Global Energy Policy

Issues in International Energy Law, Global Clean Technology, Alternative / Renewable Energy, Carbon Emissions, and More

In the U.S., the Government Accountability Office testified before the House Committee on Science and Technology, issuing a March 18, 2010 report discussing the current U.S. and International regulatory framework surrounding Geoengineering. (click here for further information).

On March 22nd and 26th, policy experts and social scientists met in Asilomar, California to discuss the topic as well, eventually adopting the “Oxford principles” on Geoengineering (presented to the British Parliament by Steve Rayner of the Said Business School, Oxford).

instanbul-sunsetIstanbul

Muslim leaders, scholars, and members of civil service endorsed a 7-year Action Plan on Climate Change.  The Action Plan, drawn up my a UK based NGO, is the product of a collaboration between the United Nations and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation.

In addition to reviewing Muslim life for improvements in daily life, the ARC reported other proposals include: 

* developing the major Muslim cities as green city models for other Islamic urban areas

 * developing an Islamic label for environmentally friendly goods and services

 * creating a best practice environmental guide for Islamic businesses. 


solar panelSecretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) announced initiatives for large scale solar development on federal lands.  (Bureau of Land Management News Release, June 29, 2009).

 

Essentially, portions of public lands in the Western United States are on the fast-track to becoming large scale solar energy fields.  The Bureau of Land Management has received about 160 applications for solar projects “covering 1.8 million acres, with a projected capacity to generate 97,000 megawatts of electricity…enough to power 29 million homes, the equivalent of 29 percent of the nation’s household electrical consumption.”

 

The broad tracts of lands initially identified in the Western U.S. areas still need to be narrowed to particular locations based on suitability for solar projects and other factors.  The evaluation should be complete near late 2010, and “[c]ompanies proposing solar energy projects in designated areas would be able to ‘tier’ to this study, using it as part of their environmental impact studies for site-specific projects, which are required by the National Environmental Policy Act.”

 

Source:  Bureau of Land Management News Release, June 29, 2009.

wind-farmThanks in part to a Chinese law passed in September 2007 requiring large power companies to derive 3% of their power from renewable sources, China is on track to become the largest consumer of wind turbines. 

Several large wind projects are taking place in Dunhuang, China, in the Gobi Desert. 

China has doubled its wind power capacity in the last four years and is projected to have 30,000 megawatts of wind energy capacity by the end of next year (previously the 2020 target).  The power grid is still a limiting factor, however.  At times, the grid is only capable of receiving half of the wind energy generated on a given day.

Source: NY Times, Green Power Takes Root in the Chinese Desert, Keith Bradasher, July 3, 2009.  For full article, click here.

Obama on Energy

Obama Administration Announces New Energy Efficiency Efforts from U.S. Department of Energy on Vimeo.

green light With compromises being made as late as early Friday June 26th, the Waxman-Markey Bill on Energy & Climate Change (the so called “Cap & Trade” Bill) passed the U.S. House Friday by a 219/212 margin.

The bill, having been released from the House Energy & Commerce Committee on May 21, 2009, grew over 400 pages during House debates and is now over 1300 pages in length.  The Bill will likely undergo  more growth during its time in the Senate.
Overview:
As mentioned in prior posts, the Bill seeks essentially to cap emissions and auction permits which give parties the right to pollute.
How?
Most permits are pre-allocated through 2015, meaning that many businesses will not have to purchase carbon permits at the outside.   According to a Table prepared by the New York Times on June 27, 2009, roughly 80% of the 5 billion permits will be allocated in 2010 as follows:
     -37% to Public utilities, who are required to sell these permits and use the revenue to keep consumer energy costs low.
     -21% to Private Industry.
     -16% to recipients who will use the permit value to finance renewable energy projects.
     -9% to other public uses.
By 2035, the number of permits will shrink to 2.9 billion, and 80% of those will be auctioned.
Industry supporters?
Claimed supporters include Dow Chemical and Ford.
Critiques:
Although the Bill was a Democratic bill, 44 House Dems did not vote for the bill.  The main critiques are that the bill (1) is a tax, (2) will result in more outsourcing of jobs, and (3) is premature given there is no international agreement limiting greenhouse gas emissions.  Supporters disagree with all those contentions as follows:
 
