Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bad Biop Kills Incidental Take Statement

Oregon Natural Resources Council v. Allen (9th Cir.) February 23, 2007:

Withdrawal of a portion of a favorable biological opinion (BiOp), which initially approved timber sales impacting suitable habitat for the northern spotted owl, rendered the Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) incidental take statement authorizing the taking of "all" northern spotted owls associated with full timber harvest invalid under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The incidental take statement was broader than the project and allowed for the take of more spotted owls than were affected by the remaining portions of the BiOp.

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February 28, 2007 in Biodiversity | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Spirit of the Eagle

This blog is devoted principally to the professional or academic aspects of environmental law, policy, science, and ethics.  But like any blogger, I do have a life.  Anyone interested in the slightly less academic side of me is welcome to visit Spirit of the Eagle, my personal blog.

February 26, 2007 in Africa, Agriculture, Air Quality, Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

It's All About Water, Stupid!

My Sustainable Natural Resources class went to Ankeny National Wildlife Reserve today to learn first hand about the management issues faced by the reserve.  Our guide was a USFWS officer stationed at the Willamette Valley complex of reserves that focus on protection of Dusky geese and other migratory birds.  She provided a first-class introduction to the Reserve, its resources, and management concerns.  She described the population explosion of other Canada Goose sub-species, the challenge of managing migrating species with geologically distant breeding grounds, the ever present problem of poachers, finding the optimal balance given differing management regimes required for various species, etc.

She responded to my question about how USFWS is incorporating climate change impacts into its conservation planning by saying that they have a lot of taskforces...but, its really hard to do because we don't know exactly what's going to happen.  That said, she went on to describe how her refuges are very water dependent and that regional climate change impacts may reduce water availability -- and some of the refuges have water rights and some don't.

Here's another account about how climate change will affect that most important and increasingly scarce Western resource: water.  The National Research Council has just published its report on climate impacts on Colorado River basin Management.  Though complete with the standard caveats, the most likely scenario is less water overall and more severe and frequent droughts.  Here are some excerpts from the report brief:

Colorado River Basin Water Management:
Evaluating and Adjusting to Hydroclimatic Variability
February 2007
    Recent studies of past climate and streamflow conditions have broadened understanding of long-term water availability in the Colorado River, revealing many periods when streamflow was lower than at any time in the past 100 years of recorded flows. That information, along with two important trends—a rapid increase in urban populations in the West and significant climate warming in the region—will require that water managers prepare for possible reductions in water supplies that cannot be fully averted through traditional means. Successful adjustments to these new conditions will entail strong and sustained cooperation among the many entities involved in Colorado River water management and science programs.

    This report from the National Research Council resulted from concerns regarding the long-term adequacy of Colorado River water supplies. Severe drought conditions have affected much of the region since the late 1990s, with 2002 and 2004 being among the 10 driest years on record in the upper basin states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming. Water storage in the basin’s reservoirs dropped sharply during this period due to very low streamflows; for example, 2002 water year flows into Lake Powell were roughly 25 percent of average.
   
    During this same time period, there were several studies that produced “reconstructed” Colorado River flows over the past several centuries. These studies, based on data from annual growth rings of trees, show that there have been many past severe and extended droughts across the region. Just as important, they show that direct measurements of streamflow over the past 100 years, which have guided many administrative decisions for the river’s allocation and use, may offer an overly optimistic forecast of future water availability.

    This report assesses existing scientific information—including temperature and streamflow records, tree-ring based reconstructions, and climate model projections—and how it relates to Colorado River water supplies and demands, water management, and drought preparedness.
Past Climate Information is Creating a New Water Management Paradigm
For many years, scientific understanding of Colorado River flows was based primarily on measurements of the river’s flow at gaging stations along the river. The first gaging stations on the river were established in the 1890s. As records of the river’s flow measurements accumulated through the years and as the number of gaging stations grew, a more complete understanding of Colorado River
flows and variability emerged.

    The Colorado River basin extends over seven U.S. states and parts of northwestern Mexico.   For example, it is now known that the Colorado River Compact of 1922, which governs water allocations between the upper and lower Colorado River basin, was based on a short record of relatively high annual flows.  Since the 1970s, the gaged record has been complemented by many different studies of past hydroclimate conditions. Some of these studies are based on indirect, or proxy, evidence of past climates. Some of these proxy studies are based on tree-ring data. Because annual growth rings in trees at lower elevations can reflect moisture availability, tree-ring data can be used to reconstruct records of past river flows. Using data from coniferous tree species with long life spans in the Colorado River region, flow records dating back several centuries have been reconstructed.

    Past water management decisions have been based largely on the gaged record, and there has been an implicit assumption that there is a single value of the river’s average annual flow—about 15 million acre-feet/year—around which inter- annual flow variations occur. Even though the basin experienced wet and dry periods, river flows and weather conditions were expected to return to a “normal” state, largely defined by climate of the early and middle 20th century. However, recent tree-ring based reconstructions demonstrate that Colorado River flows occasionally shift into decadal-long periods in which average flows are lower, or higher, than the supposed mean value of 15 million acre-feet/year. These reconstructions reinforce the point that the gaged record covers only a small subset of the range of natural hydroclimatic variability in the river basin over several centuries. The basin’s future hydrology thus may not be reasonably characterized based on the gaged record alone.

Regional Climate Warming Points to Reductions in Water Supplies

    Temperature records across the Colorado River basin and the western United States document a warming trend over the past century. These temperature records, along with climate model projections, suggest that temperatures across the region will continue to rise in the foreseeable future. Higher temperatures will result in less upper basin precipitation falling and being stored as snow, increased evaporative losses, and will shift the timing of peak spring snowmelt to earlier in the year. There is less consensus regarding future trends in precipitation. However, based on analysis of many climate model simulations, the preponderance of scientific evidence suggests that warmer future temperatures will reduce future Colorado River streamflow and water supplies. Reduced streamflow would also contribute to increasing severity, frequency, and duration of future droughts.

Increases in Urban Water Demand Will Stress Supplies

    Rapid population growth across the western United States is driving increases in water demand. From 1990-2000, Arizona’s population increased by about 40 percent, while Colorado’s population increased by about 30 percent. Population projections suggest that this trajectory will continue. Although many innovative urban water conservation programs have reduced per capita uses, population growth is driving increases in urban water demands; water consumption in Clark County, Nevada (which includes Las Vegas), for example, approximately doubled in the 1985-2000 period. Steadily rising population and increasing urban water demands in the Colorado River region will inevitably result in increasingly costly, controversial, and unavoidable trade-off choices tobe made by water managers, politicians, and their constituents.

    A significant trend in the quest to meet rising water demand has been the sale, lease, and transfer of agricultural water rights to municipalities, particularly in southern California and Colorado (in Arizona, tribal settlements, with transfers to municipalities, have also been important). With about 80 percent of western U.S. water supplies devoted to irrigated crop production, agricultural water appears to constitute the most important, and perhaps final, large source of available water for urban use in the arid U.S. West. Modest shifts of agricultural water to municipal and industrial uses can do much to help meet increasing urban water demands. At the same time, however, agricultural-urban transfers often entail “third party” effects that include costs for rural communities, ecosystems, and others indirectly dependent on water supplies affected by the transfers. Moreover, even though the amount of water allocated to western agriculture is large, it is finite, and thus there are limits on its ability to satisfy expanding urban water demands.

