Copenhagen Climate Summit Ends – What Did They Accomplish?

The Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers, and other heads of delegation present at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen,… Have agreed on this Copenhagen Accord which is operational immediately.” And so ends the Copenhagen Climate Summit.

Long Beach port and oil island - major source of pollution for LA BasinBut what did the participants agree to? Was it substantial enough to make a difference? Did they silence the skeptics? Will Sarah Palin finally believe Alaska is melting into the North Pacific?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel defends the Copenhagen climate summit. In an interview with the German news source Bild am Sonntag Merkel stated “Copenhagen is a first step toward a new world climate order – no more, but also no less. Anyone who just badmouths Copenhagen now is engaging in the business of those who are applying the brakes rather than moving forward.”

The climate conference ended Saturday with 192 participating nations walking away with the “Copenhagen Accord,” a deal brokered between China, South Africa, India, Brazil and the US.

The “Accord” can really be brought into one statement:

To achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention to stabilize greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, we shall, recognizing the scientific view that the increase in global temperature should be below 2 degrees Celsius, on the basis of equity and in the context of sustainable development, enhance our long-term cooperative action to combat climate change.

How the global community gets to that objective resulted in a non-binding acknowledgement that doesn’t set hard numbers on reducing carbon emissions, specific timelines, or penalties on violators.

It does agree to provide $30bn in funding for poor countries to the “adverse effects of climate change and the potential impacts of response measures” from next year (2010) to 2012, and $100bn a year after 2020.

The “Accord” not cites carbon emissions as an issue, but also deforestation.

We recognize the crucial role of reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation and the need to enhance removals of greenhouse gas emission by forests and agree on the need to provide positive incentives to such actions through the immediate establishment of a mechanism including REDD-plus, to enable the mobilization of financial resources from developed countries.

Oddly, or maybe not, China (as the world’s largest source of carbon emissions and greenhouse gas) applauded the “Accord.” Maybe the “non-binding” nature of the “Accord” gave China some relief, or maybe China has simply accepted their role and responsibility in providing global leadership in reducing harmful toxins into our environment.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi of China believes the Copenhagen Summit produced “significant and positive” results. “Developing and developed countries are very different in their historical emissions responsibilities and current emissions levels, and in their basic national characteristics and development stages,” Yang said in a statement. “Therefore, they should shoulder different responsibilities and obligations in fighting climate change.” (Xinhua)

President Barack Obama stated “a meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough” was made in Copenhagen. “All major economies have come together to accept their responsibility to take action to confront the threat of climate change.” (from Press Conference in Copenhagen)

But there are skeptics

No event is perfect. When you get representatives from 192 nations in a room, teamwork is probably a fantasy none of us should harbor. A small island nation may wish to defend their island from rising oceans, where an oil-producing country may want to defend their industry.

Communist and socialist countries may have an agenda, religious leaders an agenda, democracies an agenda, and superpowers an agenda. So as expected, not everybody walked away from the conference with warm words for the “Accord.”

  • Venezuala – International thought leader Hugo Chavez stated “If it’s to go and waste time, it’s better I don’t go,” he said. “If everything is already cooked up by the big [nations], then forget it.”
  • Bolivia – Bolivian President Evo Morales called for the creation of an actual climate justice tribunal. The Global North, Morales said, should indemnify poor nations for the ravages of climate change.
  • Ethiopia – Director General of the Ethiopian Environment Protection Agency, Dr Tewolde Birhan Gebre-Egziabher
    beleives Africa is already suffering, and likely to suffer more from climate change, but contributes very little to climate change.
  • Nepal – Prime Minister Madhav Kumar highlighted his concern of the “seriousness of the problem of climate change” particularly for the least developed and vulnerable countries. He adds that Nepal urges special focus on the impact of global warming on the Himalayas, in Nepal and elsewhere.
  • UK – Ed Miliband, the climate change secretary, said “If leading countries hold out against something like ‘legally binding’ or against the 2050 target of 50 per cent reductions in carbon emissions – which was held out against by countries like China – you are not going to get the agreement you want.” (COPS15 )

And so on.

The important thing to remember…

The important thing to remember is that we, as a planet, were able to get 192 nations together to agree on one important point – climate change is occurring, and human bei9ngs are part of the problem. If we do not get control over global warming, our planet will not be able to support life in the longer term.

