Global environmental challenges
At issue is the decision by American Electric Power to put its plans for carbon capture and storage on hold, due to the weak economy and the lack of a U.S. plan to limit emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide. Read the Reuters story about it here.
Carbon capture and storage, or CCS for short, has been promoted as a way to make electricity from domestic coal without unduly raising the level of carbon in the atmosphere. Instead of sending the carbon dioxide that results from burning coal up a smokestack and into the air, the plan was to bury it underground. But that costs money and requires regulatory guarantees, and neither are imminent in the United States. Legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions bogged down on Capitol Hill a year ago and has not been re-introduced.
Sarah Forbes of World Resources Institute called AEP’s decision “a surprise, but not a shock.”
Another winter storm is brewing in Middle America. So what else is new?
It’s been one spate of severe weather after another even before 2011 began. And you would expect those skeptical of climate change to capitalize on the cold snap by questioning whether human-spurred global warming is a real deal.
Strangely enough, climate skeptics appear to be less vocal than they were last year, when Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma built an igloo as a blizzard blew through Washington DC, and dubbed it “Al Gore’s new home.” If it’s so cold, the argument went, how can there be global warming?
from Mario Di Simine:
The debate over lowering greenhouse gas emissions is sometimes depicted as a fight between environmental groups concerned over the health of the planet and businesses concerned about economic growth and bottom-line erosion.
Occasionally, though, there is a meeting of like minds between the two.
The WWF has a program in which it partners with companies to target emissions reductions. The Climate Savers program is an agreement between the WWF and its partner companies to lay out targets and set out projects to meet those goals.
from Mario Di Simine:
Some businesses in the United States will have to reinvent themselves as the Obama administration moves to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but they'll be better off in the long run, Pedro Chidichimo, president of JohnsonDiversey EMA, told Reuters.com on Thursday.
Despite the inevitable short-term pain, Chidichimo said that carbon footprint reductions simply have good bottom-line implications for businesses.
Natural gas is regarded as a relatively clean source of energy but there is mounting evidence that it has a dirty side.
The biggest business lobby in the United States wants to hold a public hearing “to put the science of global warming on trial,” The Los Angeles Times reports.
from Tales from the Trail:
Okay, so it's August in Washington. It's hot. Congress has gone home. Even the summer interns are packing up and getting out of town. So it's not surprising that top members of the Obama administration might be ready for a road trip.
That's basically what the White House announced in a statement headlined: "Obama Administration Officials Travel America, Talk Clean Energy Economy." President Obama went to Indiana to announce $2.4 billion in funding for advanced battery and electric drive projects; Energy Secretary Steven Chu headed for Minnesota to look at renewable energy projects and North Carolina to announce a big grant to a lithium battery firm, finishing up the week in Massachusetts to talk about clean energy jobs at Harvard; Interior Secretary Ken Salazar went to a solar panel company in Colorado; EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson was in Florida and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke traveled to Missouri.
What’s the real cost of global warming? More to the point, how much would you — the person reading this blog — be comfortable paying to stave off the worse ravages of climate change? A hundred bucks to keep the rising seas out of your back yard? A thousand to replenish mountain snowpack? Maybe a few dollars to put more trees back in the rainforest?
Luckily, there’s no shortage of estimates of how much each individual in the United States might have to pay to curb the greenhouse emissions that spur climate change. One particularly pertinent estimate was delivered on Capitol Hill by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at a Senate hearing geared to send the message that, yes, the United States Congress is getting serious about tackling the problem.
The Obama administration’s move to declare climate-warming carbon pollution a danger to human health was quickly hailed by environmental groups and leading liberals as a long-overdue shift from the Bush era and a historic first step toward regulating greenhouse gas emissions.
In making the announcement, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson said that solving the problem would not only clean up the air but also “create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”
The U.S. is out to create a clean-air zone around its coastlines, targeting diesel ships that look pretty dirty from shore. The cost will be only a penny per pair of sneakers, the EPA advises. Of course the cost of shoes can sneak up on you — the total is $3.2 billion per year by 2020. Health savings will more than compensate for costs, they say.
The idea of who should pay for carbon in the course of trade is getting a bit hazier, it seems. China only a couple of weeks ago said importers should pay for the carbon costs of goods they buy which are produced in China. The thinking largely has been you-make-it-you-pay-for-the-carbon, but maybe it will become you-bought-it-you-bought-the-carbon. It’s all up for grabs as nations talk about what to do once the Kyoto protocol runs out in 2012. At least the U.S. and China are making nice noises at each other as discussions in Germany get under way.