Graphs: U.S. and China Climate Commitments Leave No Room For World

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 13 Nov 2014 17:23:00 GMT

The climate commitments announced by Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping in China are momentous given the political status quo, but they still leave human civilization on a catastrophic trajectory, a Hill Heat analysis shows.

The non-binding targets agreed to in Beijing — that China would peak in emissions by 2030 and the U.S. would accelerate emissions cuts to reach 80 percent of current pollution levels (74 percent of 2005 levels) by 2025 — are a positive step forward. Without such targets catastrophic warming is guaranteed.

President Obama reaffirmed that limiting global warming to less than 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels is his goal, claiming the announced targets “means the United States is doing its part to contain warming to 2 degrees Celsius.”

What do the announcements actually mean in the context of what is needed?

Below, we explore the targets in the context of a “Russian roulette” 2C pathway, with pollution levels that scientists estimate lead to a one-in-five chance of exceeding 2C. (Ed.: Russian roulette odds are actually a bit better.)

US-China Climate Commitments

By 2030, US and China alone will have emitted about 80% of the carbon budget, leaving the other 75% of the global population with little to spare. By 2050, US and China will have emitted about 160% of the carbon budget, making the “Russian roulette” scenario impossible. To be clear, even 2C warming is highly risky, to say the least (Hansen et al, 2013).

US-China Climate Commitments Far Exceed Budget

Graphing cumulative emissions, the U.S.-China trajectory becomes more readliy apparent, as the combined carbon footprint continues to grow rapidly through 2050. The carbon budget is used up by the two nations’ pollution alone by 2035.

The Trillionth Tonne Problem

How did we get to this point? About 420 gigatons of carbon were burned (1540 GtCO2) from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution to 2014, one quarter of which came from the United States, one eighth from China. Most of China’s carbon pollution has been emitted in the past 15 years. The 2015-2050 budget for an 80% chance of staying below 2C warming is only 105 GtC (390 GtCO2) more. Right now, human civilization is emitting about 10 GtC (39 GtCO2) a year—which means that even if global emissions growth slows, the carbon budget will be exceeded within about ten years.

This conundrum has been referred to as the “trillionth tonne” problem, which (somewhat confusingly) has been formulated in two different ways. One is that the 2000-2050 budget for a 75% chance of staying below 2C warming was estimated in Meinshausen et al. 2009 at 272 GtC, which equals 1000 GtCO2—that is, one trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide. (Ed.: The use of the British spelling “tonne” is a useful indicator of the 1000-kilogran metric “tonnes” used in the U.K., as opposed to the 2000-pound short tons used in the U.S., which are a bit smaller. Each metric ton of carbon is the equivalent of 3.67 metric tons of carbon dioxide due to the added oxygen atoms.)

Alternatively, the all-time budget (starting with the Industrial Revolution and going forward to 2500) for 2C being the mostly likely warming scenario, with a 95% interval of 1.3-3.9C warming, was estimated in Allen et al. 2009 at 1000 GtC — or one trillion metric tons of carbon. With about 560 GtC burned 1751-2014, that leaves 440 GtC for the rest of time for humanity to burn for less than even odds of staying below 2C.

These competing formulations of the “trillionth tonne” problem were co-published in the April 30th 2009 issue of Nature.

Both mechanisms of analysis — which are confirmed, updated, and bolstered in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (Working Group 1 Chapter 12) — are based on the warming impact of all climate pollution, which is predominated by carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels and deforestation, but also includes methane, aerosols, nitrous oxides, and exotic super-greenhouse gases. Aerosols, which reduce warming by blocking out the sun, are on the decrease, while non-CO2 greenhouse gases are increasing. The calculations in this post are based on the assumption that the CO2 emissions calculated by the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center can be used in lieu of the total CO2-equivalent emissions. That assumption is increasingly untenable, especially as nations switch from coal to natural gas, which increases methane emissions. Thus, the scenarios presented here-in should be considered optimistic.

The construction of any new fossil-fuel infrastructure, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, is simply incompatible with a pathway toward climate safety. This fact is implicitly acknowledged in the climate-impact analysis of the tar-sands project, which uses a high-emissions energy scenario as its baseline.

In summary: anyone who believes “we have a moral obligation to fight climate change,” to use President Obama’s words, should be working to phase out all of our existing fossil-fuel infrastructure over the coming ten years, with the goal of a carbon-negative global economy.

Even if the rest of the world follows the US and China lead with commitments to stop emissions growth by 2030, there will be a high risk of catastrophic global warming. Assuming the US and China meet their targets and the rest of the world follows suit, humanity will burn through the Russian-roulette chance at staying below 2C warming before 2025.

US-China Climate Commitments Leave No Room For World

For small-island nations, coral reefs, global forests, Arctic ice, permafrost, and global ice sheets — and quite possibly the rest of human civilization — to have a long-term chance of survival, limiting warming to 1.5C looks to be needed. (This would require a rapid transition to a fossil-free economy with massive reforestation to reduce existing CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million or lower, the inspiration for the name of the climate organization 350.org.)

A higher tolerance for catastrophic warming — by raising the risk of 2C warming from 20 percent to 50 percent — gives the world a more leeway for pollution, but not enough to make the announced US-China targets “safe”. The global budget for a 50-50 chance of 2C warming will be exhausted before 2040.

US-China Climate Commitments Leave No Room For World

The insufficiency of these newly announced targets — and the howls of outrage heard from the Republican Party in the United States — reflect the dangerous power the global fossil-fuel industry has over our future, at a time when our species’ collective power should be directed at building a fossil-free civilization.

U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change and Clean Energy Cooperation

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 12 Nov 2014 05:13:00 GMT

Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping concluded a U.S.-China trade summit with the announcement of new climate targets for the two nations. Obama set a U.S. target of a 26 percent reduction in greenhouse emissions by 2025 from 2005 levels. The China commitment is for CO2 emissions to peak by 2030, with a non-fossil-fuel share (renewable and nuclear) of energy production of 20 percent by 2030.

The “fact sheet” released by the White House reads:

U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change and Clean Energy Cooperation

President Obama Announces Ambitious 2025 Target to Cut U.S. Climate Pollution by 26-28 Percent from 2005 Levels

Building on strong progress during the first six years of the Administration, today President Obama announced a new target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. At the same time, President Xi Jinping of China announced targets to peak CO2 emissions around 2030, with the intention to try to peak early, and to increase the non-fossil fuel share of all energy to around 20 percent by 2030.

Together, the U.S. and China account for over one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s joint announcement, the culmination of months of bilateral dialogue, highlights the critical role the two countries must play in addressing climate change. The actions they announced are part of the longer range effort to achieve the deep decarbonization of the global economy over time. These actions will also inject momentum into the global climate negotiations on the road to reaching a successful new climate agreement next year in Paris.

The new U.S. goal will double the pace of carbon pollution reduction from 1.2 percent per year on average during the 2005-2020 period to 2.3-2.8 percent per year on average between 2020 and 2025. This ambitious target is grounded in intensive analysis of cost-effective carbon pollution reductions achievable under existing law and will keep the United States on the right trajectory to achieve deep economy-wide reductions on the order of 80 percent by 2050.

The Administration’s steady efforts to reduce emissions will deliver ever-larger carbon pollution reductions, public health improvements and consumer savings over time and provide a firm foundation to meet the new U.S. target.

The United States will submit its 2025 target to the Framework Convention on Climate Change as an “Intended Nationally Determined Contribution” no later than the first quarter of 2015.

The joint announcement marks the first time China has agreed to peak its CO2 emissions. The United States expects that China will succeed in peaking its emissions before 2030 based on its broad economic reform program, plans to address air pollution, and implementation of President Xi’s call for an energy revolution.

China’s target to expand total energy consumption coming from zero-emission sources to around 20 percent by 2030 is notable. It will require China to deploy an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero emission generation capacity by 2030 – more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to total current electricity generation capacity in the United States.
Building on Progress

In 2009, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions were projected to continue increasing indefinitely, but President Obama set an ambitious goal to cut emissions in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels in 2020. Throughout the first term, the Administration took strong actions to cut carbon pollution, including investing more than $80 billion in clean energy technologies under the recovery program, establishing historic fuel economy standards, doubling solar and wind electricity, and implementing ambitious energy efficiency measures.

Early in his second term, President Obama launched an ambitious Climate Action Plan focused on cutting carbon pollution, preparing the nation for climate impacts, and leading internationally. In addition to bolstering first-term efforts to ramp up renewable energy and efficiency, the Plan is cutting carbon pollution through new measures, including:

  • Clean Power Plan: EPA proposed guidelines for existing power plants in June 2014 that would reduce power sector emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 while delivering $55-93 billion in net benefits from improved public health and reduced carbon pollution.
  • Standards for Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles: In February 2014, President Obama directed EPA and the Department of Transportation to issue the next phase of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by March 2016. These will build on the first-ever standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (model years 2014 through 2018), proposed and finalized by this Administration.
  • Energy Efficiency Standards: The Department of Energy set a goal of reducing carbon pollution by 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 through energy conservation standards issued during this Administration. These measures will also cut consumers’ annual electricity bills by billions of dollars.
  • Economy-wide Measures to reduce other Greenhouse Gases: The Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies are taking actions to cut methane emissions from landfills, coal mining, agriculture, and oil and gas systems through cost-effective voluntary actions and common-sense standards. At the same time, the State Department is working to slash global emissions of potent industrial greenhouse gases called HFCs through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol; the Environmental Protection Agency is cutting domestic HFC emissions through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program; and, the private sector has stepped up with commitments to cut global HFC emissions equivalent to 700 million metric tons through 2025.

Expanding U.S. and China Climate & Clean Energy Cooperation

To further support the achievement of the ambitious climate goals announced today, the United States and China have pledged to strengthen cooperation on climate and clean energy. The two countries are expanding their ongoing and robust program of cooperation through policy dialogue and technical work on clean energy and low greenhouse gas emissions technologies.

The United States and China agreed to:

  • Expand Joint Clean Energy Research and Development: A renewed and expanded commitment to the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC). This will include:
    • Extending the CERC mandate for an additional five years from 2016-2020;
    • Renewing funding for the three existing tracks: building efficiency, clean vehicles, and advanced coal technologies with carbon capture, use and sequestration (CCUS); and
    • Launching a new track on the interaction of energy and water (the energy/water ‘nexus’).
  • Advance Major Carbon Capture, Use and Storage Demonstrations: Expanding our work under the Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) and under the CERC, and partnering with the private sector, the United States and China will undertake a major carbon capture and storage project in China that supports a long term, detailed assessment of full-scale sequestration in a suitable, secure underground geologic reservoir. The United States and China will make equal funding commitments to the project and will seek additional funding commitments from other countries and the private sector. In addition, both sides will work to manage climate change by demonstrating a new frontier for CO2 use through a carbon capture, use, and sequestration (CCUS) project that will capture and store CO2 while producing fresh water, thus demonstrating power generation as a net producer of water instead of a water consumer. This CCUS project with Enhanced Water Recovery will eventually inject about 1 million tons of CO2 and create approximately 1.4 million cubic meters of freshwater per year.
  • Enhance Cooperation on Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs): Building on the historic Sunnylands agreement between President Xi and President Obama regarding HFCs, the United States and China will enhance bilateral cooperation to begin phasing down the use of high global warming potential HFCs, including through technical cooperation on domestic measures to promote HFC alternatives and to transition government procurement toward climate-friendly refrigerants.
  • Launch a Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Initiative: Urbanization is a major trend in the 21st century, and cities worldwide account for a significant percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In response, the United States and China are establishing a new initiative on Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities under the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group. Under the initiative, the two countries will share city-level experiences with planning, policies, and use of technologies for sustainable, resilient, low-carbon growth. This initiative will eventually include demonstrations of new technologies for smart infrastructure for urbanization. As a first step, the United States and China will convene a Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities “Summit” where leading cities from both countries will share best practices, set new goals, and celebrate city-level leadership.
  • Promote Trade in Green Goods: The United States announced that Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz will lead a Smart Cities/Smart Growth Business Development Mission to China April 12-17, 2015, focused on green infrastructure, energy efficiency and environmental trade sectors. The mission will highlight the benefits of sustainable urbanization, technologies to support China’s air pollution and climate goals, and green buildings opportunities. In addition, USTDA will conduct three reverse trade missions to bring Chinese delegations to see environmental, smart grid, and CCUS technologies in the United States over the next year.
  • Demonstrate Clean Energy on the Ground: U.S. DOE, State, and USTDA will undertake a number of additional pilot programs, feasibility studies, and other collaborative efforts to promote China’s energy efficiency and renewable energy goals. These will include expansion of our cooperation on “smart grids” that enable efficient and cost-effective integration of renewable energy technology, as well as the implementation through a U.S. and Chinese private sector commercial agreement of a first-of-its-kind 380 MW concentrating solar plant in China.

