Climate Change

Straws in the Wind

Businesses have intensified public support for climate action. That could presage a major shift in climate politics.

In the past few weeks, there’s been a notable growth of business support for climate action. A letter from the CEOs of 300 hundred major companies called for a 50% cut from 2005 carbon emissions by 2030.  The companies ranged from the utilities to tobacco to investment management. Google, McDonalds,  Walmart, and Philip Morris were …

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Designing Policy to Advance Direct Air Capture of Carbon Dioxide

Direct air capture and sequestration of carbon dioxide will be central to climate policy this century, but how can we advance it through policy?

It is becoming increasingly likely that if the world is to avoid warming beyond 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius that we will have to actively remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, rather only rapidly decarbonizing global economies. Without carbon dioxide removal, the rate of decarbonization that would be required to meet a 1.5 or 2 …

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The Green MAGA-Deal Goes Public!

It’s something no one expected, and for good reason.

There were gasps of astonishment when Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and Bernie Sanders took the stage together.  The gasps turned into stunned silence as Trump began to speak.  The trio were there, Trump said, to announce something HUGE, something no one ever expected: the world’s biggest plan for climate action. Trump began by denouncing the …

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Biden’s Dilemma: Limiting Carbon from Existing Power Plants

It’s not that the policy choices are that hard. It’s the 6-3 Supreme Court.

Coal- and gas-fired power plants are a major source of U.S. carbon emissions. The Obama Administration devised a perfectly sensible, moderate policy to cut those emissions.  The Trump Administration replaced it with a ridiculous token policy.  The D.C. Circuit appeals court tossed that out. Now what? It wouldn’t be hard to redo the Obama policy …

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The U.S. Government Is Researching Solar Geoengineering. Now What?

An image of the U.S. Capitol Building in the evening.

Officials should use the tools on hand to get governance right.

In December, Congress renewed funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to investigate stratospheric aerosols as a potential method for “solar climate interventions,” expanding a research program established a year earlier. These actions have been widely interpreted as the first-ever federal research project into solar geoengineering—proposals to slightly “dim the sun” to limit …

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Keeping It All In the Ground?

Exploring legal options for congressional and executive actions to terminate existing fossil fuel leases on federal lands.

The Biden Administration has set aggressive goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from the United States.  And a necessary component for any long-term plan to address greenhouse gas emissions from the United States is reducing and ultimately eliminating the emissions from fossil fuels produced on federal lands. Why is this such a critical …

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Where “Old King Coal” Still Holds Court

Use of coal is dwindling across the country, but very unevenly.  We need to give it a good shove.

The NY Times ran a story last week about a coal area in Wyoming that is embracing renewable energy as its economic future.  Residents of Carbon County, WY,  aren’t necessarily happy about it but they recognize that the times are changing. As one county commissioner said,  “You can stand at the tracks when the train …

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A Tale of Two Blackouts

NASA Earth Observatory, Feb. 19, 2021

Learning from the Texas and California Power Grid Failures

The Texas blackouts earlier this week have reminded us once again of the vital importance of electricity as part of the basic infrastructure of everyday life and the terrible consequences that ensue when the grid fails.  Recent reports indicate that dozens of people have died as a result of the extreme weather and blackouts and …

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The Big Chill

What went wrong in Texas and what can we learn from it?

The rolling blackouts in Texas were national news. Texas calls itself the energy capital of the United States, yet it couldn’t keep the lights on. Conservatives were quick to blame reliance on wind power, just as they did last summer when California faced power interruptions due to a heat wave.  What really happened? It’s true …

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Expertise versus Politics Under Biden

Experts will no longer be pariahs under Biden. But will their voices be heard?

One of the abiding issues in governance is the balance between democratic leadership and experts.  We don’t want government solely by technocrats.  Nor do we want government steered solely by ideology and politics, as under Trump.  Biden will be a vast improvement, but there’s still some question about whether he’ll get the balance right. I …

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