When the normally conservative International Energy Agency agrees with both the middle of the road IPCC and more ... progressive voices like mine, it should be time for the world to get very serious, very fast on the clean energy transition. But when the media blows the story, the public and policymakers may miss the key messages of the stunning new IEA report, "Energy Technology Perspectives, 2008" (executive summary here). You may not have paid much attention to this new report once you saw the media's favorite headline for it: "$45 trillion needed to combat warming." That would be too bad, because the real news from the global energy agency is Failing to act very quickly to transform the planet's energy system puts us on a path to catastrophic outcomes. The investment required is "an average of some 1.1 percent of global GDP each year from now until 2050. This expenditure reflects a re-direction of economic activity and employment, and not necessarily a reduction of GDP." In fact, this investment partly pays for itself in reduced energy costs alone (not even counting the pollution reduction benefits)! The world is on the brink of a renewables (and efficiency) revolution. Click figure to enlarge:
The day after markets registered the highest single-day rise in crude oil prices ever, the United States and Asia's four largest economies (Japan, China, India and South Korea), meeting in Aomori, Japan in advance of the G8 Energy Ministers summit, have formed a sort of Petro-holics non-Anonymous club, calling for an end to oil subsidies in their countries. Consumer subsidies (subsidized fuel prices), that is, not producer subsidies. OK, what they actually agreed upon was "the need" to remove fuel-price subsidies. Eventually. According to a report by Agence France-Presse, the five nations announced in a joint statement: "We recognize that, moving forward, phased and gradual withdrawal of price subsidies for conventional energies is desirable. Undistorted and market-based energy pricing" would help "enhance energy efficiency and increase investment in alternative sources of energy." They said that subsidies "should be replaced wherever possible by better targeted policies for intended beneficiaries. Such a move "could also lead to reduction in the government cost and greater integration of the domestic and global energy economies."
Reihan responds. Let me just say a few more things. First, I described his characterization of carbon pricing as “insane” based on this: What we need is a $100 billion prize or set of prizes …
From Obama’s remarks to his campaign staff: “Those of you who are concerned about global warming? I don’t care what he says, John McCain is not going to push that agenda hard.” It’s about 11 …
I recently found a pretty good NYT Magazine article on oil production. It's definitely worth a read, if for no other reason than as a reminder of how much things have changed since the article was written in 2005. For example, on page 1 comes the quaint statement: If consumption begins to exceed production by even a small amount, the price of a barrel of oil could soar to triple-digit levels. Yes ... yes it could. Here's another one:
Reihan Salam writes an incredibly disappointing, and boggling, blog post here, on his preferred strategies for dealing with climate change. Disappointing, because if Reihan, one of the best conservative writers out there, doesn’t get the …
A quick post-mortem on this week's vote on the Climate Security Act, which was pulled from the Senate floor on Friday after its sponsors fell short of the 60 votes needed to proceed to final debate. I think I can safely sum it up in one word: progress.
McCain's statement on Lieberman-Warner said this: ... it appears that for now, the Senate, at the direction of the Majority Leader, will choose to put politics above policy, and Congress will fail to act yet again on this critical issue. You cannot be serious! The people who put politics above policy were McCain's fellow conservatives, who Forced 30 hours of pointless debate Forced a 9-hour reading of the bill Demagogued the gasoline and energy price issue over and over again Denied the reality of climate science Voted to block the bill from moving forward That's why Congress failed to act. And, of course, Bush said he would veto the bill anyway. Where or when did the straight talk express derail? This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Revkin speculates that Barnes' proposal is a way to break the deadlock stopping climate change legislation. I think he may be right. Tax emissions. (Or cap them and auction permits.) Refund the revenue to everybody. It has the following political advantages: It is simple and easy to understand. It puts a price on emissions without really penalizing anybody. It is a no-hair-shirt solution. This last point is worth emphasizing. It does not punish consumers, because the increased prices they pay are made up for by the dividend check. It does not really punish fossil fuel companies, because the tax they pay gets passed along to customers who have new money to pay those increased prices. Of course, fossil fuel companies do lose, as people use less of their product, but that is not punishment; it is an inevitable result of their selling a product whose side effects can no longer be tolerated. Since it will take time to phase out fossil fuels, oil and coal companies are free to use the time tax-and-dividend gives them to make the transition to other businesses, perhaps by expanding the investments they have already made in wind and solar. I'm going to post soon on why I think the people who think tax-and-dividend (or any mechanism depending on price) can be the sole, or even main, solution are wrong. Price is insufficient by itself; public investment and rule-based regulation have to remain the primary solutions. But price is not avoidable as part of the solution.
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