Climate & Energy

Energy efficiency just leaves more money to squander, says study

As more and more vehicles and appliances become energy efficient, Americans save money — then spend that money on more and bigger vehicles and appliances, a new study finds. Sigh.

Lewis Black on global warming

Problem solved?

U.S. emissions go down!

The White House issued a press release yesterday about the report (PDF) by the Energy Information Administration that U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions for 2006 were 1.5 percent below the 2005 level. Here is the text of the press release: STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT I was pleased to receive the Energy Information Administration's final report today, which includes U.S. greenhouse gas emissions for 2006. The final report shows that emissions declined 1.5 percent from the 2005 level, while our economy grew 2.9 percent. That means greenhouse gas intensity -- how much we emit per unit of economic activity -- decreased by 4.2 percent, the largest annual improvement since 1985. This puts us well ahead of the goal I set in 2002 to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent by 2012. My Administration's climate change policy is science-based, encourages research breakthroughs that lead to technology development, encourages global participation, and pursues actions that will help ensure continued economic growth and prosperity for our citizens and for people throughout the world. Since 2001, we have spent almost $37 billion on climate science, technology development, and incentives and international assistance. Recently, we convened representatives of the world's major economies -- the largest users of energy and largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, from both developed and developing nations -- to discuss a new international approach on energy security and climate change. Our aim is to agree on a detailed contribution for a new global framework in 2008 that would contribute to a global agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by 2009. The United States looks forward to working with partners to reach consensus on a "Bali Roadmap" at the upcoming UN meeting on climate change in Indonesia in December. Energy security and climate change are two of the important challenges of our time. The United States takes these challenges seriously, and we are effectively confronting climate change through regulations, public-private partnerships, incentives, and strong investment in new technologies. Our guiding principle is clear: we must lead the world to produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and we must do it in a way that does not undermine economic growth or prevent nations from delivering greater prosperity for their people. There are a few noteworthy aspects to the report and this press release.

Midnight Oil frontman is Australia’s new environment minister

Peter Garrett, former singer for rock band Midnight Oil, has been appointed the environment minister in Australia’s new regime. Garrett, who has been a member of the Australian Parliament since 2004, will be a duet with new Minister for Climate Change and Water Penny Wong.

News from the Googleplex

Is Google betting on a carbon tax?

Google Inc. has a new project, "Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal." Google is preparing to bet megabucks, mega-engineers, and its cutting-edge reputation on its ability to propel solar thermal power, wind turbines, and other renewable electricity up the innovation curve and under the cost of coal-fired power, Reuters reported Tuesday. "Our goal is to produce one gigawatt [1,000 megawatts] of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. We are optimistic this can be done in years, not decades," said Larry Page, Google's cofounder and president of products, according to Reuters. To which we at the Carbon Tax Center say: Good luck, and don't forget to hire the lobbyists. You're going to need them to help win a carbon tax, because without the tax, your goal of renewable energy cheaper than coal is likely to remain out of reach.

Averting our eyes

A guest essay from climate scientist James Hansen

The following is an essay distributed by email to a number of friends and journalists by pioneering climate scientist James Hansen. It is a response to controversy generated by his testimony before Iowa’s utility board, in which he likened coal trains to “boxcars headed to crematoria.” —– Emails received regarding the letter from the National Mining Association CEO and my letter to him (PDF) suggest a need for an apology on my part and a clarification of the bottom line. Some context is required. Generational knowledge and responsibility. The threat of global warming did not become clear until the present …

Heat waves take a toll on Australian fruit bats

Climate change has, ahem, taken a swing at bats. Unable to deal with scorching heat waves, thousands of Australian fruit bats have flapped their wings, panted, drooled — then dropped dead. Which begs the question: Do bat researchers spend a lot of time yelling, “Quick — to the bat cave!” We really, really hope so.

Will the energy bill bail out ethanol?

The corn industry hopes Congress will pull its fat out of the fire

I used to love to start my writing day by taking a poke or two at the corn-based ethanol industry — you know, the biggest greenwash ever. Photo: mrobenalt These days, the debunking of corn fuel almost seems like it’s piling on. Today, two major newspapers — the LA Times and The Wall Street Journal — ran front-page stories that essentially say: everyone hates government support for corn-based ethanol, except for people with a direct financial (or political) stake in it. A couple of years ago, I enjoyed a snippy back-and-forth with someone from the Minnesota branch of the American …

The job-creating answer to global warming

A new report lays a road map for creating green jobs while fighting the climate crisis

A major new report from the Center for American Progress (CAP) provides a detailed roadmap for avoiding catastrophic global warming and restoring our energy security, while maintaining economic development. The report, "Capturing the Energy Opportunity: Creating a Low Carbon Economy," is by CAP's John Podesta, Kitt Batten, and Todd Stern. It is well worth reading, and I say that not because I am a senior fellow at CAP, but because the 88-page report lays out the most comprehensive set of plausible job-creating climate/energy policies I have seen. The authors understand the scale of the problem: The challenge we face is nothing short of the conversion of an economy sustained by high-carbon energy -- putting both our national security and the health of our planet at serious risk -- to one based on low-carbon, sustainable sources of energy. The scale of this undertaking is immense and its potential enormous. The urgency of this issue demands a president willing to make the low-carbon energy challenge a top priority in the White House -- a centerpiece not only of his or her energy policy but also of his or her economic program -- to produce broad-based growth and sustain American economic leadership in the 21st century. This task is so encompassing it will demand that the incoming president in 2009 reorganize the mission and responsibility of all relevant government agencies -- economic, national security, and environmental. The report explores the crucial steps needed to meet the challenge:

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