Climate & Energy

European automakers in a snit over proposed EU emissions cuts

A European Union proposal to reduce average new-car CO2 emissions 20 percent by 2012 — and to fine automakers that don’t meet the target — has revved up observers on all sides. German Chancellor Angela Merkel — a climate Cassandra whose country is home to industry giants including Porsche, BMW, and DaimlerChrysler — took a public swipe at the unfairness of the plan; conservationists said it didn’t go far enough; and Peugeot called it “anti-ecological, anti-social, anti-economical, and anti-competitive in relation to non-European Union carmakers.” Man, we thought American automakers were melodramatic.

What are they waiting for?

A new site asks political talk show hosts to address climate change

In my introduction to Grist’s presidential forum on climate, I mentioned a statistic that came to me from Gene Karpinski of the League of Conservation Voters: as of mid-November, Tim Russert of Meet the Press had interviewed presidential candidates 16 times, asking nearly 300 questions, and had not mentioned "climate change" or "global warming" a single time. LCV has continued to pursue the issue, and today they’re launching a new site: "What are they waiting for?" It broadens the critique from Russert to all the Sunday political chat show hosts, noting that they have asked a cumulative 2,275 questions this …

Bush, Suboleski, and Blankenship

Bush appoints mountaintop-removal mining exec to key DOE position

Yesterday we learned that the Bush administration has appointed Stanley Suboleski to the position of assistant secretary for fossil energy for the Dept. of Energy. In that position, he would “oversee projects such as developing clean-coal technologies and carbon sequestration, and polices related to fossil fuels.” Suboleski is a long-time executive for Massey Energy, serving there in some capacity since 1981. His main role has been to help Massey evade or shut down the dozens of investigations launched against it for repeated violations of environmental laws. His appointment could not send a clearer signal: The DOE is committed to coal …

A 'staffer' speaks

Republicans oppose EPA mandate

David Freddoso of National Review learns from a Republican staffer: Actually, the Department of Energy already produces numbers on greenhouse emissions, even state-by state numbers. But these are based on voluntary reporting and reliable estimates and formulas -- there is no "mandatory reporting." So I would not panic, but this does appear to be a change for the worse. Congress is already making a bi-partisan war on America's energy producers and consumers (i.e., everyone) with the Energy Bill they will pass today. It is only a matter of time before climate alarmism adds still more to the already expanding burden on everyone in the form of higher gasoline prices and electricity bills. Look out! The regulations are coming!

Proof that 'beyond petroleum' was greenwashing

BP joins ‘biggest global warming crime ever seen’

The tar sands are rightly called one of the world's greatest environmental crimes, as I've written. No company that invests in the Canadian tar sands can legitimately call itself green. Yet BP, the oil company that lavished millions on advertising its move "Beyond Petroleum," announced this month it's putting $3 billion into this dirtiest of dirty fuels! BP is buying a half-share of the ironically named Sunrise field:

'Even Santa is rethinking his position on coal!'

Coal industry kicks off a PR campaign aimed at influencing lawmakers

Santa moonlighting on K Street? Photo: iStockphoto I heard from someone in downtown D.C. this morning who ran into a guy in a Santa suit who handed him a flier saying, "even Santa is rethinking his position on coal!" Yes, really. From The Hill: Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC) is sending 30 Santas to Capitol Hill on Wednesday to deliver stockings filled with coal-shaped chocolate. The goal of the campaign is to shift coal’s image as a key contributor to global warming to a relatively cheap and increasingly clean provider of electricity. With supplies sufficient to turn the lights …

'It never would have been this milquetoast without my efforts!'

Does Bush deserve credit for the energy bill?

Let’s review what happened with the energy bill: The House and Senate each voted through energy bills. The Senate’s had a CAFE boost and a Renewable Fuel Standard; the House’s had a Renewable Energy Standard and a tax package to take subsidies from oil companies and give them to renewable energy. Nancy Pelosi battled for months with John Dingell, finally securing his support for a CAFE increase. The House then passed a bill that had all the provisions in it — CAFE, RFS, RES, and tax package. The White House threatened a veto. Republican Senators whined. Reid put the bill …

Have we lost more ground than we gained?

If we put narrative above policy, how might the energy bill have played out?

Passing an energy bill at any cost made us look weak, reduced climate change urgency, handed a significant victory to President Bush, and accomplished little of significance. If we had chosen an alternative path -- to take a stand with the fledgling U.S. renewables industry and challenge the obscenely rich oil and coal behemoths -- we would have lost, to be sure, but would have built political power, introduced a novel story, and strengthened ties with an important ally. In acquiescing to a stripped-down energy bill, U.S. environmentalists lost an opportunity to reshape our climate story, strengthen our relationship with the renewable energy sector, and draw a bright line that distinguishes genuine supporters of functional climate action from fair weather friends. Instead, we opted for scraps, gaining emissions reductions of small significance compared to the global problem, displaying political weakness in place of principled courage, and handing a propaganda victory to a president who is singularly responsible for blocking international climate action. Even environmentalists damned the final Senate version with faint praise. The "landmark" hailed by UCS also, in their words, "failed to take a giant step." NRDC called it a "down payment toward fighting global warming," and was "disappointed," and Environment America (formerly the environmental arm of U.S.PIRG) called the measure "historic," even as they observed, "big oil and big coal succeeded in stripping out ... very important parts of the bill." Press and editorial reactions were less equivocal, as this sampling of headlines shows:

Keep it in the ground

Efficiency without renewable energy is not sufficient

Recently George Monbiot argued that humanity must figure out a way to leave the fossil fuels in the ground: Most of the governments of the rich world now exhort their citizens to use less carbon. They encourage us to change our lightbulbs, insulate our lofts, turn our televisions off at the wall. In other words, they have a demand-side policy for tackling climate change. But as far as I can determine, not one of them has a supply-side policy. None seeks to reduce the supply of fossil fuel. So the demand-side policy will fail. Every barrel of oil and tonne of coal that comes to the surface will be burned. In other words, things like fuel economy standards and efficient appliances won't help unless cars and appliances are powered by renewable energy (solar/wind/geothermal). The problem might be more manageable if we divide it into three parts: Active energy sources -- wind/solar/geothermal. Passive energy sources -- mostly in buildings, as detailed in David's recent excellent post . Design -- as in how to design cities, towns, and the their transportation systems. Once we have moved to renewable electricity and passive systems as the source of almost all of our energy needs, then we can keep the rest of the fossil fuels in the ground.

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