Climate & Energy

McCain talks climate change with European leaders

Republican presidential candidate John McCain traveled to Europe and the Middle East last week, meeting with various European leaders to discuss climate change and U.S. foreign policy. McCain broached climate change in separate meetings with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, current U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who recently announced his quest to secure a meaningful worldwide climate change agreement in the next two years. McCain also penned an editorial for the Financial Times about international cooperation. “We need a successor to Kyoto, a cap-and-trade system that delivers the necessary environmental impact in an economically …

Or you could just wear smaller shoes ...

Reducing your carbon footprint from travel

If want to reduce your carbon footprint, what should you do about your air travel until we have carbon-free jet fuel? The Stockholm Environment Institute and the Tufts Climate Initiative have a good handout on the subject, titled "Flying Green." They note: ... the average American is responsible for the emissions of about 20 tons of CO2 annually ... If you fly to Europe and back from the U.S., you'll add about 3-4 tons to your (already large) carbon footprint. With one flight you will have caused more emissions than 20 Bangladeshi will cause in a whole year. Unfortunately they are the ones who will lose their homes and livelihood once sea level rise inundates their low lying country.

Climate action opponents: We're doomed

For fossil fuel fans, bleak is the new black

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is on a barnstorming tour, holding a series of innocuously-named "State Climate Dialogues." While the promotional materials sound forward-looking -- conservation, clean energy, efficient technology -- make no mistake about the purpose of the events. The national chamber is trying to derail the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act or any other legislation that puts a price on greenhouse-gas emissions. How's the tour being received so far? Not so well:Claims of dramatic job losses and rising prices for consumers were quickly dismissed by environmentalists, Gov. Brian Schweitzer's office, Montana economists, and others. Those forecasts fail to account for new technology and emerging economies that will reduce carbon emissions and keep Montana's economy humming. "It's fake and it's not realistic," Eric Stern, senior counselor to Gov. Brian Schweitzer, said of the industry forecast. "There is a clean-energy future, and Montana sits at the center of that." ... In the audience, former Billings Mayor Chuck Tooley, who began offering public presentations on climate change and the need for action two years ago, said he was taken aback. "He's from upside-down land," Tooley said of ["Frontiers of Freedom" President George] Landrith. "I wasn't sure if he was serious or not." As oil prices top $109 a barrel, it's quite an odd time to make the case that climate action will destroy our economy:

Thought of the day: Don't call 100 percent auctioning cap-and-trade

If 100 percent auctioning is done right, the trade component will be trivial

If all permits are auctioned, where is the need for large-scale trading? With modern electronics, there is no reason most permits can't be bought directly by those using them. Yes, there will be some trading: people will buy too many and need to resell, or engage in hedging, or use a broker for convenience's sake. But if the auctioning process is not made a major pain, these should be trivial in scale compared to direct purchase. Our short name should not emphasize the role of trade. Why is the terminology important? If you refer to support for 100 percent auctioning as a variation on cap-and-trade, you make political judo easy for giveaway advocates. They can take all the political effort that was put into building support for 100 percent auctioning and use it to win support for giving free permits to large corporations. After all, it is all cap-and-trade, the giveaway advocates will say. Only extremists, the gifts-for-Big-Coal supporters will say, would make a fuss about the exact form cap-and-trade takes. Seriously, brand differentiation is important in politics. If you think 100 percent auctioning is important, don't use a term that lets your opponents pretend there is little daylight between you and them.

Tell us something we don't know

The Kansas City Star: New coal plants are expensive

The Kansas City Star reports: Electric bills are poised to soar for customers of utilities building coal-fired power plants. Coal-based electric utility executive responds: We're moving forward regardless of what you namby-pamby, cheap-energy-loving hippies think.* Michael Dworkin then raises the obvious question: You've got to ask: "Do you think we have reached a point where it economically doesn't make sense?" It will be interesting to see how this affects the Sunflower Electric debate, since the state does now seem to be getting beyond the false belief that coal is cheap. *Italicized text implied but entirely fabricated by the author.

Sebelius vetoes coal bill

Governor plays chicken with legislature over coal in Kansas

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed Senate Bill 327, whereby the state legislature would have constrained the powers of Kansas Dept. of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby, prohibited "consideration of any standards beyond the Clean Air Act" (which, remember, U.S. EPA refuses to apply to CO2, despite the Supreme Court’s orders), and green-lit two new coal plants — 11 million tons of CO2. This is from Sebelius’ statement: Instead of building two new coal plants, which would produce 11 million new tons of carbon dioxide each year, I support pursuing other, more promising energy and economic development alternatives. With …

Bill to allow new dirty coal plant vetoed by Kansas governor

Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has vetoed a bill that would have allowed a new two-unit coal plant to be built in her state. The legislation would have overturned an October decision by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to deny Sunflower Electric a coal-plant permit on the basis of greenhouse-gas emissions. The bill Sebelius kicked to the curb would also have stripped the KDHE of the authority to hold power plants to stricter standards than the not-so-strict federal Clean Air Act. “Instead of building two new coal plants, which would produce 11 million new tons of carbon dioxide each …

Biodiesel in the dumps

To survive, producers wanly import feedstock and export fuel

At this point, serious greens still promoting biofuels are in a tight corner. Global grain stocks are at all-time lows and prices at all-time highs. That means heavy incentives to clear new land to plant crops — in precious rainforest regions in South America and Southeast Asia that sustain indigenous peoples and store titanic amounts of carbon. These lands are also concentrated centers of biodiversity. Sacrificing them for car fuel is a heinous crime. Anyone who wants to argue that such efforts amount to “economic development in the Third World” will have to account for a stark fact: transnational agribusiness …

Clinton and Obama boost coal in West Virginia

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both did some coal-boosting while campaigning in West Virginia this week. Clinton told West Virginians she’s always been in favor of “the cleanest coal possible,” but that “coal fits in very importantly” to America’s energy future. Asked about mountaintop-removal mining in a radio interview Wednesday, she hedged, saying she didn’t “know enough to have an independent opinion” but considered it a “trade-off” between “economic necessities and environmental damage.” (By the by, coal jobs have dropped 80 percent in the past half-century while coal production has increased. And the environmental damage is significant.) Obama has spoken …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

×