On Energy and Geometric Progression

The following video has been labeled “The Most Important Video You’ll Ever See.” Hyperbole? It’s just a lecture on math, given by a Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Colorado-Boulder. It explains how just a 7% annual growth in energy use equals a 100% growth in 10 years. After a few decades, you’ve got a really big number. And a tremendously enormous problem. Watch and learn, please.

[H/T Peter Hufnagel]

Vow What?

After several reports of its demise, the Climate Bill is back on the burner. The president made a speech in its support today at Carnegie Mellon University . If Obama passes this one, he will be known as the President of reanimated zombie bills. Speaking of familiar, Republican support for the bill is no where to be found since Sen. Lindsey Graham backed off from Sen. Kerry’s shadow, but there are a pack of moderates targeted for swinging sides. Mentioning them, Obama said, “The votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months,”

While he had the microphone, he took the time to outline some of his ideas for the legislation. The President said he would like to roll back the oil tax breaks and use that money to invest in our energy independence. This is something that has been talked about during drum circles for over four decades, but this time the talk may become law in the wake of the disaster in the Gulf.

Here is an excerpt from his speech,

And the time has come to aggressively accelerate that transition.  The time has come, once and for all, for this nation to fully embrace a clean energy future.  (Applause.)  Now, that means continuing our unprecedented effort to make everything from our homes and businesses to our cars and trucks more energy-efficient.  It means tapping into our natural gas reserves, and moving ahead with our plan to expand our nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants.  It means rolling back billions of dollars of tax breaks to oil companies so we can prioritize investments in clean energy research and development.
But the only way the transition to clean energy will ultimately succeed is if the private sector is fully invested in this future — if capital comes off the sidelines and the ingenuity of our entrepreneurs is unleashed.  And the only way to do that is by finally putting a price on carbon pollution.
No, many businesses have already embraced this idea because it provides a level of certainty about the future.  And for those that face transition costs, we can help them adjust.  But if we refuse to take into account the full costs of our fossil fuel addiction — if we don’t factor in the environmental costs and the national security costs and the true economic costs — we will have missed our best chance to seize a clean energy future.
The House of Representatives has already passed a comprehensive energy and climate bill, and there is currently a plan in the Senate — a plan that was developed with ideas from Democrats and Republicans — that would achieve the same goal.  And, Pittsburgh, I want you to know, the votes may not be there right now, but I intend to find them in the coming months.  (Applause.)  I will continue to make the case for a clean energy future wherever and whenever I can.  (Applause.)  I will work with anyone to get this done — and we will get it done.

read more at the Atlantic

The Bloom Box: The Holy Grail of Energy?

Would you like to make a billion dollars and save the planet?

K.R. Sridhar is a NASA scientist who was working on a project to terraform Mars. He invented a machine that would produce oxygen in the Martian atmosphere and make the Red Planet habitable for humans.

But the budget got cut. The program got cancelled. So K.R. Sridhar took the invention and reversed it to suck in oxygen. He created an entirely new kind of fuel cell, which is far more compact and more efficient than anything now producing electricity. It is designed to replace the grid. And it’s coming.

Continue reading “The Bloom Box: The Holy Grail of Energy?”

Leave That Poor Mountain Alone!

Renee Schoof writes for McClatchy

The consequences of this mining in eastern Kentucky, West Virginia and southwestern Virginia are “”pervasive and irreversible,” the article finds. Companies are required by law to take steps to reduce the damages, but their efforts don’t compensate for lost streams nor do they prevent lasting water pollution, it says.

The article is a summary of recent scientific studies of the consequences of blasting the tops off mountains to obtain coal and dumping the excess rock into streams in valleys. The authors also studied new water-quality data from West Virginia streams and found that mining polluted them, reducing their biological health and diversity.

Surprisingly little attention has been paid to this growing scientific evidence of the damages, they wrote, adding: “Regulators should no longer ignore rigorous science.”

New permits shouldn’t be granted, they argued, “unless new methods can be subjected to rigorous peer review and shown to remedy these problems.”

