Politics

Be careful what you wish for

Conservative candidate in Ontario will expand nuclear power industry, if elected

Me, a month ago: What the Ontario election needs is for the parties to talk more about energy issues! Me, a few days ago: Crud. Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory said Saturday that environmental approval for energy projects is operating at a snail's pace, and if his party comes to power, he will revitalize the province's nuclear sector. I would so love for the expansion of nuclear power to not be the one point of agreement between the two biggest parties in my province.

Bill Clinton vs. the World Bank

Clinton’s push for sustainable development dismissed by World Bank prez

The opening plenary was fascinating. Clinton explained how CGI commitments had already avoided 20,000,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Then he tried to get Robert Zoellick, head of the World Bank, to realize that the "Bank can show people options for sustainable development." Zoellick, however, was full of little more than platitudes, saying we need to address "questions of adaptation and mitigation," and noting that there is a sensitivity in the developing world that climate change funds will come at the expense of development -- totally missing Clinton's point that green development is the only winning path (and Gore's point that global warming, left unchecked, will negate all other efforts aimed at development). Clinton, however, persisted -- especially after H. Lee Scott, CEO of Wal-Mart, touted his various successes:

That spade is a spade

Unusually straightforward journalistic fact-checking at the Post

Huge kudos to Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson at the Post. You don’t often see traditional journalists willing to call out the Bush administration’s lies and distractions so plainly: Seeking to counter international pressure to adopt binding limits on greenhouse gas emissions, the Bush administration has been touting the success of three mandatory programs to curb U.S. energy consumption: gas mileage standards for vehicles, efficiency standards for home appliances and state laws requiring utilities to increase their use of renewable energy sources. But for most of the Bush presidency, the White House has either done little to promote these measures …

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 …

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.

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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