Secretary of State John Kerry: Climate Change Is A 'Weapon of Mass Destruction'

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 17 Feb 2014 15:47:00 GMT

Speaking in Jakarta, Indonesia on February 16th, Secretary of State John Kerry described manmade global warming as a “weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”

Kerry’s vision of the threat of climate change should mean a death knell for federal approval of fossil-fuel projects such as the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline and coal export terminals. He said that “governments and international financial institutions need to stop providing incentives for the use of energy sources like coal and oil.” Although fossil fuels are “currently cheap ways to power a society, at least in the near term,” Kerry went on, governments “have to factor in the cost of survival.”

Some other key quotes:

The fact is that climate change, if left unchecked, will wipe out many more communities from the face of the earth. And that is unacceptable under any circumstances – but is even more unacceptable because we know what we can do and need to do in order to deal with this challenge.
There’s a big set of opportunities in front of us. And that’s because the most important news of all: that climate change isn’t only a challenge. It’s not only a burden. It also presents one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time.
Coal and oil are currently cheap ways to power a society, at least in the near term. But I urge governments to measure the full cost to that coal and that oil, measure the impacts of what will happen as we go down the road. You cannot simply factor in the immediate costs of energy needs. You have to factor in the long-term cost of carbon pollution. And they have to factor in the cost of survival.
Today I call on all of you in Indonesia and concerned citizens around the world to demand the resolve that is necessary from your leaders. Speak out. Make climate change an issue that no public official can ignore for another day. Make a transition towards clean energy the only plan that you are willing to accept.
And if we come together now, we can not only meet the challenge, we can create jobs and economic growth in every corner of the globe. We can clean up the air, we can improve the health of people, we can have greater security; we can make our neighborhoods healthier places to live; we can help ensure that farmers and fishers can still make a sustainable living and feed our communities; and we can avoid disputes and even entire wars over oil, water, and other limited resources. We can make good on the moral responsibility we all have to leave future generations with a planet that is clean and healthy and sustainable for the future.

Kerry’s speech reflects remarks made by President Obama as a campaigner in 2007 and to students in Turkey in 2009. Kerry has a long history of urgency on the climate crisis, including repeated efforts to pass non-partisan climate legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Full transcript:

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, Robert. Thank you very, very much. I don’t know. I think some of you were cheering twice for the same university. I don’t know. (Laughter.) It seemed to come from the same place anyway.

What a pleasure to be here at America, where we are looking at all of the air conditioning pipes running right through here. I love it. The spirit and feel of this place is very special and it’s wonderful to see our friends up here from Kalimantan and also everybody from Sumatra. Thank you very much for being with us. Can you hear me? Yeah! Wave! (Laughter.) Do a few selfies, everybody will – (laughter.) Anyway, it’s really a pleasure to be here. I see a lot of iPads up in the air sort of flashing away.

This is special. Ambassador Blake, thank you for doing this. Thank you all for coming here today. I want to welcome all of those of you who are tuning in elsewhere, some of you who are watching on a home webcast, and we’re delighted to have you here. It’s really a pleasure for me to be able to be back in Jakarta, back in Indonesia, where you have one of the richest ecosystems on Earth. And you live in a country that is at the top of the global rankings for both marine and terrestrial biodiversity, and you have a human ecosystem that includes some 300 ethnic groups, speaking at least 700 languages – extraordinary place.

But because of climate change, it is no secret that today, Indonesia is also one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth.

This year, as Secretary of State, I will engage in a series of discussions on the urgency of addressing climate change – particularly on the national security implications and the economic opportunities. And I want you to think about those. But I wanted to start right here, in Jakarta, because this city – this country – this region – is really on the front lines of climate change. It’s not an exaggeration to say to you that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk. So let’s have a frank conversation about this threat and about what we, as citizens of the world, need to be able to do to address it.

Some time ago I travelled to another vibrant city – a city also rich with its own rich history – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And I was there, sitting in a big room, surrounded by representatives from about 170 countries. We listened as expert after expert after expert described the growing threat of climate change and what it would mean for the world if we failed to act. The Secretary General of the conference was – he was an early leader on climate change, a man by the name of Maurice Strong, and he told us – I quote him: “Every bit of evidence I’ve seen persuades me that we are on a course leading to tragedy.”

Well, my friends, that conference was in 1992. And it is stunning how little the conversation has really changed since then.

When I think about the array of global climate – of global threats – think about this: terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction – all challenges that know no borders – the reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them. And it is a challenge that I address in nearly every single country that I visit as Secretary of State, because President Obama and I believe it is urgent that we do so.

And the reason is simple: The science of climate change is leaping out at us like a scene from a 3D movie. It’s warning us; it’s compelling us to act. And let there be no doubt in anybody’s mind that the science is absolutely certain. It’s something that we understand with absolute assurance of the veracity of that science. No one disputes some of the facts about it. Let me give you an example. When an apple separates from a tree, it falls to the ground. We know that because of the basic laws of physics. No one disputes that today. It’s a fact. It’s a scientific fact. Science also tells us that when water hits a low enough temperature, it’s going to turn into ice; when it reaches a high enough temperature, it’s going to boil. No one disputes that. Science and common sense tell us if you reach out and put your hand on a hot cook stove, you’re going to get burned. I can’t imagine anybody who would dispute that either.

