Battle of the Truthiness Titans 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 11 Sep 2007 20:20:00 GMT

Club of Madrid Proposal for a Post-Kyoto Framework

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 11 Sep 2007 19:05:00 GMT

Yesterday the Club of Madrid, the organization of 66 democratic former heads of stated, unveiled a proposal for the international climate change framework to be developed at the Conferences of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bali this December. Glenn Hurwitz covers the proposal at Grist.

The brief summary: An international framework with a global target of 60% below 1990 levels by 2050; developed countries should be at 30% below by 2020 and rapidly developing countries should lower their energy intensity by 30% by 2020 and follow emissions targets thenceforth. A carbon price should be set by a globally linked cap-and-trade system with auctioned credits or preferably by universal carbon taxes. $20 billion should be spent annually on energy R&D and an annual fund of $50 billion should go to developing countries for adaptation, avoided deforestation, and clean energy development and deployment—the latter including renewable energy and energy efficiency. IP barriers to clean energy technologies should be dropped.

The full recommendations are past the break.

APEC Climate Agreement

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 07 Sep 2007 23:03:00 GMT

According to the Associated Press, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit set a voluntary target of reducing energy intensity (the ratio of energy consumption per unit of GDP) 25 percent by 2030. In addition, Australia and Russia announced an agreement on a “long-term global aspirational goal for stabilising and then reducing greenhouse gas emissions” and to “allow the supply of Australian uranium for use in Russia’s civil nuclear power industry.”

As the BBC explains, the reductions in energy intensity would not lead to any reduction in GHG emissions. In fact, a 49% reduction in energy intensity by 2050, given projected economic growth, translates to a rise in greenhouse gas emissions of about 15%.

Andrew Dessler has more at Gristmill on what he calls the “intensity scam.”

Coverage of Coal Hearing

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 07 Sep 2007 17:15:00 GMT

Grist’s Brian Beutler covers yesterday’s Global Warming Committee hearing on The Future of Coal Under Cap and Trade:

Here are two takes on the issue, from two sources that couldn’t be more deeply at odds with each other. Both suggest coal may yet see its heyday.

The first comes from Michael Morris, CEO of American Electric Power, who testified at the hearing. He supports, in the same tepid way that many energy companies now do, an economy-wide cap-and-trade program with carbon credits allocated freely. (His justification for this might just represent one of the great moments in the history of inadvertent honesty: “We believe that credits ought to be allocated to those who will invest the capital to make a difference in the environment, rather than an auction so that those who buy them can make money by the positions they have taken.” In other words, give energy companies the allocations because we’re already rich and don’t award the innovators for beating us to the punch.) One of Moore’s other main points was that coal companies won’t begin installing CCS equipment until CCS “has been demonstrated to be effective, and the costs have significantly dropped so that it becomes commercially available on a widespread basis.”

He’s certainly not the only person who thinks it’s politically infeasible to impose drastic, costly policies on the coal industry—and that therefore carbon-based energy companies have the world by the political balls. Robert Sussman, an environmental expert testifying on behalf of the Center for American Progress, said, “unfortunately, our analysis indicates that the initial stages of cap-and-trade programs [do not] not make carbon prices high enough to eliminate cost differentials” between clean and dirty coal plants.

That points toward two possibilities: We could ratchet up the regulatory impact of climate-change legislation, or we could subsidize the hell out of CCS.

At the end of the hearing, Sussman suggested that the Congress set a date (specifically the year 2016) by which CCS technology be standardized, saying the cost of such a hasty transition would require $35 billion to $40 billion in research subsidies.

As a consolation prize, David Hawkins, director of the Climate Center at NRDC, proposed that the marginal costs of outfitting coal plants with CCS technology should be paid directly by consumers (a green incentive) and not by direct tax subsidies. Woot?

Architecture 2030

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 07 Sep 2007 14:12:00 GMT

Architecture 2030 is an initiative started by architect Edward Mazria (The Passive Solar Energy Book) with two components: the 2030 Challenge, which calls for all new buildings and development to be carbon-neutral by 2030, starting at 50% of the regional energy consumption; and the 2010 Imperative, which calls on all design schools to be carbon neutral by 2010 and achieve complete ecological literacy in design education.

Architecture 2030 is also running ads with the message of no more coal, stating:

Without coal, all the positive efforts underway can make a difference.

