Climate & Energy

New partnership hopes to jumpstart global carbon market

A whole slew of countries and states have signed on to a new International Carbon Action Partnership, with a goal of sharing knowledge about and standardizing best practices for what they hope will become a global cap-and-trade system. Participants include members of the Western Climate Initiative and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as various European countries and New Zealand. “By working together we can make our shared vision of a global carbon market a reality,” said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Added California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, “Just because you don’t see Washington leading on this issue don’t assume that …

The other black gold

U.S. investors make a killing off of Chinese coal

China’s vast coal industry: Where would we be without it? Cheap Chinese coal keeps consumer-goods prices low, allowing us to consume like mad even as crude-oil prices skyrocket. It’s also returning handsome profits to U.S. investors. Take it away, Associated Press: As China’s appetite for coal is booming, American investors and businesses are cashing in. American pension and mutual fund money is being invested in the Chinese coal industry, which is lucrative but in general has a poor record for pollution and worker safety. <br The biggest Chinese coal company is China Shenhua Energy Co. of Beijing, which produces about …

Learning to shave

We need a grid as smart as our bombs

So much talk about new energy supplies ignores the wisdom we supposedly learned in the '70s about "negawatts" being the most efficient, effective, and environmentally friendly source of power around. It's good to see that we might finally make some progress in this direction, learning to shave demand peaks and save a bundle (and open the way for integrating more renewables into the grid):

Friedman asks the wrong question

It’s not whether we’re responsible, but whether we’re prepared that counts

I’ve been meaning to write something about the questions prompted by the California wildfires. The Mustache helped me this weekend by picking out what is, in my view, exactly the wrong question: "Did we do that?" Most news stories and blog posts that tried to connect the wildfires with climate change were constructed around that question. Many column inches were expended trying to calibrate the exact degree of responsibility human fossil fuel emissions might bear for the fires. Plenty of greens overstated the causal connection; plenty of anti-greens claimed there was no connection at all; nobody stepped in to ask …

A Lieberman-Warner bill tracker

Keeping tabs on who’s backing America’s Climate Security Act

If all goes as planned, the full Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will begin hearings on the Lieberman-Warner America's Climate Security Act in the next week or two. The bill's first real hurdle will be making it through that committee. Right now, there's little reason to expect that any Republican on the committee other than John Warner (R-Va.) himself will vote for it. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) spoke critically of it at the first subcommittee hearing last week, and Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) took to the podium of the National Press Club two days later to pillory the bill:

Experts agree: We should all lie. A lot. About important stuff.

Nobody fights for change unless they see there’s a problem

Ugh. So my local paper decided to print its own local blend of Nordhaus-Shellenberger drivel. Did you know that "it's time to stop blaring dire warnings about the perils of climate change and, instead, start enthusiastically proclaiming solutions"? I sure didn't. It's not as if people like Amory Lovins, Paul Hawken, Bill McKibben, or I dunno, Gar Lipow have spent years talking about exactly that. It's not like the central message adopted by successful climate change activists for the last decade has been "hey, this will be easy and make you money!" See, I thought I'd read Lovins' Natural Capitalism, all about solutions, when the paperback was put out in 2000. But apparently not! Boy, if it weren't for the timely warnings of Nordhaus or Shellenberger, the environmental movement might not have embraced their positive brand of technological fixes and business-friendly activism ... ten years ago.

European Parliament votes to require car ads include warnings on CO2 emissions

The European Parliament recently voted that car ads must include warnings on vehicle CO2 emissions. If the rule successfully negotiates the rest of the European Union legislative process, 20 percent of a car ad would have to warn or educate consumers about the CO2 emitted from the vehicles advertised, as well as their fuel consumption. The 20 percent rule would apply to overall space in a print or internet ad and overall ad time for TV and radio commercials. “As you can imagine, it is not something that we would be particularly happy about,” says a spokesperson for an auto …

The International Carbon Action Partnership

A new int’l org works toward a global carbon market, leaves U.S. federal gov’t out

Interesting. Across the transom comes news of a new treaty, the International Carbon Action Partnership, signed today by a collection of countries and U.S. states that have implemented carbon cap-and-trade systems. The idea is to share knowledge and work to standardize best practices in order to facilitate the growth of a global carbon market. From the press release: The ground-breaking international and interregional agreement was signed today by U.S. and Canadian members of the Western Climate Initiative, northeastern U.S. members of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as European members including the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, France, the Netherlands, …

The other side of global warming

We have plenty of solutions at hand beyond technology

Today the dominant view of global warming is that it's a technical problem. The burning of fossil fuels -- often regarded as the lifeblood of modern economies -- puts greenhouse gases into the air, mainly carbon dioxide, trapping more solar energy, which heats the planet and alters weather patterns. Methane and nitrous oxide also contribute. The solution is defined as reducing greenhouse gas emissions (pollution). The political, social, and moral campaign is directed at technological change, and at using our technology less. But if everyone stopped burning fossil fuels tomorrow, global warming will continue for decades. We don't have an economical technology for removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Limiting ourselves to technology-focused solutions doesn't give us much leverage. It gives us an agenda of "let's wreck the world slower." There is another side to global warming, one that existing scientific panels are ill-equipped to recognize and that existing institutions are ill-equipped to act on. Global warming is not just an atmospheric pollution problem caused by fossil fuel burning. It is also the result of changes in basic biospheric processes. Let's look at some examples.

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