we have become so dependent on, which we supposedly “need” for our daily lives. And what’s happened?
Armed militias, who depend on profiting from these rare-earth minerals, use rape of women and girls to control and continue to profit from these rare-earth minerals. Over half a million women and girls have been raped in the last 10 years alone in the Congo.
Why is the Eastern Congo the rape capital of the world, as a UN official recently put it? In great part because we’re so dependent on these cell phones and electronic goods, and the rare-earth — or conflict minerals — needed to manufacture them.
During the journey to the Congo, we celebrated the opening the City of Joy — a place that Eve and V-Day built as a community for women survivors of gender violence — rape and other atrocities — in Bukavu, in the Eastern DRC.
The theme of the celebration was “Turning Pain into Power.”
At the opening of the celebration (an odd term to use given the pain, suffering and destruction), I was blessed to be able to dance with hundreds of local women. Many of these amazing woman had been raped multiple times and yet they danced with such incredible joy, and love.
As they danced, they didn’t hold back their joy and love. They truly turned pain into power. And my life was forever changed by these beautiful, brave, joyous women.
On Jan. 28, the first class of the City of Joy — the pilot class of 42 women who started last summer — will graduate. V-Day recently shared this update on the first class at City of Joy:
This first class has taken part in a diverse and impactful six-month curriculum that includes: group psychotherapy; self-defense; English; literacy; communications; civic and political education including civil rights; comprehensive sexuality education; massage; physical education, and horticulture. The program was designed by local staff to address the unique emotional, physical, and intellectual needs of Congolese women survivors of gender violence, and to provide them with the tools necessary to return to and thrive in their communities upon graduation.
In April, I’m headed back to the Congo to further help turn pain into power — well solar power, that is. Global Green has partnered with V-Day to green the City of Joy, and we will be installing a solar system to provide reliable, clean electricity, and reduce — and eventually eliminate — the need to rely on expensive, dirty diesel generators. (Big thanks to the generosity of the SunPower Foundation, as well as the 11th Hour Project and COINS Foundation for making this possible.)
Not only will their lights and other electrical needs be powered by the sun, we hope the women of the City of Joy can use the system for micro-enterprise (i.e. creating a solar-powered phone-charging business).
What can we do to help the reduce the conflict and end this unfathomable violence against women and girls — and increasingly boys — in the Eastern Congo? As consumers, we can make a difference by demanding cell phones and electronic goods that are conflict mineral-free. It is good to see progress being made on this front thanks to activists and consumers around the world.
But that’s not enough. We need to stop allowing ourselves to be defined as consumers. We need reclaim our role as citizens. Yes, we need to vote and hold our leaders and elected officials accountable and demand action on these global issues of great importance.
But that’s not enough, either. I think we need to empower and call upon all of us, not just reclaim our role as citizens, but to become citizen entrepreneurs: people who love their home, who love the earth, who connect the dots to the global challenges we face, and who take responsibility for a corner of their world. People who unleash their creativity in making their neighborhood, school, or community a better place, however big or small their idea.
Because if we don’t, we risk what stands to be a very nasty break-up.
(This is the first part of a two-part blog — in the next post, I will talk more about my call for a nation of citizen entrepreneurs as part of how we end our ‘bad relationship’ — and is based on a talk I gave at TEDxWomen on Dec. 1, 2011.)

I’m stuck in a bad relationship.

I think you’re stuck in a bad relationship too.

In fact, I think we’re all stuck in a bad relationship.

And I’ll tell you why. Starting with a little story.

bl_two_planets_illo

Two planets walk into a bar...

Two planets walk into a bar.

One has amazing peaks, and lush valleys, and deep blue oceans. She has clear skies and verdant forests.

The other planet? She’s sick, she’s barren, she’s pockmarked and brown, and burning up with a fever.

They belly up to the bar, size each other up.

The healthy planet looks over at the sick planet and says, “Darlin’, you don’t look so well. Do you really think you should be out? Shouldn’t you be home resting?”

The sick planet says, “Well, if you had just gotten the news that I got from my doctor, you’d need a drink too.”

“Why what’s wrong?”

“Well, he just said I have a case of something called the Humans.”

The healthy planet says, “Oh don’t you worry about that! I used to have Humans and look at me now.”

The sick planet says, “Well, how’d you get better?”

“Well darlin’, I just got rid of them.”

As this joke and its dark humor illustrates, the planet — Earth — will be fine without us, but we cannot live without a healthy planet.

We are stuck in a bad relationship with planet Earth, with Mother Earth. And what’s the hallmark of a good relationship? Respect, trust, communication.

Well, we’re certainly not listening to the planet, are we? The planet is speaking loud and clear, if not screaming at us — about deforestation, ocean acidification, climate change.

