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Archive for December, 2011

While delegates to the Climate Summit in South Africa were trying to keep a climate agreement alive for the world, millions of people in the central part of that continent are struggling to stay alive in a ten nation, greenhouse gas induced drought.  The disaster is creating wars among tribes over well water.  Agriculture is the primary source of employment in this region so there’s no work and no food; poverty and violence made worse by climate change.

The US is no longer the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases; but not because we’ve reduced them.  We’ve been overtaken by China.  India is now third in total emissions.  US emissions continued to increase by a record amount in 2010.

Putting a cap on greenhouse gases has not yet achieved consensus nationally.  However, ten states in the northeast are reporting success in their program which penalizes electricity generating companies that do not meet GHG reduction targets.  The initiative is also showing net economic benefits for the region.

The northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has now completed its first three year period.  If electricity generators (over 25 megawatts) cannot meet the mandatory cap on GHG emissions they are required to purchase allowances.  This money is distributed back to participating states where it can be used to build energy efficiency strategies, renewable energy programs, provide help to low-income rate payers or other purposes.  The results have been 1) reduced GHG 2) higher electricity rates and 3) increased overall economic activity.  Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be 10% lower by 2018 and rate payers are expected to be paying less because energy efficiency measures and renewable energy will reduce their need for service.  Electric generators will gradually lose revenues.  You can read an independent report about the Initiative here.

British Colombia and Australia are now taxing heat trapping molecules and the California cap and trade program will become effective in 2012.  These policies are expected to bolster total economic activity fostering energy efficiency and renewable energy businesses while carbon-based businesses gradually lose market share.

Surprisingly, when discussing global warming, some people are still putting their trust in a few politicians rather than the dedicated scientists who are actually studying the phenomenon.  Climate change deniers are like texting drivers or cigarette smokers who say the risks down the road “will never happen to me.”

Sam Kendall

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