Climate & Energy

Sanders alone

Why isn’t Joe Lieberman scared of Bernie Sanders?

Readers following Brian’s excellent coverage will have noted that Joe Lieberman rejected most of the amendments offered by Bernie Sanders to the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. And if you watched the hearing, you’ll have seen that Lieberman was fairly obsequious to the Republicans on the subcommittee but briskly dismissive of Sanders. There are two theories for why this happens: Ex-Dem Lieberman is congenitally deferential to those on his right and scornful to those on his left. It’s just an ingrained habit. He gave a tiny bit of ground to greens in private before introducing the bill, but in public? No. Lieberman …

Grist: not yet universally beloved

So, the field hearing of the House global warming committee is just getting underway. I was chatting with Rep. Jay Inslee a few minutes ago, when a burly, ruddy-faced man tried to get past us. Inslee said, "Jim, this is David Roberts, he runs a blog with lots of environmental stuff of interest, you might want to check it out." The man scowled, grunted, and kept going. I was puzzled, until I saw him sit down behind a nameplate: "U.S. Representative Sensenbrenner." Ah.  More on the hearing in a little while. 

My reply to Bloomberg's speech in Seattle

Carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, and getting things right

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg just gave a bombshell speech here in Seattle calling for a federal carbon tax. (Full text of the speech is here, scroll down.) First off, way to go, Bloomberg! (In fact, Sightline Institute's Anna Fahey has written about Bloomberg's awesome framing.) But now, with my researcher's hat on, I think it's worth it to clarify a few things. While many of Bloomberg's arguments in favor of a carbon tax were spot-on, he made some very selective criticisms of cap-and-trade programs -- criticisms that seem targeted at only the worst way of doing it. As far as I can tell, Bloomberg completely ignored the right way to do cap-and-trade, which starts with auctioning the credits, not giving them away for free. So as a service for wonky readers, here's a little primer that I whipped up this morning:

Bloomberg speaks out in Seattle

NYC mayor climbs aboard the carbon tax train

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg declared his support today for a national carbon tax, according to a report posted on the New York Times City Room blog by metro reporter Sewell Chan: Mayor Bloomberg plans to announce today his support for a national carbon tax. In what his aides are calling one of the most significant policy addresses of his second and final term, the mayor will argue that directly taxing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change will slow global warming, promote economic growth and stimulate technological innovation -- even if it results in higher gasoline prices in the short term. Mr. Bloomberg is scheduled to present his carbon tax proposal in a speech this afternoon at a two-day climate protection summit in Seattle organized by the United States Conference of Mayors. (A copy of the speech was provided to The New York Times by aides to the mayor; the full text is available from The Times, along with the complete Times story.) With his speech today, Mayor Bloomberg joins former Vice-President Al Gore as the nation's leading advocates of a carbon tax to cap and reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels. French President Nicolas Sarkozy called last week for a national carbon tax on global-warming pollutants and a European levy on imports from countries not complying with the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions. In September, U.S. Rep. John Dingell, the powerful chair of the House Commerce Committee, proposed a hybrid carbon tax combining a straight carbon tax on coal, oil, and natural gas with a surcharge on gasoline and jet fuel.

U.S. Mayors Climate Conference: Gore VI

Gore: What we can learn from the ozone hole

Kelly Fergusson, mayor of Menlo Park, Calif. ("investment capital of the world!"), asks: we’ve overcome huge environmental challenges like DDT and the ozone hole before. What can we learn from those successes? First, Gore causes me to do a double take by saying that his mother used to read to he and his sister from Silent Spring. Jeebus! I guess that explains a lot. However, he knows more about the ozone fight. And boy does he know about it — here he launches into a mini-history about CFCs, the Nobel chemists who discovered them, how they still affect the chemical …

U.S. Mayors Climate Conference: Gore V

Gore: Population one of the causes of climate change, but not one of the policy solutions

Sue Greenwald, mayor of Davis, Calif., asked a question that becomes inevitable when more than one environmentalist is in the room: does "population control" have any role in the climate movement? People laughed nervously. Gore immediately said, courteously but firmly, that if you go to developing countries using the term "population control," they’re going to see that as … well, his term was "aggressive." I probably would have used something stronger. Then, in characteristic fashion, he said, "let me back up." First, he said, it’s true that the population explosion is one of the principle causes of climate change — …

Energy bill for dummies

What’s going on with the energy bill in Congress

The following is a guest essay from Julia Bovey, federal communications director for the Natural Resources Defense Council and blogger at NRDC’s Switchboard. —– When I left my native Boston for Washington, D.C., I bought several new things, including navy-blue closed-toed pumps and a copy of Congress for Dummies. While more women than I was led to believe wear open-toes in the Capitol, I have been making excellent use of Congress for Dummies as I try to interpret what the heck is going on with the energy bill up there. To refresh, both the House and the Senate passed pretty …

U.S. Mayors Climate Conference: Gore IV

Gore: no more coal plants without sequestration

Mayor Mark Stodola of Little Rock, Ark., asked Gore squarely about coal. He said that his city’s electrical rates had been rising, but that a new coal plant opening soon was going to lower the bills. Naturally, my ears perked up. Gore said coal is where "the rubber meets the road." We have enough coal here and in China to "incinerate the planet." And right now, electricity is being "recarbonized." "We just can’t do that." The future of coal depends substantially on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), and right now, CCS is difficult and expensive. Some people are doing it …

Bill Clinton partners with Wal-Mart to create green-tech buying club for cities

At a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Seattle yesterday, former President Bill Clinton announced that his foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative is pursuing new green plans to help curb climate change. CCI is partnering with low-price expert Wal-Mart to create a many-city bulk-buying club to lower prices on greener building materials and energy-efficient technologies for the world’s cities. The club is open to the world’s 40 largest cities as well as the 1,100 cities and towns that are part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Clinton said that climate change is, “in my view, for the United States, …

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