Big Moves on climate from the IPCC, the EPA & Governor Brown
INFOGRAPHIC OF THE DAY
TOUGH ROCK TO CRACK—THE MONTEREY SHALE. The Wall Street Journal. September 23, 2013.
Members of the IPCC gather in Sweden this week to approve parts of the Panel's fifth assessment report. Leaked sections reveal scientists are now 90 to 95 percent certain that climate change is man-made. A breakdown of what’s expected to be contained in the full report is found here. Leading up to this meeting, the IPCC finds itself on the defensive. Data shows that the heating of the Earth's surface appears to have slowed in the past 15 years—fuelling the commonly held arguments of skeptics that man-made climate change is a myth. Scientists are wading-in with a number of explanations.
On Sept. 20, 2013, the EPA issued regulations for carbon pollution from new power plants—proposing separate standards for natural gas-fired turbines and coal-fired units. Under the proposal, large natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,000 pounds of CO2 per MWh, while new small natural gas-fired turbines would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per MWh. New coal-fired units would need to meet a limit of 1,100 pounds of CO2 per MWh. The proposed standards mandate new coal power plants install technology to capture their carbon waste. For a deeper understanding of the new regulations, read this and this.
Reactions from editorial boards and across the political spectrum were swift. The New York Times referred to the effort as the “first in a suite of executive actions” to battle climate change. The National Review belittled the regulations—calling the gains prompted by them “nonexistent.” A collection of reactions for and against the new regs can be found here. For more on the “winners” and “losers” in the energy sector, check this out. To gauge the specific impact on the coal industry read this. An assessment from the Sierra Club appears here.
In the Wall Street Journal’s recurring series, The Experts, Next Gen’s own expert, Kate Gordon debunks many of the prevailing misconceptions about renewable energy.
Right now, the benefits of renewables are being felt across the entire energy sector and analysts contend the U.S. is at a pivotal moment in its energy history. After years of delay, several offshore wind projects are about to be launched. Interesting new technologies have skeptical greenies reassessing hydropower as a viable source of clean energy. Solar power installations grew by 76% in 2012, and the solar boom is not only radically reconfiguring the business model for public and private utilities but has given birth to political alliances no one anticipated. Even media outlets that consistently depicted green energy as an inferior source of energy are backtracking on the myths they helped disseminate. DOE Secretary Moniz is finding it hard to contain his glee.
The floods in Colorado, the Rim Fire in California, the reoccurrence of monster storms like Hurricane Sandy are generating a groundswell of discussion about the risks climate change imposes on our economy, health and future well-being of our children. Calling attention to the damage caused by the recent spate of extreme climate events, Nicholas Stern and Felipe Calderón seek a market driven climate policy that reduces carbon emissions while simultaneously producing a strong green economy. Never one to beat around the bush, Next Gen’s Kate Gordon writes climate change presents potentially catastrophic risks to our economy and she thinks it’s about time those risks are factored into everyday investments, and financial and policy decisions.
Assessments on SB 4 continue to trickle in and one gives Gov. Brown high marks for how the law forges a middle ground between environmental concerns and the interests of the oil and gas industry. But, this reaction is the exception. John Upton claims environmentalists are despondent over SB 4’s mediocrity. The editorial board of the LA Times called the regulations in the law “so watered down as to be useless.” The WSPA bemoans the signing of SB 4 into law—claiming it creates the toughest fracking regulations in the country." And four prominent environmental groups withdrew support of SB 4 contending the wording in the law limits the reach of CEQA.
Other news impacting the Golden State includes a ruling by the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard and a unanimous decision by the California Public Utilities Commission allowing ridesharing services to operate as 'Transportation Network Companies.'
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“The most favored explanation at the moment is that more of the heat absorbed by the oceans is being sucked down into deeper waters than before.” Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics on why the heating of the Earth's surface appears to have slowed in the past 15 years.
“We are treating carbon the same way we’ve treated every other pollutant under the Clean Air Act.” A statement made by EPA Administrator, Gina McCarthy at the release of the new regulations limiting emissions of future coal- and gas-fired power plants.
“If these regulations go into effect, American jobs will be lost, electricity prices will soar and economic uncertainty will grow.” Sen. Joe Mancin (D-WVa) on how the Obama Administration’s proposed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants will impact the coal industry.
"We can kiss goodbye to any more dirty power plants." Julian Boggs of Environment America expressing his reaction to the EPA’s new regulations limiting emissions of future coal- and gas-fired power plants.
“. . .take a trip to the Hoover Dam.” Richard Caperton in response to whether or not the federal government should invest in alternative-energy start-ups.
“…tantamount to topping the barricades.” How the surge in deploying renewable energy technologies is described by DOE Secretary Moniz.
“so watered down as to be useless.” How the LA Times Editorial Board described the version of SB 4 Governor Brown signed into law.
GRAPH OF THE DAY I
COMPOSITION OF U.S. GREENHOUSE GAS POLLUTION. Environmental Protection Agency. September 2013.
GRAPH OF THE DAY II
GREEN GROWTH OF RENEWABLE ENERGY. The Wall Street Journal. September 23, 2013.
THE IPCC REPORT AND THE WARMING PAUSE CONTROVERSY
NEW EPA REGS FOR FUTURE POWER PLANTS
RISKS AND COSTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
PIVOTAL MOMENT FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY