Views on commodities and energy
A U.N. concession to delegates at this week’s climate talks in Bonn to take off jackets and ties due to recent high temperatures may be going to some participants’ heads.
Breaking the back of negotiations for a new climate pact after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012 is proving hard work even though the talks’ chair hopes to have a new negotiating text on the table by the end of the week.
Developing nations are still blaming the rich for global warming and the issue of who will contribute most to climate financing is still a matter for debate.
A year-end meeting in Cancun looms closer and the pressure is on to get the job done.
Yet, the acronyms being bandied around — LULUCF, CDM, AAU, AWG-KP, AWG-LCA, REDD, to name a few — are enough to make your head swim.
German utility RWE – Europe’s fifth-largest power company and the continent’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxcide – has resorted to a new way to counter what it sees as a fundamental misunderstanding about power companies.
Its animated movie – to be shown on TV and in cinemas – is meant to show what the company is really about – and overcome the public’s distaste for an industry whose dominance has allowed it to mete out ever higher power prices.
Eric Wegner, whose company is the largest Internet distributor of the iconic Pop Rocks candy, hopes the government doesn’t have too much of a sweet tooth.
Democrats floated big plans to tackle climate change proposals in the U.S. Congress this week but realistically there will be much more hot air — both from industry and politicians — before this bill is turned into law.
The draft legislation, running hundreds of pages, will now be considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in coming weeks along with all manner of panels. And, oh yes, the Senate, home of the filibuster, will also get to weigh in.
At the heart of of the legislation is Cap and Trade — a panacea for those who believe greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet to dangerous levels and a boon to those who think the sinking economy makes this the dumbest time to anchor industry with more costs.
“This legislation will create millions of clean energy jobs, put America on the path to energy independence, and cut global warming pollution,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman.
Sounds good but Waxman is a Democrat from California, where these ideas are more readily embraced.
Listen to what a guy from Texas thinks: “Tuesday’s cap and trade bill marks a triumph of fear over good sense and science and it couldn’t come at a worse time because it proposes to save the planet by sacrificing the economy,” said Representative Joe Barton, the senior Republican on the energy and commerce panel.
In a cap and trade system, power plants and other industries would need permits for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit. Unused permits could be sold to other companies, but overall emissions would gradually drop.
Under the proposal that uses 2005 as a base year, U.S. carbon emissions would have to be reduced by 20 percent by 2020, 42 percent by 2030 and 83 percent by 2050. Those goals are a tad more aggressive than what President Barack Obama had proposed.
Now let the games begin. Very few seem ready to predict when a climate change bill will pass but most say it won’t be this year — especially if Democrats in Congress decide to give Obama’s health care plans the priority.
So there certainly will be a lot more talk, much of it heated. And one other thing is for certain: each yearly delay will mean the United States, as the world’s largest emitter, will spew another 6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
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Photo Credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer (The Empire State building in New York turned off its lights on March 28 at 8:30 pm local time, joining homes, office towers and landmarks in more than 80 countries that signed up for Earth Hour to raise awareness about climate change); Reuters/Chris Baltimore (An aerial photograph of a power plant in Georgia)