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 problem with wind power is…it makes electricity too cheap!

Thanks almighty to The Oil Drum for a brilliant parsing of the news. They quote a Bloomberg News article stating,

After years of getting government incentives to install windmills, operators in Europe may have become their own worst enemy, reducing the total price paid for electricity in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market, by as much as 5 billion euros some years, according to a study this week by Poeyry, a Helsinki-based industry consultant…

…which The Oil Drum then recognizes as meaning WIND POWER REDUCES THE COST OF ELECTRICITY TO CONSUMERS. Bloomberg News, to its credit, afterwards recognized the pro-industry bias in its article. AFTER TWO REWRITES, the article now says:

“We’re seeing that wind energy lowers prices, which is great for the consumers,” Kjaer said at his group’s conference in Warsaw this week. “We as producers have to acknowledge that this means operating the existing plant fewer hours a year, and this has an effect on investors” and profit.

So from now on, whenever you see ANY objections to wind power voiced by ANYONE, it’s reflecting the impact on THEIR bottom line – not yours.

Reap the Wind, or Reap the Whirlwind

Way back in 2003, I visited The Netherlands, and was amazed at how incredibly modern everything seemed – at least in comparison to Middle America. The cab I took from Schiphol International was a black, late-model Mercedes E-Type with an awesome flat-screen t.v. on which I could watch Dutch MTV – just like every other cab in the Dutch fleet. The contemporary architecture was cutting-edge and electric trams skirted down the cobblestone streets.  Not to mention the rather avant-garde attitude the Dutch held with regard to cannabis and prostitution.

What impressed me more than anything else, though, was the sight I beheld as the cab rode up to the top of those famous berms and dikes which keep the North Sea at bay. There, glinting in the sunlight, white and pinwheeling above the deep blue sea, was a forest of wind turbines, ineluctably carving the air in graceful circles like the world’s most profound modern art installation. That’s the future, I thought, smiling, and it is beautiful.

A little later, I talked to some Dutch townspeople. “We hate those wind turbines,” they said. “We think they’re ugly.” I had to stifle a guffaw. This was Holland, Great Land of Windmills! I mean, okay, 400 years ago Don Quixote mistook one for a monster, but aren’t those wind turbines just magnificent technological updates of the very same quaint rickety sorts that are Dutch national symbols? Aren’t they even prettier than the originals, now that they’re not merely obsolete fodder for postcards – but symbols of the clean energy future?

Well, change is tough on everybody, I suppose, and it just goes to show you that if the Dutch, of all people, can go NIMBY on wind turbines, then it’s going to be quite a sell for Americans. And indeed it is, as The New York Times reported today. This week is post-time for Obama’s decision on the big wind farm off the Massachusetts coast – in the works now for more than a decade – and our objections are looking even stupider than the Dutch.

Opponents have argued that the venture is too expensive and would interfere with local fishermen, intrude on the sacred rituals and submerged burial grounds of two local Indian tribes and destroy the view.

Too expensive? True, it’s twice as expensive to develop offshore; but we’ve already seen T. Boone Pickens’ plans for a giant Texas windfarm deep-sixed when it became apparent that hooking up the grid to the farm made the whole plan go wildly over-budget. Offshore wind farms positioned near major population centers means no such problem.

Interfere with local fishermen? Okay, so wind turbines that are placed, on average, a half-mile apart interfere with large-scale trawling; but isn’t large-scale trawling the primary cause of extinction-level overfishing? The Masshole anglers might have issues, but over in Rhode Island, the Fishermen’s Energy Company is collaborating with local fishermen. After all, they know the ocean bottom better than anyone, and bringing them in not only reduces the costs and fishery impact of offshore wind farms, but gives the fishing companies a tidy consultancy fee, and investment in the project – not to mention the energy savings in their coastal towns.

Indian tribes? The Wampanoag tribe of Nantucket has important sunrise rituals that, apparently, depend upon an unbroken view of the horizon. Now, normally I’m all for Native American rights and think the idea of the ceremony is beautiful. But I also remember this PSA from the ’70s:

Finally, finally we’re getting off our asses and preventing pollution – and – and –– Hell. Give ’em stock. Give ’em casinos and tobacco-trading posts on the service gantries. Sorry for the callousness, folks, but this is a pretty classic example of not seeing the forest for the trees. Or rather, not seeing the protection of the environment from some pinwheels on the horizon. Eminent Domain has been used to such nefarious ends in our recent history, and we can’t use it to facilitate a clean-energy future? I am appalled by this nation’s past, but there should be limits to its limitations on our future.