Technologies and Conservation May Not Fully Meet Future Demands

    A wide array of technological and conservation measures can be used to help stretch existing water supplies. These measures include underground storage, water reuse, desalination, weather modification, conservation, and creative water pricing structures. These measures may not necessarily be inexpensive or easy to implement, but many of them show promise and will continue to be pursued and developed as water supplies tighten in future years. However, technological and conservation options for augmenting or extending water supplies—although useful and necessary—in the long run will not constitute a panacea for coping with the reality that water supplies in the Colorado River basin are limited and that demand is inexorably rising.

Sustained Collaboration Important for Better Drought Preparedness

    Drought conditions have prompted the Colorado River basin states to move toward a new level of cooperation. This is illustrated by a February 2006 letter from the seven basin states to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, which was written in response to a request that the states develop guidelines for coping with water shortages. The interstate cooperation and initiative exhibited in this letter represent a welcome development that will prove increasingly valuable—and likely essential—in coping with future droughts and growing water demands.
In addition to interstate cooperation, enhanced communication and collaboration between the scientific and water management communities will be vital. The knowledge base of Colorado River hydrology and climate rivals and may exceed comparable knowledge bases for any of the world’s river systems. Some of this information has been incorporated into key legal and operational decisions, but some of it may not be as well integrated in Colorado River basin water policy as it might be. A commitment to two-way communication among scientists and water managers is necessary for improving preparedness and planning for drought and other water shortages.

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February 22, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Live trees include mortally injured, "dying" trees

Lands Council v. Martin, 2007 WL 49058, 9th Cir. Feb 12, 2007
Lands Council v. Martin

Term "live trees" in Umatilla National Forest plan, which prevented harvesting of old-growth "live trees," included all old-growth trees that were not dead, and included mortally injured, "dying" old-growth trees that were likely to die in relatively near future but that had not yet died, and thus the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) prevented post-fire logging sales of those dying old growth trees, since the Forest Service had not adopted a technical meaning to the term and a common understanding of the term "live" was "not dead."

February 22, 2007 in Biodiversity, Cases, Economics, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Law, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

World Council of Churches endorses Global Roundtable statement

Here's the Global Roundtable statement issued yesterday.Download GROCC_statement_2-19.pdf .  The Roundtable includes senior officials from an array of corporations, universities, religious institutions, and NGOs:

  AIG

Air France

Alcan
  Alcoa   
    All China Federation of Industry and Commerce

Alliant Energy

Allianz

American Association of Blacks in Energy

American Council on Renewable Energy

American Electric Power

Anglo-American

Aristeia Capital

Association of British Insurers
    BASF Group
  Bayer 

Business Leaders Group on Climate Change

California Clean Energy Fund

Calvert Group
    Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Canadian Electricity Association
  Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School

Ceres
Chicago Climate Exchange
China Renewable Energy Industries Association

Citigroup
  City of Reykjavík

The Climate Group
  The Climate Institute
  The Climate Trust
  Coalition for Rainforest Nations

Columbia University
  Confederation of Indian Industry
  Conservation International

Covanta Energy
  Credit Suisse First Boston
Deutsche Telekom
Dow Chemical
  Dupont
  Earth Institute at Columbia University
  EcoSecurities
 
  Electricité de France International North America

Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand
    Endesa SA

Energetech Australia

Energy Holding Romania

Eni, SpA

Environmental Defense

Eskom

ETG International

European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasts
European Commission Delegation to the United Nation
Exelon Corporation
  Federation of Canadian Municipalities
FirstEnergy Corporation

Florida Power and Light

Ford Motor Company

  General Electric
  German Electricity Association

Glitnir Bank
  Global Energy Network Institute

Global Environment Facility

Goldman Sachs & Co.
  Google  
  HDR Engineering

Henkel KGaA

Iberdrola, S.A

Iceland GeoSurvey (ISOR)
    ICF International

Indian Merchants Chamber
  ING Group
  Institute for Global Environmental Strategies
  Institute of Process Engineering, ETH Zurich 
  Insurance Information Institute
  Interface, Inc.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
International Chamber of Commerce

International Council on Mining and Metals

International Energy Agency
  International Gas Union
  International Research Institute for Climate and Society
  International Trade Union Confederation
    JPMorgan Chase

Keyspan Corporation

Landsvirkjun (The National Power Company of Iceland)
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Lenfest Foundation

Los Alamos National Laboratories
Marsh and McLennan Cos.

MEDIAS-France
  MissionPoint Capital Partners
  Munich Climate Insurance Initiative

Munich Re
  Nand and Jeet Khemka Foundation
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies 

National Commission on Energy Policy
National Development and Reform Commission of China:   National Coordination Committee on Climate Change and Energy Research Institute
    National Energy Assistance Directors Association
    National Council of Churches

National Grid
  Natsource
Natural Resources Defense Council 
  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
  NGEN

Nippon Mining Holdings

NiSource

Norsk Hydro

NRG Energy

  OECD Environment Directorate
  Old Harbor Outfitters  
  Papua New Guinea, Office of the Prime Minister     

Pew Center on Global Climate Change
Princeton University

Rainforest Alliance

Recycled Energy Development

Republic of Iceland, Office of the President
  Resources for the Future

Reykjavik Energy

Ricoh Corporation

Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  Rolls-Royce

Office of U.S. Senator Olympia J Snowe
  Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS)

State Street Global Advisors
Stanford University

StoraEnso North America

Suncor Energy
Suntech Power

Swiss Re
  Tata Power    
    Toyota Motor North America
    Underground Coal Gasification Partnership

Union of Concerned Scientists

United Nations Development Programme

United Nations Environment Programme- Finance Initiative
  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat

United States Combined Heat and Power Association
  University of Iceland
University of Tokyo

  U.S. Geothermal

U.S. Green Building Council
    U.S. Renewables Group

    Vattenfall
  Verde Venture Partners
  Volvo
  Vulcan, Inc.
  Walmart
  Western Governors’ Association 

World Business Council on Sustainable Development 

World Coal Institute

World Council of Churches

World Liquid Petroleum Gas Association

World Petroleum Council

  World Wildlife Fund

Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Energy and Environment

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Here's the executive summary:


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Climate change is an urgent problem requiring global action to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). Energy use is vital for a modern economy. Burning fossil fuels produces CO2. Thus, confronting climate change depends, in many ways, on adopting new and sustainable energy strategies that can meet growing global energy needs while allowing for the stabilization of atmospheric CO2 concentrations at safe levels.

 
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Energy efficiency must play an important role in these strategies, but long-term success will require a concerted effort to de-carbonize the global energy system. This means significantly increasing the use of non-fossil-fuel energy sources, significantly raising the energy efficiency of fossil-fuel power plants through advanced technologies, and developing and deploying technologies that trap and store the CO2 produced by the fossil fuels that will remain in use.
Cost-efficient technologies exist today, and others could be developed and deployed, to improve energy efficiency and to help reduce emissions of CO2 and other GHGs in major sectors of the global economy. Research indicates that heading off the very dangerous risks associated with doubling pre-industrial atmospheric concentrations of CO2, while an immense challenge, can be achieved at a reasonable cost.

