Energy and Global Warming News for May 5: Can clean energy revive U.S. manufacturing?

Can Clean Energy Revive Manufacturing?

The manufacturing sector in the United States continues to shrink “” but could the renewable-energy rush spur a manufacturing revival?

A number of solar-panel factories are coming online in the United States… Makers of wind turbines are also establishing factories in the heartland, where the factories’ proximity to wind farms on the Plains slashes the cost of shipping the giant machines from Europe.

[M]any renewable-equipment manufacturers want to set up operations in the United States because they perceive it to be the largest market for the technologies in the years ahead. (Tax credits in the stimulus package for domestic production of renewable-energy equipment also help.) A key factor in bringing SolarWorld to Oregon, said Mr. Klebensberger, was the work force “” and especially Oregonians’ “belief in change and how important renewables are.” Proximity to a cluster of semiconductor factories, some of whose workers SolarWorld has recently poached, was another attraction.

Obama Not Seeking Quick Climate Action Under Ozone Treaty

After a brief but lively internal debate, the Obama administration has decided not to seek an immediate phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s), a potent group of climate-warming gases, under a treaty aimed at protecting the ozone layer.

A number of lawmakers, foreign governments and environmental advocates had urged the administration to offer an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty on ozone-depleting substances, calling for the rapid elimination of HFC’s. Some officials at the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency had pushed for such a course, but the White House decided on a more moderate approach to give it negotiating room in upcoming rounds of climate and environmental talks.

For more on why the White House is taking this unexpected apprach, see SolveClimate’s “Administration Rift Over Handling of Super GHGs Continues.”

Eastern governors say transmission plans biased toward Midwest wind

House and Senate bills on transmission siting “jeopardize” the East Coast’s wind power industry, 10 governors from mid-Atlantic and New England states said in a letter to congressional leaders yesterday.

The transmission proposals are biased against the significant onshore and offshore wind development of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic coast, while making all customers pay for the transmission to the Midwest wind generation, the governors wrote.

“This ratepayer-funded revenue guarantee for land-based wind and other generation resources in the Great Plains would have significant, negative consequences for our region: It would hinder our efforts to meet regional renewable energy goals with regional resources and would establish financial conditions in our electricity markets that would impede development of the vast wind resources onshore and just off our shores for decades to come,” the letter states.

Stern: On Climate, Pessimism Is No Option

In a speech in Toronto on Friday, Lord Nicholas Stern, the economics adviser to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the author of a massive 2006 study on the cost of climate change, outlined in broad strokes a potential international deal to confront global warming “” the objective of a global conference on climate change to be held in Copenhagen this December.

The good news, he told the Economic Club of Toronto, is that efforts to bring atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations down to 50 percent of 1990 levels will account for just 2 percent of global GDP, in terms of higher costs. “It will be a tremendous investment,” Mr. Stern said.

New governor approves one coal-fired power plant for Kansas

In a stunning reversal from his predecessor, Gov. Mark Parkinson on Monday signed an agreement ending a two-year fight over plans to build coal-fired power plants in western Kansas.

The compromise allows Sunflower Electric Power Corp. to build one 895-megawatt coal-fired power plant near Holcomb, instead of two 700-megawatt plants that were repeatedly blocked by Kathleen Sebelius when she was governor.

In exchange for the go-ahead, Sunflower will build more wind turbines and agree to more pollution controls and a greater investment in energy efficiency.

Climate Experts Warn That Short-Term Snapshots Of Temperature Data Can Be Misleading: Focus Instead On The Bigger Picture

In the hotly debated arena of global climate change, using short-term trends that show little temperature change or even slight cooling to refute global warming is misleading, write two climate experts in a paper recently published by the American Geophysical Union “” especially as the long-term pattern clearly shows human activities are causing the earth’s climate to heat up.

‘Safe’ climate means ‘no to coal’

About three-quarters of the world’s fossil fuel reserves must be left unused if society is to avoid dangerous climate change, scientists warn.

More than 100 nations support the goal of keeping temperature rise below 2C.

But the scientists say that without major curbs on fossil fuel use, 2C will probably be reached by 2050.

Compiled by Max Luken and Carlin Rosengarten

13 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for May 5: Can clean energy revive U.S. manufacturing?

  1. paulm says:

    The 2C debate is pretty much over. Its going to be 3C+. We have to accept this and move forward with the fight on these terms.

    Climate chaos predicted by CO2 study
    World will have exceeded 2050 safe carbon emissions limit by 2020, scientists say

    The world will overshoot its long-term target on greenhouse gas emissions within two decades. A study has found that the average global temperature will rise above the threshold that could cause dangerous climate change during that time.

    Scientists have calculated that the world has already produced about a third of the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that could be emitted between 2000 and 2050 and still keep within a 2C rise in global average temperatures.

  2. paulm says:

    Small Island perspectives on CC impacts and mitigation…

    Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Ecosystem Services in the UK Overseas Territories

  3. MarkB says:

    6 meter sea level rise possible by 2100?

    A new comprehensive scientific study:

    Note that this report is still pending review, but chapter 5 states:

    “Rates of sea level rise at least twenty times the current 3.1 mm/yr sustained over more than a century have been measured for the transition to the current warm period following the termination of the last ice age and during some of the warmer intervals of the last ice age. Until improved predictive capability is achieved, this can be regarded as a reasonable upper bound of Antarctica’s potential contribution to global sea level. This maximum rate (62 mm/yr) would lead to a 6-meter sea level rise by 2100, but such rates occurred when there was considerably more ice on the planet. Even a significant fraction of such a contribution would come at great human and environmental cost, underscoring the need for a better understanding of ice-sheet sensitivity to climate change. ”

    The qualification “such rates occurred when there was considerably more ice on the planet” is important, but so is the rate of temperature change projected for this century and recent temperature change.

