Climate & Energy

Happy birthday

The fourth IPCC report is still going strong a year later

I was at a meeting earlier this week and was talking to one of the coordinating lead authors of the recent IPCC working group 1 report on the physical science of climate change. He remarked that he was quite surprised that how little substantive criticism the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report had received since its release just about one year ago. The reason, he thought, was that the skeptics were "in the room" with the writing team. What he meant was that the scientists writing the report knew that the denial machine would go over the report with a fine tooth comb looking for any "gotcha" mistakes to use to discredit the IPCC. Because of that, the IPCC report was extremely carefully worded so as to make virtually every statement in the report bulletproof. In fact, it is quite amazing to me that essentially none of the IPCC documents produced over the last 18 years has been found to contain any substantive errors. The trolls, of course, will come out with their litany of "errors" that the IPCC contains (I suspect a few will appear in the comments to this post), but when you look closely, the trolls are almost always misrepresenting the IPCC's statements. In fact, that's the most common attack on the IPCC: make the claim that the IPCC said something ridiculous (which it didn't actually say), then disprove that ridiculous statement, and then use that as evidence that the IPCC's reports cannot be trusted. "The IPCC says that 2 + 2 = 5, but that's just hogwash. We know that 2 + 2 = 4. Thus, climate change is a hoax." Yeah, right.

California bill would require climate change to be taught in schools

Science textbooks approved for California public schools would have to cover climate change, and science teachers would be required to put warming in their curricula, …

Investors meet at U.N. to discuss how to stay wealthy amid climate change

Nearly 500 corporate leaders and institutional investors representing $20 trillion in capital met at the United Nations Thursday to discuss the risks and opportunities presented …

Prince Charles, Richard Branson compare climate crisis to war

Prince Charles warned in a speech on Thursday that if a “courageous and revolutionary” approach to tackling climate change is not undertaken, “the result will …

A compulsive ... nontruth-teller

John McCain avoids using the word ‘mandatory’ when discussing cap-and-trade

When will the media stop calling McCain a straight-talker and realize he is a pathological doubletalker? I realize the "L" word is frowned upon in politics, so instead of using that word, which, in any case, doesn't do justice to the full range of doubletalk in the political arena -- let's just imagine there is an agreed-upon objective scale from 1 to 10 of veracity (with 5 being half-true) that goes something like this: (10) Fred Thompson, December 2007: "I'm not particularly interested in running for president." (9) Bush, May 2000: "I think we agree, the past is over." (8) Bush, January 2000: "When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world, and you knew exactly who they were. It was us vs. them, and it was clear who them was. Today, we are not so sure who the they are, but we know they're there." (5) Bush, June 1999: "I am a compassionate conservative." (3) Bush, September 2002: "There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." (2) Nixon, November 1973: "I'm not a crook." (1) McCain, January 2008 (in reply to Tim Russert's statement, "Senator McCain, you are in favor of mandatory caps" [which would be a 10 on this scale]): "No, I'm in favor of cap-and-trade."

Plan to combat warming by seeding ocean with iron runs out of funds

Planktos, the company that proposed fending off global warming by seeding the ocean with iron dust, has failed to get enough funding to go forward …

Smog struggle

A view behind the scenes at the EPA and the White House

It is now less than four weeks until the EPA announces its decision on whether to change current national standards for ozone or smog. And things are getting very interesting behind the scenes. Officially, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget website, the EPA has not yet transmitted its plan to the White House for review. The truth is, the EPA is obviously being picked at by the OMB already. The Bush administration is just trying to keep the details of this matter as secret as possible. (Some business lobbyists have heard that the EPA is pushing a tougher new standard, though weaker than that recommended by their science advisers.) Despite the efforts at secrecy, some information is creeping out as EPA puts information in its official regulatory docket. (You can see this for yourself here by searching for docket number EPA-HQ-OAR-2005-0172. )

The subsidy tease, part II

Renewable energy incentives were stripped from the energy bill; what should be done next?

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, executive director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. ----- The energy bill passed by Congress last December originally contained a beneficial, if temporary, set of financial incentives to spur the growth of renewable energy technologies in the United States. The bill included a renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) that would require states to acquire part of their electric power from renewable resources. The RPS would have guaranteed a market for these technologies -- one of the ways to help a new industry establish a foothold in the economy. The energy bill also contained an extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) -- a tax break for emerging renewable energy industries that Congress has a history of approving for only a year or two at a time. (See "The subsidy tease, part I".) The PTC and a package of other clean-energy incentives would have been funded by taking back about $12 billion in tax breaks from the oil industry. The trade-off was sensible not only because the oil industry doesn't need the money, but because in some small symbolic measure, the repeal would have helped level the playing field for those young renewable energy industries trying to compete against oil, gas, and coal industries that have been fattened for generations by the nation's taxpayers. When the White House yelled "Tax increase!" and threatened to veto the energy bill, Congress backed off. As a result, many of the energy efficiency incentives contained in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 died on December 31, and others will expire in a few months. They include incentives for efficiency in commercial buildings; tax credits for installing efficient furnaces, air conditioners, water heaters, windows, and other improvements in existing homes; incentives for manufacturers to make high-efficiency refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines; the tax credit for residential solar system installations; and a tax credit for plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Why a climate bill in 2008? Part II

Delay makes environmental catastrophe more likely

This is the second in a series; the first is here. We've covered two reasons Environmental Defense is pushing for passage of climate legislation in 2008 -- the politics will be very much the same in 2009, and we don't want to gamble away a good bill on the chance of a perfect one someday. Today I'll look at a third reason: The price of waiting, even a year or two, is simply too high. Carbon dioxide concentrations are higher today than they've been in 650,000 years, and our emissions rate is increasing. It's crucial that we start aggressively cutting emissions as soon as possible. Here's the math. Source: the national allowance account for the years 2012-2020 from the S.2191 as reported out of the EPW Committee. The emissions growth from 2005 to 2013 is assumed to be 1.1 percent (an average of the 2004 and 2005 rate reported by the EPA [PDF]). Scenario one: The Climate Security Act is passed into law this year, and takes effect in 2012. To comply with the emissions cap, covered sources would have to cut annual emissions by roughly 2 percent per year. By 2020, they would be emitting at 15 percent below the starting point in 2012. Scenario two: We delay enacting legislation by two years, holding everything else constant. We pass a cap-and-trade bill in 2010, and it takes effect in 2014. To meet the same cumulative emissions cuts, emissions would have to fall by 4.3 percent per year -- over twice as quickly -- and we'd have to do it year after year until 2020, just to get to the same place. By 2020, emissions from covered sources would have to be cut 23 percent below the starting point in 2014.