Glenn Hurowitz

Glenn Hurowitz is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy.

The Energy Fetish

Forests and agriculture essential to success of climate legislation

Within the next few days, Senators John Kerry, Lindsey Graham, and Joe Lieberman are going to unveil energy and climate legislation. If this legislation is to have any chance at either environmental, economic, or political success, they must avoid the "energy-only" approach that would entirely exclude forests and farms from participation in a solution -- but that has recently gained some traction.

grow job

The jobs are in the trees

With Congress and the White House considering spending scarce dollars to jump-start employment, they’ll need to get the biggest jobs bang for the buck to give Americans confidence that they’re spending our money wisely. Probably the biggest jobs generator of all, and one of the least recognized, is investing in forest and land restoration and sustainable management, with conservation, watershed projects, and park investment coming close behind. Heidi Garrett-Peltier and Robert Pollin at The Political Economy and Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts report the following numbers for jobs created per dollar of investment. To summarize, reforestation and restoration …

The earth’s decade

Generations from now, long after the last Twitter follower has unfriended the last Facebook user, this decade will be remembered and felt for its impact on Nature: the species that were saved and those that were lost; the heating of the planet; the forests cut down and those that remain to provide oxygen to our children’s children, and the first halting steps toward a clean energy future. By those standards, this decade has been one of great beginnings, tragic ends, and the uplifting possibility of a new relationship between man and Nature. To be sure, these were years of fire …

Hey, Look, a Forest!

Report: Forest conservation can be as reliable as other ways of reducing pollution

Photo: Mongabay A combination of dramatic technological advances, experience, and application of a little common sense has markedly increased scientists’ confidence in their ability to monitor forest conservation projects for their climate impact. As The Eliasch Review [PDF], the U.K. Government’s authoritative recent report on forest-climate science and policy, put it, “Using appropriate techniques, forest emissions can be estimated with similar confidence to emissions estimates in other sectors.”  That’s very good news, as approximately 20 percent of total global warming pollution comes from deforestation, more than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, and ships combined. As the United States and …

Not your daddy’s offsets

A new report, “Forging the Climate Consensus: Domestic and International Offsets” makes clear exactly how important a role high-quality offsets play in maintaining the integrity of climate legislation — and how they could allow an international climate agreement to achieve far stronger emissions reductions targets than would otherwise be possible. The report was issued by the National Commission on Energy Policy, which represents major corporations, NGO’s, and labor unions (and whose executive director is Jason Grumet, Obama’s top energy advisor during the campaign, so it should be taken at least somewhat seriously as the type of thinking being seriously considered …

The Negotiators

The Non-Concession concession?

Henry Waxman and Ed Markey seem to have mastered the art of the non-concession concession: striking deals with potential opponents in ways that meet their needs while minimizing (though not entirely eliminating) the negative impacts. Similar to their distribution of allowances, which seemed at first glance to be a massive giveaway but turned out to be far more equitable, the latest compromise between Waxman and House Agriculture chairman Collin Peterson seems to fall into this category. The agreement installs a five year moratorium on calculations for how ethanol and other biofuels affect international land use. Climate pollution is released into …

How Waxman-Markey tackles climate change by saving forests

One of the little-known ingredients of the deal that allowed the American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454, to pass the Energy and Commerce committee was a breakthrough on protections for the world’s vanishing tropical forests. The bill’s authors, Representatives Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ed Markey (D-MA), used this agreement to achieve the bill’s environmental aims while keeping it affordable enough to maintain the political support it needed to pass. As such, the bill’s tropical forest provisions are essential not only to strong climate policy, but also to overall hopes for climate legislation as it works its way through …

The political economy of climate policy

Understanding offsets

As the struggle to pass the Waxman-Markey climate-energy bill showed, there is a certain price any political system is willing to bear for climate action. In China, that price is low. In the United States, it is medium. And in Europe, it is relatively high. But in every system, there exist two primary ways to reduce the costs of climate legislation to align it with that politically-determined price. One is by weakening the pollution reduction targets – something which provides zero benefit to the climate. The other is by including offsets – making it possible for emitters to get credit …

Same polluters, new deceit

Industry spin on climate is still working on media

Andrew Revkin New York Times reporter Andy Revkin has a blockbuster story showing that the Global Climate Coalition, the main industry group that spent much of the 1990s seeking to sow doubt in journalists’ and politicians’ minds about the reality of climate change, knew all along that it was real and dangerous: “The role of greenhouse gases in climate change is not well understood,” the coalition said in a scientific “backgrounder” provided to lawmakers and journalists through the early 1990s, adding that “scientists differ” on the issue. But a document filed in a federal lawsuit demonstrates that even as the …

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