I just wish people could see those wind turbines with my eyes, spinning gracefully in the brash winds, glinting the sunlight with melodious reflections, counterpointing the sunlight glinting off the bluerough steel waves – and in each turn, speaking: clean, clean energy; clean, clean energy; now, later, onward.


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?”

Wind Turbines May Be Coming to New York City!

by Marcodoca2000 on Flickr

Writes Michael P. Ventura in the Village Voice:

Winter is miserable in New York. The arctic blasts whoosh in off the water and cut through hats and scarves and coats as if they’re not even there. Other than turning up your collar, leaning forward, and squinting, there’s nothing you can do with the wind other than endure it.

For now, at least. At some point in the near future, it may be possible to harness that misery and use it for good…Cue AeroCity Windpower, a company looking to create and install self-starting vertical-axis wind turbines for city buildings. It was funded with a $1 million grant from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to develop turbines—looking less like a traditional windmill than the love child of a parking meter and an egg beater.

Ventura goes on to talk about third-term Mayor Bloomberg’s “30 initiatives to grow New York City’s Green Economy,” including green-energy institutes at Columbia and SUNY. Read more here.

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

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

Detroit Unemployment Near 50 Percent.

Mike Wilkinson writes for the Detroit News,

Despite an official unemployment rate of 27 percent, the real jobs problem in Detroit may be affecting half of the working-age population, thousands of whom either can’t find a job or are working fewer hours than they want.

Using a broader definition of unemployment, as much as 45 percent of the labor force has been affected by the downturn.

And that doesn’t include those who gave up the job search more than a year ago, a number that could exceed 100,000 potential workers alone.

“It’s a big number, and we should be concerned about it whether it’s one in two or something less than that,” said George Fulton, a University of Michigan economist who helps craft economic forecasts for the state.

Mayor Dave Bing recently raised eyebrows when he said what many already suspected: that the city’s official unemployment rate was as believable as Santa Claus. In Washington for a jobs forum earlier this month, he estimated it was “closer to 50 percent.”

Although the government doesn’t produce an unemployment number that high, it’s not hard to get close.

Officially, the unemployment rate in Detroit was estimated at 27 percent in October. But that number does not include people working part-time who want full-time work, nor does it include “discouraged” workers, who have stopped looking for work. It also doesn’t include people who have gone back to school rather than search for a job.

read more at the Detroit News

‘Detroit’ by Gratuitous Art Films.

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

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

Carbon Has a Posse?

Jim Tankersley writes for the Los Angeles Times,

Reporting from Copenhagen – International negotiators are quietly making progress here on steps to reduce “stealth” pollutants that contribute to climate change, including soot, refrigerants and methane gas, which together account for nearly as much greenhouse gas pollution as carbon dioxide.

Carbon dioxide, of course, is the poster gas for global warming. Disagreements over how to reduce its emission from cars, factories and power plants have dominated the Copenhagen climate talks so far.

But carbon dioxide accounts for only half the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. And while top leaders postured and negotiated over a host of issues related to carbon emissions in the first week of the summit here, behind the scenes diplomats have worked toward compromises on a few simple strategies to reduce the other pollutants that cause global warming.

Those sources include so-called black carbon, soot from incompletely burned fossil fuels and biomass, including that produced by ships and cooking stoves that collects in the atmosphere and on ice and prevents sunlight from being reflected back into space; hydrofluorocarbon chemicals, known as HFCs, used in refrigerators and air conditioners worldwide; and methane, which emanates from coal mines and landfills.

Many scientists and environmentalists say reducing the “forgotten 50%” of pollutants will be faster, easier and substantially cheaper than cutting carbon dioxide, and could buy the world time in its climate clock race.

“We can eliminate — not just cut — one of the six greenhouse gases this week,” said Durwood Zaelke, a longtime environmental lawyer who is president of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. “This can buy us more than a decade of delay” against the worst effects of climate change, he said.

read more at the Los Angeles Times