The Science article cites a number of potential health risks from removing mountaintops and filling in valleys, including contaminated well water, toxic dust and fish that are tainted with the chemical selenium. It also looked at environmental damage to the mining and fill areas and to streams below them, the reasons that forests are difficult to re-establish on mined areas and increased risks of downstream flooding.

“The reason we’re willing to make a policy recommendation is that the evidence is so clear-cut,” said Margaret Palmer of the University of Maryland, the lead author of the Science study and a specialist on the ecology of streams. Her co-authors were experts on chemistry, biology, engineering and health from Duke University, West Virginia University and other institutions.

Palmer said she started studying mountaintop mining’s effects on streams in Appalachia, then sought help from the others to pull together scattered studies. Her family is from western North Carolina, and she spent much of her childhood there.

The assessment came days after the Environmental Protection Agency approved a permit under the Clean Water Act for Patriot Coal Corp.’s mountaintop Hobet 45 mine in West Virginia. The EPA reached a deal with Patriot to change the original plans. Instead of burying six miles of streams, the company will bury three. The EPA said that other changes would reduce stream contamination and protect public health.

At the same time, the agency acknowledged the environmental costs.

Mountaintop-removal mining has destroyed roughly 2,040 square miles of land in Appalachia and buried more than 2,000 miles of streams, EPA spokeswoman Enesta Jones said in an e-mail.

In a statement about the Science article, the EPA said: “This report underscores EPA’s own scientific analysis regarding the substantial environmental, water and health impacts that result from mountaintop mining operations. EPA’s responsibility under the Clean Water Act is to ensure that mining activities do not degrade the quality of water used by communities, and we intend to ensure this requirement is met.

“EPA will continue to rely on the latest scientific information to inform our Clean Water Act review of mountaintop mining permits. We look forward to reviewing the details of this latest study and considering carefully its recommendations.”

The EPA’s approval of the Hobet 45 mine, announced Tuesday, was the first major mountaintop mining permit the agency has approved from a batch of 79 that it said raised concerns. The mine is expected to employ 460 unionized miners.

Environmental groups condemned the decision and said that even with the changes, the mine would destroy forests and streams.

read more at McClatchy


Cold in the Wintertime: UK Gas Shortage

Terry Macalister writes for the Guardian,

Vauxhall’s car plant at Ellesmere Port on Merseyside and British Sugar’s refineries at Bury St Edmunds and Newark are among nearly 100 factories that have had their gas cut as Britain’s energy infrastructure creaks under the strain of the great freeze.

The National Grid has told British Gas and other power firms to cut the supply to major corporate customers, in an attempt to preserve gas supply for households as the weather causes a surge in demand.

Opposition MPs said inadequate planning by the government in previous years had left the country heading towards an “energy crisis” that could only dent the UK’s fragile economic recovery.

But the government maintained last night that gas cuts were now only affecting 27 factories, and that all these had signed up to discount contracts allowing suppliers to interrupt their supplies in periods of high demand.

Energy minister Lord Hunt said: “This is a period of exceptionally high demand. The system is coping as it should. These sort of arrangements have been commercially entered into.”

Factories in the north-west of England and east Midlands are worst hit out of the 94 customers who have had gas supplies axed for the first time in up to 20 years, in some cases in a response to severe weather and creaking power infrastructure.

In the first tangible sign that fears over energy shortages are translating into supply disruption, the grid has demanded cuts to those customers who signed “interruptible” contracts.

In addition the grid issued a second “gas balancing alert” in four days – the first time it has had to issue two such warnings in quick succession. The call to customers to voluntarily reduce usage wherever possible came as the supply squeeze was made worse by production problems at Troll, a Norwegian North Sea gas field.

“There are some customers in the north-west and east Midlands who have had supplies interrupted because they are on interruptible contracts and we are facing high demand,” said a grid spokeswoman.

Well-known manufacturers at locations around the country, including the south and east of England, confirmed they were experiencing power supply problems but most asked for their names to be kept private to avoid panicking shareholders. Vauxhall and British Sugar both confirmed gas had been cut off but said production was being kept up by use of stand-by generators fired by oil.

