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Why consumer protection means selling carbon permits

One of the thorniest problems in cap-and-trade programs is deciding how to distribute the carbon permits. Should the public sell pollution privileges or give them away for free? Some folks worry that if we make polluters pay for carbon permits, they'll just raise prices for consumers. That's a perfectly legitimate concern. Unfortunately it turns out to be true, whether we sell the permits or give them away for free. Prices rise by the same amount in either scenario. (The only difference is whether polluters reap windfall profits or whether the public earns revenue from selling the permits.) It may be …


Don't look now, but clean tech is contributing to climate progress

New report on massive growth of renewables last year

Climate Progress is the title of my blog posts' main home, as much as the "progress" part strains credulity at times. I only see two major quantitative areas of sustained progress: clean energy deployment (especially in Europe) and private sector clean-tech funding. Those folk at Clean Edge, who wrote the best 2007 book on clean tech, The Clean Tech Revolution, have quantified these gains -- and made predictions about the future -- in a new report you can read here. Some interesting factoids: Clean-energy markets -- revenue for solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, biofuels, and fuel cells -- grew by 40 …


Commute conundrum

Should emissions from employee commutes be included in company GHG inventories?

When businesses dip a toe in the rising sea of corporate action on climate change, the first box they check before diving in involves tabulating their own greenhouse-gas inventory. In getting your corporate house in order, the first step is defining where your yard ends and your neighbor's begins. The good news: There is a clearly accepted international standard providing guidance to companies sorting "what's in" and "what's out" for their GHG inventory. The Greenhouse Gas Protocol: A Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard is the playbook everyone is working from. The bad news: Some issues are more clearly defined in …


Mood in the hood

John Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil Company, was on Charlie Rose Tuesday night. About 22 minutes into the segment, he says the following [my own transcription]: If we don't drill more in this country, I am quite concerned about civil disturbances in our urban areas because of the price of fuel. ... I was meeting in Los Angeles with mayor Villaraigosa and I asked him a specific question because I lived there during the Rodney King civil disturbances. [I] said, "How is the mood in the hood based upon the price of gasoline compared to the mood in the hood …


Prasad responds

Carbon taxes work when there’s substitutability and revenue is locked down for environmental goals

This is a guest post by Monica Prasad, who wrote an op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times called "On Carbon: Tax, Don't Spend." It elicited responses from David Roberts and Charles Komanoff. ----- Thanks to David and Charlie for picking up on and responding to my carbon tax op-ed. I've learned a lot from Grist, so I was happy to see this. Some responses to their criticisms. David's beef is with the word "spend" in the headline. I agree the headline is stupid, and it was not my idea. It implies that I'm advocating hoarding the revenue. Instead, I was …


Passover as if the earth matters

A call to action: Street Speakout Seders

  Photo: iStockphoto The traditional Passover Haggadah teaches that in every generation, some Pharaoh will arise in destruction, and that in every generation, every human being -- not just every Jew -- must look upon herself or himself as if it is we -- not our ancestors only -- who must go forth to freedom. In this generation, what Pharaoh do we face, and what freedom must we seek? Pesach intertwines human freedom with the renewal of the earth: in the moment of spring when new grain, new lambs, and new flowers rise up against winter, the earth itself rises …


Another entrant in the $1/watt solar sweepstakes

Cost of solar cells may be driven down dramatically

Well lookie here! A series of manufacturing process improvements could make the cost of electricity from silicon-based solar cells comparable to today's prices for coal generation within about four years, according to a company emerging out of stealth today. The company, 1366 Technologies, will be using technologies developed in MIT labs to reduce the manufacturing costs of standard-issue multi-crystalline silicon solar cells. They say they can ultimately reduce costs by about 50%, bringing the cost per watt of solar cells down to $1 (the same cost point Nanosolar is claiming it can hit). They plan on licensing the tech to …


Software calculates eco-impact of printers and copiers

Xerox is offering a new software calculator to help companies reduce the energy suckage of printers, copiers, and other newfangled technology. The calculator will consider factors including type of print cartridge, print color, speed, number of pages printed per month, and Energy Star rating, then create bar graphs demonstrating energy consumption, greenhouse gases, and solid waste produced from use of the machine. Graphs comparing funniness-of-butt-copying to chances-of-being-fired not included.


Americans want to spend on green, but can’t figure out how, says study

Americans are primed to spend up to $104 billion on "green" technologies this year -- but don't know where to find them, says a new study. Which seems crazy, considering the plethora of green-shopping websites and companies joining in on the "green revolution," but what do we know? According to the survey conducted by Rockbridge Associates, some half of the spending on green technologies this year could come in the form of easier-on-the-earth vehicles.


NYT offers special section on green biz

The Sierra Club is embarking on its first product endorsement, putting its logo on Clorox's new Green Works cleaning products. Various businesses are aiming to bypass carbon neutrality and move straight on into carbon negativity. These and more stories show up in a New York Times "Business of Green" section Wednesday, which covers the green-biz gamut, from companies trying to manufacture safer chemicals, to financial techniques helping to grow the solar sector, to shareholders unconvinced that going green means making green. The rising of green-collar jobs and the growth of academic programs focused at moving students into them are also …