Today I was fortunate to attend and hear EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy’s stirring speech announcing the EPA power plant carbon standards. And then dived into reading the 645-page rule plus numerous associated documents. I’m not quite done, but here are some first impressions. The bottom line: the draft rule has many promising elements and there are opportunities to strengthen it as it moves toward finalization next June. Read More
June 2nd, 2014
David S. Wilcove, Professor & Xingli Giam, Ph.D. candidate
Princeton, New Jersey
April 10th, 2014
A fetid swamp filled with dangerous animals and diseases. A vast expanse of muck serving no useful purpose. A century ago, that was the way people viewed the Everglades in the United States, and they went about ditching and draining this amazing wetland until much of it had been converted to “useful” cropland and pastures, and the wildlife had been decimated. Read More
February 3rd, 2014
In last week’s State of the Union (SOTU) address, President Obama reiterated his support for climate science by unequivocally stating “The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.” He also should be commended for highlighting the urgency of the problem as local communities are already experiencing damaging and costly climate impacts like drought, wildfires, heat waves, and coastal flooding.
But the President’s enthusiasm for increasing natural gas production and use as an important climate solution missed the mark. And like his climate action plan speech at Georgetown University last June, the President highlighted the economic benefits of increasing U.S. natural gas production, while failing to mention the economic risks of an overreliance on natural gas. Read More
December 20th, 2013
Today an article by five co-authors and me was published in the journal Nature Climate Change. It’s on “Ruminants, climate change and climate policy,” and makes the point that political and business leaders concerned about global warming have missed an important part of the problem. This missing piece of the puzzle is the emissions – mostly of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 25 times as powerful as CO2 – that come from ruminant livestock, which include sheep, goats, water buffalo, and most importantly cattle. Read More
December 17th, 2013
Yesterday I read in the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business blog that it is silly for UCS to suggest that consumers are “being tricked, bullied or seduced into burning fossil fuels…” Economist Severin Borenstein responded to an article in the recent edition of the UCS e-newsletter regarding groundbreaking new research that documents that 90 private companies or state-sponsored enterprises produced two-thirds of the carbon that has been released since the Industrial Revolution. Borenstein’s critique is one of many different reactions to this research so far. He raises some new points and he echoes others raised by Andy Revkin and some commenters on our website. So perhaps it’s time we address these interpretations of the work. Read More
December 17th, 2013
Respected UC Berkeley economist Dr. Severin Borenstein released a blog yesterday that included at least one point we can agree on: fossil fuels are cheap. But Borenstein missed the boat in dismissing significant new research that traces 63 percent of heat-trapping emissions to just 90 institutions, including oil giants Exxon-Mobil, BP, and California-based Chevron, suggesting that holding fossil fuel producers accountable is a “copout.” Read More
December 11th, 2013
Part three of a three-part blog series.
Last week some colleagues and I published an article in the Electricity Journal showing that almost 60 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired generators could be candidates for closure based on their poor economic profile relative to competing cleaner options like natural gas and wind. We also found that a modest carbon price of $20/ton of CO2 would more than double that figure to nearly 138 GW, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 745.7 million tons. You can read more about our analysis here and in blog posts by my colleagues Jeff Deyette and Steve Clemmer. Read More
Who Is Responsible for Climate Change? New Study Identifies the Top 90 Producers of Industrial Carbon Emissions
November 21st, 2013
Today’s publication in the journal Climatic Change by Richard Heede on Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers, 1854–2010 provides a robust scientific basis for motivating fresh thinking and dialogue about responsibility for taking action to address climate change. Read More
September 27th, 2013
In his “To Be or Not to Be” soliloquy, Shakespeare’s Hamlet eloquently presents each of us with an opportunity to wrestle with the timeless question of how to respond to the slings and arrows of life’s outrageous fortunes.
With today’s release of the Summary for Policymakers of Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) presents us with a very different opportunity to wrestle with our collective response to the slings and arrows of unabated carbon emissions on our warming planet. To be sure, the formal language of the IPCC is far less eloquent than Shakespeare’s, but the authoritative and cautiously-written climate science synthesis provokes us to confront profoundly important questions – questions that are hugely time-sensitive, not timeless. Read More
September 18th, 2013
The President’s Climate Plan announced in June touts natural gas as an important climate solution, as I discussed in a recent blog. This week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking the first step in implementing one of the key components of his plan by re-issuing carbon standards for new power plants. The next and more important step in this process is for the EPA to issue draft carbon standards for existing power plants by June 2014. (For more details, see this blog by my colleague Rachel Cleetus).
While standards for existing plants will help reduce power sector carbon emissions, they could lead to an overreliance on natural gas if they are not designed in the right way. In addition, the U.S. will need to make much deeper cuts in emissions to limit some of the worst impacts of climate change, as I discussed in my blog in July. A new UCS report released today shows that a transition from a coal- to a natural gas-dominated electricity system would not be sufficient to meet U.S. climate goals. Instead, a diversified electricity system—with amplified roles for renewable energy and energy efficiency and a modest role for natural gas—would both limit the threat of climate change and mitigate the risks of an overdependence on natural gas. Read More