“From 6pm on Monday British Gas asked us to stop using gas, so ever since we have used oil; and we will do that until they tell us we can start using gas,” said a spokesman for Vauxhall.

British Gas could not immediately confirm it had cut off some customers in line with grid demands, but said the problems were caused by transmission overload rather than supply shortages.

“If anything there is an oversupply of gas and certainly no shortage at this time. This [the current problem] is about moving it around the country,” said a spokesman.

read more at the Guardian

This Doesn’t Look Productive

MARIANNE LAVELLE & M.B. PELL write for Politico

The next round of the battle over climate change policy on Capitol Hill will involve more than the usual suspects — way more.

Watch soup makers face off against steel companies. Witness the folks who pump gas from the ground fight back against those who dig up rock. And watch the venture capitalists who have money riding on new technology try to gain advantage in a game that so far has been deftly controlled by the old machine.

An analysis of the latest federal records by the Center for Public Integrity shows that the overall number of businesses and groups lobbying on climate legislation has essentially held steady at about 1,160, thanks in part to a variety of interests that have left the fray. But a close look at the 140 or so interests that jumped into the debate for the first time in the third quarter shows a marked trend: Companies and organizations that feel they’ve been overlooked are fighting for a place at the table.

The amount of money involved quite likely rose as well. Although amounts spent on lobbying by issue are not disclosed, if the groups involved spent just 10 percent of their lobbying budgets on climate issues, they shelled out $30.5 million in the third quarter — up nearly 13 percent over the previous quarter.

Of course, the framework for climate change legislation developed by a trio of senators — Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman — already makes clear that the climate debate will expand into new realms. Incentives for nuclear power construction and more offshore oil and gas production are key proposals they’ve floated for gaining Republican and moderate Democratic votes for a climate change package. But beyond what are sure to be high-profile battles over those issues, the lobbying records also reveal that a host of smaller battles are brewing — sure to greatly complicate the already immense challenge of writing a successful bill. It’s one of the reasons that — despite the pledge by President Barack Obama and other world leaders to exhibit “strong political will” on climate — it most likely will be months before the Senate moves on a measure to curb fossil fuel emissions.

read more at Politico

It’s Getting Cheaper To Kill Planet

New York Times Editorial,

The price per metric ton of permits to spew carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere fell by $3.30 on the European Climate Exchange between the first day of the climate summit in Copenhagen and the day after its disappointing conclusion as traders reacted to the failure to reach binding targets for future carbon emissions.

The decline — which put the price of the benchmark futures contract dated December 2010 at $18.20 per ton — reflects the European market’s deflated expectations that the meetings would lead to a treaty to lower emissions ceilings and boost the price of permits.

The depressed price of the emissions permits also suggests that despite years of diplomatic efforts, the real world — where people and businesses buy energy to make things, move things and stay warm — still operates as if people can spew carbon more or less at will.

Consider how much carbon really costs.

After reviewing a series of independent studies, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded last year that the “social cost” of releasing one more ton of carbon-dioxide into the air, the cost of the environmental damage and other consequences over the next century, was between $40 and $68 in 2007 and would rise to up to $179 in 2040 if we don’t cut emissions soon.

A review of the economics of climate change by Nicholas Stern, a professor at London School of Economics, which was written at the behest of the British government in 2006, asserted that emissions should be priced initially at about $75 a ton to encourage investments in alternative energy sources and reduce the use of fossil fuels enough to avoid drastic climate change.

read more at the New York Times

The Copenhagen That Matters

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN writes for the New York Times

As I listened to Denmark’s minister of economic and business affairs describe how her country used higher energy taxes to stimulate innovation in green power and then recycled the tax revenues back to Danish industry and consumers to make it easier for them to make and buy the new clean technologies, it all sounded so, well, intelligent. It sounded as if the Danes looked at themselves after the 1973 Arab oil embargo, found that they were totally dependent on Middle East oil and put in place a long-term strategy to make Denmark energy-secure and start a new industry at the same time.

