Climate & Energy

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.

Clinton Global Initiative: Clinton chats with the press

Bill Clinton wanted a carbon market back in the day, and he still does

Bill Clinton just gave a short speech and took a few questions from reporters. Some highlights: When they were in office, Bill Clinton and Al Gore wanted to create a global carbon market. At the time, Europe thought the idea undesirable and unfeasible and didn't offer any support. The effort failed. Now, years down the line, the world is a different place and the idea has much more purchase. Clinton, when asked for his thoughts on this, managed to turn all of his administration's supposed failures -- from health care to peace in the Middle East -- into examples of his foresight: "It's a great thing to fail at a good cause because it keeps free people stumbling in the right direction." Clever. But also true. So what does he support now? In response to a question about just that (it was the question I wanted to ask, but I guess I didn't raise my hand high enough), Clinton said he still supports a carbon market. A carbon tax creates incentives to individuals, he said -- but in theory, because it's largely untested. He sounded open-minded, but believes that as a catalyst for innovation and with greater enforcement and consumer information, a carbon auction is still the preferable regulatory scheme. Addendum the first: In answering a question about the empowerment of women in the world, he managed to offer a frighteningly complete history of the world in two minutes. Addendum the second: Apparently last year's CGI meeting was followed via webcast by about 50,000 people. This year, Clinton announced, that number is 500,000 -- a ten-fold increase. It's not surprising that the CGI audience would grow as the event's profile increased and technology spread and improved, but a 1000 percent increase over the course of one year is really remarkable.

American spirits

New poll shows Americans believe in global warming, want to do something about it

Another day, another poll. This one’s a Yale University / Gallup / ClearVision poll run by Anthony Leiserowitz, who I’ve written about before. Unlike the one I wrote about earlier this week, this poll focused on the U.S. No huge shocks. Most Americans believe humans are causing global warming; strangely, they see themselves as ahead of the scientific consensus — lots (40%) are under the mistaken impression that scientists still disagree about the existence of climate change. About half of Americans are seriously worried about climate change; the others think it’s a danger to critters and icebergs but not them …

Live green, go yellow

U.S. conservation land may soon end up in your gas tank

Well isn’t this delightful (sub rqd): The Agriculture Department may allow farmers to plow up land in conservation agreements to plant row crops, despite a record corn crop this year, fueled by the ethanol industry’s thirst for the feedstock. Acting Secretary Chuck Conner told reporters this week that USDA is considering releasing some land currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, which pays farmers to idle nearly 34 million acres of land for wildlife habitat or soil or water conservation. Corn ethanol: always even more awesome than you think!

Clinton Global Initiative: A round-up of quotes

Highlights from Brundtland, Zenawi, and Blair; lowlights from Paulson

Notable quotes from the plenary on "Economic Growth in the Face of Resource Scarcity and Climate Change": Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change: "Industry needs political signals and long-term ones. And it's not sufficient that individual countries set their own [goals] without connecting it to a global system." Meles Zenawi, Prime Minister of Ethiopia: "This is about property right ... it's about a scarce resource, which is how much pollution the atmosphere can take," and about allowing countries that don't need the resource to sell shares to countries that do. Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the U.K.: "You're not going to get a global deal that is the same strategy operating in every country ... you will end up with a series of different strategies, probably based on cap and trade, and then a linking system." Hank Paulson, U.S. Treasury Secretary: I'm not going to quote anything Hank Paulson said here, because it's all been obfuscatory Bush administration claptrap and, next to the three people on stage with him, everything coming out of his mouth sounds ignorant and mendacious.

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