Every media source in the world focused attention on the issue for the better part of two weeks. Even Fox News, acrimonious as they are, provided a lot of coverage. Regardless of polls stating the roller-coaster of public opinion on global warming vs. job loss, 90% or more of the global population will now at least look at a bus spewing black clouds of exhaust into the air, deforestation, and thousands of 2-stroke motor scooters crowding streets as something that is not healthy for the planet.

Regardless of which side of the debate you fall, the result is your position will now need defense – defense that it is not destructive to the planet, defense a Hummer/2 used to buy beer in a West Virginia country town is your inherent right as an American, or defense that every energy-related decision should include an environmental impact question.

Prior articles in this series:

A Cold, Wet Blanket of Politics Covers the Copenhagen Climate Summit

The headlines say it all… “Further commitment needed to break negotiation deadlock.” The rich nations vs. the poor nations. Industrialists vs. environmentalists. And at the end A Very Polluted Planetof the day, looking out over the Pacific Ocean towards Catalina Island from Long Beach, the dense brown sludge of polluted air is a constant reminder we are dumping horrifying amounts of human waste into the oceans and air.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says “world policymakers do not have to choose between a clean environment and economic growth.” Schwarzenegger believes people worried about climate change should pay more attention to companies, universities and “ordinary folks” and not put so much emphasis on a multinational consensus. (AP)

If you listen to the entrepreneurs and innovators in Silicon Valley, they would tend to agree with Governor Schwarzenegger. Green tech is becoming a big business, and, at least in California, you cannot discuss any new technology or construction project without at least some acknowledgement of environmental impact. Damn the politics, the investment community and innovator community is laying some serious right brain on developing environmentally friendly products and technology.

If you listen to the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership podcast series about half the speakers in the series focus on environmental opportunities and responsibilities. And the politics of green rarely find their way into the discussion. People inherently want to be responsible global citizens, developing a future that is both profitable, as well as friendly to the future of our planet.

The Politics of Copenhagen

As of Tuesday, United Nations negotiators have failed to agree on the financial aid that the US, Japan and other developed nations will give to the developing world to cope with climate change, Bloomberg reports, referring to a draft document. “The Copenhagen climate conference is in the grip of a serious deadlock,” the Guardian concludes in a feature.(COPS15)

Developing Nations Want Wealthy nations to Pay the Global Cleanup BillThe developing world believes wealthier nations are responsible and accountable for bearing the cost of reducing carbon emissions. In fact, the African delegation to COPS 15 walked out for a brief period to protest the reluctance of wealthier nations to accept financial burdens to assist African nations.

They may have a point. Africa generates a fraction of the carbon emissions spewed into the atmosphere by the United States, Europe, Russia, India, and China. If you do believe in the global warming and other environmental impacts of carbon emissions, then Africa may indeed be on a climate “death row” created by the wealthy nations. The UK publication “The Mirror” provided a couple interesting statistics just related to the Copenhagen Conference:

The Copenhagen climate talks will generate carbon emissions equivalent to the annual output of 660,000 Ethiopians or 2,300 Americans, Denmark revealed yesterday. Despite efforts to limit the impact of the conference , delegates, journalists, activists from almost 200 countries have gathered creating 46,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The climate has stimulated considerable debate on both the merits and demerits of climate change theory. One publication might offer the fact Vikings farmed in Greenland in ancient times, reinforcing global warming is a natural cycle the planet goes through every couple hundred years. Al Gore will argue the polar ice cap will be gone within a decade. Sarah Palin mocks the entire discussion, advising us that we should concentrate on drilling for more oil off the coast of California.

At the end of the day, it is becoming very clear the ultimate agenda of climate change discussion comes back to money. Money to advance economies, money to pay for building an environmentally friendly world, money to go towards more immediate problems – such as clean water, HIV, and malaria.

Most Scientists Agree the Planet is in Trouble

It is hard to ignore the fact glaciers are shrinking, water levels are rising, storms in the pacific and other locations are becoming more violent, and desertification is encroaching The Industrial World Creates Carbonfurther into the grasslands and forested areas than ever before. Politicians and industrialists may argue that a rise of one or two degrees (cel) in ocean temperatures is not a big problem. “Who cares,… it’s just a couple degrees.”

Scientists are concerned with the short, mid, and long term impacts of global warming. Less water in the continental interiors means less food. Less food means more competition for food and other life sustaining resources.