The more I listened to the Danish minister, Lene Espersen, the more I thought of my own country, where I’ve been told time and again by U.S. politicians that proposing even a 10-cent-a-gallon increase in gasoline taxes to make America more energy independent and to stimulate fuel efficiency is “off the table,” an act of sure political suicide.

Not in Denmark. So I asked the Danish minister: “Tell me, what planet are you people from?”

Espersen laughed. But I didn’t. How long are we Americans going to go on thinking that we can thrive in the 21st century when doing the optimal things — whether for energy, health care, education or the deficit — are “off the table.” They’ve been banished by an ad hoc coalition of lobbyists loaded with money, loud-mouth talk-show hosts who will flame anyone who crosses them, political consultants who warn that asking Americans to do anything important but hard makes one unelectable and a citizenry that doesn’t even ask for optimal anymore because it believes that optimal is impossible.

Sorry, but there are no good ideas proven to work in other democratic/capitalist societies that we can afford to shove off our table — not when we need to build a knowledge economy with good jobs and everyone else is trying to do the same.

“Already the green taxes here are quite high,” said Espersen. “And even though we know this is not popular with business and industry, it has made all the difference for us. It forced our businesses to become more energy efficient and innovative, and this meant that, suddenly, we were inventing things nobody else was inventing because our businesses needed to be competitive.”

read more at the New York Times

Did They Do Anything?

The White House announced the deal – this is supposed to be a UN convention, remember – and President Obama has gone live on US television telling viewers what it contains before many delegations in the UN conference even had a chance to look at the text.

It’s not clear how those outside the little cabal of nations are going to play this.

The African Union is officially in favour so far, but they’re having a closed door meeting that I understand is lively, with Senegal among countries opposing.

I’ve been told that some of the small island developing states have been “told” to sign up, but others are fuming and determined to oppose – especially as their key demand, inclusion of at least the indication that the world could eventually look at 1.5C as a target for temperature rise, was excised at the last minute.

Ask who the “villain” is, and – as I mentioned in my previous post – “China, China, China” is the refrain.

But there is considerable anger towards the US, too, as I indicated before.

The fact that the EU hasn’t endorsed this “deal” yet it absolutely significant, as European leaders have until now been prepared to work with the US, though wishing it were in a position to pledge more.

Procedurally, there’s no precedent. Asked how things stood, one observer replied with a six-letter word unprintable on a BBC webpage – it begins with an f.

read more at the BBC

Obama Day in Copenhagen?

Suzanne Goldenberg writes for the Guardian,

Barack Obama is poised to arrive in Copenhagen tomorrow with additional pledges of cash for poor countries which will suffer the most from global warming, a day after America’s promise to support a $100bn a year climate fund.

Obama’s arrival has been the most anticipated event of the 10-day summit, which has lurched between optimism and rank despair. He will seek to make a decisive impact, building on the announcement today by Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, who said for the first time that America would support a $100bn global climate change fund from 2020. But she will be a tough act to follow, as the statement was seen by delegates as a gamechanger.

Obama is expected to add an extra boost of momentum by beefing up America’s share in a $10bn a year fast-track aid package. That aims to cushion poor countries from the impact of climate change and promote rainforest preservation starting next year. He is also expected to outline little-known provisions in the climate bill passed by the House of Representatives that would direct some $4bn a year from the auction of emission allowances to a fund to help developing countries adapt to climate change and deploy clean technology.

He is also expected to call more forcefully on the Senate to pass climate change law, critical to the eventual success of Copenhagen. “I’ve got a sense that she set the table, and he is going to deliver the knock-out punch,” said Earl Blumenauer, part of the delegation of Democratic congressmen to the talks.

