Climate & Energy

U.S. sets low expectations for this week’s climate meeting

Leaders from the world’s major economies will fly big planes to Honolulu this week for a chat about reducing global greenhouse-gas emissions. Ironicalicious! Even better, the Bush administration, which is hosting the meeting, isn’t expecting much out of it. “I think these will be iterative discussions, which the initial goal will be to lay out a variety of options without holding any country to a particular proposal,” says James Connaughton of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “We’re trying to do this in a collaborative way, rather than in the more classic ‘You bring your number, I bring my …

Making the grade

The candidates on clean energy

Politicians will always have an influence on the stock market, through regulation, tax policy, incentives, and more. This truism is only more certain in energy policy, where electricity markets and transport are highly regulated and the next administration is widely expected to enact some sort of carbon regulation, if not a tax. This weekend, I heard the head of the Colorado Governor's Energy Office speak on what the state administration is doing on energy policy (PDF). Our current governor, Bill Ritter, ran on a three-part platform: working to fix Colorado's healthcare, transportation, and energy policies. Last year, the administration mostly focused on energy, and although healthcare and transportation will get more attention this year, there are already several energy bills on the legislative slate. This is because "Nobody is certain what to do about transportation or health care, but we do know what to do about Energy." This scenario may also be familiar to residents of California. Since we do know what to do about energy, do the remaining U.S. presidential candidates? From the news coverage, I have to admit I'm far from certain. My impression has been that most of the Democrats and John McCain among the Republicans have been talking a good game, but repeated mentions of potentially problematic technologies and policies such as "clean coal," biofuels, carbon cap-and-trade, nuclear power, and even coal to liquids, leave me wondering if even the best of intentions might lead to bungled energy policy. If I were president ...

Efficacy of House of Reps’ carbon offsets questioned

Some greens and congressfolk are questioning the efficacy of the U.S. House of Representatives’ recent purchase of $89,000 in carbon offsets as part of their greening the Capitol initiative. “It didn’t change much behavior that wasn’t going to happen anyway,” said Joseph Romm of the Center for American Progress. “It just, I think, demonstrated why offsets are controversial and possibly pointless.” Some of the offset funds went to farmers in North Dakota who have been using no-till farming techniques, which retain more carbon in the soil. Critics argue that many of the farmers were already using no-till methods prior to …

Global warming in seven words

Here’s your chance to be the Pollan of climate change

Kristina/Jason’s plea for a tagline here reminds me: check out this post over on the NRDC Switchboard blog. It notes the success of Michael Pollan’s already legendary aphorism — "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." — and wonders whether something similarly compact could be used to explain what people need to know about climate change. A couple of Times bloggers noted that this little pearl has a "haiku-like resonance" – seven plain words, and something about its two-word / three-word / two-word structure. Dwight Garner amused himself trying his hand at it. And then the Well blog’s Tara Parker-Pope …

Notable quotable

“This is something that is very, very important, and I think it’s something the president would sign. We have to have it.” – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, endorsing the fantasy that President Bush will sign Lieberman-Warner into law

Mittster attacks McCain on climate

Could Romney’s climate contrarianism come back to bite him in the general?

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Republican race is down to McCain and Romney, and they are rapidly escalating their attacks on one another. Romney is now using McCain’s climate legislation against him: In a new line of attack, Romney then tore into the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act. "Instead of seeing if there’s a way of stimulating the economy, McCain-Lieberman would depress the economy," Romney said. "His plan calls for a new financial burden to be placed on people who are purchasing gasoline, or for that matter, natural gas to heat their homes or to cook in their homes. The …

An ominous statement from Shell

Conventional oil will peak within seven years

The oil company with the best strategic planning says the day of reckoning is nigh:

Bubbling up ...

Could alternative energy companies drive the next big market bubble?

In case you missed it, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a violent and exhausting 1,000-point swing the past week, down 450 points on Tuesday before trimming its losses and then tumbling 330 points on Wednesday before rebounding with a 299-point gain. It's not the only financial freefall of late. The housing market bubble was punctured last fall and has been leaking like the Hindenburg ever since. (And long before that, the economy experienced the dual dot-com and technology implosions in the spring of 2000.) Photo: iStockphoto All of which is to say, it's probably safe to assume most Americans are familiar with what a financial bubble looks like when it bursts. But how many of us could spot a bubble in the making? Eric Janszen believes he can. In fact, the president of iTulip.com predicts the next bubble is going to be green -- not as in the color of money, but as in alternative energy companies, suppliers, and technologies. If Janszen's right (and he's got a pretty good pedigree in all things bubbles, having had a front-row seat at the dot-com debacle and now as founder of a website that tracks financial dislocations), it could be the mother of all bubbles.

Senate committee considers mining reform, not all that into it

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing yesterday on mining reform, indicating unwillingness to overhaul 136-year-old U.S. mining policy anywhere near as much as would a House of Representatives bill passed this fall. Senators seemed generally open to creating a cleanup fund and placing royalties on new mines, but key lawmakers from Western states balked at taxing existing mines or increasing environmental regulation. “It is important to remember that while the mining law itself has not been updated, there have been numerous new environmental laws that are still applicable to mining,” said ranking Republican Pete Domenici (N.M.). …