Carbon Tax

Climate of Hope #auspol #doughnuteconomics 

Michael Bloomberg Says Cities Must Now Lead The Way On Climate Change

Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, by Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope 

Outside of Washington, D.C., however, the prospects for climate action look more favorable. You can point to what’s happening at the city level, where mayors are promoting low-carbon buildings, electric cars, and more resilient infrastructure. You can point to the energy industry in general, which seems more concerned with market signals than political signals. And you can point to how strong majorities of Americans want politicians to accept and face up to global warming.
In their new book, Climate of Hope: How Cities, Businesses, and Citizens Can Save the Planet, Michael Bloomberg and Carl Pope, the former executive director of the Sierra Club, argue that a beyond-D.C. approach offers the best opportunity for dealing with climate change. Mayors have more autonomy than national leaders, they say. They’re more accountable to voters for dealing with climate-related problems like pollution and extreme weather events. They originate most of the emissions that cause climate change, and they face the greatest threats from its impacts. And urban populations are generally more supportive of climate action than rural ones.
“Mayors tend to be more pragmatic and less ideological than national legislators, because they are more accountable to voters, and more visible,” former New York City Mayor Bloomberg writes. “The public can see what mayors do, while it’s harder to understand what elected officials at the state level do . . . and much harder at the federal level.”
Empower Cities To Lead
If cities are going to be centers of climate action, they need more tools for the job. “Giving more cities authority to take action on their own–particularly on energy and transportation–is one of the most important steps we can take to address climate change,” Bloomberg writes in the book.
If the Trump administration decides to leave the Paris climate agreement, Bloomberg says U.S. cities should consider joining the accord in their own capacity. “Washington will not have the last word on the fate of the Paris Agreement in the U.S.–mayors will, together with business leaders and citizens,” he wrote in a New York Times op-ed last year.
That independence could also include allowing them to make choices independent of state or federal authority on where they buy electricity (only six states currently sanction this). Twenty-five U.S. cities have now committed to buy all their power from renewable sources.
Or it could mean borrowing money for climate investments more easily. Only 4% of the world’s cities currently have their own credit ratings, enabling them to enter financial markets, Pope says. Others don’t have the power to raise taxes, including many in Africa and South America.

Press link for more: fastcompany.com

Ignoring Science Will Not Make America Great #auspol #climatechange 

Trump’s assault on climate science will not make America great
US pollution


America last

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

A CHILL wind of change is blowing through climate research.

 To nobody’s great surprise, given President Trump’s rhetoric to date, the White House is said to be ready to gut the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
According to documents seen by The Washington Post, NOAA – the federal government’s leading climate science agency – faces an overall budget cut of 17 per cent. 

Its basic science arm, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, will lose more than a quarter of its funds.

 The money will be diverted to the military, on which the US already spends far more than any other country.

Some in the Trump camp claim they are not opposed to climate science, just to the “politicised” version of it now practised by NOAA and other agencies.

 This is nonsense. 

Climate science has been politicised only by those who deny its findings in the service of an antiquated model of US enterprise – one in which success depends on corporate freedom to trash the commons.

Most of the world recognises that cleaning up industry is not only morally responsible, but commercially sound too.

 Even ExxonMobil, from whose corner office Trump plucked Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state, has made the right noises about a carbon tax, despite its appalling track record on climate change.

 Such a tax would impose rigour on carbon-intensive industries – and Exxon thinks it would win out in the subsequent competition.

 But rather than putting pressure on it to act on its words, Trump has applauded its recidivist plans to expand its Gulf Coast operations.

In the time warp that is Trump’s White House, the environment is the enemy of commerce. On his first day in office, Trump signed a death warrant for Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which would have seen the US lead on efforts to slow and adapt to climate change.

 The Environmental Protection Agency is facing even steeper cuts than NOAA – up to 40 per cent of its research budget (see “Deep cuts to environmental research in Trump’s budget proposal“). And a raft of measures seek to remove the EPA’s ability to keep US air and water clean.
In this, Trump is going against the will of most Americans, few of whom voted for more pollution.

 And he is going against their best interests, too. 

Much of the US is vulnerable to climate change, whether it be droughts in the west or storms in the east.
Trump can ignore this for now.

 Given his gilded lifestyle, bluster and fondness for “alternative facts”, he may be able to keep ignoring it indefinitely. Ordinary Americans won’t. 

A new forecast predicts that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide will rise by 2.5 parts per million in 2017 (see “First yearly CO2 forecast predicts one of biggest rises ever“).

 This week, we report both the mystery of solar brightening across the US corn belt (see “Brighter sky helped boost US crop yields – but it may not last“) and worrying ways in which climate change is affecting oceans (see “Plankton can save the ocean. But who will save the plankton?“). This is the kind of vital research Trump and his cronies think does not matter.
One Twitter account parodying Trump has medieval king Donaeld the Unready railing against a rival: “Canute. What a loser. Can’t even hold back the sea. It’s just water. We’re going to be so tough on the sea. Canute was too soft. Sad.”
The real Donald has cast himself as a latter-day King Canute, deluding himself that he is able to hold back the forces of nature with an executive order. Except, of course, that Canute was actually a wise ruler who wanted to show his followers that he didn’t have dominion over nature. The chances that Trump is doing the same? Zero. Sad indeed.
This article appeared in print under the headline “America last”

Press link for more: New Scientist

We need Left & Right to fix #climatechange 

Why Democrats and Republicans are Both Right on Climate.
Two very different action plans from opposite sides of the aisle could be even more effective if both are implemented.

