Eric de Place

Eric de Place is a senior researcher at Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based sustainability think tank.

Annie get your facts

The facts of cap-and-trade [VIDEO]

It’s a smidge belated, but the folks at Clean Energy Works have a smart video rejoinder to Annie Leonard’s December hit video on cap-and-trade. (Readers may recall me flying off the handle about Leonard’s video, here and here.) In The Facts of Cap-and-Trade, Nat Keohane, economist for Environmental Defense Fund, gives a thoughtful and friendly defense of cap-and-trade — why it’s sound policy and why now is the time to act.  There’s more here. This post originally appeared at Sightline’s Daily Score blog.

Climate Policy Lessons From France

I loved French President Sarkozy’s carbon tax proposal, so it was disheartening to see it get mauled by lawmakers: “We will not touch households, hauliers or fishermen,” Ecology Minister Jean-Louis Borloo told reporters. Industries such as metals and refineries, seen as major polluters, were spared under the earlier tax plan… Borloo announced plans to launch formal talks with companies and authorities on ways to tax industry fairly, possibly through incentive schemes and tax credits. After this consultation he aims to present a new bill to parliament by May. The leading business association, Medef, called on Tuesday for the tax to …

Common Sense Regulations For Carbon Markets

With all the concern about carbon trading, it’s worth pointing out that there are some common sense solutions to the risk of carbon market manipulation. Foremost among these solutions is restricting trading to regulated exchanges (such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which handled agricultural futures) and banning unregulated, or lightly-regulated, “over-the-counter” trading. In a later post, I’ll wade into all this in more detail. For now, I’ll just point to a pair of short but clear fact sheets that make a good intro. 1. Ensuring the Integrity of the Carbon Market from Environemntal Defense Fund. An excerpt: Trades must be through exchanges.The …

Cantwell aims high but misses. Try again?

Cantwell’s cap-and-trade bill: almost genius

Sen. Maria Cantwel (D-Wash.)To borrow Dave Eggers’ book title, the novel approach to cap and trade proposed by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius. Genius, because it is an innovative plan to create a best-case version of cap and trade. And heartbreaking, because by design and by omission it undermines the most important feature of cap and trade: a legally binding limit on carbon emissions. It’s true that Cantwell’s CLEAR Act sets out ambitious reduction targets. Yet at present, it lacks detailed guidance for achieving them, especially in the near term. We want to love …

A global perspective on U.S. climate emissions

To mark the international climate negotiations in Copenhagen, I’m trotting out some maps I made a while back. This one has states labeled with the names of countries that are their greenhouse gas equivalents. In other words, Oregon is responsible for the same level of climate emissions as Ireland; Wyoming is the greenhouse gas equivalent of Vietnam, and so on. Want to see the whole thing? Bigger versions are here. And here’s another slice at the same data. On the version below, regions are labelled with the names of their climate emissions equivalents. The coal belt through Appalachian country emits as much as the …

Critiquing the critique

How James Hansen gets cap-and-trade wrong

Climate scientist James Hansen has gone on the warpath against cap-and-trade. (See this op-ed in the NYT, among other recent examples.) Perhaps what’s most alarming is that, for all his intelligence, Hansen doesn’t appear to grasp even the basic elements of cap-and-trade systems. In a blog post last weekend, economist Paul Krugman took him to task: … today’s op-ed article suggests that he really hasn’t made any effort to understand the economics of emissions control. And that’s not a small matter, because he’s now engaged in a misguided crusade against cap-and-trade … What the basic economic analysis says is that an emissions …

Setting the Story Straight

Cataloguing the errors in “The Story of Cap-and-Trade”

Just colossally ignorant. That was all I could think to say on viewing the latest eco-video web sensation, “The Story of Cap-and-Trade” by Annie Leonard and Co. No one does a circular firing squad like the Left and this contribution is a potential Hall of Famer. Leonard has a disarming Every Gal schtick, but it masks a shockingly ill-informed — or maybe outright deceptive — “critique” of cap-and-trade. I was working myself up to rant about it, but Dave Roberts got there before I did. To give you a flavor of Dave’s take-down: I hesitate to call this an “argument” in …

Market oversight in the Western Climate Initiative

Though most climate policy wonks are now focused on U.S. federal legislation or the summit in Copenhagen, the Western Climate Initiative is soldiering on — and doing good work too. The WCI’s Markets Committee recently released a white paper on carbon market oversight that is worth a read. While the paper doesn’t draw many conclusions about WCI’s final design, it does provide a very helpful summary of the principal regulatory options in both the U.S. and Canada. It also includes a nice overview of regulation under the E.U.’s cap-and-trade system, as well as a discussion of the regulatory options under consideration for the big …

How cap-and-trade markets work for acid rain and smog

Contrary to claims that cap-and-trade is untested or uproven, there are a half dozen or so operational cap-and-trade programs already functioning in the United States. Of these, the most significant are the Acid Rain Program and the NOx Budget Trading Program. Both have large vibrant trading markets, both have been extremely successful in achieving environmental aims, and neither has evidenced manipulation or gaming. The Acid Rain Program has been administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 1995. It includes a cap-and-trade program for sulfur dioxide (SO2) — and all evidence suggests that the program has functioned exceedingly well. In fact, the program achieved …

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