Climate & Energy


Greenpeace report calls carbon capture and sequestration ‘false hope’

On Monday, Greenpeace released a new report called "False Hope: Why carbon capture and storage won’t save the climate." Here are the conclusions, as summarized by Ken Ward Jr.: • Adequate technology is not expected to be commercially available until 2030, while leading climate experts say carbon dioxide emissions need to level off by 2015 to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change. • Coal-fired plant capacity is expanding so rapidly that as much as 70 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation in 2050 may not be technically suited for carbon capture and storage. • Carbon capture …

Jason and the Carbonauts

Obama energy adviser Jason Grumet talks climate, coal, and transportation policy

As executive director of the National Commission on Energy Policy, a bipartisan group of 20 energy experts created in 2002, Jason Grumet has come in for some flack from environmentalists. NCEP’s influential 2004 energy report called for several measures anathema to greens, including a "safety valve" that would set an upper limit on the price of carbon and CO2 permit giveaways to coal utilities and other big polluters. But Grumet’s experience finessing the contentious differences between opposing camps in the energy world clearly attracted Mr. Unity himself, Barack Obama. Grumet has been advising the Obama campaign on climate and energy …

I will bring oil to your house, carrying the barrels on my own back!

Clinton vows to take down OPEC

Now Clinton’s going to dissolve OPEC: “We’re going to go right at OPEC,” she said. “They can no longer be a cartel, a monopoly that get together once every couple of months in some conference room in some plush place in the world, they decide how much oil they’re going to produce and what price they’re going to put it at,” she told a crod at a firehouse in Merrillville, IN. “That’s not a market. That’s a monopoly,” she said, saying she’d use anti-trust law and the World Trade Organization to take on OPEC. Are we allowed to call this …

Name that tune

Clinton sings the faux-populist, anti-intellectual Manichean blues

I must say I’m surprised and gratified at the amount of coverage the gas-tax holiday is getting. It appears to be blowing up in Clinton’s face, which is exactly what would happen in a Good and Just world. Earlier this week, asked about the fact that not a single policy expert or economist thinks the holiday would do anything for consumers, Clinton spokesflack Howard Wolfson said: “We believe the presidency requires leadership,” said Wolfson. “There are times that a president will take a position that a broad support of quote-unquote experts agree with. And there are times they will take …

Ten thousand dead

Myanmar cyclone is a portent of disasters to come

At least 10,000 people lost their lives when a tropical cyclone struck the nation of Myanmar, in Southeast Asia. Perhaps the jury is still out on the extent to which storm intensity can be related to climate change. What is clear is that sea-level rise will make future storms, more intense or no, much more deadly in many developing nations. We can talk about pain at the pump for Americans being a serious problem, but it pales in comparison to the threat to human life posed by global warming. Another note: Myanmar is one of a handful of rice exporters …

Monday bummer blogging

Damn, one of the more promising ideas, biochar, seems to be a little less promising than hoped: ... a new study ... suggests that these supposed benefits of biochar may be somewhat overstated. ... They found that when charcoal was mixed into humus ... charcoal caused greatly increased losses of native soil organic matter, and soil carbon ... Much of this lost soil carbon would be released as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Therefore, while it is true that charcoal represents a long term sink of carbon because of its persistence, this effect is at least partially offset by the capacity of charcoal to greatly promote the loss of that carbon already present in the soil. Oh, and you know that thing Al Gore talked about, where birds would emerge from their eggs only to find that their usual food had already peaked and declined because the changing climate had disconnected formerly co-evolved species? Well, caribou go next:

Monday links

As promised, here’s yet another bunch of links for your leisurely perusal: Fortune writer Adam Lashinsky has a great round-up from the Brainstorm Green conference. My only beef is with this, about Lomborg: Even if you believe that global warming is an abject crisis, I simply reject the argument that it’s a bad idea to test your beliefs by listening to someone who disagrees or who is proposing a different solution. Well … of course. The question is whether, after their work has been met with dozens of devastating rebuttals, they should be allowed to simply recite it again, in …

Change now or change never

The longer we wait to move away from gasoline, the more high gas prices will hurt

Like Americans, Europeans are generally not fond of rising fuel costs. Unlike Americans, they’re much better at handling them. It isn’t difficult to understand why; they simply planned ahead. Geoffrey Styles writes: A big part of our problem is that most Americans are still driving cars that were purchased when gasoline was under $1.50/gal., to commute between work and home locations that were chosen when fuel was even cheaper … As of this week, nominal U.S. retail gasoline prices have gone up by 25 percent in the last year and by 130 percent in the last five years. How does …

Oh, say can I see a CCA?

How communities can choose renewable electricity, part 1

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with Paul Fenn, who has written or helped write several pioneering pieces of legislation which allow communities to aggregate their electricity purchasing power in order to choose renewable energy. This policy framework is called community choice aggregation, or CCA (of course, if I mangle any of the specifics, it will be from my own lack of understanding). When a CCA is created, the city or town or county can contract with an energy service provider (ESP) to provide the power for all residents of the area, if the residents so choose (so far, only about 5 percent of residents haven't signed up with various CCAs). In the case of the San Francisco CCA, the electricity service provider (ESP) will produce 360 megawatts over three years: 103 from distributed renewables, mostly PV on buildings; 150 from a wind farm; and 107 from conservation and efficiency. That should constitute 51 percent of San Francisco's electricity needs (up to 20 states are pursuing CCAs). The utility still provides the transmission lines, billing, and electricity backup. In 2001, San Francisco voters also passed a proposition to allow for "solar bonds" to be issued by the city (with an assist from Adam Browning's VoteSolar Initiative). These bonds will be used to construct the wind and solar electricity generating equipment and "smart grid" equipment which will be paid back by the revenue from the electric bills of the San Francisco residents who are part of the CCA. This mechanism gets around the biggest problem we've had with building wind and solar electrical generating capacity -- the lack of upfront capital.

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