Business & Technology

Like rats from a sinking Blankenship

University president quits Massey board after green group campaign

After a 14-week campaign by green groups, Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee stepped down from the board of directors of mountaintop-removal mining company Massey Energy today. Ohio Citizen Action, then Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA, Earthjustice, and Friends of the Earth, said that Gee’s relationship with Massey worked against his school’s efforts to develop clean energy solutions. More from Ohio Citizen Action. This effort to isolate Massey is the lord’s own work; longtime readers know my low opinion of Massey CEO Don Blankenship knows no bounds. (Blankenship bashing here, here, here, here, here, and here.) Watch the last half …

So how much would a $20/ton carbon price really cost?

First I said that we shouldn’t confuse wealth transfers with economic pain. Then I said that a $20/ton carbon price works out to a 1.4 cent/kWh rate increase. Astute readers may have noticed a disconnect. (Isn’t 1.4 cents/kWh economic pain?) Which brings me to the third and final part of this little series. Carbon prices v. use of carbon proceeds Let’s review the electric sector math. In 2006, the sector was responsible for some 2,784,805,000 tons of fossil fuel-derived CO2 emissions. If we had a carbon policy in place at that time charging $20/ton of emissions, electricity generators would have …

Concentrated solar power goes mainstream

Lockheed-Martin to build large CSP plant with thermal storage in Arizona

What is the best evidence that concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) aka solar baseload is indeed a core climate solution with big near-term — and very big medium-term — promise?  One of the country’s biggest companies, Lockheed-Martin, with 2008 sales of $42.7 billion, has jumped into the race to build the biggest CSP plant with thermal storage. The CSP market was already exploding (see “World’s largest solar plant with thermal storage to be built in Arizona — total of 8500 MW of this core climate solution planned for 2014 in U.S. alone“).  Now big players are getting on board, as …

Do the math

Economic impacts of carbon pricing

Yesterday, I explained why we shouldn’t confuse wealth transfers with taxes. Today, I fulfill my promise to follow up with math. (Contain your excitement!) On the theory that you should (a) stick with what you know and (b) avoid speculating on shoddy data, I’m limiting this math to the electric sector, but the conclusions are generalizable. How much does carbon pricing cost us on our electric bills? The surprising answer? Not much. In 2006, there was a total of 4,058,285,000 MWh of power generated in the US. 49% came from coal, 20% from natural gas, 19% from nuclear, 7% from …

Letter from Europe

In Copenhagen, it’s the same old business

Actress Cate Blanchett tried to warm business leaders’ hearts on the subject of global climate change.Copenhagen Climate Council If Al Gore and Ban Ki-moon weren’t able to get the job done, you might have thought Cate Blanchett would saved the day. But even an impassioned and remarkably erudite speech by the Oscar-winning actress failed this week to persuade world business leaders to go beyond mere rhetoric in pushing for action on climate change. The scene was Copenhagen, the site of this December’s vital negotiations on a new deal to combat global warming before it runs out of control. The event …

Moving money from A to B does not cause it to disappear

Cap & trade: Carbon tax or wealth transfer?

It’s an article of faith that cap-and-trade will raise our energy costs, but it’s not necessarily true. The ubiquity of this faith makes clear that the Smart People who write, talk, and vote about CO2 policy don’t really understand the issues. A quick discussion, and then some math to clarify. There are two core problems with the theory that carbon pricing schemes will raise energy costs: We habitually confuse sector-specific wealth transfers with economy-wide pain; the two are not necessarily the same. Rather than admit our failure to imagine how the world would adapt to carbon pricing, we tend to …

Duke Energy: We can ‘decarbonize’ without painful electricity price hikes

Major coal utilities are now publicly endorsing electricity decarbonization, an all but unimaginable position even 12 months ago.  And although Duke is a member of USCAP, which was the basis of Waxman-Markey, it remains remarkable that the company has joined the call for strong climate action (see How does Duke CEO Jim Rogers sleep at night, generating so much coal-fired CO2: “Lunesta”). Jim Turner, chief operating officer of Duke Energy Corp, explains the utility’s view in an Energy Daily (subs. req’d) column: For over 100 years electricity has powered the economic growth of this nation. In the last 30 years, …

Leverage on a bun

What the financial collapse can teach us about the food system

In a recent New Yorker, Nick Paumgarten published a lucid, entertaining essay on the financial collapse. Titled “The Death of Kings,” it focuses on the hedge-fund managers, stock gurus, and private-equity wizards who reaped billions from the credit bubble.Is Big Ag running the food system into the ground the same way Wall Street wrecked the economy?iStock Photo What were those people thinking? Turns out, Paumgarten relates that during the flush times, many in the world of finance had a “moment of clarity, an inkling of doom” about what was coming. “The sky was full of signs,” Paumgarten writes. For many, …

'Tell them to seal the deal'

Ban Ki-moon’s speech at World Business Summit on Climate Change

The following is the text of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s May 24 speech at the World Business Summit on Climate Change (as released by the UN). Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the opening of the World Business Summit on Climate Change.UN Photo/Eskinder DebebeSECRETERY-GENERAL BAN: I am delighted to be here. Perhaps more important, I am glad you have chosen to take the time to be here today. We meet at a critical moment in human history. Our planet is warming to dangerous levels. In December, the UN Climate Change Conference will meet here in Copenhagen to find solutions to this grave …

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