Climate & Energy

When does additionality matter? Part 2

Measuring additionality has clear benefits — and also some obvious costs

The second in a series of posts on additionality. In his post criticizing the design of carbon markets, Sean correctly notes that additionality is a pain to measure -- an ever more expensive pain, as the industry matures and quality controls become more stringent. To take an example I know well, at TerraPass, we spend tens of thousands of dollars per project helping dairy farmers validate their methane digesters under the Voluntary Carbon Standard. It's a complex process, requiring a fair amount of domain expertise, outside consultants, site visits, and ongoing monitoring. The process is meant to ensure additionality, but the cost carries some clear downsides. For example, we can't consider any projects that are below a certain size. Even if they're great projects, they won't generate enough carbon reductions to justify the effort. So Sean and I agree that additionality in the carbon world is expensive and tricky to measure, and that the cost of doing so drives some worthwhile projects out of the system.

Carbon policy details: Part 4

Spots vs. strips

This is the fourth post in five-part series on the details required to get carbon policy right. See also parts one, two, and three. We now get into an issue that will seem a bit arcane, because no one's talking about it, at least not explicitly. But it's a real choice, and in many conversations about carbon policy we are implicitly getting it wrong. Should we price carbon in spots, or strips? Or, to take it out of financial jargon, should we: set up markets such that people who are selling or buying emissions credits have to go to the market with each incremental ton to determine what the price will be (a "spot" market), or set up markets such that buyers and sellers can enter into long-term contracts for the emissions they will produce/reduce (a "strip" market)?

File under Epitaphs for Humanity

Wow: Here’s the back:

NRDC vs. me

Blogger Nathanael Greene takes on Philpott re: biofuels

The Natural Resources Defense Council evidently remains pretty sanguine about biofuels as a "solution to energy dependence and global warming." Over on the group’s Switchboard blog, senior policy analyst Nathanael Greene recently took exception to …

Sweet home Alabama Street

Small wind in urban settings

I never really thought much about small wind's potential as a significant source of a city's electricity supply. Windmills in a urban setting? I just don't see it. Didn't see it, that is, until I saw it. The other day I biked by 1303 Alabama St., in the Mission District of San Francisco. Softly -- very softly -- whirring overhead is a 1.9 kW Southwest Windpower Skystream windmill. The Choose Renewables resource estimator says that it's a class 3 wind site, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's actually higher. As any San Franciscan knows, the Mission can be very sunny and pleasant during a summer day, but on summer evenings, as the marine layer moves in, the wind just nukes over Twin Peaks and the South Mission/Noë area can be a wind tunnel. The result, I expect, makes for propitious economics. The house also has a 5 kW SunPower solar system. California's system peak is shifting later and later, which is being reflected in PG&E's tariffs. The old E-7 Residential Time of Use (which is being phased out) had a summer peak of 12 to 6 p.m. The new E-6 has a summer peak of 1 to 7 p.m., and a partial peak of 7 to 9 p.m. In practice, that means that as the solar system's production winds down in the early evening, the windmill steps in and produces electricity that would have cost up to 53 cents/kWh if bought from the utility. That's just a wonky way of saying that wind and solar are like peanut butter and chocolate: great on their own, but even better together.

Urgency and solvability: The "we" campaign

Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection unveils ambitious $300 million ad campaign

If you read Juliet Eilperin’s great rundown in the Washington Post, you know that today marks the launch of a massive PR effort from Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection. Gore has concluded that U.S. …

Son of global-warming denial

Similarities between the skin cancer and climate change ‘scams’

I was recently reading The New York Times and saw a fantastic ad: Recent research indicates that the benefits of moderate exposure to sunlight outweigh the hypothetical risks. Surprisingly, there is no compelling scientific evidence that tanning causes melanoma. Scientists have proven, however, that exposure to all forms of ultraviolet light -- both indoors and out -- stimulates the natural production of vitamin D. And research has proven that vitamin D protects against heart disease and many types of cancer, in addition to providing other important health benefits. If you go to their website, you can read all about it. The similarities between the "skin cancer" scam and the "global warming" scam are all too clear. First, according to this website, there is actually no evidence linking sun exposure with cancer. Amazing. I thought the epidemiological data nailed that connection decades ago. Boy, was I wrong! This is similar to the fact that there is no evidence linking carbon-dioxide emissions with climate change.

Cheap at any price!

More news from the world of cheap coal: Santee Cooper said Wednesday that the first phase of its proposed Pee Dee coal-fired power plant [in Florence County, South Carolina] will cost $1.25 billion, up from …

Snarkey Markey

Seeing through the EPA’s BS

Looking back at seven years of ever-looming -- yet constantly narrowly-averted -- GHG emissions regulations, it seems like it might have been a lot less painful to industry and damaging to the economy if the Bushies would have laid out a simple set of expectations early on and then just let us handle it from there. Even if the resultant regulations wouldn't have been nearly as stringent as most of us would have liked, industry might have benefited from the certainty. Preferring to keep us all waiting just a little longer, however, last Thursday Bush's EPA put off any possible whining about regulations until well into the next administration: ... Last year the Supreme Court ruled, contrary to the Bush administration's wishes, that greenhouse gases were a pollutant that came under the jurisdiction of the EPA. So the EPA's scientists took a look, and they concluded that, yes, greenhouse gases contributed to global warming and ought to be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The White House, of course, was not happy about this, so on Thursday EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson deep-sixed the scientific findings and opened up a "lengthy public comment period" to give corporate contributors the public a chance to weigh in on this. To which Rep. Markey (D-Mass.) adds: This cynical step by EPA to announce an "Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking" in the coming months should be seen for what it is: an "Aspirational Notice of Procrastinational Rulemaking."

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