Over the past two years, two thoughtful, innovative, and dramatically different plans to address global warming have been presented to the American public by the Democratic and the Republican Parties. 

Both plans would move the nation significantly toward a sustainable future.

The first, the Clean Power Plan (CPP), introduced by President Obama, calls on states to reduce carbon pollution from the power sector by 32 percent below their individual 2005 baselines by 2030. 

The CPP further makes $8 billion available to retrain and aid coal-workers and their families. 

This is a sizeable transition fund for an industry now valued in total at less than $50 billion, a tenth of what it was just a few decades ago.

The second, the Carbon Dividend Plan (CDP) was recently proposed by the Climate Leadership Council which is headlined by former Republican Secretaries of State James Baker and George Schultz, as well as former Treasury Secretary Paulson, two former Chairmen of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, and a Chairman of the Board of Walmart.

 The CDP calls for a modestly rising carbon tax, with dividends paid directly back to American families amounting to roughly $2,000 per year for a family of four.

Both plans have a great deal to like. 

The home run strategy for American job creation and industrial leadership is to implement both the CPP and the CDP.

The federal government estimates that the CPP will yield climate benefits to the U. S. economy of $20 billion, and health benefits of $14-34 billion, and to each year avoid 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks, and 300,000 missed work and school days.

 With so many of these illnesses in lower-income areas and in minority communities, the CPP is of tremendous benefit to poorer Americans and to the national budget as well.

 To be fair, some, but not all, of these benefits would also come from the CDP, although they are less clear-cut because emissions reductions could come from other sectors of the economy beyond electricity.

The CDP includes a provision for boarder taxes on foreign imports from nations that do not implement some form of carbon pricing, presumably with a dispensation for the world’s poorest nations.

Together the CPP and the CDP build a vibrant, intensely job-creating energy sector that would be far larger than either plan accomplishes alone. 

The CPP does not pit one state against each other, but pushes each state to develop its own carbon reduction plan.

 Both red and blue states are finding this easier and more profitable than previously imagined.

 The power sector reduced its carbon emissions 21 percent between 2005-2015, primarily by switching from coal to gas.

 It is well on the way to complying with the Clean Power Plan.

The CPP will accelerate the transition to money-saving energy efficiency, and to a job-rich renewable energy sector. 

Countries such as China, Bangladesh, Denmark, Germany Kenya, Korea, and Portugal have seen tremendous manufacturing and job growth as they made their electricity sectors more diverse, clean, and job-producing.


As innovations spread in the energy sector, the benefits of the CDP come into play. 

The carbon dividend to U. S. families is estimated by the U. S. Treasury to directly benefit financially the poorest 70 percent (some 223 million people) of Americans. 

A federal infrastructure investment would further stimulate this deal, bringing jobs to the capital-intensive energy sector across the country.

Of equal or greater importance, however, is the fact that the U. S. and EU energy sectors are growing by less than 1 percent per year, but in many other nations energy demand is growing by 5 percent per year or more.

 The CDP pushes other countries to adopt carbon policies, making them ready markets for the products that the invigorated U. S. energy sector will deliver.

Because the energy industry is about systems integration, not simply individual technology components, countries need company partners that are expert and trusted to deliver integrated packages. 

This is a hallmark of the U. S. energy sector, from the complex and extensive oil and gas industry, to companies like Bechtel and Johnson Controls, to the fastest growing part of the U. S. economy, the clean energy innovators.

The real beauty of the two proposals is how well they can work together for the benefit of all Americans, and at the same time, the global environment.

Daniel M. Kammen is a professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, and Science Envoy for the U. S. State Department. Twitter: @dan_kammen; URL: http://rael.berkeley.edu

Open Letter to President Trump on Climate Change #auspol #science

Hingham couple pens open letter to President Trump on climate change
By John and Sally Davenport Hingham Journal

As we believe you must know in your heart of hearts, human-caused climate change is not a hoax.

 Virtually no one believes that climate change is not occurring. 

The globe is warming even faster than climate scientists have predicted, particularly at the poles where the ice is melting at an alarming rate. 


The overwhelming view of the scientific community world-wide is that global climate change is being caused by humans through the burning of fossil fuels and the release into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. (The warming effect of atmospheric carbon dioxide has been known since the mid-19th century.) 

Most climate models show that, if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, global temperatures will rise to potentially catastrophic levels by 2100.
These scientists from all over the world do not have any political axe to grind or financial stake in whether climate change is or is not caused by humans. 

They have no interest in participating in the perpetration of a hoax. 

