Coverage of the Bush administration’s Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change from around the Web, the event keynoted by the president, who was pointedly absent at the UN’s similar event.DeSmogBlog, U.S. hosts climate-change conference and promptly digs in its heels:
Curiously, or perhaps not, Rice’s remarks echoed those of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper two days earlier, when he told delegates at UN Headquarters that Canada favors an approach that balances global-warming mitigation with economic growth. Harper’s remarks were so in-keeping with the U.S. position they could have been framed by the White House.ED’s Climate 411, Our Message to the White House Major Emitters Meeting:
A big challenge like global warming requires action and leadership from the United States. And everyone in this room knows what few have been willing to say aloud: No caps, no real progress. The world cannot sufficiently address the climate challenge until the U.S. embraces binding short- and long-range declining caps – determined by what the scientists say is necessary.Reuters, FACTBOX-Bush’s evolving policy on global warming:
March 28, 2001 – Stating his opposition to the 1997 Kyoto treaty on global warming, Bush says it is against U.S. economic interests and unfair as big developing countries like China and India escape binding emissions pledges.
June 11, 2001 – Shortly before his Europe tour, Bush says it remains uncertain how much of global warming is caused by humans and pledges to use science and diplomacy to fight it….
July 6, 2005 – Bush for the first time says he recognizes that “an increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem” of global warming, during a visit to Denmark on his way to the Group of Eight (G8) summit in Scotland….
As he announced he would last month, Rep. John Dingell (D-Detroit), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, unveiled draft legislation for a carbon emission fee and related elements.
Dingell is soliciting comment online.The elements:
- A $50 tax per ton of carbon (approximately equivalent to a $14 price on CO2, not the $100/ton CO2 reported by CNSNews) to be phased in over five years and then indexed to inflation
- A $0.50/gallon gasoline tax to be phased in over five years and then indexed to inflation
- Diesel would be excluded from this tax because “the fuel economy benefits of diesel surpass even its emissions benefits; it provides about a thirty percent increase in fuel economy and a twenty percent emissions reduction,” figures basically in line with the Union of Concerned Scientists report, The Diesel Dilemma “on an energy-equivalent basis, each gallon of diesel fuel results in about three percent more heat-trapping gas emissions than gasoline.”)
- Biofuel blends would only be taxed on their petroleum content
- Revenues go to the highway trust fund, with 40% going to the mass transit and 60% going to roads
- A $0.50/gallon jet fuel tax, with revenues going into the airport and airway trust fund
- McMansion provision: Phases out the mortgage interest deduction on primary mortgages on houses over 3000 square feet, going to zero for homes 4200 square feet and up
- Exemptions for historical homes (prior to 1900) and farm houses
- Exemptions for home owners who purchase carbon offsets to make home carbon neutral or own LEED certified homes
- Budget savings will go to pay for an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit
Requires the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere of the Department of Commerce and the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a National Hurricane Research Initiative and to cooperate with other specified federal agencies to carry it out. Requires such Initiative to set research objectives (based on a National Science Board report on the need for such Initiative) to: (1) make recommendations to the Board; (2) assemble the expertise of U.S. science and engineering capabilities through a multi-agency effort focused on infrastructure, the natural environment, and improving understanding of hurricane prediction, intensity, and mitigation on coastal populations; and (3) make grants for hurricane research, including regarding hurricane dynamics, modification, and observation, air-sea interaction, relationships between hurricanes and climate, predicting flooding and storm surge, coastal infrastructure, building construction, emergency communication networks, information utilization by public officials, and sharing computational capability. Directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, through the National Science and Technology Council, to coordinate U.S. activities related to the Initiative as a formal program with a well-defined organizational structure and execution plan. Directs the Under Secretary and the Director to: (1) establish a National Infrastructure Database to catalog infrastructure, provide information to improve information public policy related to hurricanes, and provide data to improve researchers’ abilities to measure hurricane impacts in order to improve building codes and urban planning; and (2) develop a National Hurricane Research Model to conduct integrative research and facilitate the transfer of research knowledge to operational applications
The Carbon Disclosure Project, a non-profit that advocates corporate climate change disclosure on behalf of a large pool of institutional investors (funded by WWF, government environmental agencies, and various foundations), released its fifth annual report with great fanfare yesterday. In proceedings moderated by Harold E. Ford Jr. (DLC, Merrill Lynch) and keynoted by Bill Clinton (with a video message from Rupert Murdoch), the CDP’s Paul Dickinson announced the results from their questionnaire, sent to 2400 companies around the world. 1300 responded, including 77% of the Financial Times 500, compared to 72% in CDP4, 71% in CDP3, 59% in CDP2, and 47% in CDP1. 76% of responding FT500 companies reported implementing a GHG emissions reduction initiative compared to 48% in CDP4. Europe-based firms had the highest response rate with 83%. However, North America-based firms demonstrated significant improvement with a CDP5 response rate of 74%, compared to 66% in CDP4. South America-based firms also increased their response rate to 60% in CDP5 from 50% in CDP4. The website allows users to search responses by company name (some responses are not publicly available). The executive report is also available.
It’s interesting, for example, to contrast BP with ExxonMobil, both of whom offer detailed disclosures. BP has active wind, solar, biofuels, and CCS divisions, and is concerned by melting permafrost; ExxonMobil sees climate change as an opportunity for growth in the natural gas sector and is looking to reduce flaring in its natural gas wells in Nigeria.
