Climate & Energy

A fuel's errand

Republican House members ask EPA to scale back ethanol mandate

More than 50 Republican representatives sent a letter [PDF] to the Environmental Protection Agency last week urging the agency to lower the mandate for ethanol …

'There is no box'

Lester Brown unveils plan for 80 percent cuts by 2020

Lester R. Brown, President of the Earth Policy Institute and author, most recently, of Plan B, Version 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, released a new study today called "Time for Plan B: Cutting carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2020." I was invited to participate in a conference call in which Lester explained many of the highlights of the plan; I will do my best to share what he said (any mistakes are my own). First, it appears that the only comprehensive plan to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2020 is the one put out by Brown and his associates at the Earth Policy Institute. Partly this may be because Brown explicitly stated that he was not presenting what is politically feasible, but what is needed to cut emissions by 80 percent by 2020. Cutting emissions by 80 percent by 2050, as he pointed out, is more politically comfortable because it means you don't have to do much now, but it is not what is needed. He discussed Jim Hansen's goal of getting CO2 emissions down to 350 parts per million, a goal which could be targeted after 2020, as the next step after reducing emissions by 80 percent.

Help wanted: A Bill Gates for distributed generation

Framing the energy revolution like the computer generation

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Kari Manlove, fellows assistant at the Center for American Progress. This week's issue of the Economist features a commemorative piece on Bill Gates, who stepped down from his position as Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft last week. Gates had an arguably turbulent career, due to his aggressive or monopolistic business tactics as the lead in the industry, but one that has been inconceivably successful and world-changing. Among the many legendary attributes the Economist article points out is Gates' determination and eventual responsibility for personalizing computers in the form of desktops. Gates made the technology accessible to individuals, homes, and businesses rather than keeping giant computers centralized.

Sally 4th

Sierra Club prompts voters to call legislators about energy bills over the holiday weekend

The Sierra Club began running radio ads this week in six states whose U.S. senators are key votes for energy legislation. Though both Republicans and …

Investment in renewable energy skyrockets

Global investment in renewable energy was a record $148 billion in 2007, jumping 60 percent from 2006, the United Nations reported Tuesday. About one-third of …

No shame in our game

Climate policy isn’t a pill to swallow, it’s a way off a sinking ship

This Ezra Klein post echoes what has rather rapidly become conventional wisdom among progressives on climate legislation, and it makes me want to tear my …

The dogma whisperer

A possible consensus perspective on the tax vs. cap debate

Last revised: 07/10/2008 In his recent Congressional testimony, James Hansen talked about a "perfect storm" of climatological tipping points that may soon converge to yield global cataclysm. But another kind of perfect storm is brewing: a technology storm that could rapidly displace fossil fuels and restore global climate sustainability. Effective regulatory policy could provide the kind of incentives and stable investment climate that are needed to facilitate the clean-energy revolution. Unfortunately, the "caps and standards" approach that is currently in vogue cannot provide the economic backbone for a rapid and orderly transition to a sustainable global economy. Emission caps and performance standards are rarely if ever set at levels that represent true sustainability, and are generally biased toward extreme cost conservatism. Regulators try to second-guess markets in setting targets and schedules, while markets try to second-guess regulators; the instability and unpredictability of carbon prices deters long-term investment in clean energy. A carbon tax like the one advocated by Dr. Hansen and many economists would provide price stability, and could theoretically be five times more cost-efficient than cap-and-trade, but taxes are politically verboten. Industry interests oppose taxes because of their alleged high regulatory costs and cap-and-traders won't let go of their hallowed "environmental certainty." So the tax-versus-cap debate goes round and round, never resolving and never converging on a credible climate stabilization strategy. But the debate could be resolved if policy makers -- and the economics profession -- could put aside their dogmatisms and recognize several basic principles of climate policy:

Tale of obsession

A review of Fields of Fuel

Fields of Fuel, directed by Josh Tickell, is visually compelling and technically polished, which unfortunately bestows a veneer of legitimacy the film does not deserve. Promotional films are stereotypically one-sided, ignoring or glossing over negatives while exaggerating and or fabricating positives. That is to be expected, but what set this film apart from your generic promotional film is Tickell's success at manipulating viewers' emotions.

'Often contradictory stances'

Mainstream media realizes that McCain’s energy rhetoric and record don’t match up

The mainstream media has started to pick up on the fact that John McCain’s energy policy is totally inconsistent. Bloomberg: As a senator, John McCain …