(1)  Is the Bill a Tax? Democrats and Republicans strongly disagree on this issue.  Democrats claim the Congressional Budget Office determined the average consumer will only see a $175 increase in their energy costs by 2020, and that poorest familys would receive rebates to reduce their energy bills.  Numbers put out by the Heritage Group suggest 15x that amount.  It is still unclear what accounts for this vast difference in these economic projections, as we have not yet seen the details behind these projections.  Many great economists, however, agree that consumers will ultimately bear the brunt of this legislation, and even the EPA has made some negative comments regarding the efficacy of this large and complicated piece of government regulation.
(2)  Will the bill cause jobs to migrate overseas?  Jobs are and have been migrating overseas for some time.  While EPR Policywatch has seen this contention made with respect to the Cap & Trade Bill, we do not yet know whether this is an extension of prior trends.  EPR Policywatch will monitor the debate in the Senate for more thoughts on this topic.
(3) Should passage of the Bill await an international consensus on emission caps? Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) stated in an interview on This Week with George Stephanopoulos that without an international consensus, businesses will definitely move their operations to countries with lower (or nonexistent) emission standards.  Others state the U.S. should take the lead now and use that momentum at the global climate change conference in December in Copenhagen.  This question boils down to one of strategy.
Our editors will be monitoring the debate of the Wasxman-Markey Bill in the U.S. Senate.  Check back for updates.

June 18, 2009.  China and the U.S. have been in talks regarding climate change.  As the world’s two largest carbon emitters (China surpassed the U.S. in 2007), an agreement between these two nations is thought to the post-Kyoto, multi-mational framework (to be negotiated this December in Copenhagen). 

Details from these talks has been difficult to come by.  It appears the U.S. would like to set targets for emission reduction, while China prefers better access to foreign meeting-roomgreen-technology.  Given the competition among nations to emerge as the leader in the clean-technology sector (on the backdrop of bettering the planet), the respective countries’ representatives approach the table with a lot at stake.

coal-pileJune 4, 2009. Australia’s Lower House passed a cap & trade bill, which like the U.S., gives away a large number of Carbon Dioxide emitting permits initially.

Australia’s professed goal is to move towards 25% renewable energy as well as a 5-15% decrease in emissions by 2020, which by some standards is a watered-down goal, given coal accounts for 83% of the country’s electricity already, and Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter. Some therefore claim the current carbon bill is an illusory climate change initiative, and that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, is still politically beholden to strong, entrenched coal interests.

The bill has yet to be passed in the Senate, and it is feared to fail unless “browned down” significantly to appease industry and opposition. In the event of defeat, it is speculated that the Australian prime minister will reintroduce the bill after three months in an effort to put a positive face on Australia’s climate change efforts at December’s Global Climate Conference in Copenhagen.

Update:  Rio Tinto, an international mining organization w/ significant operations in Australia, would be slated to receive $462 million in carbon credits under this Australian carbon trading scheme, reports the Environmental Leader in a May 21, 2009 article, “Steel Industry Faces Carbon Hurdle.”

 

 

 

capitol-buildingThe American Wind Energy Association sent a letter warning Congress of the impact of weak energy laws on the U.S.’s global competitiveness in the clean technology sector on May 15, 2009 (click here).  Among other urgent appeals, the letter points out that the U.S. is “on the verge of losing the wind manufacturing industry to Asia and Europe.” 

 

Ed. Note:  Visitors interested in this topic may also wish to review and compare a March 2009 study on the loss of jobs as a result of certain Green policies in Spain.  Also, posts concerning China’s renewable energy stimulus and the Philippines’ policies aimed at promoting clean tech investment.