Climate & Energy

British prime minister chats climate with Bush

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was in Washington, D.C., Thursday to sit down for a chit-chat with President Bush. Brown told press that he and Bush “agreed we must work internationally to secure progress at the G8 and toward a post-Kyoto deal on climate change. … I look forward to continuing to work with President Bush and his administration in taking it forward.” (Taking what forward remains to be seen, as Bush’s recent climate speech had no specifics.) Brown also mentioned Britain’s hesitation to go forward full force with biofuels, noting, “We’ve got to get it absolutely right that we’re …

Google checks out Earth Day

Google Checkout maps the spread of donations and Earth Day lovin’

I think Google has a crush on the planet. First, they announced a goal of achieving carbon neutrality for 2007 and beyond. Then, they unleashed their RE<C campaign (Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal), aimed at producing one gigawatt of clean electricity more cheaply than coal. Next, you may have noticed their blacked-out search page on March 29, in support of Earth Hour, the global awareness movement to turn out the lights and turn up action on climate change. And now, in anticipation and celebration of Earth Day (April 22), Google is winking flirtatiously at the neglected planet once more. This …

ABEC is dead, but long live coal

Americans for Balanced Energy Choices gets new name, t-shirts

ABEC has re-branded themselves the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity. See here for an interview with President Stephen Miller, who does an admirably media-savvy job of laying out their talking points and PR strategy. His key points: "If we push too hard, too fast, we will force fuel switching away from coal." "The president and the congress have a role to play to make sure the public sector invests in coal-fired power." We've spent a lot of money on t-shirts, trucks, and advertising to affect the primary campaign, and it's working. In other words: We need to burn more coal. We need taxpayers to pay for the cost of that coal. And we've got enough money to make sure it happens. Here's the creepy new 60-second ad they're running nationwide:

Clinton bashes Obama on energy

Clinton is attacking Obama over his energy bill vote in Penn. again. (More on the vote; more on the attacks.) You’ve got to know McCain is chuckling right now. He’s having the easiest campaign ever!

Burning ice, ice, baby

Methane hydrates: What’s the worst — and best — that could happen?

Methane hydrates (or clathrates), "burning ice," are worth understanding because they could affect the climate for better or worse. You can get the basics here on ... ... a solid form of water that contains a large amount of methane within its crystal structure [that] occur both in deep sedimentary structures, and as outcrops on the ocean floor. The worst that could happen is a climate catastrophe if they were released suddenly, as some people believed happened during "the Permian-Triassic extinction event, the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum." The best that could happen is if they could be recovered at a large scale safely -- then they would be an enormous new source of natural gas, the lowest-carbon and most efficient-burning fossil fuel. A recent workshop was held: "Vulnerability and Opportunity of Methane Hydrates," International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, March 13-14, 2008. You can find most of the presentations here. Science magazine recently ran a summary ($ub. req'd) of the meeting, which I will reprint below [unindented]:

The flaccid mind of Stephen Johnson

National Journal on the EPA tailspin

The following post is by Earl Killian, guest blogger at Climate Progress. ----- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been failing spectacularly to do what the law requires, as determined by numerous federal judges (including the Supreme Court). For a more in-depth look, consider a pair of articles by Margaret Kriz in the National Journal. "Vanishing Act" looks at many of the failures of the EPA. "The President's Man" presents an interview with EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and gives insight into his twisted thinking. For example, when asked about issuing ozone standards weaker than the unanimous recommendation of the EPA's independent Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, Johnson replies:

Notable quotable

“Emissions are growing much faster than we’d thought, the absorptive capacity of the planet is less than we’d thought, the risks of greenhouse gases are potentially bigger than more cautious estimates, and the speed of climate change seems to be faster.” – Nicholas Stern, author of the seminal Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, on why he thinks his report underestimated the danger of global warming

Nicholas Stern says climate change worse than he thought

Nicholas Stern, the British economist known for a major report in which he declared that combating climate change would cost less than ignoring it, has announced that he was wrong — about how bad the problem is. “We badly underestimated the degree of damages and the risks of climate change” in the Oct. 2006 report, he said in a speech Wednesday. “All of the links in the chain are on average worse than we thought a couple of years ago.” Thawing permafrost is releasing methane, oceans are acidifying faster than expected, and carbon sinks are becoming less effective, said Stern. …

Don't celebrate this holiday

We need to be freed from gas, not the gas tax

John McCain’s proposal to institute a gas tax “holiday” during the summer driving season is as clear an example of a pander as one is likely to see during election season, but its inclusion in a major economic policy speech suggests that this is no easily ignorable one-off. As Joseph Romm notes, any hope progressives might have had that the maverick, straight-talking conservative could bring some principle to the table on climate and energy issues has now gone out the window. How badly does the tax holiday plan fail? Let us count the ways. First, it will offer consumers little …

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