The latest issue of Science has two key papers on climate policy. First, Tim Searchinger, Dan Kammen (a faculty member at ERG), and others argue that an accounting exemption for bioenergy that appears in the Kyoto Protocol, the European carbon trading scheme and draft legislation on Capitol Hill treats all biofuels as “carbon neutral” even if the process of making them results in large carbon emissions. The land use issues regarding biofuels are actually huge and poorly understand, which argues for caution in relying on them too heavily as a way to reduce carbon.
The second Science paper is by ERG graduate student Stacy Jackson. (ERG is the Berkeley Energy and Resource Group, an interdisciplinary teaching and research program that pioneered ideas such as renewable portfolio standards.) Stacy also has a Legal Planet connection — she contributed some postings to this blog about the climate science meeting in Copenhagen last spring. here, here and here
Stacy’s paper points out that quick, cheap reductions in emissions can be obtained from non-CO2 substances such as black carbon. This can buy time to implement CO2 reductions in a more cost-effective way.