Even climate scientists employed by oil and gas giant Exxon Mobil were unanimous in their advice to their employer, beginning in the 1970s, that the burning of its products was causing global warming.

Studies have shown that the widespread skepticism among conservatives about human-caused climate change stems from their dislike of governmental regulation and international commitments, not from doubt about the accuracy of the climate change science. Otherwise, why would Republicans generally reject the science while Democrats do not? (Republicans and Democrats alike agree about the validity of other, politically neutral, science, such as their own doctors’ science-based medical advice).
The science must be separated from the politics.

 The political debate must not be about the validity of the science of human-caused global warming; let the climate scientists debate that.

 Rather, the political debate must be about what to do about it, ranging from nothing, to promoting renewable energy and stimulating growth of the green economy, to limiting carbon dioxide emissions, to implementing a cap and trade regime. Then there can be a healthy policy debate about the impact of such measures on the economy and their effectiveness in avoiding catastrophic climate change.

Pulling out of the Paris accord and revoking the Clean Power Plan and other measures put in place by prior administrations to curb greenhouse gas emissions and global climate change in the hope that the climate scientists are wrong or overly pessimistic is the equivalent of playing Russian roulette, with possible consequences less instantaneous but infinitely more catastrophic. Arguing about the degree of certainty in the climate change projections is like arguing about whether to play the game with five bullets in the six-shooter or just two or three.
Abandoning governmental actions to curb global warming will be a terrible legacy for you and your administration to leave to our children and grandchildren, to the country, and to the world.
John and Sally Davenport 

Press link for more: Hingham.wickedlocal.com

Let’s Make a Deal #ClimateChange Put a price on pollution. #auspol 

Left & Right “Let’s Make a Deal” Put a price on Carbon Pollution #ClimateChange #auspol 

Earlier this month, conservative elder statesmen issued a “Let’s Make a Deal” on climate: Nix Obama-era regulations in return for a carbon tax and dividend.
So far, the idea has gained little traction from unretired Republicans who could actually make a deal. 

But if that changes, should Democrats and pro-environment independents accept it?

The proposal was issued with great fanfare by the newly formed Climate Leadership Council. 

Conservative economists Martin Feldstein and Gregory Mankiw and former secretaries of State George Shultz and James Baker III touted the plan in op-eds for the The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. 

The council launched its effort at the National Press Club the same day.
A carbon tax appeals to free-market conservatives by empowering markets to find the cheapest ways to cut emissions.

 By returning the money through a dividend, the tax would not grow the size of government. 

The council estimates the dividend would start at $2,000 for a family of four, and rise with the carbon tax.
However, the council isn’t offering something for nothing. 

Their proposal calls for ending President Obama’s climate regulations. 

Specifically, they would nix the Clean Power Plan, tougher fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks and additional regulations yet to be specified. 

Fortunately, the council is not seeking to weaken light-duty fuel economy standards, appliance efficiency standards or the hydrofluorocarbon deal signed in Kigali, Rwanda, last year.


Obama pledged under the Paris climate agreement that the United States would aim for 28 percent emission reductions by 2025 from 2005 levels. 

As I wrote last year, the U.S. had already cut emissions 9 percent by 2014. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just announced that emissions fell another 2.2 percent in 2015.
The council estimates that continuation of Obama-era policies would leave the U.S. about 12 percentage points shy of its Paris pledge. 

That’s why 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had proposed an ambitious agenda for further progress.

With President Trump and congressional Republicans calling to reverse Obama’s policies without replacement, we’d likely fall further behind.
To meet our Paris pledge, the council proposes a carbon tax starting at $40/ton and rising with time. 

Unlike weaker taxes discussed before, the new proposal would likely be more than sufficient for that goal. 

A recent Treasury Department analysis estimates that a $49/ton tax would far surpass the emission cuts needed for Paris.

Meanwhile, Resources for the Future modeled various sets of carbon taxes that could achieve the Paris pledge. 

As co-author Marc Hafstead explained via email, their modeling shows a tax rising to $38/ton (in year 2013 dollars) by 2025 would meet the target. 

The council’s proposal would exceed that level with its annual increases, and yield further benefits for decades to come.
Interestingly, Hafstead noted that their calculation of a $38/ton threshold for Paris compliance assumes the U.S. abandons efforts to control more potent greenhouse gases like methane. 

That may be the case, as the House voted this month to overturn rules on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling.
But if we don’t abandon progress on other pollutants, Hafstead estimates a tax of just $22/ton would be sufficient.
Ditching methane controls is a bad deal for many reasons. 

Methane is the leading source of ozone smog worldwide. 

That’s why researchers such as Jason West of the University of North Carolina and Arlene Fiore of Columbia University have shown that methane reductions can save tens of thousands of lives.

Leaking methane also means wasting a valuable fuel. 

Since methane is short-lived, it actually causes more warming near-term than traditional 100-year outlooks would suggest. 

Controlling methane while keeping the council’s $40-plus/ton tax proposal would accelerate U.S. progress toward its ultimate goal of 80 percent emission reductions by 2050.
Environmentalists have little to lose trading the Clean Power Plan for a carbon tax. 