Failing to act now would lead to far higher economic and environmental costs and greater risk of irreversible impacts. To meet this challenge and take advantage of these opportunities:

   
    • The world's governments should set scientifically informed targets, including an ambitious but     achievable interim, mid-century target for global CO2 concentrations, for "stabilization of greenhouse     gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic     interference with the climate system," in accordance with the stated objective of the Framework     Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
    • All countries should be party to this accord, which should include specific near- and long-term     commitments for action in pursuit of the agreed targets. Commitments for actions by individual     countries should reflect differences in levels of economic development and GHG emission patterns     and the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities.
    • Clear, efficient mechanisms should be established to place a market price on carbon emissions     that is reasonably consistent worldwide and across sectors in order to reward efficiency and     emission avoidance, encourage innovation, and maintain a level playing field among possible     technological options.
    • Government policy initiatives should address energy efficiency and de-carbonization in all sectors,     allow businesses to choose among a range of options as they strive to minimize GHG emissions and     costs, encourage the development and rapid deployment of low-emitting and zero-emitting energy     and transportation technologies, and provide incentives to reduce emissions from deforestation and     harmful land management practices.
    • Governments, the private sector, trade unions, and other sectors of civil society should undertake     efforts to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change, since climate change will occur     even in the context of highly effective mitigation efforts.
    • Signatories to this statement will support scientific processes including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); work to increase public awareness of climate change risks and solutions; report information on their GHG emissions; engage in GHG emissions mitigation, which can include emissions trading schemes; champion demonstration projects; and support public policy efforts to mitigate climate change and its impacts.
     

Responses:
World Council of Churches (see below)

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February 21, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

ExxonMobil --Some progress towards a clear message

original post 2/15; revised 2/20

Here's the text of ExxonMobil CEO's recent speech.  I still think Exxon should clarify the reasons why Tillerson discusses economic development, poverty eradication, and public health (according to Ken Cohen, to make effective policy with the interests of developing countries in mind -- not to suggest that we can't afford aggressive climate change policy).  But, the overall message does strike me as clearer.

No discussion about the realities facing our industry today would be complete without reference to the issue of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. This is an issue that crosses all boundaries, impacts industry and governments, but most importantly will directly impact consumers in every part of the world.

The majority of the growth in energy demand will come from developing nations as their growing populations pursue higher standards of living. With this improvement in living standards will come most of the growth in future greenhouse gas emissions.

By the year 2030 it is expected that global emissions of carbon dioxide will approach 40 billion tons per year, up from close to 28 billion tons per year today.

So, we know our climate is changing, the average temperature of the earth is rising, and greenhouse gas emissions are increasing. We also know that climate remains an extraordinarily complex area of scientific study. While our understanding of the science continues to evolve and improve, there is still much that we do not know and cannot fully recognize in efforts to model and predict future climate system behavior.

Having said that, the risks to society and ecosystems from climate change could prove to be significant. So, despite the uncertainties, it is prudent to develop and implement sensible strategies that address these risks while not reducing our ability to progress other global priorities such as economic development, poverty eradication and public health.

Our industry has a responsibility to contribute to policy discussions on these important issues – and to take concrete actions ourselves to reduce emissions.

As an industry, we are already improving efficiency in our operations - greatly enhancing our energy efficiency while supplying more products than ever before. Steps taken at ExxonMobil, for example, since 1999 to improve energy efficiency at our facilities, for example, resulted in CO2 emissions savings of 11 million metric tons in 2005. That’s equivalent to taking two million cars off the road.

But we must do more. We must continue to foster and support scientific research into technology breakthroughs to deliver new sources of energy with even lower emissions. One example is Stanford University’s Global Climate and Energy Project, which ExxonMobil and other partners are supporting with a collective contribution of $225 million.

The approaches policymakers adopt to address climate risks are also important. A global approach is needed that promotes energy efficiency, ensures wider deployment of existing emissions-reducing technologies and supports research into new technologies.

It is also critical to maintain support for fundamental climate research, recognizing that there remains much that we still do not understand.

Specific policy tools should be assessed for their likely effectiveness, scale, and costs, as well as their implications for economic growth and quality of life. In that regard, rigorous and informed debate - - debate that takes into account the essential role played by energy in advancing social and economic progress -- will best support thoughtful policymaking.

In our view, the most effective approaches will maximize the use of markets.  This will help promote global participation and facilitate the rapid spread of successful initiatives.

 

Consistent with a market-based approach, effective policies will ensure a uniform and predictable cost of reducing carbon emissions, maximize transparency, minimize complexity, and adjust to new developments in climate science and the economic impacts of policies.

Just as technology has continually been the driver of progress in our industry, I am confident that future technology advances will both expand our understanding of the climate system and enable an effective response.

We must encourage all participating in this debate to frame the discussion in terms of the realities we face – the realities of growing demand and the need for affordable, reliable energy to enable the world’s consumers to achieve genuine improvements in their quality of life.

The policy measures adopted today will have far-reaching implications in the years ahead. We must consider the potential impacts on future economic growth and quality of life for not just the current generation, but those of our children and grandchildren.

Last week, I summarized my reaction to Planet Ark reports on the ExxonMobil CEO's most recent statement on global warming as "little progress on a clearer message." 

ExxonMobil obviously is still not ready to assume a leadership position on climate policy and continues to play the "balancing" game: 

"It is prudent to develop and implement sensible strategies that address these risks while not reducing our ability to progress other global priorities, such as economic development, poverty eradication and public health,"

Ken Cohen had indicated that Exxon was not arguing that climate change policy had to be formulated to assure economic development and poverty eradication.  It sure sounds like it to me.

My opinion was based on the Planet Ark report.  Exxon sent me the full speech.  Looking at the speech as a whole, I think that the message delivered is clearer. I believe that "some progress" is a more accurate description.    But the problem for Exxon remains that it speaks in nuanced language that doesn't dramatically depart from its prior positions.  Until Exxon takes a dramatic step, such as joining the Climate Action Partnership or otherwise sending an unequivocal signal that it supports immediate progress on creating an global climate policy, including strict targets in reducing GHG emissions, Exxon will still be perceived as dragging its feet.


Planet Ark report:

 

Exxon Mobil CEO: Climate Policy Would be Prudent


 

HOUSTON - Exxon Mobil Corp. Chief Executive Rex Tillerson said Tuesday nations should work toward a global policy to fight climate change -- another sign the oil giant is softening its stance on global warming.

 

"The risks to society and ecosystems from climate change could prove to be significant," Tillerson said.    

"It is prudent to develop and implement sensible strategies that address these risks while not reducing our ability to progress other global priorities, such as economic development, poverty eradication and public health," he said.

The comments come after Exxon Mobil, a long-time foe of limits on greenhouse emissions, began engaging in talks with about 20 other companies on ways the United States could regulate heat-trapping gases.

Speaking at a conference sponsored by Cambridge Energy Research Associates, Tillerson said climate change is a global problem and policy should lend itself to global participation, including from the Asia Pacific region, where rapid economic growth could boost emissions.

He also said that the most effective policy approaches would maximize the use of markets. Europe uses a cap-and-trade system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, in which government sets an emissions limit and companies buy and sell the right to pollute against that limit.

Tillerson said that regional approaches to the problem are "not likely to make much of a difference." And he added he believes that there is still much uncertainty about climate.

"Everyone recognizes that no one can conclusively say 100 percent what's going on," he said. "Whatever we do needs to have the flexibility to accommodate the fact that this is going to continue to evolve ... It will not turn out the way any of us expect it to turn out."

A United Nations panel of scientists said this month that mankind is to blame for global warming, and predicted droughts, heatwaves and rising sea levels even if greenhouse gas emissions are capped.

Since Democrats won control of Congress in November, heavy industries have been nervously watching which route the United States may take on future regulations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.

