Climate & Energy

300 ideas in 100 days

Presidential Climate Action Project releases new plan for the next president

How ambitious should the next president be in tackling global warming? A document issued today by a team at the University of Colorado indicates that No. 44 can be, and should be, far more aggressive than any of the candidates has promised so far. The Presidential Climate Action Project -- a two-year effort headquartered at the university -- has released a presidential action agenda that contains more than 300 specific changes in federal policies, programs and statutes, and proposes that the chief executive act on all of them within the first 100 days of inauguration, under executive authority or by championing them in the administration's first legislative and budget packages to Congress. The plan is being billed as not only the most comprehensive, but in many ways the boldest, climate action agenda yet put before the American public and the presidential candidates. It calls for the U.S. to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 30 percent below 2010 levels by 2020 and 90 percent by 2050, in part through an "upstream" cap-and-auction program that regulates the approximately 1,500 "first providers" of fossil energy -- wellheads, mine mouths, etc. That regime is simpler to administer than mid-stream and downstream regulation, and would cover 100 percent of the economy. Other key proposals include:

Bold announcement by climate partnership outed as a hoax

Various news outlets breathlessly reported yesterday that the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, a consortium of 33 businesses and environmental groups, was calling on the U.S. to slash emissions 90 percent by 2050 and to cease building coal-fired power plants. Ah, if only ’twere true — but the announcement was an elaborate hoax. Says Matt Leonard of Rising Tide, the loosely knit volunteer-run group that took responsibility for the fakeout: “We wanted to draw attention to the undue influence the biggest polluters, many of which are members of USCAP, have on climate policy. They are focused on their own bottom lines …

So what happened to the 2007 hurricane season?

Hurricanes this past year were unpredictably … average

Lots of experts are weighing in as the Atlantic hurricane season comes to an end (today). One of my favs, Jeff Masters, summarizes it this way: The Atlantic hurricane season of 2007 is over, and it was a strange one. For the second straight year, we had a near average season, despite pre-season predictions of a very active season.

U.N. climate conference opens in Bali, Indonesia

Plenty is going on at the United Nations climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, where delegates from nearly 190 nations are gathered to lay the groundwork for a post-Kyoto climate treaty. Conference leaders have said they aim to have a new treaty ready to go by 2009. In the meantime, there’s no shortage of things to bicker about. Today delegates debated the role of China and India in a new climate treaty. Japan and Canada suggested the two developing-nation giants should be required to make deep cuts while other nations and some environmentalists suggested the two might need more time. The …

Notable quotable

“I have been in this industry for 40 years, and during that time, we always knew it got cold in December and stayed that way through January and February — and that was that. Now, it’s a crap shoot.” – Fredric Stollmack, president of outerwear manufacturer Weatherproof

Red List not enough

Experts push for an intergovernmental biodiversity panel

For this enviro, Christmas is shaping up pretty nicely this year. Today, as post-Kyoto discussions commence in Bali, Australia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, sweeping aside decades of Howard's curmudgeonly climate skepticism. Another unexpected gift came last month, when a group of 80 experts convened in France to mull over the future of biodiversity. Their consensus? That we need to establish a new intergovernmental panel -- akin to the IPCC -- to begin aggressively addressing the biodiversity crisis. In words that would surely make E.O. Wilson proud, the committee said: "It is not enough to draw up a list of threatened or extinct species. Biodiversity needs to be seen as a whole, in terms of management but also of environmental services rendered, for instance from the point of view of adaptation to climate change." They hope to have a structure in place by 2008. Keep 'em rollin' in, Santa!

This Hanukkah, make time to reflect on climate and conservation

There are three levels of wisdom through which Hanukkah invites us to address the planetary dangers of the global climate crisis — what some of us call “global scorching” because “warming” seems so pleasant, so comforting. Light a candle, heal the earth. Photo: iStockphoto We can encode these three teachings into actions we take to heal the earth, each of the eight days. 1. The Talmud’s legend that for the Maccabees to rededicate the Temple desecrated by the Seleucid Empire, it took only one day’s oil to meet eight days’ needs: a reminder that if we have the courage to …

Rational expectations

Winning the battle in Bali, and then winning the war

Since COP13 / MOP3 -- hereafter "Bali" -- has begun, I thought I'd send a brief note on expectations and strategy. Brief because there's too much to say, so I shouldn't try. Besides, I'll try to post again in a few days. Here's the thing: Bali is freighted with terrific expectations, which are entirely appropriate given the state of the science. We now "know," insofar as we can know these things, that we've got to do everything to hold total temperature increase from global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, and that to have a good chance of doing so global emissions are going to peak by 2015. In other words, we now know this is an emergency situation. So why would we demand anything except emergency action? No reason at all. Which is why EcoEquity signed the "Call for Climate Talks to Accelerate Global Economic and Energy Transitions: What Bali Must Achieve" (PDF), now being circulated by the Institute for Policy Studies and the International Forum on Globalization. The Call urges negotiators to pursue three paths:

What will we look like in 2050?

America’s climate and energy future

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. A few weeks ago, one of the presidential candidates' advisors challenged a group of climate leaders to describe America's future. His challenge triggered a flurry of e-mails as we attempted to articulate a vision. We talked about carbon caps and price signals and new investments in R&D. That's fine, the advisor responded, but what it the vision? What is America's perfect future? I'm not sure we ever satisfactorily answered this very good question, but I found myself trying to describe what America might look like 10, 20, and 40 years from now.

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