And we’re just not listening, we’re not responding. Rather, we just keep taking while our “partner” continues to suffer, while we thrive in so many ways.

Well, it’s not just the planet that we’re stuck in a bad relationship with —  it’s women and girls as well.

As the planet suffers, we see that women and girls suffer too.

The UN recently released a report on this very topic: women, gender equality, and climate change. The report states:

Women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than men — primarily as they constitute the majority of the world’s poor and are more dependent on their livelihood on natural resources that are threatened by climate change. Furthermore, they face social, economic, and political barriers that limit their coping capacity.

So, what do we do? How do we get out of this bad relationship and how do we learn from what’s going on?

A year ago, I was fortunate enough to journey to a place where these two challenges — these two bad relationships — are more interlinked than anywhere else perhaps on planet Earth.

I joined V-Day, their amazing founder Eve Ensler, and others on a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place that is rich in so many ways, but particularly in natural resources, including rare-earth minerals. These rare-earth minerals are essential to our cell phones and other electronic goods that we have become so dependent on, which we supposedly “need” for our daily lives. And what’s happened?

Armed militias, who depend on profiting from these rare-earth minerals, use rape of women and girls to control and continue to profit from these rare-earth minerals. Over half a million women and girls have been raped in the last 10 years alone in the Congo.

Why is the Eastern Congo the rape capital of the world, as a UN official recently put it? In great part because we’re so dependent on these cell phones and electronic goods, and the rare-earth — or conflict minerals — needed to manufacture them.

During the journey to the Congo, we celebrated the opening the City of Joy — a place that Eve and V-Day built as a community for women survivors of gender violence — rape and other atrocities — in Bukavu, in the Eastern DRC.

The theme of the celebration was “Turning Pain into Power.”

At the opening of the celebration (an odd term to use given the pain, suffering and destruction), I was blessed to be able to dance with hundreds of local women. Many of these amazing woman had been raped multiple times and yet they danced with such incredible joy, and love.

Dancing in the City of Joy.

Dancing in the City of Joy.

As they danced, they didn’t hold back their joy and love. They truly turned pain into power. And my life was forever changed by these beautiful, brave, joyous women.

On Jan. 28, the first class of the City of Joy — the pilot class of 42 women who started last summer — will graduate. V-Day recently shared this update on the first class at City of Joy:

This first class has taken part in a diverse and impactful six-month curriculum that includes: group psychotherapy; self-defense; English; literacy; communications; civic and political education including civil rights; comprehensive sexuality education; massage; physical education, and horticulture. The program was designed by local staff to address the unique emotional, physical, and intellectual needs of Congolese women survivors of gender violence, and to provide them with the tools necessary to return to and thrive in their communities upon graduation.

In April, I’m headed back to the Congo to further help turn pain into power — well solar power, that is. Global Green has partnered with V-Day to green the City of Joy, and we will be installing a solar system to provide reliable, clean electricity, and reduce — and eventually eliminate — the need to rely on expensive, dirty diesel generators. (Big thanks to the generosity of the SunPower Foundation, as well as the 11th Hour Project and COINS Foundation for making this possible.)

Not only will their lights and other electrical needs be powered by the sun, we hope the women of the City of Joy can use the system for micro-enterprise (i.e. creating a solar-powered phone-charging business).

What can we do to help the reduce the conflict and end this unfathomable violence against women and girls — and increasingly boys — in the Eastern Congo? As consumers, we can make a difference by demanding cell phones and electronic goods that are conflict mineral-free. It is good to see progress being made on this front thanks to activists and consumers around the world.

But that’s not enough. We need to stop allowing ourselves to be defined as consumers. We need reclaim our role as citizens. Yes, we need to vote and hold our leaders and elected officials accountable and demand action on these global issues of great importance.

But that’s not enough, either. I think we need to empower and call upon all of us, not just reclaim our role as citizens, but to become citizen entrepreneurs: people who love their home, who love the earth, who connect the dots to the global challenges we face, and who take responsibility for a corner of their world. People who unleash their creativity in making their neighborhood, school, or community a better place, however big or small their idea.

Because if we don’t, we risk what stands to be a very nasty break-up.

(Cross-posted on Huffington Post. This is the first part of a two-part blog — in the next post, I will talk more about my call for a nation of citizen entrepreneurs as part of how we end our ‘bad relationship’ — and is based on a talk I gave at TEDxWomen on Dec. 1, 2011.)

Weekly Rewind: January 23-29

January 30th, 2012

bl_loraxGreen news stories we’re still talking about from last week.

