Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Climate Policy

Comments

Does cap-and-trade produce technological innovation?

Cap-and-trade is dead, but some folks never tire of kicking the corpse. Corpse kickers received a boost last week from a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which purported to show that cap-and-trade programs "do not provide sufficient incentives for energy technology innovation."

This strikes me as a classic example of a press release overhyping and oversimplifying a paper to get attention. Consequently, I bet a lot of people are going to misread it, and discussion of cap-and-trade, to the extent it still exists, will get even more caricatured and divorced from reality. Too bad -- the paper is actually pretty interesting. It's worth teasing out what it does and doesn't show.

Scientist Margaret Taylor of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory analyzed two existing cap-and-trade programs: the national U.S. market for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and the nitrogen-oxides (NOx) trading program in Northeast and mid-Atlantic states. (Right off the bat, we need to be careful. The SO2 and NOx programs can be instructive, but a robust carbon trading system would be very, very different, incomparably larger and more complex.)

In particular, Taylor looked at the relationship between those two cap-and-trade programs and the rate of technological innovation. Here's the story she tells:

Comments

Engineer wants to stop Arctic warming with a cloud-whitening machine

Painting your roof white can (maybe) reflect enough heat to save a year’s worth of emissions. So painting the clouds white should be able to reflect enough heat to stop global warming, right? At least, that’s the theory recently put forth by an eminent U.K. engineer who wants to “whiten clouds” to prevent Arctic ice loss.

Engineer Stephen Salter wants to build massive “cloud-whitening” towers in the Faroe Islands or on islands in the Bering Strait in order to keep Arctic temperatures from climbing.

Comments

Meet the worst Senate amendment that ever lived

It’s ba-aack -- the Keystone XL pipeline, that is. The Senate is set to vote tomorrow on an amendment created by Big Oil wearing a Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) mask. The amendment would revive everyone’s favorite pipeline -- and, while it was at it, greenlight all the other oil-hungry environmental ruination that Republicans go in for.

The Senate defeated Keystone yet again last week, but Sen. Roberts included the pipeline in amendment #1826 of the Senate transportation bill (S. 1813). And that’s not the only Big Oil party favor he stuck in this grab bag of evil:

It would mandate drilling off of every coast in our nation and in the Arctic Refuge, allow oil shale development on millions of acres in America’s west, and allow the already-rejected Keystone XL pipeline to go forward.

Comments

Philippines police to plant 10 million trees in one year

Photo by Todd Shaffer.

Police officers in the Philippines are trading their guns and billy clubs for weapons of mass construction: shovels, watering cans, and gardening gloves. That’s because they’re partnering with the country’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to combat climate change and deforestation. Their Green Ops mission? Plant 10 million treesin one year.

The push to reforest the Philippines comes on the heels of a recent executive order by President Benigno Aquino, known as the National Greening Program, which aims to rehabilitate nearly 500 thousand acres of previously cleared forest cover by February 2013.

Comments

Does Romney secretly support ‘climate-change controls’?

Julian Robertson is betting than Romney really cares about the climate.

Cross-posted from ThinkProgress Green.

Mitt Romney's top individual donor is Environmental Defense Fund board member Julian H. Robertson Jr., who has given $1.3 million to the Romney super PAC Restore Our Future even though Romney has viciously attacked the climate cap-and-trade policies EDF supports. A spokesperson for the hedge-fund billionaire said Robertson is confident Romney would "do the right thing" if elected:

In terms of the environment and climate-change controls, which [Robertson] does believe is one of the most important issues the country and the world faces, he has confidence that Romney, once he’s in there, will do the right thing.

Comments

Why climate change is irrelevant to clean energy

Maggie Koerth-Baker, science editor at BoingBoing, has written a book, and the introduction is available free online now. Here’s the basic idea: In America at least, if we want to get anything done on clean energy, we have to divorce it from conversations about climate change.

Comments

Myhrvold: 50 simple things won’t fix the climate — but a few complex things might

Nathan Myhrvold. (Photo by Red Maxwell.)

Yesterday, I wrote about a new peer-reviewed paper from inventor Nathan Myhrvold and climate scientist Ken Caldeira. It found that, if there is to be any hope of staying in the zone of climate safety (or at least semi-safety), the transition to carbon-free energy must begin immediately and cannot include any merely "low carbon" sources like natural gas.

I sent Myhrvold a few follow-up questions. Here are his responses, lightly edited.

Comments

Mean right hook: Conservative judge deals blow to polluters in climate trial

Chief Judge David Sentelle.

Cross-posted from ThinkProgress Green.

In 2009, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for the “Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” to question the scientific fact of human-made climate change.

Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia began consideration of a landmark case that consolidates a series of challenges to Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2009 finding that greenhouse gases are a threat to public health and welfare and its related rule-makings. The cases, brought by energy companies, industry front groups, Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), and others, seek to stop the EPA from regulating greenhouse pollution. Their legal argument is that climate science is a hoax.

But the three-judge panel’s questions and comments during the first day of oral arguments showed enormous skepticism of the industry arguments. Acknowledging that by law, the panel must show deference to the EPA’s finding, the chief judge told one of the challenger’s lawyers: “You seem to be asking us to determine that the EPA is incorrect, but that is not the standard,” and even that “would not be enough to win the case for you.” Other arguments were similarly pooh-poohed by the panel.

Comments

U.S. gangs up with Saudi Arabia to crush European climate initiative

airplaneWill the E.U.'s aviation emissions scheme get off the ground? Not if the U.S. has anything to say about it.

One of the most significant climate-change stories in years is unfolding, though few in U.S. media seem to be paying attention. We are finding out what happens when, after decades of wheel-spinning international negotiations, someone actually does something about climate change.

What happens is, the very same nations that have been talking piously about climate change for decades gang up to nip it in the bud.

Some backstory:

Comments

Rick Santorum rewrites the history of clean air in America

Here is a video of Rick Santorum lying about the history of clean air in America and specifically Pittsburgh.

The entire clip is full of howlers, including an applause line in which Santorum, who denies the science of climate change, says that environmentalism is "anti-science." But here's the one that grabbed me: