L Prize: LED Bulb Competition

Philips Electronics LED bulb Source: Kimberly Janeway's blog at consumerreports.org

On the NPR show, Science Friday, it dedicated a whole show to the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prizes (L Prize) Competition and how Phillips Electronics is the first company to enter.  The guest speaker for this show was Jim Brodrick, Lighting Program Manager for the Building Technologies Program (with DOE).  Brodrick was very pleased to have Philips summit their bulb because he believes that this will spur other companies to enter. Continue reading

US China Joint Statement on energy cooperation

Check out the full text of the U.S. China Joint Statement at CBS

The joint statement issued tonight from beijing has a remarkable number of agreements in it.  But I only want to discuss the implications of the climate and energy agreements.  (Well, first, I want to note that the Yuan isn’t budging yet, but a few barbs seem to have flown over recent US protectionism)

If we are to take this statement at its word, it suggests that the US is backing off its Bush era strategy of pitting US opposition to Kyoto  on the failure to include binding targets for China.  The nod to the Bali Action Plan, UNFCCC and even quoting the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” suggest that Obama is willing to play ball in a game where Annex I distinctions still rule.  The distinction is spelled out even more clearly in the terms “emission reduction targets of developed countries and nationally appropriate mitigation actions of developing countries”.

I am still skeptical that Obama’s concession/posturing will mean anything for the outcome of Copenhagen, or that it could possible endure the US domestic ratification process if it ever made it that far.  The statement stalls well short of promising that the emission reductions will be deep or putting a $$ on the adaptation and developing country assistance.  But the change in tone and lack of offense from Obama for US climate positions makes a convincing show that the President thinks the issue deserves some sacrifices.

Here is the excerpt directly speaking to climate change negotiations: Continue reading

Copenhagen posturing

Obama-meets-with-UN-SecretaryThe last round of negotiations prior to the Copenhagen Summit in Barcelona fizzled to a message of decreased expectations.  This has set the table for rapid political posturing from the US.  On Tuesday the Wall Street Journal quoted several key Senators, including climate bill sponsor Sen. Kerry, with various statements postponing the possibility of US domestic climate legislation until next year.  Thursday the Washington Post broke a story that the Obama administration is feeling out the possibility for interim agreements in lieu of a formal treaty in December.  This morning the first official news of President’s Asia trip is of an agreement with Japan that both countries will commit to decreasing GHG emissions by 80% by 2050 with global reductions of 50% by mid century.  With China and India on schedule for later in the trip it is probable that climate will come up again, although balance of trade and Yuan/$ exchange is likely to dominate the conversation (for more on expected China content check out Robert Borosage on Huff Post).

It seems to this writer that Obama is guarding his international reputation more than setting a clear signal that the US is ready to engage in international climate agreements.  Continue reading

Manure to Electricity

There is concrete evidence that climate change is mainly due to anthropogenic actions. We are emerging into a world where consumers are becoming more concerned on where their food is coming from and the impacts that food production has on the environment.  Recently, cattle farmers are targeted in terms of rearing practices and amount of methane gas cattle emit.  Although, methane is a natural by-product from a cow, there are increasing concerns with the high demand of beef and therefore an unhealthy amount of cattle that are reared to meet the beef consumption—especially in the United States.   Continue reading

The U.S. and China on Climate Change: Who Has the Better Hand?

us-china

Source: ipkitten.blogspot.com

As President Obama gears up to make his first presidential trip to China later this month, environmental groups and other research organizations are becoming increasingly more vocal regarding the need for greater cooperation between China and the United States on the issue of climate change.

Three prominent American organizations, the Asia Society, the Center for American Progress, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (N.R.D.C.) all agree that the two countries should make climate change a top priority. In their opinion, China and the U.S. should focus on two aspects of climate change mitigation: the use of carbon capture technology and the creation of a market for carbon.

These organizations lay a solid foundation for why China and the U.S. need to pay more attention to climate change, and they also make a strong case for why the two countries should work together on the issue. However, the question remains: will the two countries tackle climate change during President Obama’s upcoming visit and come to some sort of agreement before heading into Copenhagen, or will the issue take a back seat to other topics as is often the case during these “head of state” meetings? Continue reading

Obama Sets Energy Innovation as International Competition

I had the very good fortune to attend President Obama’s clean energy speech at MIT yesterday.  I was extremely excited to be in the room, yet left disappointed in the lack of new commitments and jingoistic tone set by President Obama.

The theme of the speech was innovation, geared toward the research oriented host, MIT.  Much was made of the pioneering identity of Americans, and our capacity for discovery and leadership.  The frontier for the 21st century is the transition to clean energy.  Obama expressed a certainty that the US has not lost its capacity to lead innovation, and that we can maintain world economic dominance by investing in clean energy.  He referred to clean energy as a “peaceful competition” that will determine the leaders of the global economy.  His belief that clean energy technology is the key to economic prosperity was inspiring and reassuring to me.

My concern is that the speech set Americans apart from the rest of the world in a competition, rather than affirming the need for global cooperation. Continue reading

NAS report on “Hidden Costs”

Coal smoke

The National Academy of Sciences released an extensive report today that estimates some of the externalities of energy production and consumption.  The report is limited to public health expenses incurred, leaving out costs related to ecosystem damages or climate change.  The unpaid costs for health related to energy were $120 billion.   The breakdown of sources is enlightening.  Coal powered electricity accounted for the biggest share followed by vehicles at $62 billion and $56 billion respectively.  The report also assigns 43% of coals $62 billion to about 40 of the dirtiest emitters.  The health costsfor coal equate to an unpaid cost of 3.2 cents/kwh.