Climate 411

Joe Romm’s ‘Straight Up’ is a great resource for fact seekers on climate

Joseph Romm is the author of and was voted the “Web’s most influential climate-change blogger” in 2009. His new work is titled Straight Up-America’s fiercest climate blogger takes on the status-quo media, politicians, and clean energy solutions.

Straight Up is well-researched, provides insightful political analysis, and showcases compelling data on the economic benefits of climate change solutions. As Joe notes:

“So the bottom line is that the economic cost of action is low, whereas the cost of inaction is incalculably greater-what exactly is the ‘price’ of 5 feet of sea level rise in 2100…and losing all of the inland glaciers that provide a significant fraction of water to a billion people? Or the price of losing half the world’s species?”

“China has a excellent track record of achieving gains in energy efficiency and has begun to ramp up its efficiency efforts and aggressively expand its carbon-free electricity targets(recently committing, for instance, to triple its wind goal to 100,000 MW by 2020).”

“…will the United States be a global leader in creating jobs and exports in clean energy technologies or will we be importing them from Europe, Japan, and the likely clean energy leader in our absence, China.”

“A 20 percent reduction in global emissions might be possible in a quarter century with net economic benefits!”

Purchase Straight Up by Joseph J. Romm

Posted in Climate Change Legislation / Comments are closed

China Takes the Lead on Clean Energy Jobs: How the U.S. Can Still Win

A majority of Americans are worried that the United States’ role in the world economy will diminish in the coming years, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

But the truth is, China is already beating the U.S. to clean energy jobs.

China is quickly becoming the global powerhouse in clean energy manufacturing and innovation, dwarfing the efforts of America. Backed by huge investment and an industrial policy bigger than the world has ever seen, China has become the worldwide leader in new energy technology markets while the U.S. is quickly falling behind.

But we can match the scale of China’s centralized industrial policy by fully deploying the engine of American prosperity: our marketplace. It is the only tool we have with the scale and capital to compete with China.

If the U.S. puts a limit on carbon pollution from dirtier sources of energy, we will send a clear signal to the marketplace that will unleash a massive wave of private investment in clean energy that would allow us to compete with the Chinese.  Only when American policy creates a profit motive for investors, inventors and entrepreneurs, will we have a chance to win the race.

President Obama made that case to the Business Roundtable. He called for a price on carbon to kick-start America’s efforts to win the clean technology race.

Key excerpts of the President remarks:

A competitive America is also an America that finally has a smart energy policy.  We know there is no silver bullet here – that to reduce our dependence on oil and the damage caused by climate change, we need more production, more efficiency, and more incentives for clean energy.

But to truly transition to a clean energy economy, I’ve also said that we need to put a price on carbon pollution …

What we can’t do is stand still.  The only certainty of the status quo is that the price and supply of oil will become increasingly volatile; that the use of fossil fuels will wreak havoc on weather patterns and air quality.  But if we decide now that we’re putting a price on this pollution in a few years, it will give businesses the certainty of knowing they have time to plan and transition.  This country has to move towards a clean energy economy.  That’s where the world is going.  And that’s how America will remain competitive and strong in the 21st century.

If Congress puts a limit on carbon pollution, the U.S. will compete with China. If we don’t, there’s no reason to believe the future will look any different than the facts we see today. Those facts are listed below, or you can download and print EDF’s one-page handout version [PDF].

China’s Climate and Energy Policies Create an Investment Advantage

  • In 2009, China dedicated $440 billion in government funding solely to clean energy. –AFP, 5/24/2009
  • Renewable energy industries in China reached 1.12 million jobs in 2008 and are increasing by 100,000 a year. –NYT, 1/31/2010
  • China is already moving aggressively on measures it promised at Copenhagen, including closing an additional 10 gigawatts of inefficient, polluting coal plants. – Washington Post, 1/7/2010
  • In December 2009, China passed a law requiring its electric grid companies to buy any and all electricity generated from renewable sources. – WSJ, 12/27/2009

China Goes into Wind Power Overdrive in 2009

  • Five years ago, there was almost no Chinese presence in the wind manufacturing industry, and now China hosts the world’s largest wind market with installed capacity of over 25,000 MW, a significant increase from 2008, when China was home to about 12,000 MW. –  GWEC, 2/3/2010
  • As the world’s wind power capacity grew by 31% in 2009, China was responsible for one-third of the additions, experiencing industry growth of over 100%. – GWEC, 2/3/2010

The Saudi Arabia of Solar

  • China has leapfrogged the West in the last two years to emerge as the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels. – NYT, 1/31/2010
  • Already home to one-third of global solar manufacturing capacity, Chinese competition has reduced global solar prices by 30% and is forcing rivals to shift production facilities to China: U.S. Evergreen Solar Inc. is moving its assembly line from Massachusetts to China, while BP PLC’s solar unit said it would stop output in Maryland and rely on Chinese suppliers instead. – WSJ,  12/15/2009
  • Responding to domestic demand, Applied Materials – the world’s largest supplier of equipment to the solar photovoltaic industry – opened the world’s largest private sector solar research center in Xian, China in October 2009. – TIME, 11/30/2009

