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Brit's Eye View: U.K. climate politics heating up

Tough new climate targets are all the rage in the Britain and Europe

Peter Madden, chief executive of Forum for the Future, writes a monthly column for Gristmill on sustainability in the U.K. and Europe. Things are hotting-up over here on climate change. And I'm not talking about the fact that we're set to have the warmest year on record. The political temperature is rising, too. The European Union has agreed to a joint CO2 target for its 27 member countries and their 490 million citizens. The leaders committed to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. But this is just a starter. The E.U. says that if other countries -- such …

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Mooney on Waxman hearing

Here's Chris Mooney's promised post on the "new revelations" from Waxman's hearing yesterday. From what I can tell, the big revelation is that NASA press hacks did, indeed, try to block Hansen from giving an interview to NPR. But we mostly knew that, right? And given how spectacularly failed the effort to silence Hansen was ... this one isn't moving my outrage meter much. There are just so many things competing for outrage these days, no?

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Coal kills

Report from India

Daphne Wysham, co-director of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network sends the following from Angul, Orissa, the heart of India's Coal Belt, on March 15, 2007: The smell of burning coal in household fires hangs in the air. Bicyclists carry heavy bags of coal from the mines to sell for a few rupees. They are overtaken by huge lorries carrying more than the tonnage they are supposed to carry -- all part of the black market in coal -- down busy streets, with cattle lying nonchalantly on the road. We visited communities that were literally on the edge of the …

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Climate change winners and losers

New articles take a look

Interesting piece from Makower on some recent articles moving the climate conversation to more ... prosaic concerns. That is to say: who's gonna make out? The first is in the Harvard Business Review, and outlines these risks to businesses: ... regulatory risk (the impact of emissions caps or carbon taxes); supply chain risk (disruptions or price hikes in materials or energy, in many cases because of the huge distances such supplies are shipped); product and technology risk (companies' varying ability to identify ways to exploit new market opportunities for climate-friendly products and services); litigation risk (the threat of lawsuits for …

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Is biofuel gasification just hot air?

Or a new way forward?

File this under possibly hopeful news: Researchers at Purdue are calling an approach that gasifies biomass to make liquid fuels a "hybrid hydrogen-carbon process," or H2CAR. Read the article for the straight scoop, but it's basically adding hydrogen to biomass from a "carbon-free" energy source (solar? wind? nukes?), via gasification. The process would be more efficient than current biofuel production because it'd suppress the formation of carbon dioxide and convert all of the carbon atoms to fuel. Is it just hot air? And if this process is powered by nukes, that's a whole new question.

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Answers to questions the Drudge Report poses to Al Gore

Come on, Drudge. You can do better

Al Gore is testifying on Capitol Hill twice on Wednesday -- before John Dingell's House Energy and Commerce Committee and Barbara Boxer's Senate Environment Committee. According to the Drudge Report (link may only be temporary), "Proposed questions for Gore, which are circulating behind-the-scenes, have been obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT -- questions that could lead Gore scrambling for answers!" Here are the questions, which would not cause a fifth grader to scramble, but I am flattered to make the list: Mr. Gore: You have said several times that we have 10 years to act to stave off global warming. Was …

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Al Gore to testify to both houses of Congress tomorrow

Political wonks everywhere feel the electricity!

In what may be the blockbuster hit of the political season, Al Gore is testifying to Congress tomorrow -- twice. Not only is his testimony expected to influence the direction of coming legislation, but it may also reveal something of his intentions on the presidential race. One way or another, there's sure to be drama. First, at 9:30am, he'll testify to [deep breath] a joint hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment of the Committee on Science and Technology. (A live webcast here.) Also testifying …

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House Republicans stack climate change committee with skeptics

Not that they’re trying to obstruct progress or anything

Here's a glimpse behind the scenes at how Republicans were chosen to serve on the new House global warming committee: House Republican Leader John Boehner would have appointed Rep. Wayne Gilchrest to the bipartisan Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming -- but only if the Maryland Republican would say humans are not causing climate change, Gilchrest said. "I said, 'John, I can't do that,'" Gilchrest, R-1st-Md., said in an interview. "He said, 'Come on. Do me a favor. I want to help you here.'" Gilchrest didn't make the committee. Neither did other Republican moderates or science-minded members, whose …

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Feedback frenzy

2006, the year global warming came into focus

Steve Connor from the U.K.'s The Independent summarized what we learned in 2006 with the article "Review of the year: Global warming," subheaded with, "Our worst fears are exceeded by reality." According to Connor, "2006 will be remembered by climatologists as the year in which the potential scale of global warming came into focus. And the problem can be summarised in one word: feedback." Connor has collected and examined research from the last year on positive and negative feedback cycles, and he lays some out in layman's language. Yet his reporting is not diluted at all. To the contrary, it's …

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An interview with Van Jones, advocate for social justice and shared green prosperity

Big business has finally realized that there's lots of money to be made in the transition to a clean-energy economy. Van Jones wants to make sure working-class and minority Americans realize it too. Van Jones. Jones, a civil-rights lawyer, is founder and executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, an innovative nonprofit that made its name working to prevent youth violence and incarceration. In 2005, the center unveiled an initiative that would put it at the cutting edge of progressive activism: Reclaim the Future, a program aimed at ensuring that low-income and minority youth have access to …