Like the Internet, Innovation will Occur, in Spite of the Politicians

During the late 1980s and early 1990s the Internet grew fast. Like Facebook and Twitter, it is hard to keep a good idea suppressed for too long. While the government supported initial development of Internet technologies, it was ultimately the universities and innovators who built the world’s network-of-networks – in spite of governments spending most of their time worrying about telephone and cable deregulation. When they woke up from the hangover of the national monopoly telecom carrier meltdown, the Internet was already making the old telephony network irrelevant.

So let the politicians debate. It is good, because if nothing else, it does add visibility and awareness to the topic. Regardless of the pros or cons of the debate, over the past couple years every American has been exposed to the topic of energy and environmental awareness. We are all forming opinions, and we all have some level of basis for discussion. And we all know it is better to use good discipline in our energy consumption. All baby steps, but good baby steps towards individual accountability in protecting our environment (and saving money!).

Copenhagen will conclude their summit on Friday. The debate will continue. Innovators will keep their sleeves rolled up, and with luck will continue to develop better ideas and visions of a greener future.

Energizing Cap and Trade Discussions – Part 3 (The “Pro” Argument)

In the mid-1990s I frequently worked in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The city supported around 1 million people, nearly half of which were transients living in small tents called “gers.” The “ger” communities had no real infrastructure such Air Pollution in Mongoliaas electricity or water, and subsequently used raw coal in stoves as a primary heat source, and those people who had a little money occasionally had small gas generators for minimal electricity.

In those days unleaded gasoline did not exist in Mongolia, and transportation was either older used cars from Korea and Germany, or even more often Russian made vehicles such as Ladas or Volgas. During the winter months Ulaanbaatar’s air was so bad you did not dare to wear any clothing with exposed white, as it would soon be covered with black soot, which could never really be cleaned.

Our employees were frequently ill, at a rate that is unprecedented in offices I’ve worked in over 35 years. Sadly, people also died at a much younger age, with respiratory problems and cancer being the most frequent cause. A very unhealthy place live and work.

What Cap and Trade Tries to Accomplish

Cap and Trade programs try to limit production and impact of CO2 emissions and production of greenhouse gases resulting in pollution and potentially global warming. The Environmental Protection Agency/EPA identifies Cap and Trade as programs which “reward innovation, efficiency, and early action, providing strict environmental accountability without inhibiting economic growth.” In addition to providing incentives and penalties on the production of CO2, Cap and Trade programs have also included projects focuse don controlling Acid rain, NOx, and another US program called the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR).

California Cap and Trade

California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or California AB 32, establishes a “first-in-the-world comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases (GHG).” AB 32 assigns responsibility to the California Air Resources Board/ARB to:

  • Establish a statewide GHG emissions cap for 2020, based on 1990 emissions by January 1, 2008
  • Adopt mandatory reporting rules for significant sources of greenhouse gases by January 1, 2008
  • Adopt a plan by January 1, 2009 indicating how emission reductions will be achieved from significant GHG sources via regulations, market mechanisms and other actions
  • Adopt regulations by January 1, 2011 to achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective reductions in GHGs, including provisions for using both market mechanisms and alternative compliance mechanisms
  • Convene an Environmental Justice Advisory Committee and an Economic and Technology Advancement Advisory Committee to advise ARB
  • Ensure public notice and opportunity for comment for all ARB actions
  • Prior to imposing any mandates or authorizing market mechanisms, requires ARB to evaluate several factors, including but not limited to: impacts on California’s economy, the environment, and public health; equity between regulated entities; electricity reliability, conformance with other environmental laws, and to ensure that the rules do not disproportionately impact low-income communities
  • Adopt a list of discrete, early action measures by July 1, 2007 that can be implemented before January 1, 2010 and adopt such measures (AB 32)

California also belongs to the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), which includes US states and provinces, including:

  • British Colombia
  • Manitoba
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Montana
  • New Mexico
  • Utah
  • Arizona
  • Oregon
  • Washington
  • And of course California

The WCI is a regional Cap and Trade system which will exceed federal initiatives, with implementation planned by 2015. When implemented the program will address 90% of the greenhouse gases produced within the member states and provinces. Specific program design includes:

  • Provides opportunities to obtain low-cost emission reductions through emission trading, allowance banking, and inclusion of an offsets component
  • Is intended to mitigate economic impacts, including impacts on consumers, income, and employment
  • Balances all principles adopted by the WCI Partner jurisdictions to maximize total benefits throughout the region, including reducing air pollutants, diversifying energy sources, and advancing economic, environmental, and public health objectives, while also avoiding localized or disproportionate environmental or economic impacts

Opinions on Cap and Trade

In Part 1 of this series we posted a link to the Federal Cap and Trade Policy Primer. Using this primer as a reference, we can look at some of the opinions driving public reaction to Cap and Trade, in this case mostly positive (this is the “Pro” segment of the series!). rather than list dozens of positive opinions on the topic (readers can just as easily do a Google search on Cap and trade and list hundreds of pro and con opinions), we will hit a couple highlights.

