Climate & Energy

Financing green building and retrofits

A public policy silver bullet that’s available to fight global warming today

Steve Heckeroth’s piece "Solar is the solution" has been recommended all over the green blogosphere, first by Robert Rapier, I think. It’s great reading, but I wanted to hone in on one thing he mentions — a piece of public policy that has been woefully under-hyped. To wit: with today’s technology, we know how to make new buildings net energy generators, and we know how to retrofit existing buildings to reduce their energy consumption by well over 50%, in some cases 90-95%. We just need someone to pay for it. That, however, turns out to be the rub. An investment …

Get in the van

It’s not whether we can beat climate change with today’s tools, but whether we can get moving

Tyler Hamilton ran across some elaborate, multibillion-dollar plans for a carbon capture and sequestration network in Canada, geared around enhanced oil recovery. Naturally it was asking the government (read: Canadian taxpayers) to assume the bulk of the risk. Naturally it won’t be done for well over a decade. Then he ran across something else: Then I read about a new law passed in Germany that, among other things, will require all new homes built in the country to get 14 per cent of their energy from renewables. The law is primarily targeted at home heating, whether for space heating or …

Where do we go from here?

The Bali meeting, and the lessons learned

It's important, this time, to draw conclusions, and to do so publicly. Because Bali has taken us -- barely and painfully -- over a line and into a new and even more difficult level in the climate game we'll be playing for the rest of our lives. In fact, it's not too much to say that, with the realizations of the last year and their culmination at the 13th Conference of Parties, the game has, finally, belatedly, begun in earnest. First up, we knew going into Bali that if the old routine continued without variation, we'd really be in trouble. The timing of this meeting alone made this clear. Here we were, after the skeptics, after the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report, after Gore's (and the IPCC's) Nobel Prize. We know now how grave the situation is. So it's with great relief that I'm able to say that, judging at least by Bali, the game has indeed changed -- except, of course, for the United States.

Sea-level rise this century could be twice IPCC’s predictions, says research

If you thought the predictions of sea-level rise by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were bad, you should probably stop reading. Researchers publishing in brand-new journal Nature Geoscience say the oceans could surge twice as high this century as the IPCC’s predictions, or some 64 inches. So, um, let’s hope they’re wrong.

The Great Carnac I ain't

Assessing my predictions from last year

At the end of last year, I made 20 predictions for 2007. As a pundit in good standing I am, of course, unaccountable for my predictions. (How do you think we all stay employed?) Nonetheless, it’s worth looking back and seeing how the predictions panned out, drawing sweeping conclusions from the things I got right while minimizing and excusing the things I got wrong. Let’s see how I did! Al Gore will a) win an Oscar, b) announce that he is not running for president, c) continue his efforts at grassroots movement building, and d) announce plans for a sequel …

The right means for our ends

A response to Jim Manzi

I want to thank Jim Manzi for taking the time to respond to my criticisms of his recent writing on warming policies here at Gristmill. Though I disagree with much of what he says, his thoughtful work on the subject has improved the debate. I want to use one more post here to rebut a few of his assessments. Let me begin by expressing sharp disagreement with his argument that an effective, efficient, and binding carbon tax is an unlikely outcome given the many political actors involved. As has been made abundantly clear in recent weeks, the United States is …

How can California become more energy efficient?

California looks for yet more clean energy

The following essay is by Earl Killian, guest blogger at Climate Progress. ----- The California Energy Commission (CEC) has released its biennial integrated energy policy report (PDF). The 301-page report looks at various issues confronting California and makes recommendations on how to address them. The issues include: Rising population leading to greater demand for energy (natural gas, petroleum, and electric power). Rising natural gas demand while production remains flat, leading to a tight market and higher prices. Increasing population away from the coast, increasing peak electric demand from air conditioning. Increasing vehicle travel from population and sprawl. Expected petroleum supply constraints (e.g. port facilities for increase imports) making it difficult to fuel future vehicle travel conventionally. California's AB32 cap on greenhouse-gas emissions, requiring 1990 levels by 2020 (despite the population increase -- a 30 percent decrease in absolute emissions). Even though California is already one of the most efficient users of energy, the CEC is looking for further efficiency improvements, and although a 2006 legislative act mandates 20 percent renewable electricity by 2010, the report looks to 33 percent by 2020 to support California's population growth. A few of the numerous specific recommendations from the report include:

Season's greetings: Oregon Peaceworks starts on a 5% solution

Combating global warring by addressing global warming

A long-established statewide peace organization in Oregon has initiated a new project called "The 5% Solution" as a way to give people a SMART (specific, measurable, appropriate, realistic, and timed) goal for climate action. It asks people to pledge to reduce their own carbon footprint 5 percent a year, each year, and to spread that commitment through their communities, and then states, and then country. As the material here notes, if the developed world stops increasing emissions and makes 5 percent cuts per year from 2008 to 2050, its emissions will go down about 88 percent and the developing world will have some flexibility to increase emissions for a few more years before joining the rich countries on the glide path to an overall drop of about 80 percent.

An ice-free Arctic by 2013?

Scientist claims that climate models are too conservative in predicting ice loss

Maybe I'm not alarmist after all. Maybe this future is nearer than everyone thinks: I was called "over-alarmist" by one of the people who took my bet that the Arctic would be ice-free by 2020. But one of the country's top ice experts, non-alarmist Professor Wieslaw Maslowski of the Naval Postgraduate School, told an American Geophysical Union audience this week: