Sierra Club Takes McCain to Task for "Lie" about Clean-Energy Non-Vote 5

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 09 Feb 2008 21:56:00 GMT

Following the one-vote failure on Wednesday of S. Amdt 3983 to H.R. 5140, the Senate stimulus package that contained $5.6 billion in “green” incentives, various environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, called Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for missing the vote.

On Thursday, the Sierra Club asked its members to call McCain’s office to ask “why he failed to show up for a vote that could have determined the future of green energy in America.”

Today, Executive Director Carl Pope blistered the office response to member calls in a blog post entitled John McCain Should Be Ashamed.

Immediately, people begin calling and emailing me, saying, “The Senator’s office says he voted for clean energy, and that your alert is wrong.” We check. He didn’t. We call his office. Stunningly, his staff has been coached to mislead callers. “That’s not true at all,” they say, “he voted for the bill yesterday.” Well, he voted, yesterday, but for a different bill. However we phrase the question, we get a lie. “No, if he had voted for the bill, it would not have passed. That was purely procedural.” But McCain’s staff knows that if cloture had been invoked, passage of the bill would then only require 51 votes, and the bill with clean energy would have passed. [Ed.- emphasis added.]

Friends of the Earth Airs DC-Area "Fix or Ditch" Ads Before Primaries 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 08 Feb 2008 19:38:00 GMT

Friends of the Earth announced today that it is expanding its web and print “Fix or Ditch” campaign with a local network and cable ad buy before the February 12 Virginia, Maryland, and DC primaries.

The campaign, which challenges Senate Democrats to change Lieberman-Warner’s emissions targets and allowance distribution provisions (S. 2191) to reflect the platforms of the presidential candidates of their party, has drawn fire from Sen. Boxer (D-Calif.) and Environmental Defense as well as a passionate letter of support from Greenpeace.

Meanwhile, American Prospect correspondent (and Tapped co-founder) Chris Mooney challenges the Democratic platforms of 100% auction and 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 in This Will Mean the World to Us (sub. req.):
Many Democratic campaigns, responding to their environmental base, are currently outlining cap-and-trade regimes featuring a highly ambitious 100 percent auction process for the initial pollution allowances or permits, with the proceeds going to other needed public policies, such as investment in the clean-energy technologies that must ultimately supplant fossil fuels. When it comes to specifying precise reductions, meanwhile, the campaigns generally seem to agree that we need something like bringing emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020 and decreasing them by 80 percent by 2050, through a cap that becomes progressively more stringent.

An 80 percent reduction by 2050 does indeed square with what scientists think would be necessary to avoid the worst climate impacts—most notably, the loss of large bodies of land-based ice currently perched atop Greenland and West Antarctica, which, upon sliding into the ocean, would drive catastrophic sea-level rise. It’s one thing to outline a policy in the abstract, however, and quite another to get it through the next Congress. As one climate policy insider says, “The environmental community has a tendency to run their leaders off a plank; that’s what they’re setting up right now with this 80 percent reduction by 2050.”

The more moderate approach of the Lieberman-Warner bill is to reduce capped emissions (and not all emissions are included) by 70 percent by 2050. Lieberman-Warner is also pragmatic in another way: It does not set up a 100 percent auction for emissions allowances, a system that major emitters oppose. They think they should be granted allowances gratis at the outset (or as climate experts say, there should be “grandfathering”). Under Lieberman-Warner, just 24 percent of allowances would be auctioned off initially, though the percentage would increase over time. It’s far easier to get buy-in from industry in this way, and although Lieberman-Warner may have a tough time passing both houses of Congress before the election (or surviving a possible presidential veto), it may be precisely the type of bill that can sail through in 2009.

What’s achievable in climate policy seems to be changing all the time, but still we mustn’t shoot the moon. Consider the perspective of Tim Profeta, current director of Duke’s Nicholas Institute, who previously served as a chief architect of the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, which failed by a 55-to-43 Senate vote in 2003. “As somebody who fought for a freeze of emissions in the 2003 Congress and was told it was too aggressive, it is hard for me to believe where we are now,” Profeta says. “The current movement to require 100 percent auctions and even deeper cuts faces strong political opposition from emitters, many of whom have good arguments about what is economically feasible for their companies. I fear that we might pass up the opportunity for real action now—when it is essential to have the U.S. begin to reduce its emissions—because someadvocatescontinue to shift the objectives to stricter and stricter limits as the debate proceeds.” It’s fine for Democratic candidates, at the moment, to answer the call of environmental groups—the Sierra Club, for instance, has criticized Lieberman-Warner—and present highly ambitious cap-and-trade proposals. But after the election, the new president will need to be flexible and focus on getting a workable bill passed. It can be strengthened later as more science comes in—2050 is, after all, still far away—but we must at least begin ratcheting down emissions now.

