Voters Want Pro Clean Energy Prez Candidates

NextGen Climate has released the results of a survey that finds voters in key presidential swing states support transitioning to at least 50 percent clean energy by 2030. Hart Research conducted the poll in eight battleground states including: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. In particular, the survey found that young voters (Millennials) are more likely to vote for a candidate who embraces aggressive climate change goals.

The survey also found:

  • 70% of voters had a favorable reaction to a goal of at least 50% clean energy by 2030 — including 69% of independents and 54% of Republicans.
  • 61% of voters said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who embraced this goal, while only 14% say they would be less likely.

“Transitioning to a clean energy economy is an ambitious goal, but one that is necessary and achievable — and politically potent, ” said NextGen Climate President and Founder Tom Steyer. “It’s time for presidential candidates in both parties to produce plans to achieve at least 50% clean energy by 2030 and put us on a path to a completely clean energy economy by 2050—creating millions of jobs across the country and protecting our economy from the most devastating impacts of climate change.”

The survey supports that swing state voters believe achieving at least 50 percent clean energy by 2030 is an “important priority” and “necessary” and favor specific policies and initiatives that will build a clean energy economy. Millennial voters are particularly likely to support the goal, and see it as “inspiring.”

The poll is part of an NextGen Climate initiative to call on leaders to embrace policies that accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.

Climate Deniers Uncovered

A paper published by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), “The Climate Deception Dossiers,” reveals decades of corporate misinformation campaigns by the fossil fuel industry. The paper focuses on seven deception dossiers, or collections containing nearly 85 internal company and trade association documents that have either been leaked to the public, come to light through lawsuits, or been disclosed through Freedom of Information Act requests.

gw-cover-climate-deception-dossiersThe authors say that many call climate change a hoax, including U.S. Senator James Inhofe who is now chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. However, write the authors, the biggest climate hoax is continuing today and that is, “…the decades long campaign by a handful of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies – such as Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Peabody Energy – to deceive the American public by distorting the realities and risks of climate change, something acting directly and sometimes acting indirectly through trade associations and front groups.”

The authors continue that that deception dossiers tell an undeniable truth, “…that for nearly three decades, major fossil fuel companies have knowingly worked to distort climate science findings, deceive the public, and block policies designed to hasten our needed transition to a clean energy economy.

So what do we learn?

  • Fossil Fuel companies have intentionally spread climate disinformation for decades.
  • Fossil fuel company leaders knew that their products were harmful to people and the planet but still chose to actively deceive the public and deny this harm.
  • The campaign of deception continues today.

The authors write that while many fossil fuel companies acknowledge the main findings of climate science, some still continue to support groups that spread misinformation about climate science and policy. Some of these front groups include: Heartland Institute, Americans for Prosperity, and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. The authors say these groups, along with industry trade associations such as American Petroleum Institute (API), American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE). The fossil fuel industry also uses a host of fake grassroots organizations such as Fed Up at the Pump and Oregonians for Sound Fuel Policy to fight against legislation such as the Clean Power Plan and the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Continue reading

Time is Now for Non-Renewable Carbon Fee

Advanced Biofuels USA has gone public with a new idea for capturing externalities of non-renewable fuels for funding needed research – a Non-Renewable Carbon Fuel User Fee. The organization made the announcement during the Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO + Forum that took place in Washington D.C. on July 9, 2015.

“If we’re serious about reducing Climate Change caused by Green House Gases, then we need serious actions,” said Joanne Ivancic, executive director of Advanced Biofuels USA. Advanced Biofuels USA logoIn her presentation, Ivancic laid out the salient points of the plan. “The first steps are including the price of Green House Gas (GHG) effects in non-renewable carbon fuels and committing serious money to renewable fuel research and infrastructure development.”

The Advanced Biofuels USA proposal uses lower priced renewable fuels to drive the consumer market. When the true costs of fuel become apparent, they argue, consumers will demand higher renewable portions of fuels for transportation, power and heat. The fee, which they base on current scientific estimates of climate change effects and mitigation costs, applies to only the non-renewable portion of liquid and gas used for transportation and stationary source combustion.