Overall, I still give Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Edward Markey of Massachusetts a solid “B.”  I’m grading on a curve–the curve of political reality. Straight A’s are hard to come by with oil, coal, and other industries spending almost $80 million lobbying on climate policy in just the past three months (pdf). (Alan Durning)

 I love Waxman-Markey’s scope. It is comprehensive, covering essentially all fossil fuels, along with most other greenhouse gases.

The 2050 goal of Cap and Trade is a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 83% below 2005 levels. This brings us beyond carbon is only 40 years! (Durning)

Waxman-Markey is comprehensive in scope, including essentially all fossil fuels, along with certain other measurable greenhouse gases. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Waxman-Markey’s cap would cover about 72 percent of US emissions in 2012; by 2020, it would cover 86 percent. (Sightline.Org)

The Bottom Line

Another morning looking over the port, and in the direction of Palos Verdes. While only a few miles from downtown Long Beach, it is almost impossible to see the Palos Verdes Peninsula due to the haze and smog generated from both the port, and the oil refineries in San Pedro and the harbor area. We need both the port, and the refineries. Nobody can argue that point.

Hazy Evening Over the Port of Long BeachHowever the move from old diesel engines to cleaner diesel within the port. The move to natural gas to drive trucking and container movement within the port. Reducing emissions from automobiles through introduction of natural gas (CNG) engines and elimination of gasoline. Increased use of cleaner public transportation such as trains and buses. Many things we can and must do to bring our community back into a reasonable environment, while still promoting and protecting the port economy.

On June 4th the Alaskan Navigator, a huge oil tanker from Valdez, Alaska, docked at the Port of Long Beach. The “Navigator” is unique. While in port the Navigator plugged into the shore-side electrical grid. The ship’s diesels turned off, and power within the ship was provided entirely by dockside power. Normally ships in port burn diesel to power on-board systems, and in a worst case burn diesel sludge, which is the dirtiest dreg of fuel. The LA Times described the fuel used by the average ship in port as the “energy equivalent of a days worth of driving 187,000 cars (4 June 2009 – articles.latimes.com).

The Navigator, and other ships in production, will have a major positive impact on the air quality within the Ports of Long Beach/LA, and the entire Los Angeles basin. Cap and Trade programs in California and at the federal level will continue to force similar projects, and Angelinos – as well as all Americans, will benefit from the effort.

Again, study the issues. Learn about Cap and Trade and greenhouse gases, with the impact all may have on the environment. It is our world, and we have an obligation, and right, to have our voices heard.

 

John Savageau, Long Beach

Energizing Cap and Trade Discussions – Part 2 (The “Con” Argument)

Nearly all people agree protecting the environment is critical to our continued prosperity and health. However there are arguments on how to best approach legislation that would either regulate or offer guidance on controlling pollutants and waste.

On the Cap and Trade issue, which is part of the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act (H.R. 2454, or “Waxman-Markey”, most of the arguments are related to the potential high financial cost of reducing carbon dioxide. Those critical of H.R. 2454 list many reasons to reject the bill, with some of the highlights including:

  • Huge increases in the cost of gasoline (due to higher taxes)
  • US jobs will be lost
  • The bill will not reduce our reliance on foreign energy
  • Similar efforts in Europe have not been successful (under debate)
  • Potential to lose control of carbon credits in open trading markets
  • Does not force electric utilities using fossil fuels to re-engineer with technology that would reduce carbon
  • Economies in coal-producing states could be devastated
  • The American people would pay the full price of Cap and Trade with personal tax and cost hits of nearly $2000/year per family (Spectator.Org)
  • Belief that global warming due to greenhouse gases is a fantasy

While it is clear much of the debate is based on politics and corporate special interest lobbying, a couple of the above points do justify further study and discussion. The most compelling argument may be the high cost of carbon credits being passed down to individuals, as well as the potential impact on jobs and local economies as fossil fuel-producing industries are forced to either re-engineer, or scale back operations.