Hope for Clean Energy: President Obama’s State of the Union address touched on clean energy — hearing “I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy” was certainly a highlight (more highlights and summaries on our blog). Then he elaborated on his energy strategies in Las Vegas (Huffington Post story).

I AM Winner: We had so many great I AM Challenge submissions, but we could only pull one name out of the hat to win. She is Felicia from Marina del Rey, CA, and she won two VIP tickets to our Pre-Oscar part February 22 (I AM winner post; Pre-Oscar party details and tickets).

Good Business: The United Nations launched an online database to help businesses adapt to climate change (Tcktcktck story).

Sunny Days: We talked to the Los Angeles Daily News about the rise of solar power in LA (LA Daily News story).

Good Protection: The EPA is providing clean drinking water to Pennsylvania homes in the fracking zone (ProPublica story).

One Fish, Two Fish, Three Fish, Activists: A fourth grade class got its wish after posting a petition asking the studio behind “The Lorax” to include environmental educational materials on the website for movie based on the Dr. Seuss classic (Mother Jones story).

Cleaning Up: The United States Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) completed the safe destruction of almost 90% of the 31,500 U.S. tons of deadly chemical agents that have been stored at military arsenals in the U.S. since the middle of the last century. (Our post)

Playing Dirty: Scientists were asked to downplay BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill rates (LA Times story). Even messier: An ex-employee says BP fired him for trying to clean up oil (Grist story).

Report Card: Global Green at Work in January

January 30th, 2012
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Global Green board member Sebastian Copeland and Eric McNair-Landry at the South Pole.

The new year brings new energy and there has been a lot of time set aside to plan for a big year with retreats: Global Green’s directors met mid-month; Matt Petersen attended the Clinton Global Initiative retreat in New York; and our New Orleans team attended the Green Collaborative retreat…. We attended the ribbon-cutting in Los Angeles for the Rio Vista low-income housing community project we helped to build green…. Walker Wells and Hagu Solomon were in Goleta, CA, for meetings on a green building program, while Ted Bardarcke was in San Diego for work on a LEED ND project…. We picked our I AM Challenge winner: Felicia from Marina Del Rey… We made tickets available for our Pre-Oscar party February 22 at Avalon Hollywood…. Gina Goodhill was in Sacramento for a Clean Energy, Clear Air gathering with environmental leaders and presen, presenting on AB758…. Global Green board member Sebastian Copeland had the most dramatic month, finishing his record-breaking trek in Antarctica. He plans to release a documentary and book of photos in his ongoing efforts to raise awareness for climate change…. Stay updated on our work with posts to Twitter, Facebook, and this blog.

Boxing Match: Interstate Container and Allen Harim

January 29th, 2012
Recycling, buying recyclable, and designing for recyclability shows good corporate citizenship, and makes business sense. With our Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) program, we work to help businesses adapt greener business practices. This week, we applauded the efforts of Interstate Container, one of the founding members of CoRR, and Allen Harim Foods.
Interstate Container announced that they are working with Allen Harim Foods to transition the company from non-recyclable coated corrugated packaging to FBA-certified recyclable coated boxes. The collaboration represents a pioneering effort to transform poultry packaging and set an example for all food packaging to be significantly more environmentally responsible. As a result of their efforts, they can divert 3,500 tons of waste from landfills and eliminate 11,000 tons of carbon emissions each year, by preventing methane-generating paper fiber from entering the landfills — and bringing it back onto the market as valuable commodities. “This is exactly the kind of leadership we need to reduce New York’s waste stream and carbon footprint,” says Annie White, director of our CoRR program.
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Allen's recyclable box.

Recycling, buying recyclable, and designing for recyclability shows good corporate citizenship, and makes business sense. With our Coalition for Resource Recovery (CoRR) program, we work to help businesses adapt greener business practices. This week, we applauded the efforts of Interstate Container, one of the founding members of CoRR, and Allen Harim Foods.

Interstate Container announced that they are working with Allen Harim Foods to transition the company from non-recyclable coated corrugated packaging to FBA-certified recyclable coated boxes. The collaboration represents a pioneering effort to transform poultry packaging and set an example for all food packaging to be significantly more environmentally responsible. As a result of their efforts, they can divert 3,500 tons of waste from landfills and eliminate 11,000 tons of carbon emissions each year, by preventing methane-generating paper fiber from entering the landfills — and bringing it back onto the market as valuable commodities. “This is exactly the kind of leadership we need to reduce New York’s waste stream and carbon footprint,” says Annie White, director of our CoRR program.

We’ve Got the Power: Sunny Days in LA

January 26th, 2012

bl_sun_over_seaIt happens to be sunny and 80ish today in parts of Los Angeles, but what we are referring to here is the growth of solar power in L.A.

