Climate & Energy

Bill Clinton vs. the World Bank

Clinton’s push for sustainable development dismissed by World Bank prez

The opening plenary was fascinating. Clinton explained how CGI commitments had already avoided 20,000,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Then he tried to get Robert Zoellick, head of the World Bank, to realize that the "Bank can show people options for sustainable development." Zoellick, however, was full of little more than platitudes, saying we need to address "questions of adaptation and mitigation," and noting that there is a sensitivity in the developing world that climate change funds will come at the expense of development -- totally missing Clinton's point that green development is the only winning path (and Gore's point that global warming, left unchecked, will negate all other efforts aimed at development). Clinton, however, persisted -- especially after H. Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, touted his various successes:

Disinterested analysis

Banks want a cap-and-trade system

A coalition of banks, which stand to benefit enormously from the new business created by a cap-and-trade system, believe that a cap-and-trade system is the preferable climate policy. In other news, dog bites man.

That spade is a spade

Unusually straightforward journalistic fact-checking at the Post

Huge kudos to Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson at the Post. You don’t often see traditional journalists willing to call out the Bush administration’s lies and distractions so plainly: Seeking to counter international pressure to adopt binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions, the Bush administration has been touting the success of three mandatory programs to curb U.S. energy consumption: gas mileage standards for vehicles, efficiency standards for home appliances and state laws requiring utilities to increase their use of renewable energy sources. But for most of the Bush presidency, the White House has either done little to promote these measures …

Britain will phase out incandescent light bulbs

Britain announced a voluntary initiative today that will phase out traditional incandescent light bulbs in the country by 2011. Officials predict that phasing in compact fluorescent lights will keep up to 5.5 million tons of carbon dioxide a year out of the atmosphere. Brilliant! “Britain is leading the way in getting rid of energy-guzzling light bulbs and helping consumers reduce their carbon footprint,” said Environment Secretary Hilary Benn, apparently forgetting that Australia actually led the way (and its legislation was mandatory, cough cough.) Could the U.S. be next to see the light?

Quote of the day

Dingell gets off a zinger in a testy interview

"I run a legislative committee. Mr. Markey runs around the world watching glaciers melt." — Rep. John Dingell Ouch. That comes from a characteristically testy interview Dingell did with Newsweek. It’s worth reading the whole thing. I don’t know what his intent is with this carbon tax bill, but I will say that the tenor of his message on global warming is politically disastrous. It is, paraphrasing, this: "Global warming is a serious problem. Solving it is going to involve considerable pain for everyone. Gas and electricity prices are going to rise. You’re not going to be able to drive …

Clinton Global Initiative: The view from China

China’s foreign minister talks climate and development

China's foreign minister Yang Jiechi focused on climate change during his moment in the CGI spotlight yesterday:

Michigan Rep. John Dingell drafts a carbon-tax bill

Michigan Rep. John Dingell (D) has drafted a carbon-tax bill and posted a summary to his website to solicit public feedback. In its current form, Dingell’s legislation would phase in over five years a $50-per-ton tax on carbon and a tax of 50 cents per gallon on gasoline and jet fuel (after five years the tax would be indexed to inflation). The bill would also phase out tax deductions for homes over 3,000 square feet. A carbon tax is beloved by economists and other wonks as the most transparent, efficient means of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. Voters, however, tend to hate …

Environmentalism's existential moment

Shellenberger & Nordhaus respond to critics

The following is a guest essay by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, authors of Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility and “The Death of Environmentalism.” Nordhaus and Shellenberger are managing directors at American Environics and the founders of the Breakthrough Institute. —– This month the world celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the international treaty that phased out ozone-destroying chemicals. For environmentalists, the Montreal Protocol has long been a model for action on global warming. In the words of David Doniger, the climate director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, "The lesson from Montreal is …

Solar Power 2007

Increasingly popular solar power conference mirrors growth in the industry

The heart and soul of the world's solar industry is gathered this week in Long Beach for the annual SEPA/SEIA solar conference. Five years ago, this conference drew 200 people to a dingy hotel ballroom in Reno. This year, it's sold out the Long Beach Convention Center, and you can't get a hotel room for love or money within a 20-mile radius. It's like the Super Bowl is in town. Solar has come a long way -- and there's a lot of things to thank for what's brought the industry to this point. Certainly, the world owes the German feed-in tariff a big danke for all it has done to scale up manufacturing. And in the U.S., the California Solar Initiative has been the big driver, with a bevy of new state programs vying for the crown. While everyone is encouraged by the progress First Solar has made delivering on thin-film's long-deferred promise, I'd argue that to date, financial innovation -- more specifically solar PPAs -- has been a bigger driver in expanding markets than technological innovation. So, the question of the day is: what's the new development that will emerge as the biggest theme of this year's conference? At the risk of blogmiscuity, I'm guest-blogging on just that question over at RenewableEnergyAccess. Check it out.

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