As I wrote with Leah Parks last year, the U.S. is well ahead of schedule to meet the plan’s targets.

 That’s because cheaper natural gas and renewables are already displacing coal, even as the Clean Power Plan remains tied up in court.


The main importance of the Clean Power Plan is preventing a swing back to coal if natural gas prices rise. 

But a carbon tax averts that scenario. 

A $40/ton tax would add 4.2 cents per kilowatt hour to the cost of coal electricity, but just 1.6 cents for natural gas combined cycle plants. 

Solar and wind would pay nothing.

With many coal plants already losing money, coal would quickly give way to cheaper and cleaner forms of electricity.

 Meanwhile, the tax on natural gas is comparable in size to existing tax credits for wind and solar. 

Even without those tax credits, wind and solar are already as cheap as new natural gas plants. 

Taxing natural gas would help renewables extend their recent dominance of new generation capacity without the need for subsidies.
For transportation, the effects of a carbon tax would be far milder. 

A $40/ton tax would add just 36 cents to the cost of a gallon of gasoline. 

That’s not going to convince many people to drive less or buy an electric car, especially since electricity prices would rise a bit too. 

However, with fuel economy standards set to tighten, electric car sales would continue to rise.

Looking beyond the 2025 Paris target, swapping regulations for a carbon tax becomes an even more attractive deal. 

The Clean Power Plan ends in 2030. 

However, a steadily rising carbon tax would continue to drive down emissions for decades to come.
Carbon taxes have traditionally been criticized as regressive, since the poor spend a greater share of their income on energy. 

However, by rebating the tax through a per-person dividend, the Climate Leadership Council’s proposal would leave many low-income families better off.
So should Democrats and independents welcome this deal?
In a word, yes. 

Writers in The Nation, the The New York Times and Mother Jones have reached similar conclusions. 

I’d bargain for tougher methane regulations, but could accept waiting to restore those later.
Trouble is, conservative economists and retired Republican statesmen are in no position to seal this deal. 

RepublicEn, Citizens Climate Lobby and the Climate Solutions Caucus are trying to rally Republican and bipartisan support for a carbon tax in Congress.
For now, such efforts have fallen on deaf ears from politicians who hear no evil on climate.

 If that changes, liberals and moderates shouldn’t shy away from nixing Obama-era policies to accept a market-based solution to climate change.
Dan Cohan is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University.

Press link for more: The Hill

Carbon Tax a Market Based solution for #ClimateChange #auspol 

This GOP-Backed Carbon-Tax Plan
Purist objections scuttled Washington State’s market-friendly carbon tax plan in November. 

Let’s not let that happen at the national level.

By Charles Komanoff


Progressives Need to Get Over Themselves and Support This GOP-Backed Carbon-Tax Plan

Carbon-tax haters can relax. 

The proposal for a national carbon tax released on February 8 by high-level Republicans, including über-GOP consigliere James Baker, isn’t going anywhere. 

Financially and ideologically, the American right is wedded to carbon fuels. 

Trumpism runs on and reeks of them. 

Predictably, not a single Republican in Congress, and no one in the White House, has uttered a single positive word about the new carbon-tax plan.
Nevertheless, the proposal’s intended audience may not be Beltway Republicans but rather those ordinary Americans, majorities in both parties, who say they want action on climate, and who therefore might yet figure in the political equation over climate policy. 

That group includes progressives. 

We should pay attention: Carbon taxes matter.
Our long-building climate crisis is already materializing as drowned coasts, punishing droughts, vanishing glaciers—and political upheaval. 

At its root is a century-old lie: market prices for gasoline and other fossil fuels that do not factor in the damage from burning them.

A clean-energy revolution is at last underway, with wind power, solar electricity, and energy efficiency becoming not only cheaper by the day but also easier to deploy. 

Still, the clean-energy transition will be slowed until prices of coal, oil, and gas reflect their true environmental costs. 

A carbon tax could do that, if designed properly.
How carbon taxes work is simple enough, at least in theory.

 Fuel use is infinitely varied and intricately woven into society in ways that regulations such as auto-mileage standards can’t fully reach. 

Clear price signals, on the other hand, can be a nearly magic wand to help billions of invisible hands rapidly reduce and replace fossil fuels.


But with a carbon tax come difficult choices about the vast revenue it will generate. 

Carbon taxing had a test run at the ballot box last November in the state of Washington, and it ended badly.
Progressives can’t just walk away from carbon taxes, the policy tool with the best chance of catching fire globally.

On November 8, voters in the Evergreen State rejected by a nearly 3-to-2 margin what would have been the nation’s first statewide carbon tax.

 A win for “Initiative 732” would have given the United States a carbon-tax beachhead, like Canada’s British Columbia, which has had a small but successful carbon tax since 2008.
Remarkably, the decisive factor in defeating I-732 may not have been money from Big Carbon or even popular aversion to higher taxes, since the initiative was tailored to keep Washingtonians’ tax burden unchanged. 

What doomed I-732 was a fissure within the climate movement, with centrist economists and other policy wonks in favor of the initiative and progressive greens opposed.
Stated briefly, climate activists in Washington split over opposing answers to two key questions: 

What are carbon taxes for, and who gets to design them?
Carbon taxes can cut emissions in two ways.

 As noted above, they raise the price of carbon fuels, thereby worsening their competitive position vis-à-vis cleaner fuels. 

In addition, the tax revenues raised by a carbon tax can be invested in clean-energy infrastructure such as public transit and community solar.
The first path—the “price pull” of boosting market prices of carbon fuels—is what dazzles economists. 

The second route—the “revenue push” of investing in green infrastructure—appeals to many ordinary folks, especially on the left. 

Some progressives actively distrust policies that lean hard on price signals, partly for fear that workers in dirty industries will be penalized as investment migrates to cleaner alternatives.
The stakes are higher now than ever.

For decades, reactionary forces in the United States have been able to block seemingly every new public endeavor by labeling it “tax and spend.”

 The Washington State carbon-tax proponents believed they had an antidote:

 Don’t allow the government to spend the revenues from the carbon tax; rather, use those revenues to reduce other taxes. 

The political assumption seemed to be that going “revenue neutral,” though it might frustrate the left—bye-bye, public investment—could placate the right or at least capture the center. 

And so Carbon WA, as the advocates of I-732 called themselves, fashioned its ballot initiative around cuts to the state’s regressive sales tax.
Progressive greens recoiled. 

The Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy, a state umbrella group of environmental-justice organizations and mainstream allies, blasted I-732 for starving green jobs and ignoring front-line communities. 

So did nationally prominent progressive leaders like Naomi Klein and Van Jones. 

The measure’s electoral chances, which were never good, could not withstand this split. 

On Election Day, as Hillary Clinton was besting Trump in Washington State by half-a-million votes, the carbon tax was rejected, 59 percent to 41 percent.
But progressives can’t just walk away from carbon taxes. 

Carbon taxes are the only policy tool that, by slashing demand in a rapid, predictable way, divests our economy from fossil fuels and enables governments, business, and consumers to make investments in the transition to clean energy. 

Carbon taxes also have the best chance of catching fire globally.

The carbon tax James Baker brought to the Trump White House on February 8 on behalf of the new Climate Leadership Council has a lot in common with I-732: 

The Council’s proposal is also avowedly revenue neutral.

 But rather than lowering an existing tax, it relies on a so-called tax-and-dividend model: 

As the state of Alaska does with oil revenues, revenues from the Council’s national carbon tax would be returned equally to all American households in quarterly “dividends” digitally deposited in Social Security accounts. 

The tax would start at $40 per ton of carbon dioxide.
Earmarking all of the revenue to these dividends creates the political will to raise the tax every year, since the dividends rise in tandem with the tax rate. 

Ramping up the tax by $5 a year would shrink the use of carbon fuels so drastically that, by my calculations, US carbon emissions in 2030 would be 40 percent less than they were in 2005 (a standard baseline year).
Government policy revolves around trade-offs, and on balance James Baker’s carbon tax is worth supporting.

Yet this progress comes with a catch. 

The council would phase out much of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory authority over greenhouse gases and would outright repeal President Obama’s Clean Power Plan to cut emissions from electricity generation. 

It would also immunize fossil-fuel companies from lawsuits for damages done by their products—lawsuits such as those bound to arise from the revelations that ExxonMobil and other companies knew for decades about the climate damages their products cause, and lied about it.
But government policy revolves around trade-offs, and on balance the council’s carbon tax is worth supporting.

 After all, well over 80 percent of the Clean Power Plan’s targeted reductions for 2030 were already achieved by the end of 2016. 

Thus trading away the Clean Power Plan for a tax that could scour fossil fuels from the entire economy is like swapping an aging ballplayer for the next superstar.
Of course, some people will not see it that way, particularly traditional green groups that helped write the laws and regulations that cleaned up the nation’s air and water.

 Some will regard the council’s trade as a ploy to undo the EPA’s authority to protect not just climate—where it may be largely ineffectual anyway—but public health.
With Republicans tightly lashed to climate denial, the value of Baker’s carbon-tax proposal may be less as a gateway to legislation and more as a spur for progressives and other citizens to take a clear look at carbon pricing.

Will progressives trust the verdict of economists that a revenue-neutral carbon tax can drive the energy transition so long as the tax level is high enough? 

Or do we support carbon taxes only if the revenues are invested in the clean-energy transition? 

If so, how do we craft a spending program that reconciles the claims of competing interests? 

And what is our blueprint for building political power to enact such a carbon tax, when “tax” remains a dirty word in national politics?


Clear majorities of Americans want climate action.

 Remarkably, some polls have even found that majorities of Americans support carbon taxes like the Climate Leadership Council’s proposal. 

With the Democrats’ national defeats last November, the failure of climate activists to unite on the Washington state referendum is looking like an unforced error of cruel proportions. 

We can’t afford to repeat that mistake at the national level.

Press link for more: The Nation.com

Climate Change One of Mankind’s Most Serious Threats. #Auspol 

Catastrophic Climate Change Makes List of Mankind’s Most Serious Threats
Extreme climate change is among the greatest threats facing mankind, says a new study released by the Global Challenges Foundation


Still politicians (Who receive huge donations from coal miners) push coal ignoring climate scientists.

Scott Morrison  Liberal Party in the Australian Parilament 
The GCF works to raise awareness of Global Catastrophic Risks, defined as events that would end the lives of roughly 10 percent or more of the global population, or do comparable damage.


The industrial landscape across the Dee Estuary at sunrise as steam rises from Deeside power station, Shotton Steelworks and other heavy industrial plants on April 13, 2016 in Flint, Wales. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The list includes “significant ongoing risks” such as nuclear war and worldwide disease outbreaks but also highlights several scenarios that are “unlikely today but will become significantly more likely in the coming decades,”such as the continued rise of artificial intelligence. 

It’s there, among the emerging risks, that the study places the threat of catastrophic climate change.

Politician addicted to coal donations

Barnaby Joyce National Party in the Australian Parliament 
Even if we succeed in limiting emissions, the study says, scientists expect significant climate change to occur, which could lead to a host of global challenges including environmental degradation, migration, and the possibility of resource conflict.

The study goes on to say that, in a worse case scenario, global warming could top 6 degrees Celsius, which would leave “large swathes of the planet dramatically less habitable.”
“The precise levels of climate change sufficient to trigger tipping points – thresholds for abrupt and irreversible change – remain uncertain,“ the study says, “but the risk associated with crossing multiple tipping points in the earth system or in interlinked human and natural systems increases with rising temperature.”

The main goal of the study is to raise awareness of these potential catastrophes and encourage greater global cooperation to keep them at bay.
(MORE: Climate Change Poses Urgent Health Risk, White House Says)
“Market and political distortions mean that these risks are likely to be systematically neglected by many actors,” the study says.
The study suggests there are three main ways to reduce the risks from climate change: adaptation to climate change, abatement of emissions, and geo-engineering. Research communities should increase their focus on understanding the pathways to and the likelihood of catastrophic climate change, and possible ways to respond, the study says.
MORE ON WEATHER.COM: Before and After Shots of Rising Sea Levels

This photo illustration depicts Durban, South Africa, after a 2 degrees Celsius increase in global temperature, a threshold that, if surpassed, could usher in catastrophic global impacts from climate change. (Credit: sealevel.climatecentral.org/Nickolay Lamm) 
Press link for More: Weather.com

Rise Up For The Climate! #auspol 

Earth Week’s climate change plea

Photo: reb gro@Flickr

The University of Manchester’s Students’ Union launched Earth Week with a panel discussion, including campaigners Asad Rehman, from Friends of the Earth, and Martin Empson, from Campaign Against Climate Change.
Asad Rehman began with an enlightening speech about the effects of climate change on developing countries, and how intertwined the cause is with that of the #NoBanNoWall campaign. 

It is estimated that roughly 70,000 people die due to climate change related issues each year, but millions more are displaced from their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. 


It is estimated that 1 person every second is displaced from their homes as a result of drought, flood, or other climate change related disasters. 

So just as you have refugees of war, you have refugees of climate change.
What makes matters worse, is it is beyond their control. 

10 per cent of the richest countries are responsible for 50 per cent of the carbon emissions.

 Asad uses the analogy, “climate change is like the Titanic, and we’ve hit the proverbial iceberg. 

But it is the richer countries that are the people getting on the boats, whilst the poor and locked in the cabin.”
It is therefore not surprising that those who are feeling the effect of climate change-induced famine or other natural disasters are seeking refuge and help from us. 

But rather than villainising them as ‘economic migrants’, they need and deserve our legal protection.
It is because of this injustice that Asad stressed that we must rebuild a system of justice, and give a face to millions that don’t have a voice. 


We have a social responsibility to support causes such as Friends of the Earth and Campaign Against Climate Change to “build bridges, not walls”.

 Although we may not see the damage we cause, it doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Martin Empson elaborated that the way you can help such causes is to just get involved. 

Currently protests are everywhere and are certainly making the public’s voice heard, but he stressed that you should take part in all movements to do your bit. 

Or if that, sign a petition, write to your local MP or donate to make sure something is done.
Everyone wants to protest Trump right now, but we need to ensure the environmental and migration movements work together to positively reinforce each other and make their voices louder. 

By doing this, Martin claims we can “create a positive agenda that creates hope”.

Press link for more: Manunion.com

Coal-fired generators have no future. #auspol 

The simple truth: Coal-fired generators have no future in Australia

By Ian Verrender

An investment of that magnitude also requires huge amounts of project debt 
Govt may fund coal power

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the Clean Energy Finance Corporation could be used to fund new clean coal power stations.

What it found was that none of the new technologies can deliver power as cheaply as our current batch of carbon belching coal plants.
When it came to renewable energy, wind was the winner while among the new-generation fossil fuel plants, gas-fired combined cycle plants and supercritical coal-fired generation came out on top.


