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All energy and climate solutions are local

Chris Nelder, Smart Planet
The climate movement isn’t dead; it’s just gone underground.

The United Nations climate summit in Rio de Janeiro ended with participants gnashing their teeth and issuing a long string of condemnations, calling the final report the “longest suicide note in history,” “a failure of epic proportions,” and “a colossal failure of leadership and vision from diplomats.” The inability of world governments to come to any binding agreements after two decades of negotiations, wrote Mark McDonald for the New York Times, “shined the spotlight on global timidity.”

Color me unsurprised.

I have long maintained that creating policy around emissions gets the problem backward, by focusing on what comes out of the tailpipe instead of what goes into the engine. We should be incentivizing solutions, not penalizing emissions, because carrots harness human desire and ingenuity, while sticks merely arouse resistance. Further, it makes no sense to simply clamp down on fossil-fuel emissions without replacing the displaced energy. This is why I have advocated a feed-in tariff as the best policy approach, over alternatives like cap-and-trade.

Now that some 50,000 people have flown home in disgust (generating an estimated 300 tons of CO2 in the process) after the Rio summit, perhaps we can put an end to this futile search to get a world of 6.8 billion people to agree on a single target. Perhaps we can finally start focusing our attentions on solutions that work, right now, at home…
(27 June 2012)

Climate Change is Simple

David Roberts, TEDx

(12 June 2012)
David Roberts says in his related column at Grist “This talk was a consequence of me talking smack on Twitter. I said I could explain climate change in 15 minutes and was then invited to do so. D’oh!”

Court ruling to shift greenhouse gas fight back to Congress

Valerie Volcovici, Reuters
An appeals court decision to uphold proposed federal greenhouse gas rules may shift the fight over regulating the heat-trapping emissions back to Congress, where lawmakers may step up efforts to diminish the EPA’s power or renew efforts to set a price on carbon, experts said.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Monday unanimously ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finding that carbon dioxide is a public danger and the decision to set limits for emissions from cars and light trucks were legal.

The ruling upheld the underpinnings of the Obama administration’s push to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, dealing a blow to the heavy industries including electric utilities and states like Texas who have sought to strip the EPA of its authority.

Despite the legal victory by the EPA, experts are expecting opponents to continue their challenge to the greenhouse gas regulations in Congress…
(28 June 2012)

Relief in Every Window, but Global Worry Too

Elisabeth Rosenthal, New York Times
…Air-conditioning gases are regulated primarily though a 1987 treaty called the Montreal Protocol, created to protect the ozone layer. It has reduced damage to that vital shield, which blocks cancer-causing ultraviolet rays, by mandating the use of progressively more benign gases. The oldest CFC coolants, which are highly damaging to the ozone layer, have been largely eliminated from use; and the newest ones, used widely in industrialized nations, have little or no effect on it.

But these gases have an impact the ozone treaty largely ignores. Pound for pound, they contribute to global warming thousands of times more than does carbon dioxide, the standard greenhouse gas.

The leading scientists in the field have just calculated that if all the equipment entering the world market uses the newest gases currently employed in air-conditioners, up to 27 percent of all global warming will be attributable to those gases by 2050…
(20 June 2012)