The fee would be between $50 and $100/ton of non-renewable carbon and translates into only 3.5 percent to 7 percent increases in current transportation fuel prices; or, less than the volatility we commonly experience in gasoline prices. The fee, Ivancic explained, will disappear as lower priced renewable fuels take over the market. Revenues from the fee will be used for two purposes:

  • Renewable Fuel R&D: An immediate Apollo type program should be funded with between 50% and 60% of the fees. It should be administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and be focused on getting affordable non-food biomass fuels and gases into the pipeline in less than seven years.
  • Renewable Fuel Infrastructure: The upgraded fuel pumps, decentralized processing/distribution modules, and temporary rebates to people not able to afford the initial lack of renewable fuel would be funded with between 40% and 50% of the fees. These programs would be run by the states.

Ivancic said the proposal will spur investment, innovation, installation and use of renewable choices. “Not only will we see a rapid reduction in GHG emissions,” she said, “but more important, a sustainable renewable fuel industry will create good jobs for Americans in research labs, rural towns, and urban manufacturing plants.”

Collection of this user fee would not require new bureaucracies. Existing consumer point-of-sale fuel and utility tax collections systems (for natural gas) would be used.

Businesses Should Lead Way on Clean Power

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) are calling on the National Governors Association (NGA) to implement the federal Clean Power plan. If done correctly, states can reap benefits, say the groups, that come with a clean energy economy. NGA is preparing for its summer conference in West Virginia July 23-25, 2015, around the same time the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to announce final standards. The Clean Power Plan is the first plan that limits carbon pollution emitted by power plants.

logos“The Clean Power Plan is not just smart environmental policy, it’s a major economic catalyst that will create jobs and drive economic growth,” said Bob Keefe, E2’s executive director. “Governors have a choice: They can implement the plan on their own terms and reap the benefits, or they can skirt the law and get left behind by other states.”

The formal letter also suggests NGA can help states by leading and facilitating engagement between governors, the EPA, state regulators and others.

“The Clean Power Plan will help states grow their economies and create jobs,” said ASBC’s Vice President of Policy Richard Eidlin. “It also gives businesses the certainty and transparency they need to increase investment in clean energy.”

E2/ASBC made their calls to action as some in Congress and industry urge states to skirt the law by failing to develop state plans. For instance, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell in March began urging governors to refuse to implement the standards. However, as the E2/ASBC letter states, steering a state down such a legally reckless path would negatively impact a state’s economy.

According to the letter from E2 and ASBC, the decision to “opt out” of the Clean Power Plan is simply bad for business. “The business community needs a consistent regulatory system based on sound science,” ASBC’s Eidlin added. “The Clean Power Plan provides this. Tackling climate change isn’t just good for the environment – it’s good for businesses, too.”

IRENA Launches INSPIRE Energy Platform

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has launched a new online platform called INSPIRE, or the International Standards and Patents in Renewable Energy platform. The project is the first of its kind, and provides information on nearly 400 international standards and more than 2 million patents for renewable energy technology.

INSPIRE platform2“The INSPIRE platform provides a strategic window into the innovation and growth taking place in the renewable energy sector,” said IRENA Director-General Adnan Z. Amin. “It consolidates vast collections of renewable energy patents and standards, which can foster collaboration between innovators, spur improvement through product comparison and benchmarking and help identify partners, matching domestic energy needs to innovative energy solutions.”

The project came to fruition with a partnership between IRENA, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The platform features several features including a standards section that allows users to search through a database of more than 400 internationally used standards and generate reports as needed. It also explains what standards are, how they can be used and why they are important for quality assurance, investor confidence and technology trading. The patents section houses the world’s most comprehensive global patent database for carbon mitigation technologies, the EPO’s PATSTAT, which contains nearly two million patent documents.

“The INSPIRE platform demonstrates the role of the global patent systemINSPIRE platform1 as a support for innovation in renewable energy, encouraging research and development in technologies to serve modern energy needs while addressing climate change,” added EPO President Benôit Battistelli. “INSPIRE also showcases the role of patent information, which provides valuable high-level information to advise policy makers on the renewable energy sector.”

IRENA said the combination of resources on INSPIRE will help users analyse various aspects of renewable energy policy and innovation, and the platform can help indicate the effectiveness of policies to promote renewable energy innovation through the analysis of trends in patent activity.

Pope Francis Advocates for Renewable Energy

Addressing all persons living on the plant, Pope Francis’ LAUDATO SI’, Encyclical Letter calls on mankind to address climate change and heal earth. He writes, “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in “lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies”. He stresses throughout the Encyclical, “The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change“.

do908_laudato_si-255x363“I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet,” writes Pope Francis and notes that while efforts have been undertaken, they are not enough. “Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest.”

Pope Francis’ Encyclical spans six chapters with each section focused on a particular area of importance to climate change discussions and action steps to be undertaken. In chapter 5 he focuses on approach and action as it relates to energy and calls for the end of fossil fuel use.

We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels – especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas – needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Until greater progress is made in developing widely accessible sources of renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the lesser of two evils or to find short-term solutions,” continues Pope Francis. 

He calls for a worldwide consensus – all countries – to come together to develop “renewable and less polluting forms of energy”. While he acknowledges the work already being done to develop more sustainable, alternative forms of energy, he stresses that countries must come together and take responsibility for paying for the costs of energy transition and that politics and businesses must speed up their pace of acknowledgement and action to curtail climate change.

If only one message were received by those reading LAUDATO SI, it is that humans are at the center of climate change, that none of us is without fault, and it will take all of us to restore earth to a state of health and beauty.

Catholic Church Becomes Vocal on Climate Change

The United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) is still 200 days away but organizations are not waiting until the event gets closer to encourage countries to step up their climate change actions and policies. One such organization is the Catholic Church, representing 1.1 billion globally practicing the faith. Recently Pope Francis endorsed a Catholic petition calling for bold climate action after meeting with the newly created Global Catholic Climate Movement (GCCM). The Pope’s move was a visual sign that the he intends to lead Catholics into an active response to climate change. He is planning on publishing his encyclical on ecology this June.

Pope Francis is informed about the Catholic Climate Petition by GCCM representatives (Tomás Insua from Argentina and Allen Ottaro from Kenya). Credit: Fotografia Felici

Pope Francis is informed about the Catholic Climate Petition by GCCM representatives (Tomás Insua from Argentina and Allen Ottaro from Kenya). Credit: Fotografia Felici

“Pope Francis was very supportive of the work we are doing to engage Catholics around the world in a coordinated response to climate change,” said Tomás Insua, co-founder of the GCCM from Argentina. “The Pope even joked that we were competing against his encyclical. His endorsement of our work is extremely important to raise awareness within Catholic circles globally, and to collect more signatures.”

The idea for the petition came as a response to Pope Francis’ call last December: “On climate change there is a clear, definitive and ineluctable ethical imperative to act.” The signatures will be presented to world leaders in December 2015, when they meet at COP21 in Paris. The Pope has presented GCCM with the book “The Sun’s Energy in the Vatican” as a gift to emphasize the Holy See’s commitment to renewable energy as a means to address the climate change crisis.

“The support of Pope Francis to the petition is very important as climate change is a great and urgent moral issue,” said Allen Ottaro, director of CYNESA based in Kenya and co-founder of GCCM. “Climate change hits the poorest first and hardest, and will leave an unnecessarily dire legacy for future generations. We Catholics need to step up against climate change and raise a strong voice asking political leaders to take action urgently. I encourage all to sign the petition on our website: www.CatholicClimateMovement.global.”

The Catholic Church is becoming increasingly vocal on climate change. Two weeks ago, the Vatican hosted a high-level summit about climate change and released a declaration that stated: “Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its decisive mitigation is a moral and religious imperative for humanity.”

Sen Udall & Friends Unveil National RES Bill

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and friends, Edward Markey (D-MA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) has introduced a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) they say will pump nearly $300 billion into the economy while combating climate change. The bill would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall“A national Renewable Electricity Standard will help slow utility rate increases and boost private investment in states like New Mexico – all while combating climate change,” said Udall, who helped pass RES legislation through the U.S. House of Representatives and has continued to champion the issue as senator. “Investing in homegrown clean energy jobs just makes sense, and that’s why I’m continuing my fight for a national RES. More than half the states – including New Mexico – have widely successful RES policies, and it’s time to go all in. I’ve long pushed for a ‘do it all, do it right’ energy policy, and a RES will help us get there.”

If passed, the federal legislation would create the first national threshold for utilities to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, including wind, solar, biomass and others. It would set an 8 percent requirement by 2016, followed by gradual increases to meet the 30 percent by 2030 goal. More than half of the states already have renewable generation standards with specific timelines and target standards, and the legislation would not preempt stronger standards already implemented by states.

“Our record droughts, burning forests, dying fish, and melting icecaps all point to the urgency of taking on climate change,” said Merkley. “The only answer is burning less fossil fuel and moving toward renewable energy. Senator Udall’s bill would accelerate that transition and is a key to saving both our economy and our environment from the ravages of climate change.” Continue reading

What’s the GHG Performance of Polluters?