Clinton gave no specifics on how America would raise its share of the $100bn fund, and she made her offer contingent on overcoming an atmosphere of mistrust to reach a deal at Copenhagen. “It is no secret that we have lost precious time in these past days,” she said. “In the time we have left here, it can no longer be about us versus them — this group of nations pitted against that group. We all face the same challenge together.”

read more at the Guardian

Let’s Debate: Global Warming Swindle

This is a very fascinating debate, and I highly recommend you watch the whole thing. This may be the most thorough review of skeptic concerns I have ever seen, and I came away from it with enough sources of science to reach my own conclusion. The Debate follows an interview with Martin Durken, who made a documentary called The Global Warming Swindle. I’ll warn you, the Q & A section after the debate gets really bizarre. I’m not kidding, it’s messed up in pt.8.

Debating Panelists: Professor Bob Carter (Geologist, Skeptic). Professor David Karoly (IPCC Climate Scientist), Ray Evans (Lavoisier Group Skeptic), Nick Rowley (UK Climate Change Strategist), Dr Nikki Williams (CEO, NSW Minerals Council), Robyn Williams (science journalist and broadcaster)

Copenhagen Looks Stuck

Jeffrey Ball, Stephen Power, and Guy Chazan write for the Wall Street Journal,

COPENHAGEN — Negotiators at the United Nations climate summit scrambled Wednesday to bridge multibillion-dollar disagreements as President Barack Obama and other world leaders prepared to descend on the Danish capital Friday.

As night fell in Copenhagen Wednesday, it appeared that the leaders could arrive for the summit’s final sessions with significant work to do to achieve Mr. Obama’s goal of a “meaningful” climate agreement.

Mr. Obama has gotten personally involved in a last-ditch lobbying effort, calling large and small nations seen as pivotal to breaking an impasse. Failure to ink even a nonbinding political deal in Copenhagen would be an embarrassment to Mr. Obama, who has made attacking climate change a centerpiece of his agenda.

Mr. Obama has telephoned leaders in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Brazil, Grenada, France, Germany and the U.K. as U.S., European Union and Australian negotiators lobby others in the so-called G-77 group of poorer nations “who know it’s in their strategic interest…not to go along with the others,” said one official involved in the talks. In some cases, negotiators for G-77 nations approached their bigger Western interlocutors, offering input as they tried to hash out a deal.

The White House said Wednesday that the talks were deadlocked.

Danish negotiators talked Wednesday with officials from a number of delegations to try to hash out elements of a potential agreement. Ideas under discussion include calling on nations to make emission cuts by 2020 that they have already promised, outline cumulative emission limits the developed world should meet by 2030, and include a target for a cumulative emission limit by 2050 for the entire world. None of these would be binding.

Also under discussion is the creation of a fund of about $30 billion that developed countries would offer to pay for emission-reduction efforts in developing countries through 2012.

One element of a potential Copenhagen result emerged Wednesday as the U.S., Britain, France, Australia, Japan and Norway pledged $3.5 billion Wednesday toward slowing the cutting of forests in developing countries. But that offer depends on a broader agreement.

In addition, negotiators are looking at a way to resolve a dispute over how nations would verify that other countries are making promised emission cuts. Under discussion is a proposal that would set minimum standards of information sharing.

read more at the Wall Street Journal

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi Calls For Compromise

John Vidal writes for the Guardian.

The head of the African group of nations at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen has proposed a finance deal where rich countries would pay for schemes to help poor states adapt to climate change and develop their economies using clean technology.

The proposal, from the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi, of $50bn (£44bn) a year for poor countries by 2015 and $100bn (£89bn) by 2020, is far less than many developing nations had been calling for, but is roughly in line with a proposal in June by the UK prime minister, Gordon Brown, and an offer agreed by the EU in October.

Control over the funds would lie with the countries receiving the money. The G77 group of 130 countries, backed by the least developed countries and small island states, has long proposed that $400bn (£356bn) a year, or 1% of rich countries’ GDP, would be the appropriate figure.

Meles also proposed that 50% of the fund created should be allocated to vulnerable and poor countries as well as “regions such as Africa and small island states”.

In addition, he suggested that a group of high level financial experts investigate and report back within six months on possible “innovative” ways to raise the money. IMF special drawing rights, as proposed by the G77 and financier George Soros, a carbon tax, a possible “Tobin tax” on all financial transactions and even taxes on flights and shipping would all be assessed. His proposal is likely to have been largely agreed by rich countries following intense talks in the last 24 hours between Meles, Gordon Brown and other world leaders.

Meles admitted that many Africans would not be happy: “I know my proposal will disappoint those Africans who … have asked for full compensation … for damage done to our development prospects. My proposal dramatically scales back our expectation of the level of funding in return for more reliable funding and a seat at the table in the management of such fund.”

“Because we stand to lose more than others we have to be flexible,” he said, adding that there was a danger that no deal would be done. “That is not an idle threat but a solemn promise by Africa that we will strive for a fair and just deal,” he said.

read more at the Guardian

Almost Presidents Push Copenhagen

GLENN THRUSH writes for Politico,

COPENHAGEN — Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is tired of the world telling the Senate what to do — so he spent his brief stopover Wednesday at the U.N. climate conference telling the world what it can do for the Senate.

In a speech that was part climate-change pep rally, part lecture on America’s legislative political dynamics, Kerry argued that he needs a strong political settlement at COP-15 to jolt the Senate into action on its moribund cap-and-trade bill.

“Some of my colleagues in Washington … remain reluctant to grapple with a climate crisis mostly measured in future dangers, when they’re confronted every day with the present pain of hardworking people in a tough economic time,” the Foreign Relations Committee chairman said, referring to coal- and factory-state Democrats who view carbon caps as job-killers.

To pass a bill, we must be able to assure a senator from Ohio that steelworkers in his state won’t lose their jobs to India and China because those countries are not participating in a way that is measurable, reportable and verifiable,” he added.

“Every American — indeed, I think all citizens — need to know that no country will claim an unfair advantage.”

Despite the challenges, the veteran climate change advocate is still sticking with a relatively optimistic timeline, saying he thinks the Senate can pass a bill next year similar to the one rammed through the House —possibly as early as June,  a month or two after the deadline former Vice President Al Gore proposed in Copenhagen earlier in the week.

Kerry’s desire to drive a hard bargain with China and India is in line with the stance of the U.S. delegation and its lead negotiator, Todd Stern.

While developing nations focus on President Barack Obama’s relatively modest emissions-cut pledge, Stern’s team has pushed for greater international verification of greenhouse gas output in China and India — two of America’s largest commercial and industrial competitors.

read more at Politico

President Obama Comes to Copenhagen Friday

Jim Tankersley in Copenhagen, with Christi Parsons in Washington write for the Los Angeles Times,

President Obama will not arrive at the Copenhagen climate summit until Friday, its final day, but he worked the phones Monday to push world leaders to cut a deal on a new global-warming agreement.

“The president’s been very engaged on this issue,” Todd Stern, Obama’s special climate envoy, told reporters at the summit Monday.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs confirmed the calls to reporters in Washington and said Obama would stay engaged all week. “When the president picks up the phone and calls world leaders, I would define that as personally involved,” Gibbs said.

Stern said negotiators also are spurred by the simple fact that Obama and 110-odd other heads of state are set to arrive later this week. It’s a major departure from the last several climate conferences, including the Kyoto meeting in 1997, which yielded the first global treaty to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Those meetings were dominated by ambassadors and environmental ministers.

read more at the Los Angeles Times

Does That Look Like a Ton to You?

John M. Broder writes for the New York Times,

Negotiators for the United States and China have been trading public accusations in recent days and making little progress in negotiations on the critical issue of treaty compliance.

Chinese negotiators have said little during formal negotiation sessions here, where they have been working in partnership with the developing countries. They have made clear that they do not expect money from the industrial powers to help make the shift to a more energy-efficient economy.

But they will not accept any outside monitors to ensure that they are indeed making the changes that they have promised to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants emitted per unit of economic output.

“I think there’s no doubt that China, when it says 40 to 45 percent reduction in energy intensity, is serious about that,” said Ed Miliband, the British secretary of state for energy and climate change. “The more challenging hurdle is finding a formula for ensuring the outside world that an avoided ton of gas is in fact a ton.”

He Yafei, the Chinese vice foreign minister, said China’s laws would guarantee compliance.

“This is a matter of principle,” even if it scuttles the talks, he said in an interview with The Financial Times.

American officials said that despite nearly a year of negotiations with the Chinese, there were still fundamental problems that may not be fixed here before the meetings end. The United States says it believes that the Chinese emissions target is too low — a top American official called it “disappointing” the day it was announced. Without a stronger emissions commitment and an agreement to international monitoring by China, Congress is unlikely to approve a tough new domestic climate regime for the United States.

“If China or any other country wants to be a full partner in global climate efforts, that country must commit to transparency and review of their emissions-cutting regime,” said Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts and a co-sponsor of the climate and energy bill that passed the House in June. “Without that commitment, other governments and industries, including those in America, will be hesitant to engage with those countries when they try to partner on global warming.”

And the Chinese refusal to accept verification measures could also lead to calls for punitive tariffs on Chinese goods coming into the United States. The House bill allows for the imposition of tariffs on goods from countries that do not constrain their carbon output. A group of 10 Democratic senators wrote to Mr. Obama two weeks ago warning that the Senate would not ratify any treaty that did not protect American industry from foreign competitors who do not have to meet global warming emissions limits.

read more at the New York Times


Nigeria Sees Red in Copenhagen

JEROME CARTILLIER writes for the Mail & Guardian Online,

Africa’s frustration at the United Nations climate summit boiled over on Monday as delegates walked out of key talks and continental giant Nigeria warned the negotiations were now on red alert.

Sources at the marathon talks said Africa led a five-hour boycott of working groups, with the backing of the Group of 77 developing nations, and only returned after securing guarantees that the summit would not sideline talks about the future of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Kyoto Protocol ties rich countries — but not developing countries — that have ratified it to legally binding emissions curbs.

It also has an important mechanism enabling the transfer of clean-energy technology to poorer nations.

Yet it does not include the United States, which says the Protocol is unfair as the binding targets do not apply to developing giants that are already huge emitters of greenhouse gases.

Algeria, speaking at a press briefing on behalf of the 53-member African Union, demanded that there should be a special plenary session devoted to Kyoto.

“Otherwise we are going to lose everything,” Algeria’s chief negotiator Kemal Djemouia told reporters.

Asked about the state of negotiations, Nigeria’s pointman rang the alarm bell.

“It is ‘climate code red’ right now, we are in code red right now, we stand at the crossroads of either hope for Africa or hope dashed in ‘Hopenhagen’,” Victor Ayodeji Fodeke told Agence France-Presse.

read more at the Mail & Guardian Online

African Nations Teeter from Boycott

Andrew Ward and Ed Crooks write for the Financial Times,

Talks have resumed at the Copenhagen climate conference amid escalating tensions between rich countries and the developing world over how a deal should be structured.

African nations had earlier on Monday led a boycott of a key working group bringing negotiations to a halt. The delegates returned later saying that they had won some concessions.

The temporary halt in the talks came just four days before world leaders are supposed to converge on the Danish capital to complete a deal, and underlined that developing countries remain at loggerheads with the US, Europe and their allies over how to share the burden of fighting global warming.

Much of the tension is focused on whether to keep alive the Kyoto protocol – the existing international climate agreement struck in 1997 – as part of a new deal or replace it with an entirely new treaty.

Developing countries, including China, India and Brazil, want to keep the Kyoto process because it commits developed countries to legally binding emissions cuts without making the same requirements of poorer nations.

But developed countries, led by the US, want a new framework that binds China and other emerging economies to targets.

African leaders on Monday accused Denmark, which is chairing the conference, of trying to sideline the Kyoto protocol from negotiations and said they would not take part in the morning’s talks as a result. Other developing countries backed their stance, leading to the suspension.

“The Kyoto protocol is of paramount importance to us,” said Mama Konate, chief delegate for the African nation of Mali. “We can never accept the killing of the Kyoto protocol.”

read more at Financial Times