Trouble in Europe

As everyone who has been following the European Emissions Trading System no doubt already knows, there’s trouble brewing. The problem is that, rather than auction off the permits, or allocate them on the basis of some rational set of equity principles, the folks in Brussels have engineered a “dysfunctional” system in which emissions permits go to the powerful, on the basis of past emissions or, uh, power.

The result, as all climate newhounds know, is a glut of allocations (hot air) and a drop in the price of carbon in Europe from the already low level of 30 Euros a ton to even lower, deep discount, bad-joke levels. Which you can read about in this admirably brief and direct report from a think tank called Open Europe.

None of this would be so bad if it was just a sign of birthing pains. But rumors indicate that the EU is not rising to the occasion, and that the next round of allocations won’t be much smaller. Cross your fingers, and hope that “European Leadership” has a bit of wind left in its sails

China and "Our Oil"

Have you noticed the new fashion for China Bashing If you haven’t, be assured that the drums are beating. The underlying story here is, as always, complex, though it sure seems to have a lot of do with US dreams of a new cold war, and even of Containing China. Or, if you indulge in the coarser varieties of business journalism, it’s the story of China (and India) taking “our oil.”

In this context, check out the Energy Information Administration’s reference projections for future oil consumption. Click here for the PDF or, if you have Excel installed, here. The numbers are pretty amusing. For one thing they show total global oil consumption rising from 78.2 million barrels a day in 2002 to 119.2 million barrels a day in 2025, which, by the way, is not going to happen. But they also show that increased US consumption in that brief period will be 7.6 million barrels a day, while China’s will be 9.

Think about that in per-capita terms and you’ll get the joke.

Justice and Honesty in New Orleans

New Orleans still has more to teach us, and this little piece by Melissa Harris Lacewell, author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought is a good place to look for another lesson. Faced with a haphazard (if not willfully incompetent) reconstruction that’s leaving the city’s poor black community in even more precarious straits than it suffered before the storm, Lacewell calls for a “restoration” that really is designed to make the victims whole.

There will be more hurricanes, more relocations, more — let’s face it — climate refugees. It’s time, as the “adaptation” debate heats up, to think more viscerally. And a bit of effort spent mining these same veins is just what’s needed.

News Flash: Poor More Likely to Die from Climate Impacts

Careful new calculations indicate that global warming contributes to 150,000 deaths and five million illnesses every year, and that this rate could double by 2030. Why Because we’ll see increased infectious disease outbreaks, respiratory illnesses, flooding, and other calamities. And here’s the real news, straight from the Washington Post: “Most Victims are Poor.” Even more shocking,” “Those most vulnerable to climate change are not the ones responsible for causing it.”

The Great Game

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is Germany was already known for original thinking before it released Keep Cool: Gambling with the Climate, a board game that may, only a few decades hence, seem less comic than prescient. In the Risk-like world of Keep Cool, it’s even possible for, say, the developing countries to drive the climate over the edge, hoping all the while for the rich world to pay enough to make that destruction unnecessary. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it

Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change: The Book

Now that the tide seems to be turning, at least a wee bit, it’s a good time to recall the bad old days – like, say, two years ago – when most folks in the US “climate community” were still discretely minimizing the urgency of the situation. That, of course, was before Jim Hansen started telling us we less that ten years to bring global emissions to a peak. And before Al Gore brought the rhetoric of “planetary emergency” into common usage. And it was, less famously, before “Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change,” better known as “the Exeter Conference,” provided the occasion by which the scientific community, by whatever mysterious process that scientists use when deciding these sorts of things, finally decided to set aside its traditional reserve and start speaking frankly.

If you think there’s a whiff of panic in the air, you’re right. If you want to know the details, this is the place for you.

WWF's New 2C Study

If you’ve spent any time at all on this site, you know that we’re partisans of the “Two Degree Limit” school, and that we argue that an average planetary warming of greater than 2C would threaten us with global, not merely local, climate catastrophe. In this new study, WWF (also members of 2C school) go onto the bad news, reviewing a number of recent modeling studies that indicate that we’ll hit 2C between 2026 and 2060, and that when we do the Arctic will warm three times as much. The consequence will be hard to exaggerate, and the lesson clear — 2C is too much.

Speaking of Trade War

In this report, a few of our German friends come right out and think the unthinkable. Indeed, in Implementing the Kyoto Protocol Without the United States: The Strategic Role of Energy Tax Adjustments at the Border, Frank Biermann and Rainer Brohm of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research go so far as to argue that, if the U.S. remains indefinitely outside a future greenhouse regime (assuming we ever get one) even existing world trade law would permit the European Union to enact “well designed” and “comprehensive” border adjustments against its exports.

Want some freedom fries with that