So when thousands of the world’s leading scientists and five reports over a long period of time with thousands of scientists contributing to those reports – when they tell us over and over again that our climate is changing, that it is happening faster than they ever predicted, ever in recorded history, and when they tell us that we humans are the significant cause, let me tell you something: We need to listen.

When 97 percent of scientists agree on anything, we need to listen, and we need to respond.

Well, 97 percent of climate scientists have confirmed that climate change is happening and that human activity is responsible. These scientists agree on the causes of these changes and they agree on the potential effects. They agree that the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide contributes heavily to climate change. They agree that the energy sources that we’ve relied on for decades to fuel our cars and to heat our homes or to air condition our homes, to – all the things that provide us electricity like oil and coal – that these are largely responsible for sending those greenhouse gases up into the atmosphere. And the scientists agree that emissions coming from deforestation and from agriculture can also send enormous quantities of carbon pollution into our atmosphere.

And they agree that, if we continue to go down the same path that we are going down today, the world as we know it will change – and it will change dramatically for the worse.

So we know this is happening, and we know it with virtually the same certainty that we understand that if we reach out and touch that hot stove, we’re going to get burned. In fact, this is not really a complicated equation. I know sometimes I can remember from when I was in high school and college, some aspects of science or physics can be tough – chemistry. But this is not tough. This is simple. Kids at the earliest age can understand this.

Try and picture a very thin layer of gases – a quarter-inch, half an inch, somewhere in that vicinity – that’s how thick it is. It’s in our atmosphere. It’s way up there at the edge of the atmosphere. And for millions of years – literally millions of years – we know that layer has acted like a thermal blanket for the planet – trapping the sun’s heat and warming the surface of the Earth to the ideal, life-sustaining temperature. Average temperature of the Earth has been about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, which keeps life going. Life itself on Earth exists because of the so-called greenhouse effect. But in modern times, as human beings have emitted gases into the air that come from all the things we do, that blanket has grown thicker and it traps more and more heat beneath it, raising the temperature of the planet. It’s called the greenhouse effect because it works exactly like a greenhouse in which you grow a lot of the fruit that you eat here.

This is what’s causing climate change. It’s a huge irony that the very same layer of gases that has made life possible on Earth from the beginning now makes possible the greatest threat that the planet has ever seen.

And the results of our human activity are clear. If you ranked all the years in recorded history by average temperature, you’d see that 8 of the 10 hottest years have all happened within the last 10 years. Think about it this way: all 10 of the hottest years on record have actually happened since Google went online in 1998.

Now, that’s how fast this change is happening. And because the earth is getting hotter at such an alarming speed, glaciers in places like the Arctic are melting into the sea faster than we expected. And the sea is rising – slowly, but rising – and will rise to dangerous levels. Scientists now predict that by the end of the century, the sea could rise by a full meter. Now, I know that to some people a meter may not sound like a lot, but I’ll tell you this: it’s enough to put half of Jakarta underwater. Just one meter would displace hundreds of millions of people worldwide and threaten billions of dollars in economic activity. It would put countries into jeopardy. It would put countless – I mean, come to the local level – it would put countless homes and schools and parks, entire cities at risk.

Now, climate change also tragically means the end of some species. The changing sea temperature and the increasing amount of acidity – the acidity comes from coal-fired power plants and from the pollution, and when the rain falls the rain spills the acidity into the ocean. And it means that certain species of fish like cod or sardines can no longer live where they once lived. This is devastating for the world’s fisheries. And scientists predict that fisheries will be among the hardest hit. Just think about the fishermen who sell their fish catches at Pasar Ikan. Think about it. There are some studies that say that Indonesia’s fisheries could actually lose up to 40 percent of what they currently bring in – so a fisherman who usually has about a hundred fish to sell one day would suddenly only have 60 or so for sale. The impact is obvious.

Climate change also means water shortages. And if you have these enormous water shortages, then you have a change in the weather – because of the weather patterns, you’re going to wind up with droughts, the lack of water. And the droughts can become longer and more intense. In fact, this isn’t something around the corner – this is happening now.

We are seeing record droughts right now, and they’re already putting a strain on water resources around the world. We’ve already seen in various parts of the world – in Africa, for instance – people fighting each other over water, and we’ve seen more conflicts shaping up now over the limits of water. Back in the United States, President Obama just the other day visited California, where millions of people are now experiencing the 13th month of the worst drought the state has seen in 500 years. And no relief is in sight. What used to be a 100-year or a 500-year event is now repeating itself within 10 years.

Furthermore, climate change means fundamental transformations in agriculture worldwide. Scientists predict that, in some places, heat waves and water shortages will make it much more difficult for farmers to be able to grow the regular things we grow, like wheat or corn or rice. And obviously, it’s not only farmers who will suffer here – it’s the millions of people who depend on those crops that the farmers grow. For example, the British government research showed that climate change may have contributed to the famine that killed as many as 100,000 people in Somalia just back in 2010 and 2011.

And scientists further predict that climate change also means longer, more unpredictable monsoon seasons and more extreme weather events. Now, I’ll tell you, I can’t tell you – no weatherman on TV or anybody is going to be able to look at you and tell you – that one particular storm was absolutely the result of climate change. But scientists do predict that many more of these disastrous storms will occur if we continue down the current path. Ladies and gentlemen, I saw with my own eyes what the Philippines experienced in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan and I will tell you it would be absolutely devastating if that kind of storm were to become the normal thing that happens every single year in many places.

On top of the unspeakable humanitarian toll, the economic cost that follows a storm like that is absolutely massive. I don’t mean just the billions that it costs to rebuild. We’ve seen here in Asia how extreme weather events can disrupt world trade. For example, after serious flooding in 2011, global prices for external computer hard drives rose by more than 10 percent. Why? Because electronic manufacturing zones around Bangkok were out of commission, wiped out by the weather. So it’s not just about agriculture – it’s also about technology. It’s about our global economy. It’s about potentially catastrophic effects on the global supply chain.