The Politics of Carbon

Political action organizations have always been part of American politics. For those of us who frequently do research over the Internet, it is important to keep in mind a pretty web page can be a simple façade that will be easily accepted as fact, but in fact be well-prepared propaganda from a source aggressively trying to influence a reader to their point of view.

If you read a newspaper, such as the LA Times or Washington Post, you have a reasonable expectation the publication will provide a representation of events that will factually inform the reader on the topic or event. Editors go to great pain ensuring facts are checked prior to committing a story to print, as the reputation of the journalist, editor, and publication are at stake.

When we learn a journalist has misrepresented or presented facts in error, it generally results in an additional news story with a public explanation by both the editor and publication on the hows and whys of the error, and what they are doing to prevent future errors.

The Internet does not regulate web sites at the same level as mainstream news publications. A website on the Internet claiming to be a legitimate news outlet may in reality be a facade for a political action group, or other organization trying to influence thought through propaganda or other thought controls.

In the debate over Cap and Trade, global warming, greenhouse gas effect, and other issues down to whale harvesting, both sides of the debate will present their arguments as fact, but when you peel off the façade you will discover the information being presented is provided by an organization aggressively providing their own thought leadership.

For example, the website energytomorrow.org has a great home page. American flags flying, the impression of patriotism, and a call to action on web pages filled with facts provided by,… well, the American Petroleum Institute. The American Petroleum Institute (API):

is the only national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s oil and natural gas industry. Our 400 corporate members, from the largest major oil company to the smallest of independents, come from all segments of the industry. They are producers, refiners, suppliers, pipeline operators and marine transporters, as well as service and supply companies that support all segments of the industry. (http://energytomorrow.org/About/)

If the Cap and Trade bill is passed, and as the bill is written places much of the burden of carbon reporting and reduction on the “upstream” end of energy production and consumption, then the API will likely have to pay a large percentage of the price to re-engineer our energy industries. This can be translated as “lower profits.”

However the home page is filled with facts, which are backed by other groups such as the Heritage Foundation, which has the taglin on their very patriotic website as The Heritage Foundation, conservative policy research since 1973.

In All Fairness…

In part 3 of this series we will look at the Pro side of the Cap and Trade issue. The pro side will have equally aggressive propaganda to support their side of the debate. Much of it based on information provided through less than factual journalistic sources.

And it is reasonable to expect the average American will pay a price for carbon reduction in our lifetimes. A price that will help bring legislation and controls which will clean the environment, lessen our probability of health problems due to pollution, and quite possibly have a positive impact on slowing down the process of global warming through reduction of greenhouse gases.

LA Skyline via Telephoto from Long BeachIt is also true that if we blindly accept either side of the debate, we will run a high risk of accepting a solution that is dished up by a special interest group, and may not fully consider all aspects of either the issue or the proposed solutions. So bring on the debate.

A Call to Action, Part 2

This issue will affect all Americans, and all other residents of our planet. We all need to learn more about both the cons, and the pros of the Cap and Trade issue, carbon, greenhouse gasses, energy production and science – it will affect all of us and future generations. Learn, and then relentlessly go after your elected representatives with your opinions, and even better your suggestions to help solve and deal with the issue.

Looking out over the Port of Long Beach and the LA Basin, and seeing (or not seeing) the levels of pollution in the air, not being able to see Catalina Island this afternoon, barely being able to see the LA skyline – well, that is a fact. We residents of the LA area and Southern California have the right and obligation to be aware and knowledgeable.

John Savageau, Long Beach

Energizing Cap and Trade Discussions – Part 1 (Introducing CO2)

Carbon Dioxide, or CO2, is a natural byproduct of nature. Nature produces CO2 in large quantities during volcanic eruptions, geo-thermal events, and other processes as simple as breathing and normal chemical breakdowns of other elements. It is an essential component of photosynthesis, which is the process of plants changing CO2 into oxygen, and an essential component of the “carbon cycle.” At proper levels, CO2 is a requirement to sustain life.

When the ratio of CO2 to other elements becomes disrupted, the carbon cycle is also disrupted. The earth’s eco-system may not be able to absorb the excess CO2 present within the system, and the cycle is changed to account for disruption in the status quo of nature.

One byproduct of excess CO2 in nature may be excess “greenhouse gases,” which may have the effect of retaining heat within the earth’s atmosphere. This is widely accepted as being the main cause of global warming, which many scientists believe is causing much of the world’s problems with deforestation, drought, and melting of the polar ice caps.