In a nutshell, the study explains that renewable energy has high upfront costs but is extremely cheap to run, given the fuel — wind and sun — comes at no cost. 

Gas plants are cheaper to build, but have higher running costs.
But there’s one crucial cost that weighs heavily on the minds of investors and bankers. 

And that’s carbon.
According to the CSIRO, if a carbon price was introduced, the economics of power generation shifts in favour of renewables, although a relatively high price is required. 

Wind is competitive with new-generation coal at $30 a tonne of carbon dioxide, solar at $70 a tonne.
Carbon storage, the kind of technology the Government is now looking at, can also be expensive, ranging from $5 to up to $70 a tonne.

The simple truth: Coal-fired generators have no future in Australia

 Barnaby Joyce holds a lump of coal in the House of Representatives

PHOTO: The debate over carbon emissions and electricity couldn’t have occurred at a more appropriate time. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

Maybe it’s the heat, or the unprecedented run of searing temperatures scorching the continent.
Whatever the cause, the torrid debate in Parliament over carbon emissions and electricity in recent months couldn’t have occurred at a more appropriate moment.
The only problem is that every politician, state and federal, has always clung to the truism that power begets power or, perhaps the inverse; that whoever delivers blackouts gets booted out of office.
Turnbull’s turnaround

The man who lost the leadership by fighting to introduce a carbon price is now against renewable energy, Stephen Long writes.

As the finger-pointing over higher prices nationally, blackouts in South Australia and threatened disruptions across the eastern states escalates, any notion over rational debate on how best to address the nation’s long-term energy challenges has evaporated.
Put aside the irony that the recent run of misfortune on the national electricity grid is the direct result of a savage uptick in extreme weather conditions, a trend the vast bulk of climate scientists have been warning of for decades.
The simple truth is that, despite the entertaining theatre of insults in the national capital, Australia’s future power needs overwhelmingly will be provided by renewables and gas. 

Coal-fired generators have no future in Australia.
That is a trend driven by energy generators and consumers, both of which have abandoned hope of policy leadership from Parliament.
Generators jettisoned the idea of coal years ago, at least when it comes to building new power stations, because they carry too much risk.

 You’re looking at upwards of $1 billion for a large-scale coal-fired generator that would be expected to last around 50 years.
No rational businessperson is willing to commit that kind of funding over that period, in an electoral cycle that lasts just three years.

 And that’s just the equity side.
An investment of that magnitude also requires huge amounts of project debt and, faced with the prospect of stranded assets and non-performing loans, financiers have wiped their hands of the idea of coal-fired electricity.
Consumers, meanwhile, have plunged into renewables, with Australians among the world’s fastest adopters of rooftop solar.
Renewables v coal
Sadly, much of the debate about our future power generation has become mired in political point-scoring and simplistic arguments designed to inflame and outrage; where ignorance dominates academic research. 

The recent power outages in South Australia are a prime example.
While it has become fashionable to denigrate scientists, particularly when related to climate or energy, it’s worth reading through the CSIRO’s 2015 report into Australia’s future energy needs.
“Electricity grids are complex systems and the largest machines ever developed by humans,” it notes.

With that in mind, it attempted to compare the costs of various forms of power generation, from traditional fossil fuel plants to the renewable technologies and everything in between.
Govt may fund coal power

Treasurer Scott Morrison says the Clean Energy Finance Corporation could be used to fund new clean coal power stations.

What it found was that none of the new technologies can deliver power as cheaply as our current batch of carbon belching coal plants.
When it came to renewable energy, wind was the winner while among the new-generation fossil fuel plants, gas-fired combined cycle plants and supercritical coal-fired generation came out on top.
In a nutshell, the study explains that renewable energy has high upfront costs but is extremely cheap to run, given the fuel — wind and sun — comes at no cost. Gas plants are cheaper to build, but have higher running costs.
But there’s one crucial cost that weighs heavily on the minds of investors and bankers. And that’s carbon.
According to the CSIRO, if a carbon price was introduced, the economics of power generation shifts in favour of renewables, although a relatively high price is required. Wind is competitive with new-generation coal at $30 a tonne of carbon dioxide, solar at $70 a tonne.
Carbon storage, the kind of technology the Government is now looking at, can also be expensive, ranging from $5 to up to $70 a tonne.

 Scott Morrison holds a lump of coal in Parliament

PHOTO: “On this side of the house you will not find a fear of coal,” Treasurer Scott Morrison said. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

Carbon pricing is inevitable
Although early attempts at pricing carbon emissions have failed, no-one in the power industry, or those that finance it, is under any illusion that emissions will be free forever.
It is the same in mining. 

Every major corporation views carbon pricing as inevitable and includes a range of prices when determining the economics of long term projects.
Why is everyone talking about a carbon tax?

These are the five things you need to know about the debate over carbon pricing.