Exxon in 2006 stopped funding the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit advocating limited government regulation, and other groups that have downplayed the risks of greenhouse emissions. Last year, CEI ran advertisements, featuring a little girl playing with a dandelion that downplayed the risks of carbon dioxide emissions.

Tillerson also said policymakers should remain realistic about the limited role biofuels can play in the wider energy market, saying it will be difficult to increase the amount of biofuel produced absent a technological advance.

"I'm no expert on biofuels. I don't know much about farming and I don't know much about moonshine," he said. "There is really nothing (Exxon) can bring to that whole (biofuels) issue. We don't see a direct role for ourselves with today's technology," he said.

February 20, 2007 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, International, Legislation, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

American Scientists Speak: Is Anyone Really Listening?

 
 

AAAS Board Releases New Statement on Climate Change

[PHOTOGRAPH] The retreating Qori Kalis glacier in the Andes of Peru in 2000. [Photograph courtesy of Lonnie Thompson, Ohio State University]

The retreating Qori Kalis glacier in the Andes of Peru in 2000
Photograph courtesy of Lonnie Thompson, Ohio State University

The following statement on global climate change was released today during the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The statement was approved by the board on 9 December 2006.

The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society. Accumulating data from across the globe reveal a wide array of effects: rapidly melting glaciers, destabilization of major ice sheets, increases in extreme weather, rising sea level, shifts in species ranges, and more. The pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now.

The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, a critical greenhouse gas, is higher than it has been for at least 650,000 years. The average temperature of the Earth is heading for
levels not experienced for millions of years. Scientific predictions of the impacts of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels and deforestation match observed changes. As expected, intensification of droughts, heat waves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and societies. These events are early warning signs of even more devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible.

Delaying action to address climate change will increase the environmental and societal consequences as well as the costs. The longer we wait to tackle climate change, the harder and more expensive the task will be.

History provides many examples of society confronting grave threats by mobilizing knowledge and promoting innovation. We need an aggressive research, development and deployment effort to transform the existing and future energy systems of the world away from technologies that emit greenhouse gases. Developing clean energy technologies will provide economic opportunities and ensure future energy supplies.

In addition to rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is essential that we develop strategies to adapt to ongoing changes and make communities more resilient to future changes.

The growing torrent of information presents a clear message: we are already experiencing global climate change. It is time to muster the political will for concerted action. Stronger leadership at all levels is needed. The time is now. We must rise to the challenge. We owe this to future generations.


The conclusions in this statement reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the joint National Academies’ statement.

For more information, see the AAAS Global Climate-Change Resources page.

       

18 February 2007 9:05 pm PST

 
       

February 20, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 16, 2007

No Comfort Here: We Can't Confidently Predict Ice Sheet Behavior

Climate change policymakers are struggling with how to deal with scientific uncertainty.  We're sure now that we have to pursue both GHG reduction efforts as well as adaptation.  The latter depends particularly upon having a relatively narrow range of estimated impacts.  But, with the IPCC 4th reports reluctance to guess about ice sheet behavior and include those estimates in its analysis of sea level changes, policymakers end up with a very broad range of sea level change estimates....from 1-2 feet by 2100 to  several meters.  We may adapt adequately to the former with moderate efforts (though seemingly herculean to some) and be satisfied with limiting GHG reductions to those necessary to hold SST change to 2 degrees.  Changes of the latter magnitude, however, would likely be catastrophic and thus require immediate, massive global efforts to reduce GHG emissions as quickly as feasible.

The significance of ice sheet behavior to policy has resulted in substantial research efforts that have been bearing fruit in the last year or two.  But recent studies suggest that the IPCC's uncertainty about ice sheet behavior is justified -- and may not be resolved quickly enough to allow us to make policy based on a narrow range of estimated sea level change.  So what are we to do?  It's the traditional problem of scientific uncertainty rearing its ugly head -- just at the time when we are convinced that something needs to be done, but now we have to decide what to do and how quickly it must be done.

The temptation is to say as much as feasible.  But that begs the cost question, which defines our sense of what is feasible.  So, we need to set "technology-forcing" or what I'd prefer to call "technology-facilitating" goals and let the genius of the market find ways to meet them.  And the goals need to be set not based on what we guess is the central tendency of estimated climate impacts, but based on the higher end of estimated climate impacts --not based on a worst case scenario, but based on a moderately worse case scenario.  To me, this is James Hansen's recommendation to hold SST increase to 1 degree by the end of the century.    Now, what does that require?  I don't know....but I'd like the answer to that question.

Here's the latest from the AAAS meeting: 

Clues to Sea Rise May Lie Beneath Antarctic Glaciers

[PHOTOGRAPH] Antarctic ice sheet in West Antarctica [Photo courtesy of NASA]

[PHOTOGRAPH] One of two images captured by MODIS [Photo courtesy of NASA]

[PHOTOGRAPH] One of two images captured by MODIS [Photo courtesy of NASA]’

Images courtesy of NASA

A network of rapidly filling and emptying lakes lies beneath at least two of West Antarctica’s ice streams, according to new research published online today by the journal Science, at the Science Express website.

More than 100 subglacial lakes have already been discovered, but the new ones are particularly interesting because they occur below fast-moving ice. Though it’s too early to say exactly how this liquid water is affecting the rates of ice flow above, understanding the behavior of these fast-moving ice streams is essential for predicting how Antarctica may contribute to sea level rise.

Helen Fricker of the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and colleagues analyzed elevation data recorded by NASA’s Ice Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) collected over the lower parts of the Whillans and Mercer Ice Streams. These are two of the major, fast-moving glaciers that are carrying ice from the interior of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to the floating Ross Ice Shelf.

“We’ve found that there are substantial subglacial lakes under ice that’s moving a couple of meters per day. It’s really ripping along. It’s the fast-moving ice that determines how the ice sheet responds to climate change on a short timescale,” said Robert Bindschadler of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, one of the study’s coauthors.

“We aren’t yet able to predict what these ice streams are going to do. We’re still learning about the controlling processes. Water is critical, because it’s essentially the grease on the wheel. But we don’t know the details yet,” he said.

Bindschadler presented the findings at a news briefing for reporters on Thursday, 15 February, at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California. In coordination with the briefing, NASA released satellite images of West Antarctica.

Glaciologists have known that water exists under ice streams, but the observation of a system of water storage reservoirs is unprecedented. The surprising thing about this discovery is the amount of water involved, and the pace at which it moves from one reservoir to another, according to Fricker, the lead author.

“We didn’t realize that the water under these ice streams was moving in such large quantities, and on such short time scales,” Fricker said. “We thought these changes took place over years and decades, but we are seeing large changes over months.”

The authors identified numerous spots that either rose or deflated from 2003 to 2006, likely because water flowed into or out of them. Water would be capable of this because it is highly pressurized under the weight of the overlying ice.

The three largest regions are between approximately 120 and 500 square kilometers, while the others are widely scattered and smaller. One of the large regions, referred to as Subglacial Lake Engelhardt, drained during the first 2.7 years of the ICESat mission, while another, Subglacial Lake Conway, steadily filled during the same period.

“I’m quite astonished that with this combination of satellite sensors we could sense the movement of large amounts of water like this. From 600 kilometers up in space, we were able to see small portions of the ice sheet rise and sink,” Bindschadler said.

Studies of the subglacial environment are rare, being expensive, risky and labor-intensive. Bindschadler explained that before the ICESat mission, researchers would typically have to drill holes in the ice streams in order to study what was occurring beneath them. These holes, generally just about 4 inches in diameter, provided a much more limited view of the entire ice stream than the satellite images do.

