Climate & Energy

Mood in the hood

John Hofmeister, President of Shell Oil Company, was on Charlie Rose Tuesday night. About 22 minutes into the segment, he says the following [my own transcription]: If we don't drill more in this country, I am quite concerned about civil disturbances in our urban areas because of the price of fuel. ... I was meeting in Los Angeles with mayor Villaraigosa and I asked him a specific question because I lived there during the Rodney King civil disturbances. [I] said, "How is the mood in the hood based upon the price of gasoline compared to the mood in the hood at the time of the Rodney King disturbances?" He said it's threshold. Let us drill or those people will act all crazy again! You know how they can be when it comes to things like this. And they say environmentalists are alarmist.

Two proposed solar projects to boost California’s solar capacity by half

Two large solar-power projects were proposed in Southern California this week that together could provide up to 500 megawatts of power, just over half the …

Prasad responds

Carbon taxes work when there’s substitutability and revenue is locked down for environmental goals

This is a guest post by Monica Prasad, who wrote an op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times called "On Carbon: Tax, Don't Spend." It elicited responses from David Roberts and Charles Komanoff.  

Carbon policy details: Part 2

Does additionality matter?

The first follow-up to my recent post on carbon policy details. First, a note to non-carbon-wonks: "Additionality" is a term of art in the world of carbon policy. It describes the degree to which a given activity causes additional carbon reductions -- the idea being that we shouldn't pay for carbon reductions that were going to occur anyway. As a fantastic oversimplification, suppose your car broke down and you had to ride your bike to work. The principle of additionality says you shouldn't be paid for the carbon you didn't emit. (You would have ridden anyway -- what choice did you have?) But if there's an increment of money that would tip you over into getting rid of your car and always riding your bike, that's additional. Theoretically, great idea. Practically? Stupid. To understand why, go back to the test I posited in my earlier post: Does the metric increase or decrease the rate at which we invest capital to lower GHG emissions? The answer for additionality is not what you'd expect, for rather subtle reasons. First off, let's note a couple truths:

Another entrant in the $1/watt solar sweepstakes

Cost of solar cells may be driven down dramatically

Well lookie here! A series of manufacturing process improvements could make the cost of electricity from silicon-based solar cells comparable to today’s prices for coal …

Software calculates eco-impact of printers and copiers

Xerox is offering a new software calculator to help companies reduce the energy suckage of printers, copiers, and other newfangled technology. The calculator will consider …

Boston looks to generate electricity from indoor composting

The city of Boston is looking to build an urban, indoor composting facility. Most cities, if they compost at all, transport food and yard waste …

Carbon policy details: Part 1

Carbon policy is close to getting the macro right, but plenty of smaller decisions remain

My recent exchange with Gar has made it clear that there is a wide gulf between those details of carbon policy that are theoretically optimal and those which actually impact carbon reductions. Or, to be blunt, those that come up in our weekly staff meetings as actually affecting our decision to consider potential carbon reduction projects and those which simply elicit groans around the conference room of the "great intent, why did they screw up the execution?" variety.* From our perspective, the good news is that our policy does finally appear to be moving not only toward putting a price on CO2 emissions, but getting the really important details (like auction vs. allocation) right. The bad news is that most of the other details are still wrong.

Good gone wild

700 college students and the Clinton Global Initiative in New Orleans for spring break

Commitments to start social-change initiatives and spirited discussions of global issues -- these aren't typical results of 700 college students heading to New Orleans during spring break season. But last weekend, students from a diverse group of colleges, several dozen university presidents, and prominent social change agents -- not to mention Bill Clinton -- spent a day and a half on Tulane University's campus for Clinton Global Initiative University (with a cameo by Brad Pitt). Trying to live-blog an event while you're also trying to finish your senior thesis -- not a good idea. Nonetheless, a belated report from the Clinton Global Initiative's new youth event: