Climate & Energy

As nations trail behind ...

States and provinces lead on climate initiatives

"State and regional governments around the world ... are fast becoming an essential and effective part of the movement to combat climate change," says The Climate Group in a new report. "Low Carbon Leader: States and Regions" (PDF) profiles 12 exemplars including California, which in 2006 enacted the first economy-wide cap on carbon emissions in the U.S., and Northeast states moving to implement the first U.S. carbon cap-and-trade system. The report notes that U.S. states, ranked individually among other nations, represent 34 of the world's 75 leading global warming pollution sources. California ranks 12th. Subnational governments have critical roles to play in carbon pollution reduction, both directly and in terms of the influence they can bring to bear on national governments, The Climate Group notes.

Let the games begin

Ragtag youth and ABEC face off in South Carolina

Photo: iStockphoto On the eve of the South Carolina Democratic primary, some battles are being fought on stage, and others in the parking lot. This primary season, leading up to arguably the most important presidential election in recent history, has been a circus. Even outside the candidate events, voters waiting in line to cheer Huckabee or Obama might see confederate-flag-jacket-donning Ron Paul supporters espouse southern pride, orange-shirted volunteers collect petitions about Darfur, and PETA organizers dressed up as pigs holding puzzling signs that say "Stop Global Warming, Tax Meat." And while all the presidential campaigns try to capture the media's attention by printing more and bigger signs, and turning out louder supporters, they can't quite keep the menagerie at bay. In a way, this is all good for democracy -- it shows that volunteers and organizations are pressuring candidates on specific issues, many of which the candidates have not sufficiently addressed on the stump or in debates. Politicians have a knack for beating around the bush. But, when a corporate-funded group joins the cast, as the euphemistic Americans for Balanced Energy Choices has, the parking lot battles really begin.

Under pressure

E.U. considers pollution charges on imports from U.S. and other climate scofflaws

U.S. failure to enact limits on global warming emissions could cost American companies that export to the European Union. E.U. President Jose Manuel Barroso on Sunday said the European Commission is considering a charge on importers from nations without carbon limits. Companies from those countries may be required to buy carbon emissions allowances on exports into the E.U. This is intended to level the playing field with European companies who are already part of the European Emissions Trading System instituted to meet E.U. obligations under the Kyoto climate treaty. Barroso said the Commission could "require importers to obtain allowances (emissions permits) alongside European competitors ... There would be no point in pushing EU companies to cut emissions if the only result is that production and indeed pollution shifts to countries with no carbon disciplines at all."

Global warming will reduce U.S. hurricane landfall, says controversial new research

The argument over whether climate change is real has largely subsided — and, as nature abhors a vacuum, another tiff has risen to fill its place. What effect will global warming have on hurricanes? Them’s fightin’ words! Various studies have suggested that climate change will increase hurricane frequency and intensity, but new research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests that warming oceans will in fact reduce the number of Atlantic hurricanes that hit land in the U.S. Critics of the new study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, say the research is based on flawed data that …

Peeling away the covers

Boxer releases notes on secret EPA material

This just in: Sen. Barbara Boxer today released notes her staff took on some of the materials the Bush administration has tried to suppress regarding the decision to reject California's effort to enforce its greenhouse-gas standards for vehicles. These documents back up published reports that EPA chief Steve Johnson rejected the advice of his staff. More here.

Leap year

Climate legislation may be easier next year, but it won’t be easy

I argued the other day (and Chris Mooney argued here) that we’d be better off waiting until 2009 to push for climate legislation, since anything likely to be passed this year will be fatally weakened and the political terrain is likely to be much friendlier next year. I do not, however, want to give the impression that I think we’re going to emerge from a dark tunnel into a field of ponies next year. Things will be marginally more propitious, but only marginally — large, structural impediments to a good climate bill will remain. So, with that in mind, here’s …

Testing the limits of coverup and privilege

More shenanigans from the EPA on the Cali waiver

Thurday will be an interesting test of the ability of Congress to crack a Bush administration coverup of a rotten and likely illegal action: its decision to reject California's effort to enforce its greenhouse-gas standards for motor vehicles. Sen. Barbara Boxer will put EPA Administrator Steve Johnson in the box to explore not only his indefensible decision, but his efforts to withhold information from Congress and cover up the truth about his pro-car company action. You will recall that right before Christmas, Johnson nixed the California request in a hastily called news conference where he tried, dishonestly, to spin his way out of a looming Washington Post exclusive. The lies continued last week as the EPA -- on the Friday of a holiday weekend, in an effort to minimize attention -- sent Boxer a letter and portions of various materials she sought. Boxer noted much of the relevant information was "whited out," as EPA Associate Administrator Christopher Bliley literally invoked the Nixon Watergate coverup as justification.

European Union unveils detailed plans to cut GHG emissions

European Union leaders today unveiled detailed draft plans to reduce E.U.-wide emissions 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The plans would require utilities to buy all of their greenhouse-gas emissions permits beginning in 2013, as opposed to the current practice of allocating nearly all of them for free, which companies can then sell at a profit. Also starting in 2013, other heavily polluting industries, such as aluminum, cement, and steel, will have to pay for a gradually increasing portion of their pollution permits until 2020 when companies will have to pay for all of them. In total, the draft …

This is a very big deal

Israel to build national electric car infrastructure

Photo: iStockphoto Project Better Place, in partnership with Renault/Nissan and the Israeli government, will build a national electric car infrastructure. A major manufacturer developing new electric vehicles with swappable batteries, and a plan to develop 500,000 battery recharging sites across the country? It's still January, and I'm ready to call this the most important environmental news story of 2008. I'm going to write more about this later, but do yourself a favor and read all about it here. This, friends, is the road to Middle-East peace. And it was announced on MLK day. How appropriate.

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

×