“Until now, we’ve had just a few glimpses into what’s going on down there. This is the most complete picture to date what’s going on beneath fast flowing ice,” Bindschadler said.

Added Fricker: “The approach used for this work provides glaciologists with a new tool to survey and monitor the nature of the subglacial water system and to link these observations to the motion of the ice sheet. We still don’t know how the subglacial water system varies on longer time-scales from decades to centuries. To do this, we need to continue monitoring the ice streams with ICESat and future follow-on missions.”

Kathy Wren
       

15 February 2007 3:24 pm




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February 16, 2007 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, International, Legislation, Physical Science, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Second Circuit requires tougher cooling water intake rules for existing power plants

Riverkeeper, Inc. v. U.S. E.P.A., (C.A.2) January 31, 2007: Clean Water - Clean Water Act's (CWA) "best technology available" for cooling water intake structures precluded cost/benefit analysis.

The Clean Water Act (CWA) provision mandating the use of "best technology available" (BTA) for minimizing the adverse environmental impact of point sources' cooling water intake structures did not permit the use of cost-benefit analysis in determining the BTA. This was in contrast to the predecessor standard, "best practicable control technology" or BPT. Instead, the later standard required a determination of which means would be used to reach a specified level of benefit. The issue arose on challenges to the EPA'S rule implementing the provision for existing power plants.

February 15, 2007 in Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Responses to IPCC 4th Assessment

Here's the IPCC 4th Assessment summary for policymakers regarding climate change science: IPCC4 Climate Science Summary

Here are a random few responses (original 2/2; revised thru 2/15)

Nature editorial (see below)
Worldwatch Institute (see below)
Pew Center on Global Climate Change
ExxonMobil 4th_assessment_response
Real Climate on sea level change Prior ELP Blog post
World Council of Churches (see below)
Tiempo (see below)

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February 15, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Biodiversity conservation

A couple of articles caught my eye recently.  One in Nature argues that phylogenetic diversity (a measure of how distantly species are related) should be considered in addition to using number of species to identify  "hotspots" that deserve priority in conservation efforts. [see Science news report  below].  Another Nature article described rapid biodiversity assessments, conflicting ideas on how to set biodiversity conservation priorities, and the utility of these assessments in priority setting [see excerpt below].


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February 15, 2007 in Biodiversity, Economics, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, International, Physical Science, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Effects of Global Warming on Wildlife

The Market's Betting Against Climate Change Policy

The Economist suggests that the markets are not yet taking climate change into account:

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THE scientific consensus in favour of man-made global warming seems clear. There is also evidence that voters are increasingly inclined to believe in the phenomenon, even in America. This might lead one to believe that politicians will be forced to take action. But, as Tim Bond, of Barclays Capital, points out, the futures markets appear to be saying something different. The forward curves for hydrocarbon fuels (such as oil and coal) are upward-sloping: higher prices are expected in future.

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Some of this might be due to investment demand for commodities, which is usually channelled via the futures markets; but the bulk of this money is placed into contracts of less than 12 months’ duration. The forward curve points to higher oil prices over five or more years.  Conversely, the price curves of cleaner alternatives are downward-sloping. This does not suggest investors are expecting a mass shift away from oil and towards green fuel sources such as wind and solar power. Perhaps this reflects understandable cynicism that voters will ever agree to changes that cause them real pain: higher gasoline taxes in America, for example. As one hedge fund manager recently remarked to your correspondent: "If the UK stopped all carbon emissions tomorrow, the Chinese would replace them within six months. So why should I give up driving my big car?" 

Or perhaps investor opinion reflects the enormity of the task. As Barclays Capital points out, energy demand is expected to rise by 50% over the next 30 years. The industry needs to meet that target, while simultaneously reducing the 80% share of supply currently provided by hydrocarbons.  The attempt to square this circle may have important repercussions for financial markets. As Tim Bond says, an enormous amount of new investment is needed to meet increased energy demand―some $20 trillion, at 2000 prices. The energy industry did double its capital spending in nominal terms between 2000 and 2005, but thanks to infrastructure inflation (the cost of oil rigs, tankers etc), this translated into a real spending increase of only 10-20%.

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The way that markets have traditionally encouraged investment spending is by ramping up prices, which helps explain why the oil price tripled within a few years (before a recent setback). But there is still a problem.

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First, companies are uncertain as to how governments will act on climate change. This may cause them to postpone investment programmes until the outlook becomes clearer

.  Second, uncertainty will prompt them to apply a high discount rate to future projects. These discount rates may vary wildly. If, for example, it was clear that governments were pushing the energy industry away from oil, and towards, say, wind power, the discount rate for the wind industry would drop and that for the oil industry would rise. So energy prices might be both high (to encourage investment) and volatile.

That is not great news for stock markets. For a start, volatility leads to uncertainty which investors dislike. Furthermore, Barclays has found a clear inverse correlation between oil prices and the multiple that the market applies to corporate profits (see chart). In other words, the higher the oil price, the lower the market rating. Back in the 1970s, when oil prices rose consistently, the energy sector was about the only place to earn decent returns. In America, real returns from oil averaged nearly 25% a year, whereas shares managed just 1.4%.

Most investors seem to regard global warming as a long-term problem unlikely to affect equities over the next year or two. But the Barclays analysis suggests they may be wrong to be so complacent.

February 12, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Worldwatch Hit on Exxon Mobil

I was disappointed to read Worldwatch Institute's story on Exxon Mobil.WWI story   The story relies largely on the Guardian's version of facts and evidently took no heed of Cohen's refusal to condone further climate science shopping, Exxon/Mobil's response, or AEI's response.  Let's get it right -- so that folks like ExxonMobil will take us seriously.

February 8, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Follow the Bouncing Global Warming Legislation Ball

Here's a copy of the CRS report on current global warming legislation:

Climate Change: Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bills in the 110th Congress

