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

A Crisis of Democracy

AlGore_03 This past Saturday, I packed into a small Unitarian church with 500 other people to catch a glimpse of former Vice President Al Gore. He came to Harvard Square to discuss his new book, Our Choice, which is a follow-up to  An Inconvenient Truth. With only one short month before Copenhagen, I  jumped at the opportunity to see the Nobel Prize and Oscar winning former Vice President and the de facto leader of the current environmental movement give a speech on the politics of climate change.

Continue reading

Senate Global Warming Bill Is Seeking to Cushion the Impact on Industry

The Senate bill aimed at reducing global warming pollution will initially grant billions of dollars of free emissions permits to utilities and industry but will require the bulk of the money be returned to consumers and taxpayers, according to newly released details.  The bill will also provide a cushion to energy-intensive manufacturing companies to ease the transition to a lower-carbon economy and to help them compete internationally, although the subsidies will disappear over time. The measure also sets a floor and ceiling on the price of permits to emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Continue reading

Fossil Fuel vs. Clean Energy Subsidies

Thanks to the folks at the Environmental Law Institute and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars for putting together a great graphic that shows the breakdown of Federal energy subsidies from 2002-2008 – and and props to David Roberts at Grist.org for drawing my attention to the report. The full report is titled “Estimating U.S. Government to Energy Sources: 2002-2008.” Read it if you want, but the graphic says it all:

Publicly Funding Climate Change