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Climate & Energy


Clinton Global Initiative: Clinton chats with the press

Bill Clinton wanted a carbon market back in the day, and he still does

Bill Clinton just gave a short speech and took a few questions from reporters. Some highlights: When they were in office, Bill Clinton and Al Gore wanted to create a global carbon market. At the time, Europe thought the idea undesirable and unfeasible and didn't offer any support. The effort failed. Now, years down the line, the world is a different place and the idea has much more purchase. Clinton, when asked for his thoughts on this, managed to turn all of his administration's supposed failures -- from health care to peace in the Middle East -- into examples of …


American spirits

New poll shows Americans believe in global warming, want to do something about it

Another day, another poll. This one's a Yale University / Gallup / ClearVision poll run by Anthony Leiserowitz, who I've written about before. Unlike the one I wrote about earlier this week, this poll focused on the U.S. No huge shocks. Most Americans believe humans are causing global warming; strangely, they see themselves as ahead of the scientific consensus -- lots (40%) are under the mistaken impression that scientists still disagree about the existence of climate change. About half of Americans are seriously worried about climate change; the others think it's a danger to critters and icebergs but not them …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Live green, go yellow

U.S. conservation land may soon end up in your gas tank

Well isn't this delightful (sub rqd): The Agriculture Department may allow farmers to plow up land in conservation agreements to plant row crops, despite a record corn crop this year, fueled by the ethanol industry's thirst for the feedstock. Acting Secretary Chuck Conner told reporters this week that USDA is considering releasing some land currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to idle nearly 34 million acres of land for wildlife habitat or soil or water conservation. Corn ethanol: always even more awesome than you think!

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food


Clinton Global Initiative: A round-up of quotes

Highlights from Brundtland, Zenawi, and Blair; lowlights from Paulson

Notable quotes from the plenary on "Economic Growth in the Face of Resource Scarcity and Climate Change": Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change: "Industry needs political signals and long-term ones. And it's not sufficient that individual countries set their own [goals] without connecting it to a global system." Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia: "This is about property right ... it's about a scarce resource, which is how much pollution the atmosphere can take," and about allowing countries that don't need the resource to sell shares to countries that do. …


Clinton Global Initiative: Climate change and the Third World

Ethiopian leader lays out the real inconvenient truth on climate

Meles Zenawi, prime minister of Ethiopia, laid out the, ahem, inconvenient truth: That countries like his suffer because of what countries like ours have done, and that a world-wide cap-and-trade treaty would have to allow countries like Ethiopia to sell carbon allocations to countries like the United States. He says the funds would be used to invest in green energy. Of course, they could also end up spent on Ethiopia's continuing quest to take over Somalia, so, it seems, there would have to be some oversight here. Broadly speaking, though, this is a justice problem, and one that will be …


Clinton Global Initiative: Hilarious quotes

Tony Blair on climate guilt and Hank Paulson on knowledge

Tony Blair: "The problem with global warming is that you feel guilty about enjoying it." Yes indeed. Less charming is this from Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson: Asked by Tom Brokaw whether Bush's determination on climate change is shared by Republicans on Capitol Hill, he replied, "I think there's a wide variety of knowledge on Capitol Hill." Writes Ezra, "Yep, many different knowledges, some of them true, some of them false, spread broadly. And they call the Left post-modern."


Clinton Global Initiative: Blair on political will and economic strength

Tony Blair downplays the importance of political will in the U.S.

Tony Blair, oddly, just downplayed the importance of political will in the United States, and then, in an aside, said he thinks "the political will is there." I think he's been talking to George Bush too much. Building American political will is the key challenge facing us if we want to see a global mitigation regime emerge. Still, the topic of the plenary is "Economic Growth in the Face of Resource Scarcity and Climate Change," and on that point, Blair pointed out that the U.K.'s economy has grown en route to meeting its Kyoto goals. Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the …


Clinton Global Initiative: Clinton on efficiency

Bill Clinton calls for countries to follow Japan’s lead

Bill Clinton introduced the morning plenary today by, once again, honoring the companies and people who've committed to the Clinton Global Initiative to take steps to increase energy efficiency and decrease greenhouse-gas emissions. But he touted one dubious statistic: If China, India, and the United States were to become as efficient as Japan, that would decrease global greenhouse-gas output by 20 percent. That statistic is based on this study by the McKinsey Institute and I think it's true only if, in an era of enhanced efficiency, the 2.5 billion people in China, India, and the United States didn't respond to …


Dingell opens the door

Rep. John Dingell introduces his hybrid carbon tax

With a mighty creak of long-rusted hinges, a door is finally opening in Washington. The present Congress will apparently be asked to consider a carbon tax. The measure -- actually, a hybrid carbon and petroleum tax -- will be introduced by the powerful chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.). Today Dingell posted on his website a summary of the bill, which he began drafting in June. The current version would phase in, each year for five years, a charge of $10 per ton of carbon content of coal, oil, and natural gas -- …


Charity won't cut it

Private sector money will not solve the climate crisis

The Clinton Global Initiative is ongoing. Rich folk and businesses are committing large sums of money to solving global problems like education, public health, and climate change. Matt injects a welcome note of realism: In those fields, it really seems to me that Bill Clinton could do much more good using his charisma and standing to try to convince rich guys and executives at big companies to take a more enlightened attitude toward the political process, to return to the sort of public-spirited involvement in public affairs that characterized the business class in the 1950s and 60s. Realistically, you can't …