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Climate policy - Nov 27

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Australia's Rudd Gets Straight to Work

Rohan Sullivan, Associated Press
Newly elected leader Kevin Rudd moved quickly Sunday to bring Australia into international talks on fighting global warming, and to head off potentially thorny relations with the United States and key Asian neighbors.

The emphatic victory for Rudd's Labor Party swings Australia toward the political left after almost 12 years of conservative rule, and puts it at odds with key security ally Washington on two crucial policy issues - Iraq and global warming.

The day after sweeping to power in general elections, Rudd went straight into work mode, holding meetings with government officials about the mechanics of signing the Kyoto Protocol on cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
(25 November 2007)
Related from AFP: Then there was one: US now alone as Kyoto holdout.
From Telegraph: Global warming will be first priority, says Rudd

A Guardian commentary:
A decade of John Howard has left a country of timidity, fear and shame

The term "political left" does not seem accurate for mild social democratic politicians like Mr. Rudd, with a program that seems about as leftish as the U.S. Republican Party of 1956. As Richard Flanagan comments: "Rudd's conservative agenda was often difficult to distinguish from Howard's."

No matter, Big Gav is rejoicing over John Howard's defeat: RIP Rodent. And anyone concerned with global warming can only rejoice at the election results. -BA

Cap-and-trade system sets the belching bar low

Patrick Brethour, Globe & Mail
... the arcane world of the cap-and-trade system, for now B.C.'s chief policy tool in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The theoretical economics of cap and trade make sense: Measure today's output, set reduction goals and then allow those who exceed those goals to sell credits to those who can't. The planet wins, and no one is forced into massively expensive capital investments.

But with cap and trade, economics take a back seat to politics. Just how the starting point is determined is a purely political choice. If it is set at an operation's current output, well, Kitimat comes out looking like a prime investment opportunity. The wildly outdated technology at Kitimat becomes an asset, since an upgrade to today's industry standard could drop emissions by a third - in line with B.C.'s overall target.

If Alcan had invested earlier, and spared the atmosphere millions of tonnes of greenhouse gases, it would be in a far less favourable starting position, and would be facing the prospect of significant costs to further reduce its emissions. The meetings with Mr. Penner wouldn't have been quite so pleasant then.

For Mark Jaccard, Simon Fraser University's climate change expert, governments' enthusiasm for the cap-and-trade system is a bit maddening. He and other green-minded economists see it as a great growth industry for lawyers, accountants and lobbyists, but at best a clumsy, roundabout method, at best, for curbing greenhouse gases. "A carbon tax is more economically efficient," he says, since it flows into all types of buying decisions, including those by consumers.
(23 November 2007)

CGD's David Wheeler discusses new website tracking emissions of 50,000 power plants worldwide

OnPoint via E&E TV
As a way to try to spur local action on carbon emissions and climate change, the Center for Global Development recently launched a website,, detailing the emissions of over 50,000 power plants worldwide.

During today's OnPoint, David Wheeler, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development and the creator of, explains how he hopes the information provided by CARMA will be used to create an international emissions policy.

Wheeler highlights regions where emissions are lower and explains what these areas have done to decrease power plant emissions.

He also discusses the relationship between emissions and economy, particularly in China where economic growth has occurred as a result of increasing emissions.
(26 November 2007)

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