Climate & Energy

You first! No, you first!

China and the U.S. are both obliged to act on climate change, quick-like

Apparently, based on some recent threads on this site, there’s some dispute about the role China plays in the Great International Climate Change Debate. I’m absolutely snowed under right now, but I want to make two quick points: It is indisputable that the U.S., and developed countries generally, bear a vastly larger share of the responsibility for climate change than China, and developing countries generally. This is true whatever perspective you take: physical responsibility (we put the vast share of the CO2 up there), moral responsibility (we’re hurting people that are largely defenseless and innocent of wrongdoing), financial responsibility (we’re …

Roadblock at Bali Climate Conference? Not U.S.!

The U.S. sits on the sidelines rather than leading the charge in a war on climate change

Americans have a history of joining together in times of crisis. But the terminology of war is the most familiar rallying cry. So it's understandable that when he's talking about global warming, John Edwards often implores Americans to be "patriotic about something other than war." And when Al Gore accepted his Nobel Prize this week, he said, "We must quickly mobilize our civilization with the urgency and resolve that has previously been seen only when nations mobilized for war." So, where is America the strong, free, brave, visionary? Where is America, defender of the world's climate? The U.S. is not leading the charge at this week's U.N. climate conference in Bali. American delegates have insisted they would not be a "roadblock" to a new international agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gases. Not be a roadblock? Was it irony or simply poor word choice?

I do not think that word means what you think it means

Forest Service objects to Va. ‘clean coal’ plant that would be one of state’s biggest polluters

I should have added this to my account of state-level coal backlash: The U.S. Forest Service is warning Virginia environmental officials that pollution from a $1.6 billion coal-fired power plant proposed for Wise County would violate federal clean-air laws. In a letter to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the supervisor of the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina said the plant proposed by Dominion Virginia Power would pump enough sulfur dioxide into the air to possibly damage plant life and visibility in the 12,000-acre Linville Gorge Wilderness. This part is particularly, and bitterly, amusing: The plant, called the Virginia …

Do we see a trend here?

NASA says 2007 second-warmest year ever, with record warmth likely by 2010

According to NASA scientists (PDF): Through the first 11 months, 2007 is the second warmest year in the period of instrumental data, behind the record warmth of 2005, in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analysis. The unusual warmth in 2007 is noteworthy because it occurs at a time when solar irradiance is at a minimum and the equatorial Pacific Ocean has entered the cool phase of its natural El Niño -- La Niña cycle. ... barring the unlikely event of a large volcanic eruption, a record global temperature exceeding that of 2005 can be expected within the next 2-3 years.

State of play in Bali

Second-to-last issue of the Bali ECO newsletter

Issue #10 if the Bali ECO is here (PDF). You may need to read between the lines a bit if you haven't been following the negotiations. But it's not hard.

Now it's the CAFE standards

Yet more energy bill woes

This may seem narrow and technical, but it's actually extremely significant: The White House has raised last-minute concerns over regulation of automobile emissions and fuel economy that aides said Tuesday could lead to a presidential veto of the energy bill now before Congress. The bill, which passed the House and is pending in the Senate, requires automakers to meet a fleet average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, but does not specify which government agency should enforce the new rule. Primary regulation of mileage standards has historically fallen to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an arm of the Transportation Department. But vehicle tailpipe emissions are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, and a Supreme Court ruling this year affirmed the E.P.A.'s authority to regulate emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from passenger vehicles, which basically would mean regulating their fuel use. The administration's argument is that the energy bill will create unnecessary confusion over which agency has proper jurisdiction over mileage standards. And at a glance it seems like a reasonable argument. But, of course, it's absolutely not reasonable at all. This is better understood as a bank-shot effort by the Bush administration to block the EPA from functionally regulating carbon emissions from automobiles on behalf of the interest groups that don't want to be bothered with reducing auto pollution.