Introduction

Climate change is generally viewed as a global issue, but proposed responses generally require action at the national level. In 1992, the United States ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which called on industrialized countries to take the lead in reducing the six primary greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the year 2000.  For more than a decade, a variety of voluntary and regulatory actions have been proposed or undertaken in the United States, including monitoring of power plant carbon dioxide emissions, improved appliance efficiency, and incentives for developing renewable energy sources. However, carbon dioxide emissions have continued to increase.  In 2001, President George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, which called for legally binding commitments by developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.  He also rejected the concept of mandatory emissions reductions. Since then, the Administration has focused U.S. climate change policy on voluntary initiatives to reduce the growth in greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, in 2005, the Senate passed a Sense of the Senate resolution on climate change declaring that a mandatory, market-based program to slow, stop, and reverse the growth of greenhouse gases should be enacted at a rate and in a manner that "will not significantly harm the United States economy and will encourage comparable action by other nations. A number of congressional proposals to advance programs designed to reduce greenhouse gases have been introduced in the 110th Congress. These have generally followed one of three tracks. The first is to improve the monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions to provide a basis for research and development and for any potential future reduction scheme. The second is to enact a market-oriented greenhouse gas reduction program along the lines of the trading provisions of the current acid rain reduction program established by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The third is to enact energy and related programs that would have the added effect of reducing greenhouse gases; an example would be a requirement that electricity producers generate a portion of their electricity from renewable resources (a renewable portfolio standard). This report focuses on the second category of bills. Proposed Legislation in 110th Congress In the 110th Congress, four bills have been introduced that would impose controls on emissions of greenhouse gases. A comparison of major provisions is provided in Appendix 1 S. 280, introduced by Senator Lieberman, would cap emissions of the six greenhouse gases specified in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, at reduced levels, from the electric generation, transportation, industrial, and commercial sectors -- sectors that account for about 85% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The reductions would be implemented in four phases, with an emissions cap in 2012 based on the affected facilities' 2004 emissions (for an entity that has a single unit that emits more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent); the cap steadily declines until it is equal to one-third of the facilities' 2004 levels. The program would be implemented through an expansive allowance trading program to maximize opportunities for cost-effective reductions, and credits obtained from increases in carbon sequestration, reductions from non-covered sources, and acquisition of allowances from foreign sources could be used to comply with 30% of reduction requirements. The bill also contains an extensive new infrastructure to encourage innovation and new technologies. S. 309, introduced by Senator Sanders, would cap greenhouse gas emissions on an economy-wide basis beginning in 2010. Beginning in 2020, the country's emissions would be capped at their 1990 levels, and then proceed to decline steadily until they were reduced to 20% of their 1990 levels in the year 2050. The EPA has the discretion to employ a market-based allowance trading program or any combination of cost-effective emission reduction strategies. The bill also includes new mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles and new powerplants, along with a new energy efficiency performance standard. The bill would establish a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and a new low-carbon generation requirement and trading program. S. 317, introduced by Senator Feinstein, would cap greenhouse gas emissions from electric generators over 25 megawatts. Beginning in 2011, affected generators would be capped at their 2006 levels, declining to 2001 levels by 2015. After that, the emission cap would decline 1% annually until 2020, when the rate of decline would increase to 1.5%. The allowance trading program includes an allocation scheme that provides for an increasing percentage of all allowances to be auctioned, with 100% auctioning in 2036 and thereafter. The cap-and-trade program allows some of an entity's reduction requirement to be meet with credits obtained from foreign sources and a variety of other activities specified in the bill. H.R. 620, introduced by Representative Olver, is a substantially modified version of S. 280. Using the same basic structure as S. 280, the emission caps under H.R. 620 are more stringent. Reductions from affected sectors (electric generation, transportation, industrial, and commercial) would be set at 2004 levels in 2012 and then steadily decline until the cap is equal to about one-fourth of facilities' 2004 levels. Although H.R. 620 permits affected entities to comply with the reduction requirements with credits from foreign sources, sequestration, and reductions from non-covered entities, these sources are limited to 15% of the source's reduction requirement.

Appendix 1.

Comparison of Key Provisions of Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bills

