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Climate & Energy

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Are the two inextricably linked?

The G8 wants to "decouple economic growth from energy use." Is that possible? That's the central question of out times, I guess. Walden Belloon thinks not: The only effective response to climate change is to radically reduce economic growth rates and consumption levels, particularly in the North, and in the very near future. The climate change section of the G8 declaration is a long and all-too-transparent exercise to get around this reality.

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Carbon tax v. cap and trade — the hottest arguments since McCartney v. Lennon

The argument over the best climate change mitigation policy is gathering steam. Busting out all over. Topping the charts. All the kids are dancing to it. Before getting to the latest, though, it's worth making a simple point: either cap-and-trade or a carbon tax could reduce GHG emissions if properly designed and implemented; either could be ineffectual if poorly designed and implemented. So: Either one is better than nothing. Nobody's allowed to check out once once the policy is chosen; the need for engagement will be greatest as the policy is being hashed out. That said, here's a few more …

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A guide to their positions

I keep meaning to mention this incredibly useful guide to the presidential candidates' positions on global warming, hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. Why didn't we think of that?

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The U.S. outmaneuvered European leaders, yet again

All right, the more I read about this G8 climate agreement the more it becomes clear that the Bush administration completely outplayed the other developed countries on this. That, at least, they're good at. Blair, Merkel, and Sarkozy all went into the summit staking their credibility on forcing an agreement: mandatory emissions cuts based on a shared target. The U.S. said: f*ck you. They begged. They pleaded. The U.S. repeated: f*ck you. Meanwhile, the U.S. made a canny counter-proposal: a series of new talks, including China and India, to stretch out 18 months and produce "aspirational goals." Obviously it's toothless, …

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Students keep up momentum with a pre-election Climate Summer

A scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, Bill McKibben is the author of The End of Nature, the first book for a general audience on climate change, and, most recently, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. He serves on Grist's board of directors. Thursday, 7 Jun 2007 LEBANON, New Hampshire If you're worried -- and who isn't? -- that the pressure for action on global warming will crest and fade after the last six months of steady growth, you should have been on the town green of this small western New Hampshire burg on Wednesday night. Twenty-five college …

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Progress … we think

I confess I haven't had the intestinal fortitude to closely follow the negotiations at the G8, but it looks like they've come up with something being billed as a "breakthrough." This phrasing in the Washington Post story is curious: The goal is to agree to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, Merkel said, hailing the decision as a "huge success." "The goal is to agree"? Does that mean they've agreed to agree, or that they agreed to try to agree? Tell us more! But the declaration falls short of an ironclad commitment, saying only that the world's biggest …

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Witness the verbal mangling at today’s press conference

The White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair showed off his legendary verbal skills at a G8 press briefing yesterday (PDF). Here are the two best bits. Yoda Connaughton was enumerating the President's "domestic agenda on climate" when he said: The President has set out his support at the state level for renewable power mandates, and we now have the United States of America, 80% [sic] of our power under state renewable power requirements. Packed in a lot of doubletalk in one sentence, he has. The president opposes a federal renewable power mandate (even though he signed one into law …

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Getting carbon cap and trade right for renewables

For the 110th Congress, this is not just a question for Saturday night. One of the reasons why federal carbon cap and trade legislation is so slow in coming -- besides coal state mendacity -- is because it is damn complicated. Of the critical design choices, there is insufficient common understanding of implications, to say nothing of agreement. We will only be successful in fighting global warming via a transition to renewable energy. Carbon capture and sequestration is not going to save us. In contrast to renewables, no one is doing it now and the technology is not game time. …

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The Whine of the Motor

Big Auto pleads for smaller gains in fuel efficiency The heads of Ford, GM, and Chrysler returned to Washington, D.C., yesterday to try to convince Congress not to hike fuel economy standards. Next week, the Senate will consider a proposal to raise average fleet-wide mileage to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 from the current 25; several bills have sprung up to float more modest increases. At least two, including one cosponsored by Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), contain escape clauses for car companies if the new standards prove too difficult to achieve. While the industry acknowledges that some increase in …

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