Thursday, July 30th, 2009
European nations are wary about a perceived trend in France and the United States to use international competition as a reason to back off on carbon-reduction pledges.
They are concerned that carbon tariffs could be used to fend off competition from countries which have not committed to reducing emissions, in effect triggering a green trade war.
So far, France has been the only European Union member state to openly rally for the introduction of border measures to secure the competitiveness of European industry against emerging economies. It put the measure on the table in 2008 when the EU was immersed in discussions on a revision of its emissions trading scheme (EU ETS).
Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
“No doubts remain. Climate change is real and the build-up of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere is increasingly at an alarming rate.” With these words, Rafael Quiroga, General Manager of Accion RSE, initiated the seminar “Corporate Strategic Management of Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions.” This is not another “green business” seminar from a European or North American city, it took place here — in Santiago, Chile.
The event brought together speakers from the Chilean private sector that gave concrete examples of their companies’ climate change and GHG management initiatives. First, it showed how Essbio, a water purification company, has been dealing with the ever-prescient and escalating challenges of decreasing water reserves due to climate change. Second, it illustrated the emissions and energy reductions Xstrata Copper, a mining company, has committed to and the steps it has taken to minimize the release of contaminants in its industrial processes. Third, it explained what Natura cosmetics has done since 2007 to become a “carbon neutral” business by calculating all GHG emissions in the company’s supply chain, transportation, and production of its various cosmetics products, and purchasing the equivalent amount of CO2 tonnage in carbon credits on the international carbon markets.
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
“No Drama” Obama somehow managed to step in it again last week, plunging himself into the Skip Gates arrest and racial politics when he was meant to be drumming up support for health care reform.
If the measure of how badly the White House narrative veered off course is to observe that many of the Sunday shows spent more time on ObamaGates (I might have to trademark that one) than they did on health care, it is worth noting that Waxman-Markey is barely in the rear view mirror anymore. It does not appear to be on the Senate’s radar either.
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
HR 2454 or the Waxman-Markey bill, named after its two major supporters Henry A. Waxman and Edward J. Markey of the Energy and Commerce Committee, was passed in the US House of Representatives on June 27. Its major mandate is a cap and trade system though it does have other green practices scattered throughout. There has been a lot of talk recently, because of this bill, of the viability of a cap and trade system in the US. To evaluate the government’s ability to implement this new system we have to first understand it.
The basics of a cap and trade are fairly simple. It is a way to limit emissions through a credit system. Every business acquires a certain amount of credits; depending on the type of system these credits are either auctioned off or given away by the government. These credits represent the amount of carbon that businesses can emit. If the business cannot adhere to the limit of emissions their credits allow, they must buy credits from companies who are below their cap. Thus the companies who are responsible and limit their emissions are rewarded and those who are not as environmentally friendly are punished.
Friday, July 24th, 2009
I don’t have a TV, and while I’m generally pretty happy with the state of affairs, I definitely miss the Daily Show… thanks to Hulu, I now don’t have to.
If you missed Jon Stewart’s take on the progress of Waxman-Markey here is a recommended Friday afternoon break. Stick through and you’ll get to catch up with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who doesn’t do a bad job spinning a joke for Nobel Laureate.
Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009
Most environmental business blogs seem to have glossed right over coverage of Greenpeace’s rather untraditional message to President Obama on Mount Rushmore two weeks ago, though a quarter-page photo in the front section of the New York Times certainly did not. Citing discontent with Obama’s acquiescence to compromises on environmental policy, a group of eleven activists draped a massive banner next to Abraham Lincoln’s face bearing the message “America honors leaders, not politicians: Stop Global Warming.” The action came as the President met with world leaders to discuss climate change at the G8 summit, and brings to light divides among the environmental community that are becoming even more apparent thanks to the debate over the Waxman-Markey bill.
Tuesday, July 21st, 2009
France is currently thinking of enacting a carbon tax to increase climate change mitigation efforts. If enacted, it would be applied to the consumption of energy in general.
With French electricity being mostly low carbon, the majority of the tax revenues would come from the transportation and housing sectors.
It is worth noting that this new tax would be compensated by a decrease in charges associated to labor.
A ton of carbon dioxide would cost emitters €32 euros (around $45) in 2010 and would bring the government an estimated €8.73 billion ($12.328 billion) during the first year.
Out of these, €3.57 billion would be collected from French households and the remaining €5.16 billion from companies and administrations.
In order to divide greenhouse gases emissions by a factor of four by 2050, the tax would increase with time to reach €56 ($80) in 2020, €100 ($140) in 2030 and around €200 ($280) in 2050.
Monday, July 20th, 2009
The “meltdown” that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) mentioned as the only possibility to derail Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court never materialized during last week’s hearing, and with approval a near certainty, a lot of observers are taking a closer look at what Justice Sotomayor might mean to the Court’s environmental jurisprudence.
Jennifer Koons published a wrap-up of the environmental scuttlebutt from the hearings on Friday at Greenwire. The piece touches on the key cases and questions surrounding them. The key lies in unpacking a comment made by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) when he asked how Sotomayor felt about the Court’s 6-3 reversal of her decision in Riverkeeper v. EPA. (more…)
Thursday, July 16th, 2009
It is worth taking a minute to run over to National Journal Online’s Energy-Environment blog to read their ongoing discussion, entitled “Running in Place.” The series reflects on progress made in energy-environment policy in the last thirty years, since President Carter committed that we would never again import as much oil as we did in 1979.
Obviously, Carter could not bring that to reality, and we now import three times as much oil as we did when those words were uttered (from a little over a million barrels a year then to 3.5 M bpy today). “Running in Place” brings together leaders from the energy industry, policymakers and environmental advocates to analyze what has gone right, what has gone wrong, and what needs to happen going forward.
Tuesday, July 14th, 2009
President Obama is the only person capable of speaking directly to the American people in a way that will correct the course of climate change legislation in Congress before it is too late. Congress has never been closer to enacting a price on pollution related to global warming than it is today but proposed legislation is in serious jeopardy of being torpedoed by misinformation and most importantly, a lack of leadership. Congress risks the viability of climate change law further by the method in which it passes related legislation; climate change is a long-term fight and the public must perceive it to be like other continuing programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Propaganda about the effects of cap-and-trade on the economy is one of the primary factors that could bring it down in the Senate. The opposition framed cap-and-trade as a threat to economic growth and a national energy tax; in response supporters of legislation have described it as a jobs bill. Neither are entirely true but the opposition’s argument is easier to believe, despite evidence to the contrary. (more…)