Topic
S. 280 (Lieberman)
S. 309 (Sanders)
S. 317 (Feinstein)
H.R. 620 (Olver)
Emission reduction/ limitation scheme Absolute cap on total emissions from all covered entities in the electric power, transportation, industry, and commercial sectors. Absolute cap on total emissions economy-wide. Absolute cap on total emissions from covered electric generators. Absolute cap on total emissions from all covered entities in the electric power, transportation, industry, and commercial sectors.
Specific emissions limits Beginning in 2012, emissions from covered entities are capped at 6.13 billion metric tons, minus 2012 emissions from non-covered entities.
Beginning in 2020, emission cap declines to 5.239 billion metric tons, minus 2020 emissions from non-covered entities.
Beginning in 2030, emission cap declines to 4.1billion metric tons, minus 2030 emissions from non-covered entities.
Beginning in 2050, emission cap further declines to 2.096 billion metric tons, minus annual emissions from non-covered entities.
Beginning in 2010, emissions economy-wide to be reduced 2% annually.
Beginning in 2020, emission cap on economy-wide basis set at 1990 level, with declining emission caps of 26.7% below 1990 levels in 2030 and 53.3% in 2040.
Beginning in 2050, emission cap set at 80% below 1990 levels.
Beginning in 2011, emissions from affected electric generators capped at 2006 levels.
Beginning in 2015, emissions from affected electric generators capped at their 2001 levels, declining 1% annually until 2020.
Beginning in 2020, emission cap declines 1.5% annually.
Beginning in 2012, emissions from covered entities are capped at 6.15 billion metric tons, minus 2012 emissions from non-covered entities.
Beginning in 2020, emission cap declines to 5.232 billion metric tons, minus 2020 emissions from non-covered entities.
Beginning in 2030, emission cap declines to 3.858 billion metric tons, minus 2030 emissions from non-covered entities.
Beginning in 2050, emission cap further declines to 1.504 billion metric tons, minus annual emissions from non-covered entities.
Greenhouse gases defined Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Same six gases as S. 280. Same six gases as S. 280. Same six gases as S. 280.
Covered entities In metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents: any electric power, industrial, or commercial entity that emits over 10,000 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent annually from any single facility owned by the entity; any refiner or importer of petroleum products for transportation use that, when combusted, will emit over 10,000 metric tons annually; and any importer or producer of HFCs, PFCs, or SF6 that, when used, will emit over 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. EPA promulgates rule within two years of enactment that applies the most cost-effective reduction options on sources or sectors to achieve reduction goals. Any fossil fuel-fired electric generating facility that has a capacity of greater than 25 megawatts and generates electricity for sale, including cogeneration and government-owned facilities. In metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents: any electric power, industrial, or commercial entity that emits over 10,000 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent annually from any single facility owned by the entity; any refiner or importer of petroleum products for transportation use that, when combusted, will emit over 10,000 metric tons annually; and any importer or producer of HFCs, PFCs, or SF6 that, when used, will emit over 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
Responsible agency Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
General allocating and implementing strategy A tradeable allowance system is established: EPA shall determine allocations based on several economic, equity, and sector-specific criteria, including economic efficiency, competitive effects, and impact on consumers. Allowances are to be allocated upstream to refiners and importers of transportation fuel, along with producers of HFCs, PFCs, and SF6, and downstream to electric generation, industrial, and commercial entities.
Allocations to covered entities are provided at no cost.
Tradeable allowance system permitted. In implementing reduction program, EPA shall select the most cost-effective emission reduction strategies.
EPA shall allocate to various sectors and interests any allowances that are not allocated to affected entities, including households, dislocated workers, energy efficiency and renewable energy activities, sequestration activities, and ecosystem protection activities.
Tradeable allowance system is established. Allocations to existing sources based on historic electricity output, and includes allowance allocations for incremental nuclear capacity and renewable energy, along with sequestration and early action provisions.
From 2011 on, an increasing percentage of all allowances are to be auctioned, with 100% of allowances auctioned in 2036 and thereafter.
A tradeable allowance system is established: EPA shall determine allocations based on several economic, equity, and sector-specific criteria, including economic efficiency, competitive effects, and impact on consumers. Allowances are to be allocated upstream to refiners and importers of transportation fuel, along with producers of HFCs, PFCs, and SF6, and downstream to electric generation, industrial, and commercial entities.
Allocations to covered entities are provided at no cost.
Public sale/auction of allowances EPA shall determine the number of allowances allocated to the Climate Change Credit Corporation (CCCC) (established by the bill).
EPA shall allocate to the CCCC allowances before 2012 to auction to raise revenue for technology deployment and dissemination.
The CCCC may buy and sell allowances, and use the proceeds to reduce costs borne by consumers and other purposes. (See “Revenue recycling” below.)
EPA may choose to provide for trustees to sell allowances for the benefit of entities eligible to receive assistance under the proposal (see above). From 2011 on, an increasing percentage of all allowances are to be auctioned, with 100% of allowances auctioned in 2036 and thereafter.
Revenues from the auction are to be deposited in the Climate Action Trust Fund created by the Department of the Treasury.
EPA shall determine the number of allowances allocated to the Climate Change Credit Corporation (CCCC) (established by the bill).
The CCCC may buy and sell allowances, and use the proceeds to reduce costs borne by consumers and other purposes. (See “Revenue recycling” below.)
Cost-limiting safety valve No explicit provision. No explicit provision.
However, if the President determines a national security emergency exists, the President may temporarily adjust, suspend, or waive any regulation promulgated under this program (subject to judicial review).
No explicit provision.
However, limited borrowing against future reductions is permitted if EPA determines allowance prices have reached and sustained a level that is or will cause significant harm to the U.S. economy. Also, EPA may increase to 50% the share of international credits that can be used in such cases.
No explicit provision.
Other market trading system features Up to 30% of required reductions may be achieved through credits obtained through pre-certified international emissions trading programs, approved reduction projects in developing countries, domestic carbon sequestration, and reductions from non-covered entities.
Borrowing against future reductions is permitted.
Market trading systems incorporated into Renewable Portfolio Standard and new low-carbon generation requirement. Up to 25% (50% for new affected units) of required reductions may be achieved with credits obtained through EPA-approved foreign government programs developed under United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) protocols.
Limited borrowing against future reductions is permitted if EPA determines allowance prices have reached and sustained a level that is causing or will cause significant harm to the U.S. economy. Also, EPA may increase to 50% the share of international credits that can be used in such cases.
Up to 15% of required reductions may be achieved through credits obtained through pre-certified international emissions trading programs, approved reduction projects in developing countries, domestic carbon sequestration, and reductions from non-covered entities.
Borrowing against future reductions is permitted.
Banking Banking of allowances is permitted; allowances may be saved for use in future years. No specific prohibition on banking. Banking of allowances is permitted; allowances may be saved for use in future years. Banking of allowances is permitted; allowances may be saved for use in future years.
Early reduction credits and bonus credits Entities with registered emission reductions achieved before 2012 may receive allowances for them, including reductions achieved under more stringent mandatory state programs.
For the time period 2012-2017, entities that have entered into an agreement with EPA to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2012 are entitled to additional allowances to cover their additional reductions and are allowed to achieve 40% of their reduction requirement (as opposed to 30%; see above) through international emissions trading and projects, sequestration, or reductions by non-covered entities.
Reductions previously achieved under state programs that are at least as stringent as a federal trading program may be recognized by the federal program.
Entities that demonstrate reductions achieved early (but not before 1992) that are as verifiable as reductions under a federal trading program may be recognized by the federal program.
Entities with reductions achieved from 2000 through 2010 shall receive credits under specific criteria, including EPA rules that ensure reductions are real, additional, verifiable, enforceable, and permanent, and that they were reported under either 1605(b) of the 1992 Energy Policy Act, or according to a state or regional registry. Quantity of credits given is limited to 10% of the 2011 allowance allocation. Entities with registered emission reductions achieved before 2012 may receive allowances for them.
For the time period 2012-2017, entities that have entered into an agreement with EPA to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2012 are entitled to additional allowances to cover their additional reductions and are allowed to achieve 35% of their reduction requirement (as opposed to 15%; see above) through international emissions trading and projects, sequestration, or reductions by non-covered entities.
Revenue recycling Revenues generated by allowance auctions and trading proceeds are received by a new Climate Change Credit Corporation (CCCC). Activities to be funded include mechanisms to reduce consumer costs and to assist dislocated workers, low-income persons, and affected communities, along with programs to encourage deployment of new technology and wildlife restoration. Allocations to the CCCC are to be determined by EPA based on the funding needs of the advanced technologies demonstration and deployment programs. Further, at least 50% of revenue received must be used for technology deployment. Allowances may be allocated by EPA to households, dislocated workers, energy efficiency and renewable energy activities, sequestration activities, and ecosystem protection activities. Revenues generated from the auction are to be deposited in the Climate Action Trust Fund created by the Department of the Treasury. Activities to be funded include an Innovative Low-and Zero-emitting Carbon Technologies Program, a Clean Coal Technologies Program, and an Energy Efficiency Technology Program, along with research and development.
Adaption and mitigation activities to be funded include affected workers and communities, and fish and wildlife habitat.
Revenues generated by allowance auctions and trading proceeds are received by a new Climate Change Credit Corporation (CCCC). Activities to be funded include mechanisms to reduce consumer costs and to assist dislocated workers and affected communities, along with programs to encourage deployment of new technology and wildlife restoration.
Penalty for non-compliance Excess emission penalties are equal to three times the market price for allowances on the last day of the year at issue. Existing enforcement provisions of Section 113 of the Clean Air Act are extended to program. $100 per excess ton indexed to inflation plus a 1.3 to 1 offset from future emissions allowances. If the market price for an allowance exceeds $60, the penalty is $200 per excess ton, adjusted for inflation. Excess emission penalties are equal to three times the market price for allowances on the last day of the year at issue.
Other key provisions Provisions include studies of research on abrupt climate change and impact of climate change on the world's poor, among others, and creation of a national greenhouse gas database.
A new Innovation Infrastructure is created, along with program initiatives to promote less carbon-intensive technology, adaption, sequestration, and related activities.
Requires periodic review of target adequacy by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.
Provisions include mandatory greenhouse gas emission standards for vehicles by 2010, for new electric powerplants that begin operation after December 31, 2011, and a new energy efficiency performance standard.
Establishes a Renewable Portfolio Standard and credit program.
Establishes a new low-carbon generation requirement and trading program.
Requires periodic review of target adequacy by the National Academy of Sciences.
Establishes program to encourage offsets from the agricultural sector. Offset credits available for agricultural, forestry, grazing, and wetlands management, sequestration projects, or practices that meet specific criteria in the proposal.
Offset credits also available for approved emission reduction offset projects from a variety of activities listed in the proposal.
Requires periodic review of target adequacy by EPA taking into account the recommendations of a newly established Climate Science Advisory Panel.
Provisions include studies of the impact of climate change on coastal ecosystems and communities, and the world's poor, among others; assessment of adaptation technologies; and creation of a national greenhouse gas database.
Requires periodic review of target adequacy by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.

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February 8, 2007 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, Governance/Management, International, Legislation, North America, Sustainability, US | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Congress and Global Warming

National Journal reports in a poll of their congressional "insiders" that 95% of the Democrats and only 13% of the Republicans believe its been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that global warming is caused by manmade problems.  This poll proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the National Journal doesn't know how to ask an intelligent question. congress on global warming  The poll contains more interesting information on preferred policy alternatives.

