Climate & Energy

The Will to be ignorant

Drilling in ANWR still isn’t the solution to high gas prices

George Will is at it again. His latest bit of inane demagoguery can be found here, in which he excoriates everyone who has ever opposed drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: Also disqualified from complaining [about oil prices] are all voters who sent to Washington senators and representatives who have voted to keep ANWR's oil in the ground and who voted to put 85 percent of America's offshore territory off-limits to drilling. Naturally, Will ignores the flip side of the coin. What about people who have opposed investing in renewable energy, increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars, or encouraging conservation a decade ago? Those people have done far more long-term damage. If we'd begun to work on the oil problem ten years ago, we would be in much, much better shape than we are today. But is drill, drill, drill a solution? Will writes:

Belly up!

There is such a thing as a free lunch

You frequently hear that “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” particularly when it comes to climate and energy policy. It’s a mark of “seriousness” to solemnly proclaim that it’s all going to cost …

End the stalemate

Last, best hope for clean energy tax incentives

For the past six months, Congress has been squabbling over how to pay for a package of expiring clean energy tax incentives. These incentives, which will phase out in December, are bringing down the cost of manufacturing, building, and installing renewable energy systems and energy-efficient products. A multitude of bills have been introduced by both parties, in both chambers, and all have failed. The last, best hope for this year is H.R. 6049. This bill passed the House on May 21 by a bipartisan vote of 263 to 160, and will be voted on in the Senate as early as Thursday. Partisan lines are being drawn in the Senate already, and the president has threatened to veto this bill. If you want to help end this stalemate, please consider sending a letter to the editor of your local paper. The more voices speaking out on this issue, the better our chance at ending this protracted impasse. Take action here.

China bank offers draft plan to reduce nation’s emissions

China’s central bank has taken a first stab at a national emissions-reduction plan that could apply to various pollutants. A draft emissions-trading proposal unveiled to top officials on Friday suggests that China determine a national …

Letter it all out

Swing-vote Democrats explain why they oppose the Climate Security Act

On Friday, 10 Democratic senators wrote a letter [PDF] to Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) outlining the reasons why they would not have voted in favor of the Climate Security Act. …

A new part of the No Duh curriculum

Peer-reviewed study finds that right-wing think tanks have stymied environmental progress

To file under “academic demonstration of what we already knew,” here’s an abstract from a new paper in the journal Environmental Politics: Environmental scepticism denies the seriousness of environmental problems, and self-professed “sceptics” claim to …

It's not the size of the government, it's how you use it

The right comparison between Obama and McCain on climate/energy

In the Wall Street Journal, Stephen Power summarizes the difference between Obama and McCain on energy and environmental policies this way: Sen. Obama is pushing a bigger government role in fostering the development of technologies …

IEA report, Part 1

Act now with clean energy or face 6 degrees C warming; cost is not high; media blows story

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:

Taking the Pledge

Five nations agree to think about ending oil subsidies

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."

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