Bloggers at UN Climate Change Event

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 24 Sep 2007 21:21:00 GMT

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.

UN Climate Change Conference

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 24 Sep 2007 15:28:00 GMT

The UN climate change “high-level event”, “The Future In Our Hands, is ongoing, webcast online.

The New York Times has coverage, as does the BBC.

NYT quotes Gov. Schwarzenegger (R-Cal.):
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.

U.S. PIRG: 100% Auction For All Cap and Trade 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 20 Sep 2007 17:41:00 GMT

U.S. PIRG today announced the release of “Cleaner, Cheaper, Smarter”, a report which makes the case that any greenhouse gas emissions cap-and-trade program have a full auction of emissions credits.

In a supporting statement, numerous environmental and progressive organizations and individuals state:
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.

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.

The list of signatories is after the jump.

Lieberman Open To 100% Auction

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Sep 2007 22:15:00 GMT

From the Politico, at today’s PPI forum Joe Lieberman said he and John Warner are open to changing their bill from a proposed 76% give-away of pollution credits to 100% auction, following the polluter pays principle:
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.

Boucher vs ED on cap-and-trade auctions 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Sep 2007 17:46:00 GMT

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.

International Developments Next Week Mean Policy Briefings This Week

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 18 Sep 2007 23:22:00 GMT

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.

In addition the next two weeks sees hearings on renewable electricity standards and wildfire, and briefings on urban development, ecosystems, and global policy.

As always, you can subscribe to the Hill Heat Events Feed. I’m working on building Google Calendar functionality as well.

Fall Legislative Outlook

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 18 Sep 2007 14:17:00 GMT

Senate

According to CQ.com, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee chair Barbara Boxer asked Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., and John W. Warner, R-Va., “to write a bill that would cap nationwide greenhouse gas emissions.” They released the skeleton of the legislation in August and plan to introduce a final draft by the end of September. However, “Because the climate-change issue is so complex, marking up the bill will be no small task.” There are several other climate bills, including S. 309 (Sanders-Boxer) and S.1766 (Bingaman-Specter).

CQ.com reports that Harry Reid “plans to allow floor time for the Lieberman-Warner bill this fall if it wins approval in Boxer’s committee. No matter what the bill looks like, it will face procedural objections that can be overcome only with a 60-vote majority. It is unclear whether Reid would have enough votes to move beyond that obstacle.”

House

According to CQ, Energy and Commerce Committee chair John D. Dingell, D-Mich., also intends to introduce climate legislation to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent by 2050, although he has not announced any specific plans for the bill.

A first hurdle is the reconciliation process for the energy legislation that passed each chamber (HR 3221, and the Senate version of HR 6), which Dingell will be heavily involved in.

Dingell also announced his intentions to introduce global warming legislation for a carbon tax, a hike in the gas tax, and ending the McMansion mortgage deduction (homes larger than 3,000 square feet) while increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Global Warming Committee Launches New Website

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 18 Sep 2007 13:42:00 GMT

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming has launched its new website at globalwarming.house.gov. The site has a complex flash interface, featuring “impact zones” around the world. Each flash section, which usually has a heavily boosterish PR tone, links to a more involved webpage, for example: Midwest, New Orleans, China.

There is also a Kids’ Page which right now links to other sites; a Carbon Calculator page which links to various carbon emissions calculators; and a good amount of other content. Of particular interest is the global warming solutions page, as it includes actual policy suggestions. On the science page is a call to pass energy legislation with the Senate’s CAFE standards and the House’s renewable energy standards, with the remarkable claim “it could mean that as much as 25 percent of what we must do can be accomplished in this single piece of legislation”.

The site does not have any RSS feeds or other XML formatting, and witness testimony is only sometimes included, often as Word documents or PDFs. There’s no clear way to search the site.

Senators on Lieberman-Warner Draft

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 14 Sep 2007 17:50:00 GMT

The draft Lieberman-Warner plan has been praised and critiqued by environmental organizations. What are the fellow senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee saying?

Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) eviscerates the plan:

Your proposal would impose hardship on U.S. citizens and threaten robust growth in the U.S. economy because it does not preempt similar conflicting, overlapping or duplicative state and regional carbon control programs… because it does not provide legal certainty for carbon sequestration… because it requires significant harm to the economy before triggering cost containment and management measures… because it fails to protect low-income families and consumers sufficiently [because it] first requires setting aside allowances to meet 100% of the needs of rural electric cooperatives [and] by allowing cost relief to also go instead to middle-income consumers and energy efficiency programs [and] because the proposal also allows allowances to go to [various worthy policy goals]... because it uses a Carbon Market Efficiency Board to employ cost containment measures [instead of] a defined price point of carbon allowances… because it allocates allowances arbitrarily across economy sectors and at variance with their emissions and impact on workers, consumers and families [because they] do not reflect those sectors’ contributions to carbon equivalent emissions… because it would raise costs above those needed for emissions reduction to pay for environmental, energy and social programs [instead of] funding them through the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury… because it delays technology development financing [instead of] immediate, significant flows of funding to carbon emissions capture and storage technology development and deployment.