February 8, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Ecological Restoration

Trying to keep on top of developments in ecological restoration.
Consider:

2nd National Conference on Ecosystem Restoration
April 23-27, 2007
Kansas City, Missouri

NCER features more than 250 speakers and 200 poster presentations covering the latest in ecosystem restoration issues we're facing across the country. The conference also entails several special sessions, including Restoration Coffee Houses to promote dialogue amongst attendees, as well as plenary presentations on the 2007 Farm Bill as a Potential Tool for Ecosystem Restoration, Mississippi River Basin Restoration, Partnering for Sustainable Success, and Priorities and Measures for Restoration plus sessions on ecosystem design & implementation, restorations efforts in San Francisco area, and a panel session on balancing economic development & environmental quality
Conference Registration and Information

February 8, 2007 in Biodiversity, Environmental Assessment, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, Land Use, Law, Legislation, North America, Physical Science, Sustainability, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Rapanos ripples

Perhaps the distinction between the plurality opinion and Justice Kennedy's concurrence in Rapanos may not matter:

Newslink report:
Simsbury-Avon Preservation Soc., LLC v. Metacon Gun Club, Inc., (D.Conn.) In deciding whether a pond located on a gun club's property constituted "navigable waters" of the United States under the Clean Water Act (CWA), a district court considered both the test established by the plurality in Rapanos v. U.S., and the test established by Justice Kennedy's concurrence in that case. The pond did not constitute "navigable waters" under the plurality's test, since any surface connection between the pond and a river was not continuous. Nor did it constitute "navigable waters" under Justice Kennedy's test, since data from testing was inconclusive as to the effect of lead from the shooting range on the river.

February 6, 2007 in Cases, Governance/Management, Law, Sustainability, US, Water Quality | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

2007 Drink Water for Life

Drink Water for Life Challenge

As readers know, the royalties of this blog are now devoted to international NGOs providing safe, clean drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education.

The 7th Millennium Development Goal seeks to cut in half the number of people without those essentials by 2015. Current estimates are that it will cost about $16 billion additional per year until 2015 to accomplish that goal.  I find it unbelievable that we cannot globally achieve that goal, especially when unnecessary deaths from water-borne diseases exceed 2 million, mostly children, each year.  That's one child every 15 seconds.

For those of you who are members of faith-based communities, I suggest that you sponsor a DRINK WATER FOR LIFE challenge associated with your congregation.  Drink water instead of lattes (sodas, bottled water, coffee, alcohol).  Do it for Lent (or your appropriate analogous spiritual break).  Get your friends, your synagogue or church, school or workplace to do the same.  Collect the money you save, gather it together on  Easter (or whatever date makes sense in your faith tradition), put it in a Water Fund, and send it to one of the organizations that do this work.  With just $5000, an entire village of 200 - 500 people can be supplied with safe, clean, sustainable drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene education. 

If you need addresses of faith-based organization who do this work, or secular charitable organizations who do this work, let me know.  If you need flyers explaining the problem, let me know.  Together we can make a difference.

February 6, 2007 in Asia, Australia, Biodiversity, Cases, Climate Change, Constitutional Law, Economics, Energy, Environmental Assessment, EU, Forests/Timber, Governance/Management, International, Land Use, Law, Legislation, Mining, North America, Physical Science, Social Science, South America, Sustainability, Toxic and Hazardous Substances, US, Water Quality, Water Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 5, 2007

EU Seeks to Lead World Climate Policy by Committing to a Unilateral Cut of 20% by 2020 and Supporting an International Agreement for 30% by 2020

Last month, the European Commission proposed a comprehensive package of measures to establish a new Energy Policy for Europe to combat climate change and boost the EU's energy security and competitiveness. The proposal set ambitious targets on greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy, creates a true internal market for energy, and strengthens energy regulation. The Commission supports an international agreement on climate change of a 30% cut in emissions from developed countries by 2020. Underscoring that commitment, the Commission proposes that the European Union commit now to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20% by 2020, in particular through energy measures.

According to the Commission:

Europe faces real challenges. There is a more than 50% chance that global temperatures will rise during this century by more than 5°C. On current projections, energy and transport policies would mean that rather than falling, EU emissions would increase by around 5% by 2030. With current trends and policies the EU's energy import dependence will jump from 50% of total EU energy consumption today to 65% in 2030. In addition, the internal energy market remains incomplete which prevents EU citizens and the EU economy from receiving the full benefits of energy liberalisation.

The three "central pillars" of the proposal are described by the Commission as follows:

1. A true Internal Energy Market

The aim is to give real choice for EU energy users, whether citizens or businesses, and to trigger the huge investments needed in energy. The single market is good not just for competitiveness, but also sustainability and security.

The competition sector enquiry (see IP/07/26) and the internal market communication show that further action is required to deliver these aims through a clearer separation of energy production from energy distribution. It also calls for stronger independent regulatory control, taking into account the European market, as well as national measures to deliver on the European Union's target of 10% minimum interconnection levels, by identifying key bottlenecks and appointing coordinators.

2. Accelerating the shift to low carbon energy

The Commission proposes to maintain the EU's position as a world leader in renewable energy, by proposing a binding target of 20% of its overall energy mix will be sourced from renewable energy by 2020. This will require a massive growth in all three renewable energy sectors: electricity, biofuels and heating and cooling. This renewables target will be supplemented by a minimum target for biofuels of 10%. In addition, a 2007 renewables legislative package will include specific measures to facilitate the market penetration of both biofuels and heating and cooling.

Research is also crucial to lower the cost of clean energy and to put EU industry at the forefront of the rapidly growing low carbon technology sector. To meet these objectives, the Commission will propose a strategic European Energy Technology Plan. The European Union will also increase by at least 50% its annual spending on energy research for the next seven years.

At present, nuclear electricity makes up 14% of EU energy consumption and 30% of EU electricity. The Commission proposals underline that it is for each member state to decide whether or not to rely on nuclear electricity. The Commission recommends that where the level of nuclear energy reduces in the EU this must be offset by the introduction of other low-carbon energy sources otherwise the objective of cutting greenhouse gas emissions will become even more challenging.

3. Energy efficiency

The Commission reiterates the objective of saving 20% of total primary energy consumption by 2020. If successful, this would mean that by 2020 the EU would use approximately 13% less energy than today, saving 100 billion euro and around 780 tonnes of CO2 each year.

The Commission proposes that the use of fuel efficient vehicles for transport is accelerated; tougher standards and better labelling on appliances; improved energy performance of the EU's existing buildings and improved efficiency of heat and electricity generation, transmission and distribution. The Commission also proposes a new international agreement on energy efficiency.

The proposals centred on these three pillars will need to be underpinned by a coherent and credible external policy

An international Energy Policy where the EU speaks with one voice

The European Union cannot achieve its energy and climate change objectives on its own. It needs to work with both developed and developing countries and energy consumers and producers.  The European Union will develop effective solidarity mechanisms to deal with any energy supply crisis and actively develop a common external energy policy to increasingly "speak with one voice" with third countries. It will endeavour to develop real energy partnerships with suppliers based on transparency, predictability and reciprocity. 

Drawing on the consultation process on its Green Paper issued in 2006, the Commission has already made progress towards a more coherent external energy policy as demonstrated by the creation of a network of energy security correspondents. The Commission proposes a whole series of concrete measures to strengthen international agreements including the Energy Charter Treaty, post-Kyoto climate regime and extension of emissions trading to global partners and further extend bilateral agreements with third countries so that energy becomes an integral part of all external EU relations and especially of the European Neighbourhood Policy. As major new initiatives the Commission proposes to develop a comprehensive Africa-Europe partnership and an international agreement on energy efficiency.

Concrete action is required urgently. Taken together, the sector enquiry, strategic review and action plan represent the core of a proposed new European Energy Policy. This process seeks to move from principles into concrete legislative proposals. The Commission will seek endorsement of the energy and climate change proposals during the Spring European Council and will come forward with legislation in light of these discussions.

All the documents can be found at the following addresses:

http://europa.eu/press_room/presspacks/energy/index_en.htm

February 5, 2007 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, EU, Governance/Management, International, Legislation, Sustainability | Permalink | TrackBack (0)