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Can You Hear the Drums, Hu Jintao?

Sweden hosts Chinese president, global environment ministers What we learned today: while researching eco-news from Sweden, you might stumble upon some juicy tidbits. Like the fact that tennis player Björn Borg was severely bitten by a dog this weekend, or that the organizers of a future museum dedicated to ABBA have found a location in Stockholm! But since you are a professional, you will not let such news distract you from your purpose. Which is to report that Chinese President Hu Jintao has just wrapped up a three-day visit to Sweden, during which he affirmed his country's commitment to battling …

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Johnson Pussyfoots

EPA chief will decide whether to regulate greenhouse gases ... next year Climatic evidence notwithstanding, U.S. EPA chief Stephen Johnson would like to assure you that snoozers are not losers. On Friday, Johnson told a House special committee on global warming that he's going to put off making up his mind about whether vehicle greenhouse-gas emissions should be regulated by his agency until late 2008. It's all a matter of whether the emissions "endanger public health or welfare" -- and endangerment is a "legal term of art" that needs more study, Johnson said. The Undecider also refused to inform the …

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When I'm climate change czar ...

What rules would you impose to address global heating if you were

America, nominally a democracy, acquired a strange fetish for "czars" during the Nixon administration (how telling). I remember William Simon being appointed "energy czar" back in the 70s. Like the Romanoffs, he had a fearsome title and did nothing good for most of the people in his country. Still, it can be a useful exercise to think about what you would do if you suddenly had responsibility for something like dealing with global heating, and you could make the policy changes you thought wisest. What would yours be? Here's a small handful of mine, in random order (i.e., not ranked …

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'The 5% Solution' vs. Sierra Club's '2% Solution'

Your math teacher knew you’d need this stuff someday!

During one of our many discussions here at Gristmill around cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, I did some figuring and realized that, if we started in 2008, we would have three "halving" periods between then and 2050 if we could just cut emissions by 5 percent per year -- not an unreachable goal for people who absolutely waste a buttload of energy. I've been talking up what I've taken to calling "The 5% Solution" here in Springfield (where the Simpsons live), making contact with a local group to propose starting a campaign for it as a project of the organization, with the …

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Threat of customer revolt is what is hurting plans for nukes

The days when they would take whatever you served up are gone

Why does Amory Lovins say that the market is deciding against nukes? One of the things that not many people seem to realize is that we had just enough deregulation in this country to scare the pants off investors who formerly treated utilities as stocks you could safely put in widows' and orphans' portfolios. Even with the largess being showered on nukes in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EP Act 2005), there hasn't been quite the stampede to license new nukes that many hoped for. The feds are obviously ready to shovel money at the problem, but the utilities …

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Beyond storage, demand, and grid management

On smart grids

My last post made the points that: Long-distance transmission lines tying different climate zones together reduce storage needs to a few hours capacity, by ensuring that most of the time when one machine is not producing, another is. The least expensive and most ecologically sound way to store electricity on the particular scale needed is with closed-cycle, lined, modular pumped storage that recirculates the same water over and over again, and thus does not draw on rivers, lakes, or other natural watercourses. However a grid must not only be able to meet baseload (the part of demand that is the …

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Another reason not to trust skeptics

Skeptical about skeptics

One last comment on NASA administrator Michael Griffin's comments about global warming. The skeptics out there heralded his comments. For example, Bob Carter was quoted as saying, "My main reaction to Michael Griffin is to congratulate him on his clear-sightedness, not to mention his courage in speaking out on such a controversial topic." What these skeptics seem to forget (or conveniently ignore) is that Griffin's comments were only about the moral question of whether we should address climate change, not about the reality of human-induced climate change. From the New York Times: "In his comments to NPR and in today's …

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CTL stupid compared to plug-in hybrids, say experts, people who can read

A couple of heavy-duty energy wonks from Carnegie Mellon have this to say: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce is considering enacting policies to subsidize the production of transportation fuel from coal-to-liquid projects. Tepper School of Business researchers determined plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are a far better and less costly choice. -- Generating electricity from coal with carbon capture and sequestration and replacing the fleet with plug-in hybrid vehicles could enhance energy security by reducing 85% of motor vehicle gasoline use and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle travel by 70%. -- Even the most carbon-intensive scenario using plug-in …

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We Always Knew They’d Turn to Communism

U.K. green-computing task force recommends centralizing data A newly formed United Kingdom task force will work to reduce the energy-sucking impacts of computing equipment, which some say pumps as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere there as the airline industry. The public-private partnership, called "Green Shift," will study how to make PCs and their related equipment more efficient. The group's first endeavor is to reduce the load on home computers by making applications such as office programs, email, and internet browsing available through a network of remote data centers accessed via broadband. This, they say, would allow manufacturers to build …

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Green and gold and Goldman Sachs

The financial giant is ready to take on climate change

The investment firm Goldman Sachs has released an environmental policy framework (PDF) and invested billions of dollars in clean energy and research into environmentally-friendly markets, a stark contrast with the inaction of our own government. In their environmental policy framework, Goldman Sachs recognizes climate change and its threat to financial markets and general livelihood. Consequently, they advocate limiting emissions, participate in Europe’s carbon market, and have agreed to voluntarily report and cut their own emissions by 7 percent by 2012. You can find their progress in their 2006 Year-End Report (PDF), which includes the partnerships they have forged, research papers …