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Climate & Energy

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Wealthy nations should be held accountable for their actions

Oxfam has just taken a big step -- it wasn't easy, and they deserve heaps of kudos for it. It has called for a mandatory, global adaptation-funding regime, one that's on the right scale, or at least the right order of magnitude. It would make national obligations to pay -- to help poor and vulnerable communities adapt to the now inevitable impacts of climate change -- contingent on historical responsibility for the impacts of climate change, and on ability to pay. I couldn't be more pleased, and not just because Oxfam's "Adaptation Financing Index" is closely related to our own …

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Reality checking the polls

Public opinion polls show a significant increase in the number of Americans who support strong climate action. Deeper digging shows this support is superficial, too thin to drive the rapid sociopolitical change now required. For the first time, however, a small, but measurable number of Americans -- probably no more than 3% -- identify climate change as the greatest threat. U.S. environmentalists' carefully buffered climate narrative, calculated to not frighten the majority, does not engage these "three percenters." A significant shift in U.S. public opinion on climate has been measured in recent polls. 27% of those polled in a CNN/Opinion …

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Hard to believe he’s part of the Bush administration!

Everybody and their cousin has already posted on this, so I won't spend a lot of time on it, but yesterday on NPR, NASA administrator Michael Griffin said some extraordinarily stupid things. To wit: I'm aware that global warming exists. ... Whether that is a longterm concern or not, I can't say. ... ... I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could …

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Shockingly, it’s the same as the old climate strategy

Today's headlines are full of the news that President Bush is "unveiling a new climate strategy." If your immediate reaction is cynicism, well ... looks like you learned something over the last seven years. Let's look a little closer. In a speech today, Bush said he wants to convene a series of meetings of the 15 major GHG emitting countries to hammer out "global emissions goals." To give credit where it's due, there is considerable symbolic significance to the news that the U.S. is shifting from a stance of truculent foot-dragging to active engagement. Perhaps he's desperate for a PR …

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That’s It, No More Toothpaste For Us

Growing palm-oil plantations put orangutans in peril Thank your lucky stars you evolved, because it's not a great time to be an ape. In Indonesia and Malaysia, forests are being converted lickety-split into lucrative palm-oil plantations, and orangutans that leave their rapidly diminishing habitat to sneak in for a palmy snack are often tortured or killed. As if habitat destruction, poaching, logging, and disease weren't enough, the biofuel boom could help push apes over the edge: the United Nations has predicted that the 50,000 to 60,000 orangutans left in the wild could be extinct within the decade. Indonesia and Malaysia …

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He’s Having Nun Of It

Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson commits to business as usual It takes a brave man to stare down a pleading nun, but that's what Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson did yesterday. At a shareholder meeting in Dallas, Sister Pat Daly of New Jersey and others spoke in support of a resolution her order submitted, proposing that Exxon set emissions-reduction targets. No thanks, said Tillerson, "I'm not going to put a banner up, and I'm not going to adopt a slogan." A mere 31 percent of Exxon shareholders* voted in favor. A resolution suggesting that Exxon -- which raked in a record $39.5 …

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A conference for green money types

Right now there's a big conference going on in London: "Corporate Climate Response." All sorts of international corporate bigwigs (and some smallerwigs) are in attendance, discussing businessy green stuff. A crew of folks is live-blogging the event here, replete with audio, video, and good old fashioned text. If you want a glimpse into the concerns and strategies of big money types, head over for a look. One thing that's immediately striking is how much more advanced the conversation is in the UK. Sigh.

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CTLariffic!

Business writer Marc Gunther doesn't like liquefied coal. Neither does the New York Times editorial board. If we have any musicians in the audience, do me a favor: write a song called "Coal Is the Enemy of the Human Race." I'll do my best to make it a hit.

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Depends on how it’s made

It depends on the fuel used to drive the conversion process -- according to a new study: In particular, greenhouse gas emission impacts can vary significantly -- from a 3% increase if coal is the process fuel to a 52% reduction if wood chips are used. These results come from the energy life-cycle wizards of Argonne Lab, who have published a new study, "Life-cycle energy and greenhouse gas emission impacts of different corn ethanol plant types," in the open-access Environmental Research Letters. Here is a figure showing "well-to-wheels greenhouse gas emission changes by fuel ethanol relative to gasoline": The greenhouse …

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Revkin puts global warming in AARP Magazine

Andy Revkin has a couple of new pieces on global warming in, of all places, AARP Magazine. Yup, he's bringing the word to men and women of a certain age. Andy told me he went through several back-and-forths, over the course of many months, and I believe it -- AARP's known for having conservative (in the political sense) leadership and conservative (in the vernacular sense) membership. Climate change is a delicate subject in those environs. But I think the main piece came out all the stronger for being studiously apolitical. It frames climate change not as a partisan issue but …

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