Focus the Nation Teach-In

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 31 Jan 2008 05:00:00 GMT

Focus the Nation is a national teach-in on January 31, 2008, engaging millions of students and citizens with political leaders and decision makers about Global Warming Solutions.

We stand at a unique moment in human history. Decisions that are ours to make today – to stabilize global warming pollution and invest in clean energy solutions – will have a profound impact not only on our lives and the lives of our children, but indeed for every human being who will ever walk the face of the planet from now until the end of time. At this moment in time, we owe our young people one day of focused discussion about global warming solutions for America

More than just that one day, Focus the Nation: Global Warming Solutions for America is an unprecedented educational initiative, involving over a thousand colleges, universities, high schools, middle schools, faith groups, civic organizations and businesses. Focus the Nation is a catalyzing force helping shift the national conversation about global warming towards a determination to face this civilizational challenge.

A teach-in is a day when an entire school turns its attention to a single issue—when faculty, students and staff put aside business as usual, and focus the full weight of campus engagement on one topic.

The key to a successful teach-in is widespread faculty involvement. Focus the Nation challenges participating schools to engage at least fifty faculty members in their role as educators (as well as students, staff, alumni, and community members). With fifty plus faculty engaged from disciplines across the curriculum—art, science, politics, psychology, engineering, philosophy—the event will involve thousands of students on each campus, and millions of students nationwide.

Faculty will say yes to involvement for two reasons. First, the Focus the Nation model requires them to talk for only 10 minutes in a subject area close to their discipline, and then help lead a half an hour discussion. Faculty do not have to be climate change experts to participate, nor invest heavily in preparation. Second, faculty across the curriculum are eager to be asked. As educators and as parents, they understand the magnitude of the global warming challenge, and are looking for an opportunity to engage with students on this critical issue. And once 50+ faculty are involved, then Presidents and Deans will be supportive. Most critically, thousands of students will attend, because faculty will require them to go, or give them extra credit, because other faculty will “focus” their classes, and travel with them to attend the sessions, but primarily because global warming solutions will be the exciting focus of discussion that day. Using this model, we view 2 million students nationwide as a realistic participation goal.

For high schools unable to build a teach-in, and for faith organizations and civic groups, there is a second way to Focus the Nation: host a screening of our free, live interactive webcast, THE 2% SOLUTION, the night of Wednesday, January 30th. (Showing The 2% Solution is also the way to kick-off your teach-in)

Friends of the Earth Launches Campaign Against Lieberman-Warner 14

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 30 Jan 2008 22:31:00 GMT


This advertisement is running on environmental and progressive blogs.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth, who had endorsed John Edwards’s campaign for president, today launched an ambitious campaign criticizing the Lieberman-Warner climate bill (S. 2191) and Senate Democrats supporting it, noting that Edwards, Clinton, and Obama had all released climate plans that distinctly differ from the bill in economics and emissions targets. At Lieberman-Warner.org:
After years of ignoring global warming, the U.S. Senate is finally considering legislation to cap greenhouse gas pollution. Unfortunately, the Lieberman-Warner bill being advanced by Senate Democrats lavishes up to $1 trillion on industries responsible for global warming, and in return asks for reduction targets well below what scientists say are necessary. If this is the best Senate Democrats can do, the world is in trouble.

Friends of the Earth Action is leading the fight to either fix, or ditch, Lieberman-Warner, and we need your help.

The good news is that we already have some key allies: the Democratic presidential candidates. They all have plans that make polluters pay for emissions and that seek the carbon reductions called for by science. We think the Senate needs to build on their plans rather than the weak Lieberman-Warner bill, which is modeled on legislation by Senator John McCain.

