Tuesday, February 26, 2013

California's Climate Challenge

Ellen Hanak, senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California says that the state has taken a leadership role in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but much remains to be done to reduce the state's vulnerability to climate change. It's building on its previous efforts to develop momentum on climate change issues and carbon reduction standards in concert with UN goals, a policy that is currently missing at the Federal level.

The state is taking this issue very, very seriously, and many resources are emerging that are supported by state and private efforts to forge the way forward in addressing this problem. The Public Policy Institute of California outlines resources and events on climate change policy. The California Energy Commission has resources for climate tools that deal specifically with the impacts of climate change on the state, its geography, its weather and its water supply. Calfornia is also setting up its system for GHG emissons tracking in its emerging Cap-and-Trade model, and this page covers the local regulatory environment that has emerged from years of prior legislation.

It links to California's Climate Change Portal that has the 7-part video series from the NRC. The National Research Council has developed a series of videos that explain how scientists have arrived at the state of knowledge about current climate change and its causes.This information supports the climate change thesis that we've seen playing out over the last 100 years, based upon science and data gathering.

So there's a very strong, emerging effort to focus on ways to deal with this by the state, which is also moving to the Federal level via California Senator Barbara Boxer's joint effort with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont to get bills passed at the Federal level which fully addresses this issue, called the Climate Protection Act and the Sustainable Energy Act. They hope to get the bills on the floor of the Senate in the summer, hopefully with backing from the Obama administration. So it should be an interesting summer on The Hill.

The kicker in all this, as the Grist article linked above points out, is that the bill contains a version of the “fee and dividend” idea that is a favorite of NASA climate scientist James Hansen and climate activist Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. Unfortunately this structure allows the carbon-fuel industries to keep on polluting because the cap-and-trade structure presumes levels of carbon allowances that will not stop the climate change impact. The reason? The funding behind McKibben, that of the Rockefellers and other interests that need to preserve their global investment structures in fossil fuels. That then becomes the deal brought to the table by the USA during global climate negotiations in the future.

That, unfortunately, doesn't reflect science, but rather corporate profits, which will complicate climate negotiations with the rest of the countries on this planet, depending upon how the consensus evolves around the actual science of reducing carbon emissions. There's many ways to achieve consensus on emissions entitlements, but time is of the essence because of the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide that the planet has now.