In coverage, the New York Times notes that Gas Emissions Rarely Figure in Investor Decisions and the Washington Post and Business Week cover the Wal-Mart press release about setting up a program to measure its supply chain footprint. Agence-France Presse emphasizes the finding that World companies show big interest in climate, US firms lag, whereas Reuters sees the positive message that Climate change spurs industry restructuring. Forbes discusses Sun Microsystems’ launch of OpenEco, a corporate social-networking website for tracking GHG emissions.
The UN brought a group of twelve bloggers to the event, most of whom are professional staffers; the UN Dispatch blog offers a jump-off point for the coverage.
The dozen bloggers include three from the Center for American Progress: Kate Sheppard and Ezra Klein from TAPPED and Kay Steiger from Campus Progress, as well as Gristmill’s Brian Beutler, the Atlantic.com’s Matthew Yglesias, Treehugger’s Jasmin Chua, Boing Boing Gadgets’ Joel Johnson, the Washington Note’s Sameer Lalwani, Global Voices Online’s Juliana “Tweets” Rotich, and Foreign Policy Passport’s Blake Hounshell.
Links to their posts are after the jump.
California is moving the United States beyond debate and doubt to action. The time has come to stop looking back in blame or suspicion. The consequences of global climate change are so pressing that it doesn’t matter who was responsible for the past, what matters is who is answerable for the future.Of course, Schwarzenegger isn’t above partisan politics when it comes to climate change either:
He sliced millions from Attorney General Jerry Brown’s budget, including $1 million to pursue climate change litigation on behalf of the state. Brown, a Democrat, enraged Republicans for challenging city and county land-use plans if they did not adequately address the effects of local growth on global warming.
It is critical that any cap-and-trade program require the auctioning of pollution allowances, rather than giving those allowances away for free to polluters.The list of signatories is after the jump.
By auctioning pollution allowances, we affirm that no one has a “right” to pollute. Instead, we claim the atmosphere as a common resource, to be managed for the benefit of the public, which no polluter may foul without due compensation.
By auctioning pollution allowances, we reduce the societal cost of achieving emission reductions, enabling America to achieve its climate protection goals with less disruption to our economy and the lives of individual Americans.
And by auctioning pollution allowances, we prevent the accumulation of billions of dollars in windfall profits by polluters, and instead put those revenues to work on behalf of the public. Allowance revenues can support efforts to transform America into a clean energy economy and to provide a regular dividend or rebate to American consumers.
We call on state and federal lawmakers to limit global warming emissions to the levels demanded by the science and to auction all pollution allowances in any cap-and-trade program.
We’ve heard [calls for a 100 percent auction] from some stakeholders and heard that from some of our members. We’re thinking about it. Warner and I haven’t closed our minds to that. It’s on the table.
From E&E News (subscription required), at an event in Washington hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, Rep. Rick Boucher (Va.), chair of the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee of John Dingell’s Energy and Commerce Committee, said he planned to draft a cap-and-trade bill that distributes tens of billions in pollution credits to U.S. industries for free:
I’m disinclined at the moment to do auctioning, at least in the early years to give it very much prominence, if any at all. The best we can do is give the allowances to the emitters according to their needs. We’re going to have enough problems as it is with coal-fired utilities, for example, and other carbon-intensive industries meeting our production schedules. I think perhaps, at least for the early years, it’s better not to compound these problems by imposing a cost on these emitters of having to go out and pay for these allowances. It will be the least painful, most politically attractive way to do it.
In other comments, Boucher asked Pelosi to delay the conference committee negotiations on the energy bill until he produced his draft cap-and-trade bill, but he said she probably won’t. He agrees with the 80% by 2050 target but is unsure of the path to there: “The schedule that takes us to that very aggressive target will be perhaps the most difficult thing we have to negotiate.” He will be releasing a series of position papers over the coming weeks.In contrast, Nat Keohane, Ph.D., the Director of Economic Policy and Analysis at Environmental Defense offers support for full auctions in a blog post countering Greg Mankiw’s recent NYT op-ed favoring a carbon tax over a cap-and-trade system (in line with Robert Shapiro’s argument):
Mankiw assumes that allowances in a cap-and-trade system would be handed out for free rather than auctioned, thus generating no federal revenue. Now, I admit that this has been the modus operandi in the past. Virtually all allowances were handed out for free under the wildly successful sulfur dioxide trading program in the U.S., set up by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. But that doesn’t mean it has to be that way.
The alternative, full auctioning, would raise exactly the same amount of money as a carbon tax, and there are signs that it’s gaining ground. Earlier this year, several states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, including New York and New Jersey, announced plans to auction off 100 percent of their allowances. Plus there are calls to phase in auctioning in the European Union’s Emissions Trading System.
Next week the United Nations General Assembly meets. There are several related international summits, starting Monday the 24th with The Future in Our Hands, the UN High-Level Event on Climate Change, followed Wednesday by the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, with representatives from NRDC and Pew, major corporate leaders, and luminaries such as Ted Turner and Jane Goodall. The next, Thursday, September 27, Bush convenes the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change, organized by the White House to promote its agenda.
Not surprisingly, this week sees a flurry of policy and science briefings in Washington DC.
Tomorrow, Sens. Lieberman and Carper present a cap-and-trade discussion with the Progressive Policy Institute.
Friday, September 21: Yvo de Boer (UN) and David Sandalow (Brookings/CGI) discuss the upcoming “Climate Week” with the Brookings Institution, Dr. Kerry Emanuel and other top climate scientists talk hurricanes and climate change on the Hill, and Sir Nicholas Stern weighs in on Bali.
As always, you can subscribe to the Hill Heat Events Feed. I’m working on building Google Calendar functionality as well.