Administration Misses Polar Bear Deadline; Conservation Groups to Sue 7

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 09 Jan 2008 16:38:00 GMT

On Monday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would miss today’s deadline on determining whether to list the polar bear as an endangered species due to global warming-induced polar sea ice loss. As noted in Hill Heat, last week the administration announced its intent to sell off-shore drilling rights in polar bear habitat off Alaska.

Today the Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC, and Greenpeace announced they have filed a notice of intent to sue the administration.

This would be the second lawsuit filed over FWS delays; in 2005 the Center for Biological Diversity v. Kempthorne lawsuit to compel the FWS to respond to the request to start the polar bear listing process (the FWS ended up taking two years instead of the Endangered Species Act-mandated 90 days).

Alaska Drilling Sale Announced Before Polar Bear Endangerment Decision 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 03 Jan 2008 17:29:00 GMT

The U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) will hold its first federal Outer Continental Shelf oil and gas lease sale since 1991 on February 6. It is leasing nearly 46,000 square miles in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska, with estimated conventional reserves of 15 billion barrels of oil. Waters within 25 miles of the coast are excluded from the lease area. This announcement comes just six days before the January 9 deadline for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide whether to list the polar bear as endangered because of the global-warming induced decline of Arctic sea ice, some of which covers the Chukchi Sea.

The MMS believes that environmental concerns will be sufficiently addressed by its stipulations, which do not consider the effects of climate change:
The sale area will not include nearshore waters ranging from about 25 to 50 miles from the coast, which includes the near-shore “polynya” through which the bowhead and beluga whales, other marine mammals, and marine birds migrate north in the spring, and in which local communities subsistence hunt. Leases issued from the sale will include stipulations to address environmental effects that may occur because of exploration and development of the area’s oil and gas resources. These stipulations call for protection of biological resources, including protected marine mammals and birds and methods to minimize interference with subsistence hunting and other subsistence harvesting activities.

Environmental organizations are livid. The World Wildlife Fund published a series of statements from Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Audubon, and indigenous activists condemning the threat to the polar bear and other marine life from the planned sale.

In the fine print of its final notice of sale, the MMS does note:
Lessees are advised that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and has initiated a comprehensive scientific review to assess the current status and future of the species. The FWS anticipates making a decision in early 2008 on whether to list polar bears under the ESA. Please refer to http://alaska.fws.gov/fisheries/mmm/polarbear/issues.htm for additional information. If the polar bears are ultimately listed under the ESA, then MMS will consult with FWS under Section 7 of the ESA, and may be required to apply additional mitigation measures on OCS activities to ensure appropriate protection.

Update: Sierra Club has launched a letter-writing campaign to “chill the drills” in what it calls the “Polar Bear Seas”.

Climate Change Investing 136

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Dec 2007 20:09:00 GMT

Ceres is the dominant organization in climate-related investment, with the mission of “integrating sustainability into capital markets for the health of the planet and its people.” Their Investor Network on Climate Risk represents corporations and institutions controlling $4 trillion in assets calling for corporate climate disclosure, emissions-reduction legislation, renewable energy investment, and related actions.

J. P. Morgan is one of the few investment majors with a dedicated climate change research division.

Calvert, one of the main players in the “socially responsible” investment space, has Calvert Global Alternative Energy Fund (CGAEX).

Guinness Atkinson has the Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy Fund (GAAEX).

PowerShares offers various index funds, including Global Clean Energy Portfolio (PBD) (WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index (NEX)), Global Water Portfolio (PIO) (Palisades Global Water Index (PIIWI)), Cleantech Portfolio (Cleantech Index (CTIUS)), Water Resources Portfolio (Palisades Water Index (ZWI)), WilderHill Clean Energy Portfolio (WilderHill Clean Energy Index (ECO)), and the WilderHill Progressive Energy Portfolio (WilderHill Progressive Energy Index (WHPRO)).

Winslow Management specializes in “green” investment, offering Green Growth (WGGFX) and the new Green Solutions mid-cap (WGSLX).

Green Century Funds offers the Green Century Balanced Fund (GCBLX) and Equity Fund (GCEQX).

Forward Management has the Sierra Club Stock Fund (SCFSX).

Innovest recently released the report Carbon Beta and Equity Performance based on their work on the Carbon Disclosure Project.

CSRWire has a newsfeed of environment-related corporate press releases.

Green Chip Stocks is a green penny-stock tip sheet.

