Politics

The good German

German Chancellor Merkel focuses on climate change

In Germany, when the going gets tough, the tough go green: Chancellor Angela Merkel seems to have realized that, contrary to the song lyrics, sometimes it's quite easy being green. Mrs. Merkel has shied away from the biggest fight at home: the deep economic restructuring she advocated during her campaign two years ago. And on the matter of the suspected terrorist plot in the heart of Germany, she has remained in the background, apparently happy to cede the limelight to her interior minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. But in the past month Mrs. Merkel could be found inspecting glaciers in Greenland and calling for new measures to combat global warming at a conference in Kyoto, Japan. It was as if Ronald Reagan had turned into Al Gore after being elected. But the voters loved it, awarding her the highest approval ratings any chancellor has enjoyed since World War II. [my emphasis] The fact that a center-right politician can ride eco-campaigning to popularity could be a lesson for U.S. Republicans. Though Fred Thompson recently ridiculed global warming, polls show doing so might not be the smartest political move. The environment is the one issue on which Republican politicians are most out-of-step with the Republican base. According to a recent Pew study, 65 percent of Republicans want stricter environmental laws (though it's questionable how much of a voting priority it is). Ultimately, however, Merkel's ability to pull off a green hat trick shows the importance of creating bipartisan support for environmental protection.

Govs to automakers: Get on board

An open letter from 13 governors to U.S. automakers

As you know, today automakers lost their big lawsuit in Vermont — the judge ruled their their objections to higher tailpipe emission standards were, um, silly. Now, the governors of 13 states have sent an open letter to the automakers. "We do not believe it is productive for your industry to continue to fight state implementation of clean tailpipe standards," they say.  "We would prefer to follow a path that encourages innovation, not litigation." You can read the full letter here (PDF). At this point, if the Bush EPA denied California its waver, it would be as naked and open …

Breaking: Automakers lose

Vermont judge rules that Calif. and other states can implement tough tailpipe emission standards

Big news: the lawsuit by U.S. automakers attempting to block California and 14 other states’ adoption of tough new tailpipe emissions standards has lost: A federal judge on Wednesday rejected the U.S. auto industry’s attempt to block California and 14 other states from setting tough new fuel economy standards, saying the industry had not proved the regulations were illegal, unsafe or unattainable. The ruling was a big loss for the industry in the fight over whether California and other states can require more efficient vehicles to reduce emissions linked to global warming. … … In his ruling, Vermont U.S. District …

Judge rules against Big Auto, says states can regulate emissions from cars

States should be allowed to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions from cars, and Big Auto should just deal, a federal judge ruled today. Right now, the only real way to curb the emissions is to improve gas mileage; when Vermont decided to adopt California’s strict emissions rules, automakers sued, claiming that the state was illegally regulating fuel economy — and that making cleaner cars was unattainable and unsafe, to boot. U.S. District Judge William Sessions didn’t see it that way: “The court does not find convincing the claims that consumers will be deprived of their choice of vehicles, or that manufacturers will …

9/11, unity, and the chattering of chipmunks

The clarity that crisis brings is not necessarily our friend

I’ve had a post rattling around in my head for a while now, and the anniversary of 9/11 seems like apt moment to finally have a go at it. One of the most uncomfortable facets of the attacks on 9/11 is that as horrific as they were, they were also, for lack of a better word, bracing. It sounds awful to say so, but on some level everyone recognizes it. So much of our daily life is spent in a rut, plodding through workaday details. Crisis has the effect of stripping away the inessential, heightening our senses, bonding us together, …

The power of voluntary actions

Social scientists respond to Mike Tidwell

The following is a guest essay in response to Mike Tidwell’s recent piece on Grist, “Voluntary actions didn’t get us civil rights, and they won’t fix the climate.” It is signed by a collection of social scientists, mostly psychologists. Their names are listed at the bottom. —- We agree that institutional and policy changes are needed in addition to personal behavior changes, and that some pro-environmental behaviors being promoted aren’t the ones that have the most impact. Unfortunately, Tidwell implies that voluntary behavior change and policy change are mutually exclusive options, and that the only personal behavior that matters for …

New rules for action

Advice for political leaders on how to deal with climate change

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. I'd like to propose a few new rules our political leaders might keep in mind as they figure out their role in addressing global climate change.

Markey and the FTC

Rep. Markey asks the Federal Trade Commission to investigate voluntary carbon offsets

Rep. Markey has asked the FTC to investigate whether or not the sale of voluntary carbon offsets violates the Guides for the Use of Evaluating Environmental Marketing Claims, as laid out by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has responded and agreed to commence an investigation, noting that: The FTC staff has been monitoring this nascent market as part of the Commission's ongoing consumer protection programs in the energy and environmental areas. The carbon offset market poses potential consumer protection challenges. Carbon offset claims may present a heightened potential for deception because it is very difficult, if not impossible, to verify the accuracy of the seller's claims. At the same time, the sale of carbon offset products afford interested consumers the opportunity to participate in the market for products and services that may reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because of the benefits that this developing market may provide, we want to better understand the market to avoid acting in a way that could restrain innovation or harm consumers. For full details, see here. There is clearly a potential for fraud and cause for investigation, but my personal guess is that this is also a good example of the cost of not participating in Kyoto. The accounting for GHG offsets is really complicated, and the formal, audit-worthy work on that topic is now being done in London and Brussels. Voluntary markets are an attempt to bridge that gap, but will never carry the rigor of a Big-4 audited statement. In any event, this will be worth following to see how the story develops.

Six explosions rock oil and gas pipelines in Mexico

In what appears to have been a string of politically motivated attacks, explosions rocked at least six oil and natural-gas pipelines in Mexico’s state of Veracruz on Monday. The pipelines that were hit are all owned by Mexico’s petro-monopoly Pemex and occurred at opposite ends of Veracruz state. Some 15,000 people were evacuated from various towns and cities near the explosions afterward as a precaution, though some have been allowed to return home. The Popular Revolutionary Army, or EPR, claimed responsibility for similar attacks in July but so far it’s unclear what, if any, involvement the guerrilla group may have …

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