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)

Behavioral Economics and Climate Change Policy

Here's a new paper from John Gowdy that is a useful tonic to more traditional neoclassical economic perspective popular among many policy analysts. Behavioral_economics_and_climate_change_policy.pdf

 

Abstract: The policy recommendations of most economists are based on the rational actor model of human behavior. Behavior is assumed to be self-regarding, preferences are assumed to be stable, and decisions are assumed to be unaffected by social context or frame of reference. The related fields of behavioral economics, game theory, and neuroscience have confirmed that human behavior is other regarding, and that people exhibit systematic patterns of decision-making that are "irrational" according to the standard behavioral model. This paper takes the position that it is these "irrational" patterns of behavior that uniquely define human decision making and that effective economic policies must take these behaviors as the starting point. This argument is supported by game theory experiments involving humans, closely related primates, and other animals with more limited cognitive ability. The policy focus of the paper is global climate change. The research surveyed in this paper suggests that the standard economic approach to climate change policy, with its almost exclusive emphasis on rational responses to monetary incentives, is seriously flawed. In fact, monetary incentives may actually be counter-productive. Humans are unique among animal species in their ability to cooperate across cultures, geographical space and generations. Tapping into this uniquely human attribute, and understanding how cooperation is enforced, holds the key to limiting the potentially calamitous effects of global climate change.

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

Global Climate Change Summit

Brookings scholar William Antholis is pushing UN Director General Ban's idea of a global climate change summit, especially a head of state level meeting.  From the White House's background documents supporting Bush's State of the Union comments, the Bush administration still seems unlikely to play a constructive role in world discussion -- particularly if we are talking about Bush personally attending a head of state meeting.  Ethanol is not the answer -- although it, like gas, can play a bit role as transition energy supplies, the more promising, mid-term sources are conservation,  wind, perhaps clean coal, and plug-ins using green electricity.

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

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Exxon Mobil Responds to AEI Solicitation of Skeptical Review

Original post on 2/2; revised post 2/4

Ken Cohen of Exxon Mobil responded in a conference call Friday to reports [Guardian and CNN stories excerpted below] that American Enterprise Institute, which has long received Exxon Mobil funding, has sought scientists to dispute and downplay the scientific conclusions of the 4th IPCC climate science report released yesterday. 

Cohen indicated that Exxon Mobil had no knowledge that AEI was soliciting scientists to comment upon the IPCC Assessment and that it did not condone any attempt to dispute or downplay the 4th IPCC assessment.  The science "is what it is."  Cohen called the assessment "the best compilation of thinking on the subject."  Cohen indicated that science shows global temperatures are rising, carbon dioxide levels are rising, the increase in global temperatures is linked to increasing carbon dioxide levels, and that emissions from fossil fuels have contributed to those levels.  The science shows that and the question is no longer whether global warming is being caused by human activity, including fossil fuel emissions and land use patterns, but "what is the right policy response to that reality?"  Cohen notes that Exxon Mobil scientists have been involved in the IPCC process.  Cohen also provided Exxon Mobil's comment on the 4th_assessment_response

The initial CNN report incorrectly attributed the letter soliciting reviews of the IPCC 4th Assessment to ExxonMobil, rather than AEI.  However, the current CNN report accurately reports that the letter was from AEI.  According to Exxon Mobil's Cohen, the media have not contacted Exxon prior to publishing their reports.

The news reports on the AEI funding issue underscore the difficulty facing ExxonMobil as it attempts to convince policymakers and the public that it is serious about global warming solutions.

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February 4, 2007 in Climate Change, Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, International, Law, Legislation, Physical Science, Sustainability, US | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

Sea Level Change Underestimated by IPCC Projections

Seas Rising Faster than U.N. Predicts

Feb. 2, 2007

PARIS - Sea levels are rising faster than predicted amid global warming, a group of scientists said on Thursday in a challenge to the U.N.'s climate panel which is set to issue a report toning down the threat of rising oceans. The researchers -- from the United States, Germany, France, Australia and Britain -- wrote in the journal Science that seas have been edging up more rapidly since 1990 than at any time in more than a century, outpacing computer projections.

The data now available raise concerns that the climate system, in particular sea level, may be responding more quickly than climate models indicate," Stefan Ramstorf of Germany's Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and co-authors wrote.

Still, they said it was too early to say for sure that the accelerated rise was linked to greenhouse gases from human burning of fossil fuels. It might, they said, be caused by some natural climate variation.

Rising seas, widely linked to a warming stoked by emissions of greenhouse gases, could swamp low-lying Pacific islands, large tracts of Bangladesh or the southern United States and threaten cities from Shanghai to Buenos Aires.

And governments want to plan how to confront a long-term threat that could cause billions of dollars in damage.

The scientists said the rises seemed to exceed projections made in 2001 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which said sea levels were likely to rise by between 9 cm and 88 cm (3.5-34.6 inches) by 2100.

But the Science article comes on the eve of a new IPCC report, to be released in Paris, set to cut the likely range of rises to between 28 cm and 43 cm this century, based on six computer models.

HEAT

The IPCC says the range is narrower because of cuts in predictions of how quickly the oceans absorb heat -- water gets bigger as it warms. It also projects that Antarctica, by far the biggest store of frozen ice, will stay too cold to melt.

The experts writing in Science, including NASA's James Hansen, said sea levels rose by 3.3 mm (0.1299 inch) a year from 1993-2006, according to satellite measurements, against an IPCC best estimate in 2001 of below 2 mm a year.

Sea levels rose 17 cm in the 20th century. The 1993-2006 rate, if it lasted a century, would work out at 33 centimetres but many models project a quickening pace because of a buildup of greenhouse gases.

Previous projections, as summarised by the IPCC, have not exaggerated but may in some respects even have underestimated the change, in particular for sea level," the scientists wrote.

Rahmstorf declined give his best estimate of how far sea levels would rise -- he wrote a report in December saying that observations of past data indicated that seas could rise by 50-140 cms by 2100, far higher than IPCC projections.

Story by Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

February 4, 2007 in Climate Change | Permalink | TrackBack (0)