Boxer: Lieberman-Warner is "A huge step forward" 4

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 27 Dec 2007 19:42:00 GMT

A year-end fundraising email from Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works calls the committee approval of the Lieberman-Warner climate bill “a huge step forward” and “one of my proudest accomplishments”:
Subject: A huge step forward

Our progress on moving global warming legislation through the Environment and Public Works Committee this month and sending it on to the full Senate was a huge step forward for America, and personally, it was one of my proudest accomplishments over my 30 year career in public service.

But we’ve still got many more steps to take over the coming years to fight global warming and save our planet for our kids, our grandkids, and generations to come.

That’s one big reason I’ve decided to run again for the U.S. Senate when my term expires in 2010—and, because we know that I’ll be a top target for the right wing, I’m already preparing for a tough race. . .

As Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, leading the fight against global warming will continue to be my top priority. And, if 2008 goes our way, I may soon be working with a new Democratic President and expanded Democratic majorities in Congress who share our commitment to that fight.

But we’re not going to solve the climate change crisis with just one bill, a better Congress, or a Democratic President. Fighting global warming is going to require many years of focus, dedication, and leadership to see things through. . .

We’ve still got a lot of work to do on fighting global warming, ending the war in Iraq, protecting our environment, defending a woman’s right to choose, and so many other important issues—and I’m going to need you with me every step of the way.

Ed. – the fundraising pitches have been stripped out.

Global Day of Action 7

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 08 Dec 2007 05:00:00 GMT

The Global Climate Campaign intends synchronised demonstrations around the world on Saturday December 8th 2007 – in as many places as possible – to call on world leaders to take urgent action on climate change.

The ‘Call to Action’ for these demonstrations and related events that will take place on December 8th 2007 is as follows :

“We demand that world leaders take the urgent and resolute action that is needed to prevent the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate, so that the entire world can move as rapidly as possible to a stronger emissions reductions treaty which is both equitable and effective in preventing dangerous climate change.

We also demand that the long-industrialised countries that have emitted most greenhouse gases up to now take most of the responsibility for the adaptive measures that have to be taken, especially by low-emitting countries with limited economic resources.”

We feel that there is an overwhelming need to create a groundswell of global opinion to push for the urgent and radical action on climate change, without which we risk a global catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.

Cyclone Sidr Devastates Bangladesh 2

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 16 Nov 2007 19:48:00 GMT

The Daily Star:
Bangladesh dated with a nightmare as cyclone Sidr ripped through the southwestern coast late Thursday, killing over 700 people and demolishing houses, crops, vegetables and trees alike along its trail of devastation over an area of thousands of square kilometers.

Packing winds over 220km an hour, the fierce tropical storm roared across the shoreline after it hit landfall at the Khulna-Barisal coast at 7:30pm Thursday, cutting off all communications and utility services across the country.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 47 years life,” Khalilur Rahman, a government official in Patuakhali, told The Daily Star over telephone last night. “It was a panic beyond description. People found no way but to keep on screaming as long as the cyclone ran rampage here.”

Dr. Jeff Masters, Wunderground:
Storm surge is usually the biggest killer in Bangladesh cyclones, and was responsible for the vast majority of the 140,000 people killed in the 1991 Bangladesh Cyclone. This storm struck eastern Bangladesh as a Category 5 cyclone—the only Category 5 cyclone on record to hit the country. The triangular shape of Bengal Bay funnels high surges into the apex of the triangle where Bangladesh sits, and the shallow bottom of the bay allows extraordinarily high storm surges to pile up. The maximum storm surge from Sidr was probably 20-25 feet, and affected the regions near and to the right of where the eye made landfall. The eye fortunately came ashore in the Sundarbans Forest, the world’s largest forest of mangrove trees. This region is the least populated coastal area in the country. Storm surge levels of 10-20 feet probably affected the provinces of Barguna and Paruakhali, which are more heavily populated. Undoubtedly, the storm surge killed many more people in these provinces, and Sidr’s death toll will go much higher. However, Bangladesh has done a much better job providing shelters and evacuating people during cyclones since the 1991 storm. Over 650,000 people did evacuate from Sidr, and it is unlikely the death toll will put the storm on the list of the world’s deadliest cyclones of all time.

The International Federation of Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies has launched an emergency appeal for support.

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