KC Golden

KC is policy director at Climate Solutions, blogs at GRIP, and serves on the boards of 350.org, U.S. Climate Action Network, NW Energy Coalition, and Renewable Northwest Project.

Last, best Hopenhagen

Not Reid, not Godot: The whole world is waiting for YOU Mr. President

The world is aghast. It’s fate, it seems, “lies in the hands of a few U.S. Senators,” as Tuvalu negotiator Ian Fry lamented in his plea for a real, science-driven deal here in Copenhagen. The collective forehead of humanity wrinkles at the prospect. Who are these people? A couple of them from North Dakota, representing 600,000 people (about 9% of the population of Mumbai’s slums), can prevent the world from rising to an emergency? A thought bubble floats above the Bella Center: “U.S. Senate: Huh?” A Japanese woman grilled me last night in broken but feisty English about the intricacies …

COP the pork, save the world

Fossil jujitsu to save climate talks?

This has always been the big duh of climate and clean energy policy: How ‘bout we start by ending subsidies to fossil fuel development?  Clean energy reform is hard enough, swimming against the killer tides of free carbon dumping, car-centered development, and oil-soaked politics.  Can we pleeze stop adding insult to injury by targeting scarce public money toward making it worse? Steve Kretzmann’s the man on oil subsidies. Steve’s formula is catching on here in Copenhagen:  End fossil fuel subsidies in the developed world and use the proceeds to open a pathway to clean development in the global South.  It’s …

Last, best Hopenhagen

Mr. President, come to Copenhagen early

I wish every American could get lost for a few days in the Bella Conference Center and the events surrounding it in Copenhagen.  I wish you could all see and feel the desperate depth of the world’s hunger for America to step all the way up to its responsibilities here. And since at least one more of us will be here – the one who stoked your hopes; the one who just earned the first prospective Nobel Peace Prize in affirmation of the world’s urgent need for American leadership – I address this request to him.  Mr. President, please come early.  Arrive incognito.  …

Not just 60. 350.


Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has a well-earned reputation as a sharp, level-headed, practical leader. Most people wouldn’t describe him as a visionary. But in his excellent speech yesterday in Copenhagen, he laid out the case for profound transformation, and the explosive economic opportunities that come with it. Check out this passage (emphasis in bold is mine): Think for a moment about the long-term emissions targets we are all considering. President Obama is calling for an 83 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. You’re not going to meet those targets with a wind or solar farm here and there. …

air on the side of caution

Kyoto: Congress’ disgrace, not ‘Al Gore’s mistake’

A specter hangs over the U.S. negotiators at the Copenhagen climate summit: the Kyoto Syndrome. Conventional wisdom holds that the Clinton Administration, and Al Gore in particular, blew it by agreeing to the Kyoto Accords without building the foundation for the Senate to ratify it, which it never did. (See, e.g., “How to Prevent Climate Change Summit from Failure”). “America lost a lot of credibility when then-Vice President Al Gore promised the international community in Kyoto something that he knew could never be passed by the Congress,” said Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who will lead a group of House Republicans …

Shared fate under the ‘fault lines’

We hear plenty about the divisions that make reaching a global climate agreement in Copenhagen daunting. “Negotiators at Climate Talks Face Deep Set of Fault Lines,” as the New York Times put it on Sunday. Indeed, the opening salvos from the negotiators confirm that they have a long way to go in less than 2 weeks. As knotty and intractable as these “fault lines” may seem, they are surface creases in the scheme of things. Dig down a bit, and we are all in the same, deep stuff. Here are the fault lines laid out in the NYT piece on …

New nukes? A fair shot, not a free ride

If I began this column with “some advice for my friends in the nuclear industry,” you’d probably brace for a big fat cream pie in the industry’s face. I’ve been a vocal critic of the industry that presided over what Forbes Magazine called “the largest managerial failure in American history.” So before offering my advice, I should explain.  Four years ago, I was appointed to the Executive Board of Energy Northwest (formerly WPPSS), which operates Columbia Generating Station, the Northwest’s one remaining nuclear plant.  I accepted the appointment in part because I believe the climate crisis is so severe and …

In or out

Climate policy question #1 is simple: “Are we in?”

It’s all about the cap Photo: ne* via Flickr Climate and energy policy touches everything. So it’s no surprise that as Congress finally sets to work on a national climate policy, it confronts a blizzard of complexities. But at the end of the day, Congress will face some stark questions. Will they step up to a real commitment to reduce fossil fuel dependence? Will they launch an economic recovery that delivers sustained, broadly-shared prosperity, or just a short-term stimulus and bailout? Will they fight for real, effective climate solutions — as big as the problem? If we’re too clever and …

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