Now, despite all of these realities – despite these facts – much of the world still doesn’t see or want to see the need to pursue a significant response to this threat. As recently as 2011, a survey of city officials here in Asia found that more than 80 percent of the population said they did not anticipate climate change hurting their cities’ economies.

And despite more than 25 years of scientific warning after scientific warning after scientific warning – despite all that, the call to arms that we heard back in Rio back in 1992 – despite that, we still haven’t globally summoned the urgency necessary to get the job done. And as a result of this complacency, last year the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere reached the highest point in human history – despite all the warnings.

Now, I know that these are some dramatic scientific facts – statistics. But think of it this way: If the worst-case scenario about climate change, all the worst predictions, if they never materialize, what will be the harm that is done from having made the decision to respond to it? We would actually leave our air cleaner. We would leave our water cleaner. We would actually make our food supply more secure. Our populations would be healthier because of fewer particulates of pollution in the air – less cost to health care. Those are the things that would happen if we happen to be wrong and we responded. But imagine if the 97 percent of those scientists are correct and the people who say no are wrong. Then the people who say no will have presented us with one of the most catastrophic, grave threats in the history of human life. That’s the choice here.

Notwithstanding the stark choices that we face, here’s the good thing: there is still time. The window of time is still open for us to be able to manage this threat. But the window is closing. And so I wanted to come to Jakarta to talk to you because we need people all over the world to raise their voices and to be heard. There is still time for us to significantly cut greenhouse emissions and prevent the very worst consequences of climate change from ever happening at all. But we need to move on this, and we need to move together now. We just don’t have time to let a few loud interests groups hijack the climate conversation. And when I say that, you know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about big companies that like it the way it is that don’t want to change, and spend a lot of money to keep you and me and everybody from doing what we know we need to do.

First and foremost, we should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact. Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits. There are people who say, “Oh, it’s too expensive, we can’t do this.” No. No, folks. We certainly should not allow more time to be wasted by those who want to sit around debating whose responsibility it is to deal with this threat, while we come closer and closer to the point of no return.

I have to tell you, this is really not a normal kind of difference of opinion between people. Sometimes you can have a reasonable argument and a reasonable disagreement over an opinion you may have. This is not opinion. This is about facts. This is about science. The science is unequivocal. And those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand.

Now, President and I – Obama and I believe very deeply that we do not have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society. One of the arguments that we do hear is that it’s going to be too expensive to be able to address climate change. I have to tell you, that assertion could not be less grounded in fact. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. Serious analysts understand that the costs of doing nothing far outweigh the costs of investing in solutions now. You do not need a degree in economics or a graduate degree in business in order to understand that the cost of flooding, the cost of drought, the cost of famine, the cost of health care, the cost of addressing this challenge is simply far less – the costs of addressing this challenge are far less than the costs of doing nothing. Just look at the most recent analysis done by the World Bank, which estimates that by 2050, losses – excuse me one second – losses from flood damage in Asian ports – fishing ports, shipping ports – the losses in those ports alone could exceed $1 trillion annually unless we make big changes to the infrastructure of those ports.

Finally, if we truly want to prevent the worst consequences of climate change from happening, we do not have time to have a debate about whose responsibility this is. The answer is pretty simple: It’s everyone’s responsibility. Now certainly some countries – and I will say this very clearly, some countries, including the United States, contribute more to the problem and therefore we have an obligation to contribute more to the solution. I agree with that. But, ultimately, every nation on Earth has a responsibility to do its part if we have any hope of leaving our future generations the safe and healthy planet that they deserve.

You have a saying, I think, here in Indonesia, “Luka di kaki, sakit seluruh badan”. (Laughter.) I – for those that don’t speak as well as I do – (laughter) – it means “when there’s a pain in the foot, the whole body feels it.” Well, today in this interconnected world that we all live in, the fact is that hardship anywhere is actually felt by people everywhere. We all see it; we share it. And when a massive storm destroys a village and yet another and then another in Southeast Asia; when crops that used to grow abundantly no longer turn a profit for farmers in South America; when entire communities are forced to relocate because of rising tides – that’s happening – it’s not just one country or even one region that feels the pain. In today’s globalized economy, everyone feels it.

And when you think about it, that connection to climate change is really no different than how we confront other global threats.

Think about terrorism. We don’t decide to have just one country beef up the airport security and the others relax their standards and let bags on board without inspection. No, that clearly wouldn’t make us any safer.

Or think about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It doesn’t keep us safe if the United States secures its nuclear arsenal, while other countries fail to prevent theirs from falling into the hands of terrorists. We all have to approach this challenge together, which is why all together we are focused on Iran and its nuclear program or focused on North Korea and its threat.

The bottom line is this: it is the same thing with climate change. And in a sense, climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.

Now I mentioned earlier, a few minutes ago, that last December I went to Tacloban in the Philippines, not long after Typhoon Haiyan. I have to tell you: I’ve seen a lot of places in war and out of war and places that have been destroyed, but in all the time of my life, I don’t think I’ve ever seen devastation like. We saw cars and homes and lives turned upside-down, trees scattered like toothpicks all across a mountainside. And most devastating of all, so quickly, that storm stole the lives of more than 5,000 people – women, and children who never saw it coming.

The fact is that climate change, if left unchecked, will wipe out many more communities from the face of the earth. And that is unacceptable under any circumstances – but is even more unacceptable because we know what we can do and need to do in order to deal with this challenge.

It is time for the world to approach this problem with the cooperation, the urgency, and the commitment that a challenge of this scale warrants. It’s absolutely true that industrialized countries – yes, industrialized countries that produce most of the emissions – have a huge responsibility to be able to reduce emissions, but I’m telling you that doesn’t mean that other nations have a free pass. They don’t have a right to go out and repeat the mistakes of the past. It’s not enough for one country or even a few countries to reduce their emissions when other countries continue to fill the atmosphere with carbon pollution as they see fit. At the end of the day, emissions coming from anywhere in the world threaten the future for people everywhere in the world, because those emissions go up and then they move with the wind and they drop with the rain and the weather, and they keep going around and around and they threaten all of us.