Green Technology Investment

  • Batteries and Electric Cars — China is also leading in advanced vehicle and battery technology. Chinese firm BYD introduced the world’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle , China’s production of lithium ion batteries had accounted for 41 percent of the global market by 2008, and the number of battery companies in China increased from 455 to 613 between 2001 and 2004. – Breakthrough Institute, 11/09
  • Transmission — China is an emerging world leader in ultra-high-voltage, or UHV transmission technology, with more than 100 domestic manufacturers and suppliers.  The State Grid Corporation will invest $44 billion through 2012, and $88 billion through 2020 in building UHV transmission lines. – Center for American Progress, 6/4/2009
Posted in Climate Change Legislation, Economics, International, Jobs, Policy / Read 9 Responses

Link: Dave Roberts on “The Story of Cap and Trade”

Many of you have already seen the video, “The Story of Cap and Trade.” David Roberts of Grist writes,

The greenosphere is all abuzz about a new video from Annie Leonard, creator of semi-famous anti-consumerism video/book The Story of Stuff.

While the video is very engagingly done and gets many things right, it unfortunately gets some important things wrong.

David addresses some of those things in his response to it:

…I think it’s the wrong argument. Activists like Leonard are just mis-identifying the barriers to effective climate action. I’ll have lots more to say on that subject soon, but for now, let’s focus on the video.

Click through to watch the video and read David’s post.

Posted in What Others are Saying / Read 2 Responses

Environmental Defense Fund Welcomes Stabenow Climate Offset Legislation

Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow unveiled her new agriculture and forestry title for the Senate climate bill today. The legislation would establish a domestic “offset” program for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We gave the measure qualified praise today, saying it gives the Senate an opportunity to craft a consensus approach that delivers low-cost emissions reductions with environmental credibility — but also cautioning that the bill needs more work to guarantee that offsets are environmentally effective.

Here’s the statement from our senior policy manager, John Mimikakis:

Offsets are contentious, but they are essential to effective climate policy. Senator Stabenow deserves praise for trying to find the middle ground and move climate legislation forward.

We have a number of concerns with the bill that we’d like to see addressed as the legislation moves forward. Offsets need to be measured as rigorously as any other emissions reduction. Otherwise there will be little faith in what offset developers are selling and no certainty that we’re achieving pollution reduction goals.

We look forward to working with Senator Stabenow and other members of the Senate to build on the legislation introduced today.

Posted in News / Read 1 Response

Kerry-Boxer Draft Marks Beginning of Senate Climate Change Negotiations

Environmental Defense Fund today welcomed the release of draft legislation that gives the Senate its vehicle for enacting a comprehensive bill to cap U.S. global warming pollution.

“This draft is an important starting point for Senators to negotiate effective climate legislation that can win 60 votes,” said Environmental Defense Fund Legislative Director Elizabeth Thompson.

The discussion draft released today by Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry would put a mandatory cap on U.S. global warming pollution and give the private sector the flexibility to pursue the most affordable emissions reduction opportunities.

The draft calls for reducing U.S. emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels in 2020, slightly more than the reductions called for in the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act. The bill is silent on how emissions permits would be allocated, leaving room for negotiations as the bill moves forward in the Senate.

“We look forward to working with Chairmen Boxer and Kerry and their colleagues to pass a bill that’s environmentally effective and economically smart,” Thompson said.

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EPA Sets Requirements for Big Polluters to Disclose Their Annual Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency is ready to launch America’s first comprehensive national greenhouse gas emissions reporting program.

The EPA announced today that it has finalized the requirements for its new program. That means America’s biggest polluters will have to start publicly disclosing their annual emissions — data we need to create effective federal policy to fight climate change. Data collection will begin January 1, 2010, with disclosure required in the first quarter of 2011.

Mark MacLeod, an EDF expert on climate policy, praised the announcement:

The public has both a need and a right to know about the country’s biggest emitters. The transparency provided today will inform smart policy that targets the biggest sources of heat-trapping emissions.

Here are some key details about the new program:

  • It will apply to about 10,000 large emitters. Those emitters are responsible for about 80-percent of all the heat-trapping gases emitted in the country.
  • It sets a reporting threshold of 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. That’s the equivalent of 131 rail cars of coal or 58,000 barrels of oil consumed, or the emissions from the annual energy use of about 2,200 homes.
  • Businesses that emit less than 25,000 tons of emission per year are NOT covered. That means the rule does NOT apply to churches or schools, as some have falsely claimed. The rule also does NOT create the totally spurious  “cow tax.”
  • The rule will cover the most dangerous global warming pollutants including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and other fluorinated gases.

The new EPA program is based on valuable efforts that are already underway. Forty-one states are currently participating in The Climate Registry. And since 1995, fossil-fuel fired power plants over 25 megawatts in size have been subject to mandatory reporting requirements for carbon dioxide emissions under the Clean Air Act. These two efforts have started providing an important database of emissions. Now the EPA program will allow us to take the next necessary step.

Posted in News / Read 2 Responses