Climate & Energy

Cap-and-dividend: YEAH!

I think "cap-and-dividend" is a clever climate policy, if unlikely to win the day in Congress. But I have trouble imagining how any climate policy could get me as excited as these people.

Meeting of major economies ends with little progress

A U.S.-led gathering of major economies in Paris this week concluded, as previous meetings have done, with little progress. The 17 countries bashed President Bush’s climate speech for a while, then argued about whether to set a goal of halving global greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050. (Guess who’s against it?) French president Nicolas Sarkozy made himself quoteworthy, saying that climate change would make Darfur “just one crisis among dozens of others” and urging international private investors to “massively redirect financial flows toward [a] new low-carbon economy.” After vaguely agreeing that future deals should include sharing clean technologies and setting emissions goals …

Notable quotable

“I think some people have overlooked the major news that the President made yesterday, which was committing a national economy-wide goal to halt carbon emissions.” – White House spokesflack Tony Fratto, confusing a policy that would allow unrestrained growth of carbon emissions for the next 17 years for one that would “halt” carbon emissions

Pope preaches environmental protection to United Nations

After gallivanting around Washington, D.C., Pope Benedict XVI traveled to New York Friday to make an address to the United Nations General Assembly. In a speech largely focused on human rights, the pope also made note of the world’s plentiful other problems, including “the protection of the environment, of resources, and of the climate.” Our environmental, security, development, and inequality issues “require from the international community that it act on a common basis,” the pope said. He also had papal thoughts on religion-infused science. “[I]nternational action to preserve the environment and to protect various forms of life on earth must …

Encouraging solar installations in cities

Harder than it looks.

Governors will pester candidates about climate

A gaggle of governors will conclude a meeting at Yale with an agreement to pester the presidential candidates about climate change. Governors of 18 states, representing more than half of the U.S. population, pledge to “reach out to major presidential candidates as a means of shaping the first 100 days of the next administration.”

Polar bear listing decision delayed, again

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that it needs 10 more weeks to decide whether to list polar bears as a threatened or endangered species. The agency’s self-imposed deadline is now June 30; the original deadline was Jan. 9. The USFWS says it needs time to review the legal and policy implications of a listing, but litigious greens suspect the delay may have something to do with the feds’ selloff of drilling leases in polar-bear habitat. Says Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, “These are not questions for attorneys. They’re questions for scientists.” source:

350 sense

McKibben kicks off 350.org, a new international grassroots climate campaign

If only atmospheric chemistry gave you points for trying. A year ago this week, we were celebrating. I and six college-age colleagues of mine, joined by thousands of organizers across the country, had managed to pull off 1,400 simultaneous demonstrations against global warming in all 50 states. Though we didn’t have much in the way of resources, Step It Up day was a success — and within a week, both the Obama and Clinton campaigns had endorsed our call for 80 percent cuts in carbon emissions by 2050. The glow, shall we say, faded. Within a matter of weeks, the …

A decarbonization story: Part 2

Does the IPCC dangerously assume ‘spontaneous’ decarbonization?

No. The central point of the recent Nature article "Dangerous Assumptions" (available here [PDF]) is that the IPCC made dangerous assumptions in their reference scenarios: ... the scenarios assume a certain amount of spontaneous technological change and related decarbonization. Thus, the IPCC implicitly assumes that the bulk of the challenge of reducing future emissions will occur in the absence of climate policies. We believe that these assumptions are optimistic at best and unachievable at worst, potentially seriously underestimating the scale of the technological challenge associated with stabilizing greenhouse-gas concentrations. That would be a powerful conclusion, if it were true. But it isn't, as this post will make very clear. In fact, I suspect most people will be quite surprised at how clear it is that this conclusion is not true, given that it appears in a major science journal. First, I think it is worth noting that the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, said late last year: If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment. Does that sound like the head of a group that has underestimated the scale of the climate challenge?

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