Now, as I’ve already acknowledged, I am the first one to recognize the responsibility that the United States has, because we have contributed to this problem. We’re one of the number – we’re the number two emitter of greenhouse gas emissions. The number one is now China. The fact is that I recognize the responsibility that we have to erase the bad habits that we have, which we adopted, frankly, before we understood the consequences. Nobody set out to make this happen. This is the consequence of the industrial revolution and the transformation of the world, and many of the advances that we made that have changed the world for the better came from these steps. But now we do know the attendant consequences that are linked to these actions.

President Obama has taken the moral challenge head on. Over the past five years, the United States has done more to reduce the threat of climate change – domestically and with the help of our international partners – than in the 20 years before President Obama came to office.

Thanks to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the United States is well on our way to meeting the international commitments to seriously cut our greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and that’s because we’re going straight to the largest sources of pollution. We’re targeting emissions from transportation – cars trucks, rail, et cetera – and from power sources, which account together for more than 60 percent of the dangerous greenhouse gases that we release.

The President has put in place standards to double the fuel-efficiency of cars on American roads. And we’ve also proposed curbing carbon pollution from new power plants, and similar regulations are in the works to limit the carbon pollution coming from power plants that are already up and already running.

At the same time, Americans have actually doubled the amount of energy we are creating from wind, solar, and geothermal sources, and we’ve become smarter about the way we use energy in our homes and in our businesses. A huge amount of carbon pollution comes out of buildings, and it’s important in terms of the lighting, in terms of the emissions from those buildings, the air conditioning – all these kinds of things thought through properly can contribute to the solution. As a result, today in the United States, we are emitting less than we have in two decades.

We’re also providing assistance to international partners, like Indonesia. This year the Millennium Challenge Corporation launched the $332 million Green Prosperity program to help address deforestation and support innovation and clean energy throughout the country. We also implemented what we called “debt for nature” swaps, where we forgive some of the debt – and we have forgiven some of Indonesia’s debt – in return for investments in the conservation of forests in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

But the United States – simple reality: just as I talked about the scientific facts in the beginning, this is a fact – the United States cannot solve this problem or foot the bill alone. Even if every single American got on a bicycle tomorrow and carpooled – instead of – or carpooled to school instead of buses or riding in individual cars or driving, or rode their bike to work, or used only solar powers – panels in order to power their homes; if we each, every American, planted a dozen trees; if we eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions – guess what? That still wouldn’t be enough to counter the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world. Because today, if even one or two economies neglects to respond to this threat, it can counter, erase all of the good work that the rest of the world has done. When I say we need a global solution, I mean we need a global solution.

That is why the United States is prepared to take the lead in bringing other nations to the table. And this is something that President Obama is deeply committed to. And as Secretary of State, I am personally committed to making sure that this work is front and center in all of our diplomatic efforts. This week I will be instructing all of the chiefs of our missions at American embassies all over the world to make climate change a top priority and to use all the tools of diplomacy that they have at their disposal in order to help address this threat.

Now I have just come here today, I arrived last night from China, where I met with government leaders and we discussed our cooperation, our collaboration on this climate change front at length. The Chinese see firsthand every single day how dangerous pollution can be. I recently read that an 8-year-old girl was diagnosed with lung cancer because of all the air pollution that she was inhaling. Eight years old. And the devastating human toll pollution, it takes comes with a very hefty price tag: Air pollution already costs China as much as 8 percent of its GDP because two things happen as a result of the pollution: healthcare spending goes up and agricultural output goes down.

Now I am pleased to tell you that the leaders of China agree that it is time to pursue a cleaner path forward. And China is taking steps, and we have already taken significant steps together through the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group that we launched in Beijing last year.

Just yesterday, we announced a new agreement on an enhanced policy of dialogue that includes the sharing of information and policies so that we can help develop plans to deal with the UN climate change negotiation that takes place in Paris next year, in planning for the post-2020 limit to greenhouse gas emissions. These plans are a key input into UN negotiations to develop a new global climate agreement, and we have hopes that this unique partnership between China and the United States can help set an example for global leadership and global seriousness.

Now make no mistake: this is real progress. The U.S. and China are the world’s two largest economies. We are two of the largest consumers of energy, and we are two of the largest emitters of global greenhouse gases – together we account for roughly 40 percent of the world’s emissions.

But this is not just about china and the United States. It’s about every country on Earth doing whatever it can to pursue cleaner and healthier energy sources. And it’s about the all of us literally treating the pain in the foot, so the whole body hurts a little less.

Now this is going to require us to continue the UN negotiations and ultimately finalize an ambitious global agreement in Paris next year. And nations need to also be pursuing smaller bilateral agreements, public-private partnerships, independent domestic initiatives – you name it. There’s nothing to stop any of you from helping to push here, to pick things that you can do in Indonesia. It’s time for us to recognize that the choices the world makes in the coming months and years will directly and substantially affect our quality of life for generations to come.

Now I tell you, I’m looking out at a young audience here. All of you are the leaders of the future. And what we’re talking about is what kind of world are we going to leave you. I know that some of what I’m talking about here today, it seems awful big, and some of it may even like it’s out of reach to you. But I have to tell you it’s not. One person in one place can make a difference – by talking about how they manage a building, how they heat a school, what kind of things you do for recycling, transportation you use. What you don’t – I think what you don’t hear enough about today, unfortunately, and I’ve saved it for the end, because I want you to leave here feeling, wow, we can get something done. There’s a big set of opportunities in front of us. And that’s because the most important news of all: that climate change isn’t only a challenge. It’s not only a burden. It also presents one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time.

The global energy market is the future. The solution to climate change is energy policy. And this market is poised to be the largest market the world has ever known. Between now and 2035, investment in the energy sector is expected to reach nearly $17 trillion. That’s more than the entire GDP of China and India combined.

The great technology – many of you have your smart phones or your iPads, et cetera, here today – all of this technology that we use so much today was a $1 trillion market in the 1990s with 1 billion users. The energy market is a $6 trillion market with, today, 6 billion users, and it’s going to grow to maybe 9 billion users over the course of the next 20, 30, 40 years. The solution to climate change is as clear as the problem. The solution is making the right choices on energy policy. It’s as simple as that. And with a few smart choices, we can ensure that clean energy is the most attractive investment in the global energy sector.

