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Noah Scape

Big-budget, zero-carbon comedy Evan Almighty opens today Today marks the debut of a movie that is, depending whom you ask, either a shining star in the eco-entertainment pantheon or a crass manifestation of green gone bad. Evan Almighty, with Steve Carell as a latter-day Noah, bills itself as "the first major motion picture comedy to zero out its [carbon] footprint." Its producers have launched a $25 million green marketing campaign, with a website that encourages fans to offset their own emissions, plant trees in the "Almighty Forest" (24,000 and counting), and green their homes and offices. The campaign is sponsored …

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Tell It to the Senate

Renewable-energy investments booming around the world Investment in renewable energy zoomed to record levels in 2006 and shows no sign of flagging, a United Nations report said this week. More than one-fifth of that investment went into companies or projects in developing countries. Thanks to high oil prices, desire for energy independence, government incentives, and worries about climate change, renewables "are becoming generating systems of choice for increasing numbers of power companies, communities, and countries," says U.N. Environment Program head Achim Steiner; and with global capital hitting $100 billion, renewable resources are likely to stay competitive even if oil prices …

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Be Still Our Beating Hearts

Senate-approved energy bill calls for fuel-economy increase First, the good news: the U.S. Senate has passed an energy bill containing the first significant fuel-economy increase in years. The bill requires cars and light trucks to get an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, up from the current 22.2 mpg for light trucks and 27.5 mpg for cars. It also calls for limits on gasoline price-gouging; new appliance and lighting efficiency standards; funding for research into newfangled vehicles like plug-in hybrids; and a sevenfold increase in ethanol production by 2022 (oops, file that under "Now the bad news"). "This …

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Has 'carbon tax' entered the world of the possible?

Dingell floats it; Boucher knocks it down

Hmm? What's all this now? John Dingell is floating the possibility of a carbon tax? From CongressNow (sub. rqd.): Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), who will play a key role in crafting the House version of comprehensive climate change legislation, on Wednesday night downplayed speculation that the House bill could include some form of a tax on carbon dioxide emissions. Boucher, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce energy and air quality subcommittee, last night said that no decisions have been made about a carbon tax, despite comments by House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) yesterday that a carbon …

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Senate: yes to CAFE boost, no to oil taxes

One small step forward, one step, uh, sideways

You may have heard that today the Senate reached a compromise on CAFE: they will keep the 35mpg-by-2020 requirement, but drop the 4%-every-year-thereafter requirement. The loophole for SUVs will be closed. (Bizarrely, newly minted environmentalist Ted Stevens [R-Alaska] was instrumental in keeping the amendment alive.) This is good news, in a symbolic sort of way (suffice to say, when there are working vehicles on the road that get 100mpg, we shouldn't be satisfied with glacial, incremental gains). But it's offset by the bad news that an amendment to levy around $30 billion in taxes on the oil industry, with the …

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In Black

Hey, L.A.-area folk -- if you're around this weekend, head to the Jazz Bakery in Culver City at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 24, to watch talented teenage jazz musicians In Black. (Here's their MySpace, with songs for your listening pleasure.) The Culver City stop is part of the group's climate-focused Solutions Tour, and you can chat with them next week when they participate in Grist's InterActivist column. I'd say "get jazzed" -- but since David informed me this morning that I "put the dork in dorky," perhaps I shall refrain.

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One more truth about China and climate change

It’s about more than money

It's official. China is now the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases. Having spent much of this spring reporting in China, I'd like to second just about everything David said yesterday on the topic. But I have one ginormous point to add. It's not just money that's needed. Yes, it'd be a good thing if Hill folks stopped bashing technology-exchange programs as lending an "unfair competitive advantage." And yes, let's stop painting China as the international bad guy. It ain't helpful, especially when the Chinese can rightly point out that Americans and Europeans are still, per capita, the world's energy …

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Shocked, shocked to discover that politicians are sometimes dishonest!

Even in Canada

So, about a year ago I wrote briefly about Marc Jaccard, a Canadian economist whose book, Sustainable Fossil Fuels, has been exceedingly popular in Canadian policy-making circles. No surprise there -- any book that says we can have our cheesecake and eat it too is going to find a wide audience among politicians averse to making any tough decision, ever. I was, you could say, less than charitable to Jaccard's ideas. But the latest news from Canada's Conservative do-nothing-about-global-warming government makes me almost feel sorry for him. Jaccard seems to have briefly been a golden boy for the Conservative government …

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Crunch time

Dirty energy lobbyists are out in force

Argh: Senate Democrats yesterday were scrambling to prevent the sweeping energy overhaul bill, a top domestic priority, from crumbling amid growing regional divisions within their party and Republican concerns. "The moment of truth on this energy bill is coming very shortly," Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said. Also, argh: Three powerful lobbying forces -- automakers, electric utilities and the coal industry -- are confounding Democrats' efforts to forge a less-polluting energy policy. This is it: crunch time. Time to fight. We finally have a chance to drag the country's energy policy back toward sanity, and entrenched industrial dinosaurs will fight it …

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Doing carbon right

What good carbon policy should — but often doesn’t — reward

Too much of the debate on carbon-control policy starts from flawed assumptions. Take those assumptions away, and one quickly realizes that we have a lot of pretty good options. Let's parse the carbon policy argument, and think for a moment about how to best engender the most economically beneficial carbon reduction policy. First, let's strike any false assumptions from our logic: Let's not assume that it costs money to reduce carbon emissions until proven otherwise. Let's not presume that any of us know what the answer is. Take these away, and you can pretty quickly get a good model. Picture, …

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