    Other findings:

    “Concern that the sea-level projections may be biased low has been reinforced by a comparison showing that observed sea level has been rising more rapidly than the central range of the IPCC projections, since 1990, and is at the very upper end of the IPCC projections (Rahmstorf et al, 2007) suggesting that one or more of the model contributions to sea-level rise is underestimated .”

    “For the modern satellite period (since 1993), sea level has been rising more rapidly at an average rate of about 3.2 ±0.4 mm/yr. Note that these rates of increase are an order of magnitude faster than the average rate of rise over the previous several thousand years, but significantly slower than the rates of rise at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum and at the end of the Younger Dryas event (see chapter 3).”

    I find this interesting. The rate of sea level rise at the end of the last glacial maximum was high because global mean temperatures were rising. We’ve begun a warmup due to human activities and the rate is accelerating again.

    “However, sea-level projections closer to and beyond 2100 are critically dependent on future greenhouse gas emissions, with both ocean thermal expansion and the ice sheets potentially contributing metres over centuries for higher greenhouse gas emissions.”

    Obviously, we have some control over how much sea levels rise.

  4. ecostew says:

    . Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

    EPA Lays out a Plan for the Nation’s Increase in Renewable fuels

    Contact: Cathy Milbourn, 202-564-4355 / 7849 /

    (Washington, D.C. – May 5, 2009) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing its strategy for increasing the supply of renewable fuels, poised to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, as mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

    “As we work towards energy independence, using more homegrown biofuels reduces our vulnerability to oil price spikes that everyone feels at the pump,” EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. “Energy independence also puts billions of dollars back into our economy, creates green jobs, and protects the planet from climate change in the bargain.”

    Increasing renewable fuels will reduce dependence of foreign oil by more than 297 million barrels a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 160 million tons a year when fully phased in by 2022. EISA will establish four categories of renewable fuels.

    The new categories include:

    · cellulosic biofuels;

    · biomass-based diesel;

    · advanced biofuels; and

    · total renewable fuel.

    In 2022, the proposal would require:

    · 16 billion gallons of cellulosic biofuels;

    · 15 billion gallons annually of conventional biofuels;

    · 4 billion gallons of advanced biofuels; and

    · 1 billion gallons of biomass-based diesel.

    To achieve the volume requirements, each year EPA calculates a percentage-based standard that refiners, importers and blenders of gasoline and diesel must ensure is used in transportation fuel. For the first time, some renewable fuels must achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions compared to the gasoline and diesel fuels they displace. Refiners must meet the requirements to receive credit toward meeting the new standards.

    The thresholds for new categories would be 20 percent less greenhouse gas emissions for renewable fuels produced from new facilities, 50 percent less for biomass-based diesel and advanced biofuels, and 60 percent less for cellulosic biofuels.

    EPA also will conduct peer-reviews on the lifecycle analysis of the four renewable fuel categories. Lifecycle refers to the greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the fuels.

    The 60-day comment period on this proposal will begin upon publication in the Federal Register. During the comment period EPA will hold a public workshop on lifecycle analysis to assure full understanding of the analyses conducted, the issues addressed and the options that are discussed.

    More information:

  5. paulm says:

    One of the best places to go for Climate Change info and debate…

    Guardian wins three Webby awards | Media |

  6. paulm says:

    Death toll climbs in Brazil flooding
    (CNN) — The death toll from flooding in southern Brazil on Thursday climbed to 97, the state news agency said.

    Officials said about 19 people remain missing.
    Death toll climbs in Brazil flooding

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva flew over some of the flooded areas and proclaimed the disaster one of the worst in the country’s history.

    “I’ve never seen anything like this,” Lula da Silva said Thursday.

    He said he is releasing 1.97 billion reais ($854 million) in aid to the afflicted areas, most notably the state of Santa Catarina.

    About 1.5 million people — one-fourth of the population — have been affected, and nearly 79,000 residents have been left homeless, civil defense officials said.

  7. paulm says:

    Brazil is really taking a pounding from floods. Biblical proportions.
    This is like nothing anyone has experienced.

    The NE sector has flooded out also….

    Brazil now realized what 2C means for CC.
    Here’s what the president said…

    Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva flew over the hardest-hit areas delivering food baskets to shelters.

    “We need to look more seriously into the climate situation these days,” said Silva. “Something is changing and we still have time to fix it.”

    The US will be in for CC catastrophe soon… this year maybe? (.good by coal pwoer pants when it happens).

  8. paulm says:

    oops that last para was me….

  9. lizardo says:

    I’ve tried to look for media coverage of the “eastern governors” letter story regarding western wind bias… no luck yet.

  10. gridbuff says:

    The “eastern governors” letter has only been covered by the trade press so far. You can find a copy of the letter on Governor Carcieri’s website.

    This letter calls into question the wisdom of a massive national grid expansion. And it does so without even getting into the issue of coal-fired power plants in the midwest that would also benefit from transmission expansion.

  11. paulm says:

    Mega flooding on the Yukon. Say it aint so Sarah – ice snow and Global Warming!…

    Yukon flood destroys Eagle Village, floods Eagle

    RIVERS RISE: Ice dams created by heavy snowfall, thick ice and heat.

    “There are estimates that the water right now is 10 feet above the all-time record,” Plumb said.