Climate & Energy

Who you callin' a carbon tax, buddy?

The political chances of carbon taxes

There's an ecumenical rift in the carbon policy world. Some favor taxes, while others prefer cap-and-trade. I'm in the latter camp, though I'm sort of a carbon Unitarian: I like carbon taxes too. From a policy perspective, they fit together nicely. Among the reasons I'm on the c&t side is that taxes can be radioactive, at least in U.S. politics. Now, this isn't really a substantive objection to carbon taxes as a policy instrument, but the worry seems warranted. Consider how the opponents of climate policy have recently attacked cap-and-trade: They call it a carbon tax. Take a look at some headlines:

The Brownstein diagnosis

What went wrong on Lieberman-Warner?

Ron Brownstein — for my money the best political reporter out there — examines the implosion of the Lieberman-Warner bill in National Journal. Here’s his three-paragraph summary of what went wrong: The bill would have …

RPS distribution

Check out this map (click for a larger version). It shows states with renewable portfolio standards in orange. A swath of white goes from the southeast to the upper midwest. Tells you quite a bit …

A climate hero: The early years

A look back at James Hansen’s seminal testimony on climate, part one

Worldwatch Institute is partnering with Grist to bring you this three-part series commemorating the 20-year anniversary of NASA scientist James Hansen’s groundbreaking testimony on global climate change next week. It is written by Worldwatch staff writer Ben Block. Here follows part one. Part two is here; part three is here. ----- The speakers at a Washington, D.C., climate rally this past Earth Day, April 22, showcased the range of the modern environmental movement. They included an activist who engaged in a hunger strike, an outspoken preacher from the Hip Hop Caucus, and a folk duo that performed, "Unsustainable," a parody of Frank Sinatra's "Unforgettable." Yet it was a comparatively dry, 20-minute scientific presentation that brought the crowd to its feet. The speaker, introduced as a "climate hero," was James Hansen, a long-time scientist with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Hansen is not a revolutionary by character. He is a mild-natured man who speaks with a soft, Midwestern tone. Raised in southwest Iowa, the fifth child of tenant farmers, Hansen would later commit his life to studying computerized climate models. With human-induced climate change now widely regarded as the greatest challenge of this generation, Hansen is considered a visionary pioneer. Theories of climate change first surfaced more than a century ago. But it was Hansen who forever altered the debate on climate change 20 years ago this month.

Huge Calif. solar plant would run transmission lines through state park

A proposed solar power plant in Southern California is facing heavy opposition from some environmentalists as the plan also calls for high-voltage transmission lines to run through a popular state park. To move the power …

In China, we'll win or lose

China’s emissions are an argument for, not against, America taking action

The fight against global warming: China has clearly overtaken the United States as the world’s leading emitter of carbon dioxide, the main heat-trapping gas, a new study has found, its emissions increasing 8 percent in …

China’s carbon emissions highest in the world last year, study says

China’s carbon emissions were the highest in the world in 2007, exceeding those of its closest rival, the United States, by 14 percent, according to a new study from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. The …

A preview

Climate chaos shuts down trains

The National Association of Rail Passengers reports that Amtrak is taking a pounding from the flooding in the midwest, making trips difficult or impossible and generally showing how we've managed to go from the finest rail system in the world to one that would shame Bulgaria (to steal Kunstler's line). Thanks, climate change!

Google plugs in

Notes from a plug-in hybrid conference

Silicon Valley came to Washington this week to talk about plug-in hybrids at a great conference organized by Google.org with Brookings. The combination of tech visionaries, electric cars on display, Washington heavy hitters such as John Dingell, Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and even a couple of film stars, Peter Horton and Anne Sexton of Who Killed the Electric Car?, made for a great meeting. Here are my notes from the standing room only event ...

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