To do this, governments and international financial institutions need to stop providing incentives for the use of energy sources like coal and oil. Instead, we have to make the most of the innovative energy technology that entrepreneurs are developing all over the world – including here in Indonesia, where innovative companies like Sky Energy are building solar and battery storage and projects that can help power entire villages.

And we have to invest in new technology that will help us bring renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydro power not only to the communities where those resources are abundant –but to every community and to every country on every continent.

I am very well aware that these are not easy choices for any country to make – I know that. I’ve been in politics for a while. I know the pull and different powerful political forces. Coal and oil are currently cheap ways to power a society, at least in the near term. But I urge governments to measure the full cost to that coal and that oil, measure the impacts of what will happen as we go down the road. You cannot simply factor in the immediate costs of energy needs. You have to factor in the long-term cost of carbon pollution. And they have to factor in the cost of survival. And if they do, then governments will find that the cost of pursuing clean energy now is far cheaper than paying for the consequences of climate change later.

Make no mistake: the technology is out there. None of this is beyond our capacity.

I am absolutely confident that if we choose to, we will meet this challenge. Remember: we’re the ones – we, all of us, the world – helped to discover things like penicillin and we eradicated smallpox. We found a way to light up the night all around the world with a flip of the switch and spread that technology to more than three quarters of the world’s population. We came up with a way for people to fly and move from one place to another in the air between cities and across oceans, and into outer space. And we put the full wealth of human knowledge into a device we can hold in our hand that does all of the thinking that used to take up a whole room almost this size.

Human ingenuity has long proven its ability to solve seemingly insurmountable challenges. It is not a lack of ability that is a problem. It is a lack of political resolve that is standing in our way. And I will tell you as somebody who ran for elected office, when you hear from the people, when the people make it clear what they want and what they think they need, then people in politics respond.

Today I call on all of you in Indonesia and concerned citizens around the world to demand the resolve that is necessary from your leaders. Speak out. Make climate change an issue that no public official can ignore for another day. Make a transition towards clean energy the only plan that you are willing to accept.

And if we come together now, we can not only meet the challenge, we can create jobs and economic growth in every corner of the globe. We can clean up the air, we can improve the health of people, we can have greater security; we can make our neighborhoods healthier places to live; we can help ensure that farmers and fishers can still make a sustainable living and feed our communities; and we can avoid disputes and even entire wars over oil, water, and other limited resources. We can make good on the moral responsibility we all have to leave future generations with a planet that is clean and healthy and sustainable for the future.

The United States is ready to work with you in this endeavor. With Indonesia and the rest of the world pulling in the same direction, we can meet this challenge, the greatest challenge of our generation, and we can create the future that everybody dreams of.

Thank you all very much for letting me be with you. Thank you.

Senate Watch, China: Bingaman, Cantwell, Casey, Dorgan, Klobuchar, Lugar, Murkowski, Rockefeller, Whitehouse 9

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 02 Dec 2009 17:22:00 GMT

Senators respond to China’s recent emissions reduction announcement of lowering greenhouse gas intensity by 40 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. Several senators continue to move away from the legislative structure passed by the House of Representatives, and supported by President Obama and most industry advocates of reform.

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

E&E News Bill Wicker, a Bingaman spokesman, said the chairman supports the economywide cap-and-trade approach for reducing emissions but also sees some merits in the other ideas. Additionally, several panel members on both sides of the aisle have signaled interest in legislative options beyond the cap-and-trade bill approved earlier this spring in the House and now up for debate in the Senate. “We thought it’d be a good idea to step back and put all of the different policy options into a single hearing,” Wicker said.

Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

E&E News By the time we’re done with financial regulatory reform, everybody’s head is going to be spinning and they’re going to be saying, “Oh my gosh, how can you prevent this from happening again?”

People are moving more toward something that’s much more streamlined. The bottom line is you don’t want to have added volatility to the market when trying to solve [the emissions] problem. And that’s clearly what the futures trading does. It adds volatility. What you want is a predictable price so that people can move forward and diversify.

Robert Casey (D-PA)

E&E News There’s a lot of verification we’re going to have to see before I’d embrace it [China’s announced GHG commitments] and say it’s as positive a development as the Chinese would hope we’d say it is. I’m a little skeptical is maybe the fastest way to say it.

So if we’ve got problems here in terms of working that out and making sure there are enough emission allowances for us to do what we need to do here, you can imagine how much more complicated it gets internationally.

Byron Dorgan (D-ND)

E&E News Some will make the case that if you do financial reform that setting up a Wall Street trading system on carbon securities is less dangerous. I am not interested in setting up a trillion-dollar carbon securities market to tell us what the price of energy is going to be.

E&E News It’s pretty clear to me that our nation is going to continue to use our most abundant resource, which is coal, but we’re going to use it differently. And the question is how do we do that. How do we find the science, technology and research capability to allow us to continue to use coal in a manner that would decarbonize it or use it in a much lower manner? This [CCS funding report] was a unique exercise and a unique product of thought, where several stakeholders have come together on a single issue. . . [It will provide] beneficial pathways for future legislation.

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

E&E News The idea would be while the body is working on financial regulation, then during that same time we’ll be getting the energy, the bipartisan group working on energy.

Richard G. Lugar

E&E News I’d not be comfortable if the Copenhagen progress report relied on billions of dollars [in international assistance] anticipated from the U.S. budget that we’ve not debated and will be very contentious.

Lisa Murkowski (D-AK)

E&E News Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), offered Bingaman praise for keeping an open mind to alternatives. “Everyone assumes cap and trade is the only way to go,” Dillon said. “There’s been a demonization or marginalization of anyone raising other options.” As for Murkowski, a onetime supporter of cap-and-trade legislation, Dillon said, “She’s not promoting one idea over another yet. She’s exploring the options.”

Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)

E&E News The Chinese are a mystery that way. They enter negotiations always with an advantage because nobody knows what they’re going to do, what they’re going to say, or whether they mean it.

