Climate & Energy

States adopt decoupling plans to encourage energy efficiency

It’s a scheme that turns the traditional business model on its head: power companies can make more money by selling less power. Under “decoupling” plans, state regulators give incentive payments to electric utilities that encourage energy efficiency by their customers. “Before there was almost a disincentive to go hard at efficiency because we weren’t recovering our fixed costs” such as plants and equipment, says a rep for Idaho Power. “Now the anticipation is that we will recover our fixed cost.” Decoupling plans also reduce the need for costly new power plants — a boon for both utilities and the planet. …


Moving toward a better energy policy

There's a great line often ascribed to Yogi Berra: "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else." This perfectly describes U.S. energy policy -- and offers a way forward that would not only create lots of social benefits, but just might make energy policy something that matters to U.S. electoral politics. To see why, try ranking those events in political history when politicians really got it right. Declaration of Independence? Emancipation Proclamation? Man on the moon? Pick whichever ones you'd like. Here's my prediction: those great moments were all framed around goals we sought to achieve, without prejudice to the path we took to get there. Why does this matter to energy policy? Because we've never had an energy policy that got beyond a narrow focus on the path.

Yang Jiechi on China's response to global warming

Bush-like doubletalk from Chinese foreign minister

The Foreign Minister of China, Yang Jiechi, gave a talk at CGI that would have made President Bush -- or Frank Luntz -- proud. Brian may have liked the rhetoric, but I (and a number of others I spoke to in NY) thought the comments were divorced from reality, pure spin. You can judge for yourself from the entire transcript, which I will excerpt and comment on here because I think the speech is much more important and ominous than Bush's recent climate speech. After all, Bush will be gone soon, but if this speech reflects China's view of the climate problem, we are all in deep, deep trouble. Yang says: A review of history shows that climate change occurs in the course of development. It is both an environment issue and a development issue. But ultimately, it is a development issue. Uh, not really. He presumably meant to say "rising greenhouse gases (GHGs)" instead of "climate change." And he presumably means to imply that you can't have development without climate change/GHGs.

Knocked Krupp

Is Environmental Defense leader Fred Krupp a savvy dealmaker or a stooge?

I keep meaning to link to The New Republic‘s thoughtful profile of Fred Krupp, head honcho at Environmental Defense: Krupp, of all environmentalists, has been the most successful in persuading the corporate world–and those who support its interests–to embrace the green cause. Among his accomplishments, Krupp has helped convince McDonald’s to abandon Styrofoam for paper, Wal-Mart to stock energy- efficient light bulbs, Duke Energy to invest in wind power, and Federal Express to use hybrid trucks. He was one of the main architects of the Kyoto Protocol and is a linchpin in Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s GreeNYC plan. In January, he …

An interview with John McCain about his presidential platform on energy and the environment

This is part of a series of interviews with presidential candidates produced jointly by Grist and Outside. John McCain. Photo: hatch1921 John McCain likes to project a tough-guy stance on the issues, and global warming is no exception. “Americans solve problems. We don’t run from them,” he’s quoted as saying on the environment page of his website, which goes on to argue that “ignoring the problem reflects a ‘liberal, live for today’ attitude unworthy of our great country.” McCain has earned the right to put his own conservative spin on the fight against climate change. The first high-profile Republican to …

TV goes green

Global warming ‘insurmountable’ without Heroes!

So the fall season has begun and, as expected, shows from Boston Legal to Moonlight are going green -- even William Shatner got into the act. I'd be very interested in hearing from readers if any of their favorite shows had a green element. In the opening voiceover of the second season opener, genetics professor Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy) says that humanity's problems, including global warming, are "insurmountable" without our Heroes. Shades of The 4400. I'm glad the writers mentioned global warming. But the way they did leaves the impression that we can't solve the problem without superhuman abilities. And people can't fly or teleport or heal themselves from any injury -- can they?

British Columbia premier announces climate plan

British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell has announced a vague plan for reducing the province’s greenhouse-gas emissions by a third by 2020. The plan includes requiring all government agencies to be carbon neutral by 2010, factoring in employee travel; institution of a local carbon-offset provider; installation of residential and commercial smart meters to encourage energy conservation; and emissions caps on industries. Critics of the plan asked what the plan is, exactly, as Campbell provided few new, specific details.

Reshaping market economies

A reply to Shellenberger & Nordhaus

It’s rare for any environmental book to receive the attention garnered by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger’s Break Through, particularly outside the usual green circles. Anything that prompts conversation on these issues is, in and of itself, a good thing. So one hesitates to point out that beneath all the hype — the "death" of this, the "fundamental break" from that — the book’s arguments are fairly modest. Banal even. The word from the "bad boys of environmentalism" is that environmentalists should be more positive and support greater public investment in clean energy technology. Well … OK. The argument about …

More from the dark side

How climate skeptics like Fred Singer operate

Several posts ago, I reproduced a few emails to and from well-known climate skeptic Fred Singer. Since then, I've had a few other exchanges emailed to me. They give great insight into how skeptics work the system to promote their view. Here's the best one: