A thought out of season

Noise, signal, and the presidential election

Say David is right and the 2008 presidential election comes down to Obama vs. McCain. That means we’re looking at historic, though frankly probably inadequate, …

Carbon policy in tonight's Dem debate

Obama puts the 100 percent auction idea into the mainstream

There were presidential debates on both sides tonight. I don’t have cable, so I didn’t watch them. However, a friend sent along this bit of …

Wyoming caucus

Two things you probably didn’t know: Wyoming had a Republican caucus today. (The Dem caucus there is on the 8th.) Romney won it. Thompson came …

Peter Barnes' cap-and-dividend plan is fatally incomplete

An effective climate plans needs to incorporate intelligently regulated energy efficiency standards

Andy Revkin at the NY Times has given a lot of ink to the cap-and-dividend plan (see here and here) by Peter Barnes, a founder of Working Assets. Revkin says Barnes "has long studied various bills and proposals for cutting emissions of carbon dioxide to limit global warming. He sees fatal flaws in every one." I don't see any fatal flaws in either Obama's plan or Mrs. Clinton's -- they are both terrific and comprehensive, unlike Barnes'. His goal is the same as theirs -- to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050. But his solution is fatally incomplete: He proposes a "cap and dividend" system that charges a rising fee on sources of greenhouse-gas emissions (to propel a long-term shift away from such pollution) and returns the revenue to citizens, rich or poor, through a direct payment not unlike the checks that Alaska residents get every year from fees paid to the state by oil companies. That's pretty much it. What caught my attention in Revkin's piece is Barnes' answer to the last question posed: What about laws such as better efficiency standards? (Nancy Anderson) N.Y. Times columnist Tom Friedman has made a crucial distinction between incremental policies and transformative ones. Cap-and-dividend is transformative. It will get us to 80% emission reductions and create a clean energy infrastructure in the process. Raising efficiency standards for autos, appliances and buildings is a good thing to do, but it won't transform our economy or cut emissions 80%. That is, ironically, almost exactly backwards. Barnes apparently thinks plans like Obama's and Clinton's are loaded up with things like much tougher fuel economy standards and utility decoupling and federal clean-tech programs because the senators just love regulations and government spending (I know many of you conservatives out there think that). In fact, trying to stabilize at 450 ppm only using a price for carbon, as Barnes proposes, is wildly impractical and a political non-starter. That's because, at its most basic level, a price for carbon most directly encourages fuel-switching (especially from coal), but does not particularly encourage efficiency. That's why most traditional economic models require a very high (read "unduly brutal" and "politically unacceptable") price for carbon to get deep reductions.

Predictions for 2008: III

The renewable portfolio standard will return

The Renewable Portfolio Standard will return to Congress. Multiple Dems have vowed that the RPS will return as a separate bill when Congress is back …

California stats say state emissions-reduction plan far more effective than federal law

When the U.S. EPA denied California the right to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from vehicles, the agency reasoned that the just-passed energy bill’s boost to national …

The year ahead

What will it take to make 2008 great?

The following guest post is by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), originally published on Climate Progress. He is the co-author of Apollo's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy. ----- Now that our New Year's Eve party hats are put away, it's time to look to the next year in the battle against global warming. In the year 2007, some good things did indeed happen on this front. Measures significantly improving car mileage standards and promoting the growth of renewable fuels were signed into law. But if 2007 was a year that could be considered in some ways good, then 2008 needs to be a year that will be great. Nothing else will do. The cataclysms of one million square miles of ice melting in the Arctic, a several-fold increase in the rate of melting tundra, and the acceleration of melting in Greenland, foretell possible feedback mechanisms that demand a faster and more aggressive clean energy revolution than we even envisioned a year ago. Whatever we thought necessary on New Year's Day 2007 needs to be doubled in 2008. So what will it take to make '08 great? Three things will do the trick.

Bush plays Baker, part V

Why not Eilperin?

After four separate posts bashing Peter Baker’s craptastic WaPo piece, I come to a simple question: Why did they have Baker write this piece instead …

Dodd and Biden drop out of race for Democratic presidential nomination

After getting trounced in the Iowa caucuses yesterday, Democratic Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Joe Biden (Del.) dropped out of the presidential race. Dodd was …