Next 10 has released, “Green Innovation Index, International Edition,” a report that analyzes and ranks the economic and energy performance of the world’s 50 largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting countries. The reports reviews country gross domestic product (GDP), emissions, energy productivity, renewable energy generation, clean tech investments and other key metrics. The report find the European Union collectively, and its individual nations, leads the world on several critical indicators.

Green Innovation Index“Some of the world’s largest economies are now decoupling economic growth and energy use, actually growing their GDPs while shrinking their carbon footprints. Last year marked the first time we’ve been able to say conclusively that a drop in global carbon emissions was caused by something other than an economic downtown,” said F. Noel Perry, businessman and founder of the nonpartisan nonprofit group Next 10.

Perry will be presenting the results as part of the events leading up to the Business & Climate Summit taking place at the UNESCO headquarters. The event is also part of Climate Week Paris.

The report finds the European Union ranks as the: #1 producer of renewable energy; #2 in global electric vehicle sales (2014), accounting for 30 percent of sales worldwide; #1 in clean tech IPOs (2014); #2 in clean tech venture capital, attracting just over $1 billion in 2014; #1 in wind energy patents; and #2 in clean tech patents, with 11,000 registered in 2014.

The Green Innovation Index also found that among these nations, plus California:

  • Spain, Germany, Italy, California, Philippines, the EU, Belgium, Netherlands, U.K. andGreece have the greatest share of electricity from renewable sources among top emitters (in order).
  • France leads the world in lowest carbon intensity; Uzbekistan is highest (GHG per GDP).
  • U.S. (with California), the EU, Japan, South Korea, Germany, California, China, Taiwan,France and U.K. (in order) are top ten in clean technology patents (2014).
  • Clean tech venture capital investment declined in the EU (-10 percent), France (-43 percent), Canada (-19 percent), India (-4 percent) and Israel (-11 percent) from 2013-14.
  • U.S. clean tech venture capital investment grew 74 percent (2013-14), California 153 percent.

“This year’s Green Innovation Index, International Edition tracks a clear shift to clean energy around the world. Although fossil fuels still represent a significant portion of our overall energy use, many analysts believe we have reached an important tipping point—globally, we are now adding more capacity for renewable power annually than fossil fuels,” added Doug Henton, chairman and CEO of Collaborative Economics, which developed the Index for Next 10.

Book Review: The Power Surge

As I write about energy each day, I often wonder what the trade-offs or consequences will be if a technology takes off, or even if it fails. How will it, if at all, alter America’s energy landscape? From my point of view, we are a country in fear of change and in fear of taking The Power Surgeaction. We are a country that spends more time worrying about what celebrities wore to an award show and when the next iPhone will be hit the streets, then worrying about the underlying causes of recessions (many economists blame oil prices) and what the consequences are of the decisions made, or more often than not, not made, by our elected officials.

So I was very excited when I read, “The Power Surge: Energy, Opportunity, and the Battle for America’s Future,” by Michael Levi who is the Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment and Director, Center for Geoeconomic Studies and Council on Foreign Relations. I have never read a book that does a better job of presenting various energy scenarios and the intended and unintended consequences of them and written and presented in a way based on research, economics and trends and not based on emotions.

There is no argument that there is a battle afoot over America’s, and quite frankly, the world’s energy future.

Our entire life is dependent on energy. We as a society can not function in our current “lifestyle” without energy. Period.

And despite what you personally believe, there are economic, security and environmental consequences and/or benefits to all decisions made and not made as eloquently demonstrated by Levi (and this includes those who believe climate change is a hoax). Levi begins the book with a three very probative and questions and one that he uses against all scenarios he presents in the book. In other words, how does the technology, legislation, or action fare against these three pillars?

  1. Does each energy source that has recently thrived offer important opportunities to improve the U.S. economy, strengthen national security or mitigate climate change while not causing intolerable damages on any of those fronts?
  2. Is is possible to seize those opportunities simultaneously- or would pursuing some of them severely undermine others?
  3. And can the United States take advantage of these opportunities without fundamentally altering the role of government in America?

The book begins with an in-depth discussion of all things oil and touches upon renewable energy sources such as biofuels. He also covers electricity and the role of natural gas in our current and energy future as well as technologies like wind and solar. He also points out that all sides of the issue overstate some of their claims and it was refreshing to see someone who doesn’t only call out claims on the side he/she is against. He writes, Continue reading