We generate CO2 through use of energy ranging from driving a car, to running air conditioning, refinery of oil products, or anything else that is lit, propelled, heated, or cooled. The US Government Energy Information Institute estimates production of excess CO2 in the United States in 2008 reached around 6 billion metric tons. Most of that was produced in urban areas, with the excess CO2 remaining present within the local area in the form of pollution – while at the same time contributing to greenhouse gas effect in the atmosphere.

Positive Use of CO2 in Day to Day Life

CO2 is used in many products we use every day. It is used to provide “carbon”ation in soft drinks, removing caffeine in coffee and other drink products, compressed air in items such as life preservers, production of plastics (OK, maybe not a real good example), and even wine making.

That is all good.

Health Effects of Too Much CO2

As mentioned above, and taught to every child in basic biology, CO2 is an essential element in the process of photosynthesis. We breath oxygen, and our lungs and blood system binds used oxygen molecules together with a carbon molecule as kind of a human sewage system. We exhale CO2 , plants grab the CO2 , and eventually convert the CO2 into sugars, oxygen, and other stuff that is needed to fertilize and sustain life.

In normal air, the concentration of CO2 is somewhere between 360 and 390 parts per million/PPM. It can vary depending on how far you are from green plants, and the source of global oxygen production.

When the concentration of CO2 in air starts hitting around 1000 PPM, the human body starts reacting with a bit more difficulty breathing, and a bit of dizziness. Think of the miners caught underground in mining disasters, and the almost narcotic effect of CO2 on their breathing when trapped without a fresh source of oxygen for prolonged periods.

At concentrations of CO2 greater than 5000 PPM, you can expect you will begin to suffer permanent damage, as your blood will become starved for oxygen. Eventually, you die when the body breathes in too much CO2 . In an extreme example, this is what happens to you when running a car in a closed garage to commit suicide – eventually the oxygen is overwhelmed by high concentrations of CO2 produced by burning fossil fuel in your car engine.

The Double CO2 Whammy

So here is an issue. The combination of excess CO2 production creating higher levels of heat trapping, global warming greenhouse gases, as well as the continued production of CO2 through increasing use of fossil fuels.

Do we sit back and hope our lives end before the planet starts to crumble, taking the attitude some other generation down the road will figure it out, or do we begin, not only as a city, nation, and society – but also as a planet community to address and find a solution to the issue?

The Great CO2 Debate

Of course, as you would expect, not everybody even believes this is a problem. That is fine, to come up with a consensus and potential response to the legions of scientists who are crying for greater awareness of global warming through some level of dissenting debate. That debate is currently being waged within the US Senate, as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), or more commonly known as the Cap and Trade Bill, hit the senate and American media.

Cap and Trade is a difficult topic, and in fact H.R. 2454 itself contains more than 1400 pages of legislation. Cap and Trade, according to the Sightline Institute (warning, this is also a special interest group), can be defined as:

In short, the “cap” is a legal limit on the quantity of greenhouse gases that a region can emit each year and “trade” means that companies may swap among themselves the permission – or permits – to emit greenhouse gases.

Cap and trade commits us to responsible limits on global warming emissions and gradually steps down those limits over time. Setting commonsense rules, cap and trade sparks the competitiveness and ingenuity of the marketplace to reduce emissions as smoothly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible.

They also produced a document entitled “Cap and Trade 101, A Federal Climate Policy Primer” which may help understand their perspective of the benefits of H.R. 2454.

The range of debatable issues ranges from those who believe there is absolutely nothing credible in the discussion on greenhouse gases and excess CO2, to those who believe we are on the brink of global disaster. There are those who base their objections to a comprehensive energy and security policy on economic reasons, political lines, or simply through affiliation with industries that will need to re-engineer much of their operations to comply with caps on fossil fuel use and carbon production.

Those on the pro side of the debate are concerned with making our country energy-independent, and stronger through design and construction of alternative energy sources and green living.

It will be a good debate, and all Americans need to be part of the learning process, understand the issues, and weigh in with all possible intelligence with our elected representatives. Feel free to comment here – we’ll make sure your voice is heard within the CTC community. Regardless of where you stand on the debate.

Next articles in series:

  • Part 2 – the Con side of the debate
  • Part 3 – the Pro side of the debate
  • Part 4 – Summarizing the debate, and future recommendations

 

John Savageau, Long Beach

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