Wednesday, April 21st, 2010
As climate and energy legislation continues to founder in Washington, Senator Maria Cantwell says it’s time for a new strategy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Cantwell explains why her bill can avoid the pitfalls of cap-and-trade and win the support of the public.
Is carbon cap-and-trade legislation alive or dead in the U.S. Congress? Does the energy bill being proposed by senators John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham — or for that matter any climate and energy legislation — stand a chance of passing the U.S. Senate before this November’s midterm elections?
No one seems to be able to answer these questions at this point. In the meantime, the Carbon Limits and Energy for America’s Renewal Act, or CLEAR — sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, and Susan Collins, Republican of Maine — has been getting a surprising amount of attention. Instead of a cap-and-trade system, the bill would institute what its sponsors call “cap-and-refund.” Under the bill, the president would, beginning in 2012, set an overall cap on fossil-fuel emissions. (more…)
Friday, April 9th, 2010
Have we outsourced global warming? Critics of cap and trade systems or carbon offsetting have argued that buying a carbon credit is like a medieval indulgence. Rather than saving the planet, it allows me to buy a clean conscience. I’ll give two examples of how this might be true.
Lets say I want to have no carbon emissions. The average American produces 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. Rather than reduce by 20 tons I just buy 20 credits.
Those 20 credits might represent 20 tons of carbon that have been sucked out of the air by fast growing trees. Or do they? What if those trees would have been planted anyway? Then I’m just spending some money to keep polluting — and the world keeps warming.
Thursday, March 18th, 2010
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate is close to wrapping up talks ahead of introducing a compromise climate change bill, said a top Democratic lawmaker who discussed ideas with industry groups on Wednesday.
“We’re planning to button up our efforts somewhere I hope next week,” Senator John Kerry told reporters after meeting with a coalition that represents automakers, forestry and paper companies, Big Oil, steel, mining, electricity and others.
Kerry is working with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and independent Senator Joseph Lieberman on a bill to require U.S. industry to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases associated with global warming.
Thursday, January 28th, 2010
President Obama called on Congress to pass climate and energy legislation that would include the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants, more offshore oil drilling along the U.S. coast, and increased funding for developing renewable energy and improving energy efficiency.
But the president made no mention in his State of the Union speech of controversial legislation to impose a price and a cap on carbon emissions. By backing away from cap-and-trade legislation that already has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, Obama signaled his willingness to work with Republicans to pass a scaled-back version of climate and energy legislation this year.
Wednesday, January 13th, 2010
Faced with a faltering economy, fatigue over the health care fight, and the prospect of congressional elections this November, proponents of a carbon cap-and-trade bill in the U.S. Senate face high hurdles when Congress returns from its winter recess next week.
The Obama administration and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the lead author on the climate bill, insist that they are proceeding with plans to pass climate and energy legislation this year.
Monday, December 21st, 2009
Reverberations from the disappointing Copenhagen climate summit continued to be felt worldwide, with political leaders blaming each other for the meeting’s outcome, U.S. senators saying that the lack of progress will make it harder for Congress to pass a climate bill, European Union carbon prices falling, and some businesses lamenting the continuing lack of uncertainty about future CO2 cuts and carbon prices.
Britain’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown told an environmental meeting on Monday that a handful of countries blocked a legally binding deal on climate change, adding,
“We will not allow a few countries to hold us back. What happened at Copenhagen was a flawed decision-making process. We’ve just got to find a way of moving this process forward.”
Although Brown did not mention any countries by name, Ed Miliband, Climate Change and Energy Secretary, specifically mentioned China, noting that it had vetoed proposals calling for a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and an 80 percent cut in emissions by developed nations by mid-century. Miliband said China exercised its veto despite support for the proposal by a broad coalition of industrialized nations and the vast majority of developing nations.
Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
So, in case you missed it, there is evidently some kind of climate change conference underway this week. And, its not going well. Still, even if we imagine for a moment that a binding international treaty with hard carbon caps could be salvaged from the wreckage in Copenhagen, there is more news from home in the NYT showing that the US is not up to the climate change challenge at home.
We are developing the technology, but Matthew Wald’s story about a “false start” for smart grids in California and elsewhere provides yet another lens to focus on the policy deficit that is crippling every effort at meaningful energy reform. And, with public will degraded by global recession and climate change skepticism calcifying thanks to Climategate, policymakers cannot afford many more (or, anymore?) false starts.
Tuesday, December 15th, 2009
The US already has years of experience with Cap and Trade. A sulfur dioxide Cap and Trade program has proven an effective control strategy to lower SO2 emissions. It provides elements of market incentives and provides flexibility to facilities that emit large quantities of the pollutant in several ways.
One of the most important ways is that it permits older facilities which may need to operate for a limited number of years to purchase “emissions credits” to continue operating without installing un-economic emissions controls by purchasing credits. The credits are created by other sources which control their emissions MORE than required under regulations. There is also an overall reduction in the program to benefit the environment so we are not just transferring emission from one plant to another.
Wednesday, November 4th, 2009
With just a month remaining before the Copenhagen climate summit, delegates from 192 countries are meeting this week in Barcelona to attempt to lay the groundwork for a climate treaty, with some influential figures saying the United States must be prepared to make firm greenhouse gas reduction commitments if Copenhagen is to be a success.
Connie Hedegaard, the Danish minister for climate and energy, who is hosting the Copenhagen meeting, expressed the hopes and frustrations of European Union members when she told delegates, “We have gotten used to the fact in World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the fight against terror, that the world could count on the U.S. to deliver on huge challenges,” she said. “I believe they have to deliver on this challenge. And if we don’t reach agreement in Copenhagen, who will lose the most? One of the most defined losers is American business.”
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
Speaking with young climate activists on a conference call last Tuesday night, U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) said that even though the timing of his climate bill was tricky, it is doable.
Senator Kerry, co-author of the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act along with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Cali.), told the young leaders that he was confident the Senate would vote on a climate bill before the upcoming Copenhagen COP-15 climate talks in December, but he also tempered his optimism with a note of caution about what would kind of agreement would actually be reached at Copenhagen.
“I don’t expect Copenhagen to come up with a full treaty,” said Kerry, citing the short amount of time the negotiating teams will have to hammer out the technical specifics of a plan. Kerry said the important part would be agreeing to strong political targets and that the technical specifics could be hammered out in upcoming meetings.