Over an 11-year period (1973-1983), the US built approx. 30 billion square feet of new buildings, added approx. 35 million new vehicles and increased real GDP by one trillion dollars while decreasing its energy consumption and CO2 emissions. We don’t need coal, we have what we need: efficient design and proven technologies.

Today, buildings use 76% of all the energy produced at coal plants.

By implementing The 2030 Challenge to reduce building energy use by a minimum of 50%, we negate the need for new coal plants.

APEC

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 06 Sep 2007 12:02:00 GMT

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit is this weekend in Sydney, Australia, and President Bush will be there. APEC includes 21 countries surrounding the Pacific Ocean, including the US, Australia, China, Mexico, and Japan. A primary topic of discussion will be climate change, which the administration is highlighting.

On September 4, Bush and Prime Minister Howard released a joint announcement on climate change that “agreed today on the importance of confronting the interlinked challenges of climate change, energy security and clean development” and the goal of achieving an international agreement in Bali that “provides for effective action from all the major emitting nations toward the UNFCCC objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. The upcoming APEC statement on climate change and the outcome of the Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change in Washington DC on Spetember 27-28 will indicate the US negotiating position for the UN conference.

What specifics are in the agreement?

On the White House website EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson will be taking questions on Friday, September 7 at 12:45 pm EDT.

AVAAZ has a international petition calling for action on global warming at the APEC summit with over 400,000 co-signers.

On Vacation

Posted by Brad Johnson Sun, 26 Aug 2007 16:26:00 GMT

Hill Heat will be on vaction until after the Labor Day weekend.

Restore the balance!

Sen. Reid Calls for Global Coal Plant Moratorium

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 20 Aug 2007 19:03:00 GMT

Sen. Reid, Senate Majority Leader from Nevada, detailed his position on America’s energy and global warming policy. He called for a moratorium on coal-fired plants and a restructuring of tax policy away from gas and oil and toward renewable energy.

At a community meeting he said:

Let us spend a few billion developing what we have a lot of. We have a lot of sun, we have a lot of wind and we are the Saudi Arabia of geothermal energy. The sooner we move toward the sun, the wind, geothermal, biomass, the better off we’ll be, and we will never do it until we have a tax policy that gives people an incentive to invest in these industries because the big oil companies have controlled America.

More at Grist, It’s Getting Hot in Here, and I Think Mining.

The enemy is conventional thinking

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 16 Aug 2007 18:02:00 GMT

Thomas Casten addresses the potential gains in carbon reduction by focusing on the energy distribution systems:

I’ve done a study of what would happen if the United States went all the way with power recycling. We could cut our electric fuel in half. We could drop CO2 by between 20 and 30 percent. And we could make money on the first 25 percent drop with today’s technology. In the process, the technology would improve and we would be able to go farther.
And the consequences of ignoring this sector:
In 1900, about 3.5 percent of the potential energy put into electric generation actually became delivered electricity, and about 1.5 percent of it ended up as useful work. The curve rises for the next 60 years, as these things get more efficient. By 1960, about 32.5 percent of the potential was arriving as electricity. In 2005, we’re at 33 percent. The electrical generation industry stopped improving its efficiency.

Natasha Chart addresses the question of agricultural practices and soil carbon content:

The Carbon Farmers of America assert that, “[i]f the American people were to restore the soil fertility of the Great Plains that we have destroyed in the last 150 years, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide would be reduced to near pre-industrial levels.”

Both approaches offer massive opportunity for everyone from corporations to families.

They conclude, respectively, “The enemy is conventional thinking,” and “Answers could be right under our feet.”

Larson Carbon Tax Bill: America's Energy Security Trust Fund Act (HR 3416) 1

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 16 Aug 2007 15:27:00 GMT

Just before the August recess, Congressman John B. Larson (D-Conn.) introduced HR 3416, a federal carbon tax proposal that follows the basic model of Al Gore’s carbon tax recommendation.

Elements:
  • Covers coal, petroleum, and natural gas
  • Only regulates carbon dioxide content, not other GHG emissions (the bill calls for a proposal to cover those emissions within 6 months of enactment)
  • Tax starts at $15 per ton and rises at 10% faster than the cost of living adjustment each year
  • Tax refunds or credits include feedstock and any offset project other than enhanced oil recovery, and all exports
  • Revenues raised go into “America’s Energy Security Trust Fund”. 1/6 up to $10 billion goes to clean energy technology R&D, 1/12 goes to industry relief (declining to zero by 2017), and the remainder goes to offset payroll taxes.

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