Climate & Energy

And the wind began to howl ...

All along the watch tower, opposition to wind is growing

I'm seeing more and more evidence of a nascent anti-wind movement. And, naturally enough, an anti-anti-wind backlash.

Beyond the worst-case scenario

Level of GHG emissions may be much higher than predicted

There are those who argue that it's irresponsible or alarmist to argue that there will be any climate change effects beyond those cited by the IPCC. I wonder what they'll make of this:

Prime mover

Edwards would auction 100 percent of pollution permits; welcomes Obama to the auction fold

Earlier this week, when Barack Obama released his excellent new energy plan, I said this: … with his promise to auction 100% of cap-and-trade credits, Obama has put himself out ahead of all the other frontrunners. He deserves the praise he’ll get for it. John Edwards. Photo: kk+ via flickr Afterwards, the John Edwards campaign contacted me protesting that on permit auctions, as on so many other policy landmarks, Edwards was there first. I was a bit suspicious at first — when Edwards’ plan first went online, it said a "portion" of the permits would be auctioned to raise $10b …

The meaning of global warming, part two

Stabilizing climate means embracing technology, public investment, and global economic development

The following is a guest essay by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, the latest in the ongoing conversation about their new book Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. —– This week saw a watershed moment for those of us committed to moving environmentalism from a politics of limits to a politics of possibility. Senator Barack Obama proposed a $150 billion investment to develop and deploy clean energy technology on a scale approaching the challenge we face. In doing so, he has become the most recent of several national political leaders to go beyond the …

Grading on a curve

The Republican candidates acknowledge climate change, but they don’t much care about it

All the action and excitement around climate change policy seems to have lulled Chris Mooney into a false sense of security about the current crop of Republican presidential candidates. This, however, is no time to go soft, and no time to give points for showing up. Bare acknowledgement of the reality of climate change is an absurdly low bar to clear at this stage of the game. If you want to see the heart of the Republican stance on climate change, have a look at the interview with Sam Brownback we just published. I single it out not because Brownback …

Notable quotable

"People use fossil fuels because the good Lord put them on earth for us to use." – Fred Palmer, senior VP of PR for coal giant Peabody Energy

A slew of new reports on biofuel subsidies

Evaluating U.S. and EU policies

The last couple of months I've been busy preparing two major reports on government support for biofuels, both for the Global Subsidies Initiative (GSI) of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). These reports follow on from our October 2006 report on support for biofuels in the United States, which we commissioned from Doug Koplow of Earth Track, and which has been cited numerous times on these pages. Last month, we issued what we call our "Synthesis Report," our overview of government support for biofuels in selected OECD countries. Coming out right on the heels of the so-called "OECD Paper" (actually, a discussion document for a meeting of the Round Table on Sustainable Development, to which I contributed), "Government Support for Ethanol and Biodiesel in Selected OECD Countries" hasn't yet attracted much attention in the press. It is rather dense in parts, I'll admit. But it contains some crunchy numbers. For example, we estimate that total support to biofuels in OECD countries was at least $11 billion in 2006, with most of that provided by the U.S. and the EU. Expressed in terms of dollars per greenhouse-gas emissions avoided, the levels vary widely, but in almost all countries, whether for ethanol and biodiesel, they exceed $250 per tonne of CO2-equivalent. That is several multiples of the highest price of a CO2-equivalent offset yet achieved on the European Climate Exchange. Then, last week, we released our long-awaited report on "Government Support for Ethanol and Biodiesel in the European Union" ...

Boosting crops for fuel will hurt water supplies, says report

Increased production of corn and other crops to fulfill America’s biofuel gluttony could threaten both availability and quality of water supplies, according to a report released today by the National Research Council. Fulfilling President Bush’s stated goal of producing 35 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2017 “would mean a lot more fertilizers and pesticides” running into rivers and oceans, says researcher Jerald Schnoor. In addition, he says, corn requires “a high amount of water” — about 2,000 gallons per bushel, to be precise — not counting the H2O used in ethanol factories. The National Research Council is an arm …

Lomborg and Shellenberger & Nordhaus redux

Yet more musing on Lomborg and S&N

Looks like I'm not the only one who sees a scary similarity between the messages in their respective books, Cool It and Break Through. The San Francisco Chronicle just ran a double review by Robert Collier, a visiting scholar at the Center for Environmental Public Policy at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy. The review ends pointedly: [T]he arguments of Nordhaus and Shellenberger attain an intellectual pretense that could almost pass for brilliant if their urgings weren't so patently empty. The closing chapter calls for "greatness," but, like the rest of the book, it offers little in the way of substantive proposals to back up its rhetorical thunder. Perhaps that's for their next book. Or perhaps real solutions, rather than pretentious sniping, are not the authors' purpose. Nordhaus and Shellenberger, like Lomborg, will get plenty of attention in Washington from those who want to preserve the status quo. But for those who recognize the urgent need to transform the national and world economies and save the planet as we know it, they are ultimately irrelevant. Precisely.

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