Given the significant costs levied on those putting waste into landfill and the prohibition on disposing of noxious materials into our waterways, it’s remarkable that to this day, the atmosphere is freely used as a garbage dump at no cost.
Last week, a study commissioned by the Minerals Council claimed that renewable energy in Australia was the beneficiary of huge subsidies.
Large-scale renewable projects, it claimed, were on the receiving end of $1.8 billion in direct subsidies last year alone. That’s a claim rejected as simplistic and incorrect by those in the renewables industry.
Whatever the number, there is no doubt that renewable energy has been on the receiving end of vast subsidy handouts both for large scale and home generation here and around the globe.
But it’s equally true that, in the absence of a carbon price, high-polluting industries have been getting a free ride, not only by avoiding the cost of damage to the environment and the planet, as the science overwhelmingly points to, but through the damage to the health of countless millions of people.
It’s also worth noting that every Australian coal-fired power plant was built with taxpayer money. As were the electricity distribution systems.

 And while many since have been sold to private interests, the sales processes have thrown up some interesting numbers.
When the NSW government sold its electricity generation assets for $1.5 billion, the deal was hailed a breakthrough.

 But the Tamberlin Inquiry in 2011 discovered about $4 billion worth of taxpayer subsidies to the generators in the form of cheap long-term coal contracts.
Coal-fired generators also use huge amounts of water, much of which — unlike farmers — is gifted to them.

 Then, of course, there are the would-be new coal miners up in the Carmichael Basin — most notably the Adani family — with their hands out for about $1 billion in taxpayer-funded infrastructure.
What’s the solution?
From an economic perspective, it would be far more efficient to eliminate subsidies altogether and to put a price on carbon that reflected its true cost.

 Private investors then would be able to choose which technology was most efficient.
One of the great drawbacks of renewables has been the intermittent nature of its generation. As a famous politician once noted wryly:
“If the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, there is no power being generated.”

That’s true. 

But energy storage, particularly batteries, is the game changer that could rectify that shortcoming.
Just as the cost of solar panels has plummeted in recent years, as production technology has improved and the huge demand from households and business has improved economies of scale, the same can be expected from energy storage technology systems.
That will create a new set of technical headaches and cost challenges on how best to maintain a national power network, for which we appear to be entirely unprepared.

Press link for more: ABC.net.au

Reliance on fossil fuel particularly coal is unsustainable! #auspol 

Memo to federal politicians: get on with renewable energy plan

Illustration: Jim Pavlidis 

There is a consensus that reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable electricity is crucial to the wellbeing of our growing population, and to the economy as a key factor of production.

There is widespread agreement that the historic reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal, is unsustainable, as it is a major cause of dangerous global warming, and thus that there should be a transition to renewable energy sources.
There is, too, agreement that such a transition requires business investment, which in turn depends on confidence government policy will not unduly chop and change, as it has here in the past decade. 

The electricity industry itself has long been calling for a price on carbon emissions as a pivotal part of creating certainty, as well as a market incentive to expedite the shift to renewables, a journey being made cheaper and easier by rapid progress in storage technology.
So, there is an evident and urgent commonality of interests across our society and throughout the world that energy policy be well managed. 

Providing fresh and compelling evidence of this commonality is a group letter released by organisations representing electricity suppliers and consumers, big and small business, environmental advocates, researchers and the union movement.

On the one hand, it’s encouraging to see such a well co-ordinated and community-wide clarion call to lawmakers to put aside petty politics and broker a bipartisan approach to energy policy. 

On the other, though, it is dispiriting we are in this situation as long as a decade after then prime minister John Howard took a market-focused carbon price to the 2007 election, as did the victor of that encounter, ALP leader Kevin Rudd.
The letter exhorts all politicians to “stop partisan antics and work together to reform Australia’s energy systems and markets”.

 It says politicking has made energy investments “impossibly risky”, which has squeezed supply, shoving prices up and shackling change.

 “The result is enduring dysfunction in the electricity sector.”
Yet the government argues that price hikes and recent supply crises, particularly in South Australia, primarily reflect a failure of renewable energy. 

In recent days it has run the line with vehemence, dubiously seeking to besmirch the federal ALP for events that are clearly well beyond its control.
The government’s misappropriation and distortion of the South Australian situation looks particularly flimsy in light of a revelation by Fairfax Media that it is ignoring advice from its own independent advisors that blackouts are not being caused by that state’s relatively high renewable energy target, but by failures in the network, and damage caused by extreme weather.
Coal-dependent states are having supply woes, too, after all. 

The government has so far failed to make a convincing case for its renewed enthusiasm for coal. 

We believe it will be unable to do so, and should capitalise on the opportunity to help lead a bipartisan plan to advance the transition to renewable energy.
Historically, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been an unambiguous supporter of using a price on carbon as we transition to renewable energy. 

In 2010, he said Australia “cannot cost-effectively achieve a substantial cut in emissions without putting a price on carbon”.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, too, supports pricing carbon.

 Most policy thinkers support it in principle.

 The power industry supports it. Community support is widespread.
It is hard to think of a core issue on which there is more agreement, yet less policy progress.

 And, like the reliance on fossil fuels, it’s unsustainable and fraught.

Press link for more: The Age