Climate & Energy

Not that coal has any undue advantage

Coal industry sponsors another presidential debate

Tonight’s CNN/YouTube debate for the Republican presidential candidates is, like the previous CNN debate for Dems, brought to you by the coal industry. From ThinkProgress: Sponsorship of tonight’s debate appears aimed at influencing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), who is leading a "crusade against coal." Crist has unveiled a plan to reduce his state’s carbon dioxide emissions by replacing coal plants with solar thermal power plants. He has also canceled plans to build new coal plants that were pushed by his predecessor, Jeb Bush. … This CNN debate isn’t the first sponsored by the coal industry. On Nov. 15, it …

What folks are saying about the upcoming Bali talks

Representatives from nearly 200 nations will gather in Bali, Indonesia, next week to discuss what’s to be done about this whole climate-change thing once the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. So what’s the word on the street? United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been clear about his expectations: “The world’s scientists have spoken, clearly and with one voice. In Bali, I expect the world’s policymakers to do the same.” Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is equally optimistic, believing “some of the delegations who have been obstructionist in the past will be much more cooperative …

Forum video, now with comments

Tell us what you think about the presidential forum

The video from Grist’s presidential forum on climate is now available on a page that accepts comments. So go comment! One thing to watch for: check out what Hillary says at 6:33, and compare to what Edwards says at around 35:00. Are they right?

2007 likely to be sixth warmest year on record, say researchers

The year 2007 is likely to tie with 2006 as the sixth warmest year on record, say British researchers who provide data to the World Meteorological Association. The researchers had predicted a year ago that 2007 might be the hottest evah, but it’s instead likely to come in behind 1998, 2005, 2003, 2002, and 2004. Hey, those are all so recent! Wonder if that means something.

You know what they say about a guy with a big footprint?

GAO says the electric sector’s got a big subsidy to match

The GAO has reported on subsidies to our electric sector, proving what Grist readers already (sadly) know, namely that subsidies to the dirty folks vastly exceed existing or proposed subsidies to cleaner generation. The most remarkable thing is that the biggest subsidies, like nuclear liability guarantees and lower debt costs through rate payer guarantees, aren't even included in the list (although, to the GAO's credit, it does acknowledge their existence). So who's packing the biggest, er, subsidy?

Report from the World Meteorological Organization

CO2 levels hit new record in 2006

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in its new 2006 Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, reports: In 2006, globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere reached their highest levels ever recorded ... 381.2 parts per million (ppm), up 0.53 per cent from 379.2 ppm in 2005. Note this is a one-year rise of 2.0 ppm, continuing the accelerated trend of the past decade, which is due to increases in global economic activity and carbon intensity, together with decreased efficiency of natural sinks, like the ocean.

Splitting up is hard to do

Pelosi joins Reid in bifurcating the energy bill

A couple weeks ago, as I wrote here, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was keeping mum about her efforts alongside Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass the energy bill. She would neither confirm nor deny rumors about a split bill. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that she's no longer keeping quiet: Democratic leaders have wrestled for months with how to meld the Senate bill, which includes a new fuel-economy mandate for auto makers, and the House bill, which would require power companies to use greater amounts of wind, solar and other renewable fuels. With only a few weeks left in the year, Democrats are now considering a new option: moving two separate bills.One measure would include the proposed fuel-economy increase as well as a proposal to boost production of ethanol and related biofuels. The companion bill would include the utility mandate, as well as a tax package rolling back oil industry tax breaks. How this makes the utility mandate any less likely to be filibustered remains a total mystery to me. But I suppose there is some logic to moving as many parts of the bill as are immediately passable, thereby narrowing the battle to one over renewables alone. Maybe Reid will just jam clean energy into some difficult-to-filibuster legislation down the road.

Ice, ice, maybe (not)

Must-see ice-sheet TV

Do you want the latest data -- some not yet published -- and the best post-IPCC scientific predictions on the stunning collapse of Arctic ice and unexpected shrinking of the Greenland (and Antarctic) ice sheets? Then you should definitely watch this C-SPAN video of yesterday's American Meteorological Society seminar (see note on link below). The seminar is by three of the world's top cryosphere experts: Dr. Mark Serreze (NOAA), Scott Luthcke (NASA), and Dr. Konrad Steffen (CIRES) -- full bios and program summary available here. I will post their presentations when AMS puts them online (which will be here). I have spent a great deal of time studying the ice and sea-level-rise issue (see links below) and still found the presentations informative and startling. It is very safe to say the Arctic Sea will be essentially ice-free by 2030, and I'd personally bet on 2020 -- any takers?

Congressional fuel-economy deal near

A possible compromise in energy legislation negotiations

The Detroit Free Press reports: Congressional negotiators are close to agreement on an increase in fuel economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, with some caveats to satisfy U.S. automakers. What caveats? The compromise would preserve the distinction between cars and trucks, something Detroit automakers have fought for, while giving federal regulators strict limits on how to put the increases into place. It also would include a provision backed by the UAW aimed at keeping small-car production in the United States. Still, much better than no deal at all.

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