As does Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK):
The principles of Lieberman-Warner climate bill, as outlined today, fail to meet the two requirements established by the Senate to pass climate legislation. The Lieberman-Warner bill will significantly harm the United States economy and fail to mandate reductions from the developing world. With China now the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, it’s even more important that the developing nations CO2 emissions be taken into consideration. As a result, I have long supported efforts that build off of the President’s Asia-Pacific Partnership that seeks to promote technology sharing among developing nations as the way forward.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) effusively praises the draft bill:

The Lieberman-Warner proposal is a huge breakthrough in the fight against global warming. The Lieberman Warner bill will be the fifth economy-wide Senate proposal, and in addition, there are several sector-by-sector proposals, demonstrating that an increasing number of U.S. Senators want to address this issue now. When I took the gavel of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I pledged to focus on global warming and on bringing bipartisanship back to the committee. With the Lieberman-Warner bipartisan proposal, those goals have been met, and we now plan to pass legislation through the committee before the end of the year. This proposal has taken good ideas from a variety of bills, and will be an excellent starting point for the committee.

As does Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD):
Today Senators Joseph Lieberman, I-CT, and John Warner, R-VA, released the detailed outline of an economy-wide global warming bill that would significantly limit greenhouse gases. I am extremely pleased with the comprehensive nature of their bill and the strong, bipartisan leadership they bring to this critical effort. I also believe this bill has important national security implications because it will lessen our dependence on foreign energy and help achieve energy independence. We have an historic opportunity to address the most compelling environmental, energy independence and national security issue facing our nation. I pledge to work closely with my colleagues to turn this historic opportunity into reality.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is more measured:

“I commend Senator Lieberman and Senator Warner for their hard work in putting together legislation that our subcommittee will consider. There is no doubt that we need bipartisan support in the United States Senate to address the most significant environmental threat our planet has ever seen.

Given the dimensions of the crisis, however, I strongly believe that we must act aggressively to halt and then reverse global warming. I am concerned that the outline my colleagues put out today, which is a good starting point, does not go far enough. As good as it is, I hope we can do better. As a member of the subcommittee, I look forward to working with them.

The people of the United States want strong action, and the Senate must follow. In my view, we can, in fact, break our dependency on fossil fuels, substantially lower greenhouse gas emissions, move to sustainable energy and, in the process, create millions of good paying jobs. Those are the principles that I will fight for.

There do not appear to be statements from Democratic senators Baucus, Carper, Clinton, Lautenberg, Klobuchar, or Whitehouse, or Republican senators Voinovich, Isakson, Vitter, Barrasso, Craig, or Alexander.

National Academies Critiques U.S. Climate Change Science Program

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 13 Sep 2007 19:57:00 GMT

The Committee on Strategic Advice for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program today released the report Evaluating Progress of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. Their conclusions:
  • A major hurdle to CCSP progress is the program director’s lack of authority to allocate or prioritize funding across participating agencies.
  • Discovery science and understanding of the climate system are proceeding well, but use of that knowledge to support decision making and to manage risks and opportunities of climate change is proceeding slowly.
  • Progress in understanding and predicting climate change has improved more at global, continental, and ocean basin scales than at regional and local scales.
  • Our understanding of the impact of climate changes on human well-being and vulnerabilities is much less developed than our understanding of the natural climate system.
  • Science quality observation systems have fueled advances in climate change science and applications, but many existing and planned observing systems (satellite missions) have been cancelled, delayed, or degraded, presenting perhaps the single greatest threat to the future success of CCSP.
  • Progress in communicating CCSP results and engaging stakeholders is inadequate.

The Committee on Strategic Advice was established by the National Research Council of the National Academies at the request of the director of the CCSP.

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program is the umbrella organization for the interagency U.S. Global Climate Research Group established by the Global Change Research Act of 1990, and Bush’s 2001 Climate Change Research Initiative to study uncertainty in climate research.

See also Andrew Revkin’s piece for the New York Times.

The committee is holding a workshop in Washington, D.C., Oct. 15-17, to discuss future priorities for CCSP research, which will be the focus of its follow-up report.

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