I forgot some of the coolest (and breaking) news! At my panel earlier today, Bill McKibben "pre-announced" something exciting: On Nov. 3, a year before the presidential election, he will be organizing Step It Up 2: Revenge of the Nerds. OK, I made up the title, but not the news. At the first Step It Up, McKibben’s Army asked that people gather in places likely to be affected by climate change. For Step It Up 2, people will be gathering in places that commemorate great moments of American leadership: think Mount Rushmore, MLK Jr. High School, Washington Monument, etc. The …
This morning, I woke up early to go to the Energize America 2020 panel. There was far too much information to replicate here — you can see the details of the plan on their site — but as I said earlier, what’s remarkable is that such a collaborative project has produced such a solid, practical plan. And the openness of the process is not some add-on, it’s part of the core principles guiding the project. Read through the plan — it fills enormous gaps in the energy policy debate, around public transportation, efficiency, smart grids, and financial instruments to encourage …
I went to candidate forums (one candidate, small audience) with both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama today. News flash: Obama is extremely charismatic. Fantastic with small crowds. Total alpha male. Effortlessly comfortable and confident. Hillary, on the other hand, not so much. She’s much warmer and more human than the typical caricature would have it, but it’s obvious she works at it, pushing against her natural tendencies. There’s your utterly banal, hackneyed observation for the day.
So, lots to talk about, but for now: I’m in a candidate forum with Barack Obama and he was just asked directly about coal. He dodged and weaved, said there would have to be a "transition," and that there would need to be "investments," etc. etc. Unsatisfying. He did, however, very strongly back the 80 percent by 2050 target, and backed a 20% national RPS. So there’s that.
Here's a remarkable fact: Global fishery collapse is financed with tax money. You already know that many nations are failing to enforce the laws that are essential to keeping our oceans healthy and abundant forever. Instead, they are presiding over a global ocean collapse. According to a report in Science, 29 percent of the world's commercial fisheries have already collapsed. This is terrible news for the billion people who turn to the ocean for protein, the hundreds of millions of people who need the sea for a livelihood, and the countless extraordinary marine creatures that don't deserve to go the way of the buffalo.
Kind of a good news, bad news story: President George W. Bush has invited the European Union, the United Nations and 11 other countries to the September 27-28 meeting in Washington to work toward setting a long-term goal by 2008 to cut emissions. Yet it turns out just to be a meeting full of sound and fury, signifying nothing: "But a senior U.S. official said the administration stood by its opposition to mandatory economy-wide caps." A meeting aimed at (1) developing voluntary or aspirational targets, (2) for the long-term, (3) by 2008 [i.e. Bush's last year in office]. Three strikes and you are out. Bush's last chance to be a small part of the solution rather than a large part of the problem came and went at the G-8 meeting, where Bush nixed an effort to set realistic and binding long-term targets. The only interesting question that will be answered by this meeting is whether the media will be suckered into giving the President the one outcome he truly wants -- positive press coverage on climate change, an area of such catastrophic failure by this administration that it will probably ensure (even more than Iraq) that history judges Bush a failure. This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) -- does this make him an icon? -- and John Warner (R-Va.) unveiled their long-awaited climate plan. It looks pretty good to me because: It is bipartisan -- indeed, it follows the strategy recommended by moderate senators, such as Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) It starts quickly -- by 2012 we must return to 2005 levels. It has a credible 2050 target -- and requires regular reports from the National Academy of Sciences on the "extent to which the emissions reductions achieved under the Act no, together with actual steps taken by other nations, stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations at a level adequate to forestall catastrophic impacts of climate change." It does not have a safety valve, but instead has banking and borrowing. This plan will be the starting point for legislation from Sen. Boxer (D-CA). Here is a detailed summary from Greenwire (subs. req'd):
Word from the front: fierce resistance from the usual suspects has resulted in compromise amendments hacking the 20 percent standard to 15 percent, while allowing states the option of meeting up to 4 percent through energy efficiency. This is a strategic retreat that has supporters optimistic, though by no means certain of eventual victory. House is in recess right now over an Ag bill kerfluffle. No word yet on the critical solar investment tax credit. Update [2007-8-3 17:40:22 by Adam Browning]: The extension of the federal solar tax credit should be heard on the House Floor Saturday, and Big Oil is rallying the opposition to kill solar as we speak. It will be an extremely tight vote - tight like a noose - and we need you to call your Representative right now. The situation is this. Earlier this year, House leadership committed to 'pay as you go'--that is, any new tax incentives must be balanced by getting rid of existing incentives. In this case, that means paying for renewable energy programs by reducing tax cuts for oil production. That's all good right? In a time of record profits for Big Oil, an approaching climate crisis and energy security scaring us all, why not reduce oil profits to help bring solar into the mainstream? Unfortunately, the Republican leadership is holding the line on keeping subsidies for Big Oil, while some Democrats in oil districts haven't gotten the message that the public is tired of business as usual and wants a real commitment to renewables. If this is important to you, call your Representative and tell them to support HR 2776 right now. Enter your zipcode here to find your Rep and give them a call. Tell them: * I live in Representative _______'s district * Please support HR2776, the tax title of the Energy Bill * if they tell you they are already supportive, then thank them profusely! * If not, tell them... * I support reducing tax cuts for fossil fuels to support renewable energy * We are at a turning point to create a secure economy and stop a climate crisis with more renewable energy. The people are in favor of this change and all our politicians need to get on board - or they'll be pushed out of the way. Act now, time is short and we need these votes! Solar is a non-partisan issue, and we need you to keep it that way.
Joseph Romm in his post on Dingell's carbon tax proposal says: Politically, you can't raise carbon prices high enough to raise gasoline prices since even $1 a gallon -- probably the minimum to significantly change fuel economy if Europe is any evidence -- would require a carbon charge of $400 per tonne of carbon -- which would be very harsh to coal, adding more than 10 cents per kilowatt-hour to coal electricity, and politically impossible (I'll post more on this later). Also, the reason cap-and-trade has not worked well in Europe is that the Europeans didn't have a lot of experience with it and during their trial period they issued too many permits. I don't know If Romm noticed, but paragraph two represents exactly the same weakness for caps as paragraph one represents for a carbon tax: it is politically difficult to get a high-enough tax or a low-enough cap through. Romm also notes that the Clinton administration could not get through even a weak carbon tax. True enough, but the Clinton administration also could not get through ratification of the Kyoto treaty -- which would have included a really easily met cap, much weaker than most (though not all) of the cap-and-trade proposals now before Congress.
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