Climate & Energy

Retire your carbon, offset your guilt

Carbon Retirement sees opportunity in European allowances

Carbon Retirement -- you read it here first (or maybe second). I don't normally endorse individual companies. But I have long thought European allowances were the best alternative to offsets and am delighted someone has made a business out of it. The business opportunity is clear -- offsets suck. At a policy level, they can destroy the environmental value of climate legislation. At a personal level, lots of vendors are selling very dubious offsets, including CCX. I can't imagine why you would waste your money on the most popular offsets, trees (certainly not a Northern forest -- heck, even offset seller Terrapass disses trees). And don't get us started on the other popular offset, RECs. But I know some of you out there really want to be carbon neutral, and while you have bought 100 percent renewable power for your superefficient home that uses a geothermal heating and cooling system to replace natural gas, and you bought a Prius for the family car and you telecommute, you just haven't figured out how to avoid some driving and flying. What to do? Buy real emissions credits from the European market and retire them permanently! Now that is the best idea since solar baseload.

The biggest low-carbon resource, by far

Energy efficiency is the core climate solution, part 1

Energy efficiency is the most important climate solution for several reasons: It is by far the biggest resource. It is by far the cheapest, far cheaper than the current cost of unsustainable energy, so cheap that it helps pay for the other solutions. It is by far the fastest to deploy. It is "renewable" -- the efficiency potential never runs out. This post focuses on number one -- the tremendous size of the resource.

WCI's new proposal

What the Western Climate Initiative does right — and what it could do better

Draft is here [PDF]. Just the major points. First off, the proposal is basically pretty good. We should keep in mind that what WCI is doing represents a big -- gigantic -- step in the right direction for the climate. So I'll raise a glass to everyone who's worked so hard on the WCI proposal so far. But there's room for improvement. Below, I highlight the core areas of the proposal. These are bedrock issues that make me concerned.

A renewable win

Two-pronged strategy to sway energy policy debate

Putting aside the causes of the oil-price rise and what the future holds, I am concerned that progressives are losing the public debate about what to do about it. Like David, I was extremely disappointed with Gore's interview on Meet the Press this past week, both with respect to the ridiculous questions from Brokaw and Gore's complete inability to get the right message across. And now we have an editorial from The Wall Street Journal (as well as John McCain himself) making the absurd claim that Bush's lifting of the offshore oil drilling ban is responsible for the recent drop in oil prices. Since I am assume both McCain and the op-ed writer are smart enough to know that this is false, one can only assume they are willing to lie because they think that this presents an opening for the rightwing in a season when they look doomed. Unfortunately, data exists to back up this belief, as the public's support for offshore oil drilling is rising. The simple fact is that when costs of energy go up, most people are willing to put aside environmental concerns, including global warming. This is why it is crucial that progressives, and especially the Obama campaign (who brilliantly won the gas tax holiday debate during the primaries), need to adopt an aggressive strategy for winning over the public on energy issues. Here's what I think should be the central message:

Western states unveil draft cap-and-trade scheme

The Western Climate Initiative has unveiled a draft proposal for a regional cap-and-trade program that would kick off in 2012. The 11 states and provinces involved — Arizona, British Columbia, California, Manitoba, Montana, New Mexico, …

Target practice

On the art of setting (and hitting) emission targets

Gore's call for 100 percent renewable electricity generation within 10 years may seem, at first blush, to be so far out in left field as to lack any seriousness -- but it has some commonality with established regulatory policy. For example, California's global warming law (AB 32) is rooted in Governor Schwarzenegger's Executive Order S-03-05, issued on June 1, 2005, ordering that "the following greenhouse gas emission reduction targets are hereby established for California: by 2010, reduce GHG emissions to 2000 levels; by 2020, reduce GHG emissions to 1990 levels; by 2050, reduce GHG emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels." What is notable about both Gore's and the governor's targets is that all the numbers happen to end in zero. Gore did not call for a reduction of, say, 95 percent in 13 years; his targets are evidently ballpark numbers more-or-less picked out of a hat. "One hundred percent" can basically be interpreted to mean "a whole lot" and "10 years" translates to "ASAP."

A media boon for Pickens

T. Boone Pickens’ plan is overexposed and inferior to Gore’s

It's official: T. Boone is overexposed. His monotonous TV ad runs on an endless loop, he has testified in front of Congress, he is now appearing on every cable show, and everybody quotes him even though he doesn't actually agree with anybody but himself. What specifically bugs me: His ads say we can't drill our way out of this problem, but then he says we should drill everywhere -- offshore, Alaska, your backyard. He keeps pushing his absurd idea of switching over to natural gas vehicles. His plan shares a great deal in common with Al Gore's, but he still goes out of his way to diss it (inaccurately, see below): "Gore's Global Warming Plan Ignores Crippling Stranglehold Foreign Oil Has on America's Economic and National Security." Sen. Joe Lieberman (I/D/R ?-Conn.) said the plan is a "classically American message of honesty, determination and can-do optimism." Did I mention he keeps pushing his absurd idea of switching over to natural gas vehicles, even though Russia, Iran, and Persian Gulf states have most of world's gas reserves? The Gore critique seems to me particularly lame, as if he can't stand to share the stage with anyone else. Why else release such a petty statement as this:

Arctic holds vast untapped oil and gas reserves

The Arctic Ocean holds up to 20 percent of the world’s undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas reserves, according to new research from the U.S. Geological Survey. A four-year study found that the region contains …

Hurricane Dolly cancels McCain’s trip to offshore oil rig

John McCain had planned to visit an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday to tout offshore drilling and the industry’s environmental friendliness, but Hurricane Dolly canceled his plans. Dolly hit land in …

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