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

E&E News Unfortunately, we start from a position where there’s fairly considerable basis for skepticism on the enforcement side [for China emissions reductions], which means the administration has got to come up with a pretty solid program. It doesn’t matter what their numbers are if they don’t have to prove them.

Politico If we don’t provide those other technologies a level playing field, we provide an unfair advantage to the nuclear power industry at the expense of the American economy at large.

Senate Watch, China: Bayh, Bond, Boxer, Graham, Kaufman, Kerry, Lieberman, McCain

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 23 Sep 2009 10:45:00 GMT

At the United Nations Climate Summit on Tuesday, president Hu Jintao announced China would make “notable” reductions in carbon intensity while generating 15 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. E&E News asked senators for their responses.

Evan Bayh (D-IN)

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) said he had not yet seen the details. “But that’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “Clearly, the major economies are going to need to do this in concert. And it’ll be difficult for us to act unless the Chinese and the Indians are willing to make commitments that will actually solve this problem. So it’s a good sign. I’ll be interested to know the magnitude of it and whether it suggests further progress or whether it’s just symbolic.”

Kit Bond (R-MO)

“I want to see what the details are. It’s a target. Is it enforceable? . . . These are ministers, vice ministers and the commerce and environmental protection agency. They said they’re not going to do anything that’s going to stifle the growth of the economy—that they need to put all the people back to work.”

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

“The more that other countries pledge to cut their carbon and to protect their own people from pollution, it helps us greatly.”

Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

“That’s encouraging. That will help us make decisions on our emission problems.”

Ted Kaufman (D-DE)

Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), a member of Kerry’s Foreign Relations Committee, said China’s decision was a clear signal to U.S. businesses. “The difference here is, they’ve figured out it’s in their economic interest to be involved in this,” Kaufman said. “This is one pledge that they’re going to deliver on.”

Joe Lieberman (I-CT)

The Hill Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who is working with McCain and other centrist senators to find broad support for a climate change bill, said that Hu’s commitment to targets was “a very significant and encouraging step.” “No question there’s a certain amount of people here who will not take on the responsibility that we have to take on to do things to deal with climate change unless China also does,” said Lieberman, whose bipartisan group is looking at ways to increase U.S. nuclear power.

John Kerry (D-MA)

“I think anything China does, if it’s constructive and fixed and measurable, and ascertainable, it’ll be very helpful, absolutely.”

John McCain (R-AZ)

“We’ll see the details. They’ve made similar commitments in the past but haven’t kept them.”

Study: China Spending $12.6 Million Every Hour Greening Their Economy

Posted by Wonk Room Tue, 21 Apr 2009 15:06:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

China GDP StimulusA new report from the Center for American Progress points out that the United States is slipping behind other nations in the development and deployment of clean energy and efficient infrastructure even as China spends $12.6 million every hour greening their economy.

Read the full study here.

China, as part of their two-year stimulus plan, is poised to spend 3% of their GDP a year on public investments in renewable energy, low-carbon vehicles, high-speed rail, an advanced electric grid, efficiency improvements, and other water-treatment and pollution controls. This is about $12.6 million every hour. In the United States, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act invests about half as much as China on comparable priorities. This represents less than half of one percent of our 2008 gross domestic product.

The paper also shows that, when it comes to preparing our country to compete in the new energy economy of the future and create millions of new jobs, the United States lags behind most of our competitors in the rest of the world in a four key ways.

  • We have no national energy portfolio standard that encourages clean, renewable power and shifts away from dirty and dangerous energy.
  • We have an outdated electrical grid unsuited for the task of carrying energy from regions rich in wind, solar, and geothermal potential to the people who need the energy.
  • We don’t make dirty energy companies pay for the pollution they pump into the air; in fact, we give them billions every year in tax breaks.
  • And we don’t invest enough in research, development, and deployment to inspire our entrepreneurs and leverage their discoveries by helping bring their bold new technologies to market.

As venture capitalist John Doerr recently pointed out in his testimony before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, “What is at stake is whether America will be the worldwide winner in the next great global industry, green technologies.”

SOTU Excerpts on Energy Security and Climate Change

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 28 Jan 2008 21:42:00 GMT

Some pre-release excerpts from President Bush’s State of the Union speech, as prepared for delivery:
To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology. Our security, our prosperity, and our environment all require reducing our dependence on oil.
Let us create a new international clean technology fund, which will help developing nations like India and China make greater use of clean energy sources. And let us complete an international agreement that has the potential to slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases. This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride.

Translate as you will.

Around the Web: DNI, Biofuels, China, Coal Corruption

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 15 Jan 2008 14:39:00 GMT

National Security David Sassoon at Solve Climate notes that Michael McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, had this to say in a New Yorker profile when asked if Al Qaeda is the greatest threat America faces:
No, no, no, not at all. Terrorism can kill a lot of people, but it can’t fundamentally challenge the ability of the nation to exist. Fascism could have done that. Communism could have. I think our issue going forward is more engagement with the world in terms of keeping it on a reasonable path, so another ism doesn’t come along and drive it to one extreme or another.

And we have to some balance in terms of equitable distribution of wealth, containment of contagious disease, access to energy supplies, and development of free markets. There are national security ramifications to global warming.

Biofuels Technology Review has an extensive piece on the Price of Biofuels, covering the ramifications of America’s heavy investment in corn ethanol and the uncertain future of cellulosic ethanol. The New York Times reports Europe May Ban Imports of Some Biofuel Crops as it recognizes the drastic environmental harm and negative global-warming consequences of replacing rainforest with palm-oil plantations.

China In Dealing with the Dragon, Paul Krugman argues that China should be the U.S.’s primary foreign policy concern, in large part because of climate change, “which will eventually be recognized as the most crucial problem facing America and the world — maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of our lives.”

Coal Heather Moyer at Sierra Club’s Clean Energy Watch points to another New York Times piece that reports:
A justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court and a powerful coal-company executive met in Monte Carlo in the summer of 2006, sharing several meals even as the executive’s companies were appealing a $50 million jury verdict against them to the court.