We talked to the LA Daily News about the report of L.A. being ranked second in California for solar generation. In 2010, solar installations in California generated approximated 1,000 megawatts. Put into perspective by Mary Luevano, our Policy Director, “That’s the equivalent of removing 118,000 cars from our roads.”

It’s reported that L.A. currently has one solar installation per 1,000 residents, so the horizon holds nothing but opportunity.

State of the Union: Clean Energy Talk

January 25th, 2012

bl_obama_sotuDuring President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, it was hopeful to hear him declare, “I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy.” Also great: “We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That’s long enough.” He took the opportunity to say we don’t have to choose between the environment and our economy, and that he believes in a “strategy that’s cleaner, cheaper and full of new jobs” — and “a future where we’re in control of our own energy.” We would love the future energy to be clean energy (no thanks to more drilling for oil and fracking).

More on the speech: The speech transcript from the White House and good summaries on Grist and Huffington Post Green.

Weekly Rewind: January 16-22

January 23rd, 2012

bl_preoscar_inviteHere are some stories we’re still talking about from last week.

NO KXL: President Obama rejected the Keystone XL Pipeline proposal. The response was as controversial as the debate: (Huffington Post Green report)

In Our Backyard: Governor Jerry Brown delivered his state of the state address and declared California as the nation’s leader in creating renewable energy jobs (Brown’s speech)

Mmmm, Thai Food: We talked to environmental writer Jerry James Stone for our Global Green Room interview — and we’re pretty sure he was in footie pajamas when answering our questions. (Our interview)

Road to Rio: Tickets are now available for our fabulous Pre-Oscar Party on February 22. We’ll be kicking off our Road to Rio campaign there (details soon!). (Save the date, tickets)

Bills Blackout: Online protests of the proposed SOPA and PIPA bills on internet piracy raised a lot of awareness — and proved how powerful the web can be as a driver of change. (Good post)

Clean Air: A new NASA study showed that controlling air pollution can help stave off climate change and also improve health and agriculture. (NASA story)

About Face: Republican candidates are debating (and continuing to deny climate change). Here’s a chat with a climate scientist Newt Gingrich dismissed. (Climate Progress post)

Disarmament Milestone: Chemical Agents Eliminated

January 23rd, 2012

The United States Chemical Materials Agency (CMA), a department of the U.S. Army, announced today that it had completed the safe destruction of almost 90% of the 31,500 U.S. tons of deadly chemical agents that have been stored at nine declared military arsenals in the U.S. since the middle of the last century.

CMA Director Conrad Whyne stated that the U.S. had completed destruction of 27,473.65 U.S. tons of chemical agents and more than 2.2 million munitions and bulk containers as of January 21, 2012, with the final elimination of several tons at the Deseret Chemical Depot in Tooele, Utah.

This important disarmament milestone is a major step towards complete, verified, and global abolition of a whole class of weapons of mass destruction, with the United States leading the way. We congratulate the many men and women in the Army, the defense contractors, the local communities, and all other stakeholders who have made this program successful and thereby made our world a much safer and secure place.

With this milestone accomplished, the U.S. Army has now destroyed the chemical weapons stockpiles at seven of the nine declared US arsenals: Johnston Atoll in 2000; Aberdeen, Maryland in 2005; Newport, Indiana in 2008; Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 2010; Anniston, Alabama  and Umatilla, Oregon in 2011; and now Tooele, Utah in 2012.  The two stockpiles that remain — in Pueblo, Colorado and Blue Grass, Kentucky — will take another decade to eliminate.

The United States is bound by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to abolish its chemical weapons stockpile in a safe and timely manner. We began the destruction program unilaterally in 1990, signed the CWC in 1994, and ratified the treaty in 1997 when it entered into force. Six other countries — Albania, India, Iraq, Libya, Russia, and South Korea — have also declared chemical weapons stockpiles. The two largest possessor states, Russia and the U.S., accounted for about 95% of the declared weapons stocks. Russia has completed destruction of about 55% of its stockpile. Albania, India, and South Korea have also completed their destruction programs, while Iraq and Libya are continuing to work on their efforts.

All chemical weapons stockpiles were mandated by the CWC to be destroyed by April 2007 (ten years after CWC entry into force), but no possessor country was able to meet this deadline. Both the U.S. and Russia received a five-year extension, as allowed under the treaty, to April 2012; however, Russia has now stated that it will finish in 2015 and the U.S. has projected 2021 as its final deadline.

The complete elimination of chemical weapons, verified by international inspectors, over the next decade, will be a major step forward to the larger goal of abolishing all weapons of mass destruction — nuclear, chemical, and biological — from the globe.