Energy and Global Warming News for December 16: Why is Obama at Home Depot? To get cash for caulkers going.

Why is Obama at Home Depot? To get cash for caulkers going.

President Obama’s stop at a Home Depot in northern Virginia on Tuesday was another step toward building the wide-ranging coalition he needs to build if he wants to realize his plans for a “green” jobs push. The Home Depot stop was in conjunction with a meeting between labor, manufacturing and small-business leaders the same day.

His program, which would be formally dubbed Homestar but called in some circles “cash for caulkers,” is aimed at spurring homeowners to retrofit their homes with energy-efficient technologies. The White House aims to offer $23 billion in incentives for everything from weatherization to new doors and windows.

These enticements will only work, many analysts believe, if the package can appeal to contractors and retailers as well as homeowners.

First, retailers need to have some incentive to stock energy-efficient appliances above and beyond current demand, advocates say, in order to make sure consumers have solutions close at hand.

Second, homeowners need to have a sweetener – such as government paying up to half the cost – to buy the appliances, which are often more expensive than conventional models. If customers can’t make that first, straight-forward step toward energy efficiency, they won’t move on to larger projects, says Larry Zarker, CEO of the Building Performance Institute,.

“You may not always be able to buy [a comprehensive retrofit]; you may just start with some basics, but what contractors can give is a road map,” says Mr. Zarker, whose group accredits green contractors. “Then the homeowner can say ‘I’ll come back and pick up the second and third and fourth things later on.’ But at least they get the road map.”

Third, contractors need to be accredited. Without strong accreditation standards, the program could fizzle if consumers don’t see first hand the benefits of retrofitting their homes, supporters say.

“We can’t afford many stories of people who paid for work and didn’t save any money,” says Kevin Pranis, research director for the labor coalition Change to Win’s Green Economy Project. “We think the top priority is that you’re using an entirely certified workforce, so that everyone who goes in a home knows what they are doing and you know they know what they are doing because they go through a test.”

In the long run, the program will rely on worker-training programs, innovative financing techniques and, the administration hopes, the success of the program’s first stages to carry it through.

The outcome could make a difference in America’s dependence on fossil fuels and its correlating carbon output, to say nothing of generating new jobs. Since 2006, some 1.6 million construction industry workers have been let go, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates. They would be prime candidates for retraining and rehiring under a “cash for caulkers” program.

Whether the program gets to this point will be decided in part by how widely the program is supported.

U.N.: Climate deal could change history

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged both industrialized and developing countries to do more during this week’s Copenhagen summit toward reaching an agreement on limiting carbon emissions.

With world leaders gathering in hopes of forging a deal to reduce the emissions blamed for increasing global temperatures, Ban told reporters that “Nature does not negotiate with us.”

“We have a chance — a real chance, here and now — to change the course of our history,” he said. But both industrialized and developing countries “can and they must do more.”

“This is a time to stop pointing fingers,” Ban added. “This is a time to start looking in the mirror and offering what they can do more of.”

The divide between rich and poor countries is one of the key fissures at the U.N. climate change conference that is nearing a climax in Denmark. Developing countries object to restrictions which they fear would keep them from following the same path to prosperity that the United States and other industrialized nations took, while developed countries are wary of taking steps that would hinder their own economies.

Representatives of more than 100 developing nations walked out on the climate summit Monday to protesting what they called inadequate offers of aid from richer countries. Island states in particular, which are more vulnerable to rising sea levels, are pushing for limits that would reduce carbon emissions enough to limit the expected rise in average global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said the impacts of climate change are more likely to be felt by developing countries.

“This is something that’s happening now,” he said. “Climate change has a human face, and that face is represented in part by the most vulnerable and poorest people in the world.”

The so-called “High Level Segment” of the conference, in which world leaders sit down in an attempt to hash out a final agreement, begins on Wednesday evening. Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, told reporters Tuesday that “nowhere near enough progress” had been made towards a deal.

But Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, the summit’s host, said he remained confident an accord could be struck by week’s end if governments were “ambitious.”

“We can do this by Friday,” he said. “I’ve chosen to be optimistic about that.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Washington is ready to do its part to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, but other countries must play their part as well.

“Nearly all of the growth in emissions in the next 20 years will come from the developing world,” Clinton wrote in an opinion piece for the International Herald Tribune. “Without their participation and commitment, a solution is impossible.”

Copenhagen climate summit: Gordon Brown says ‘future of humanity’ at stake

The Prime Minister has arrived at the summit promising to make a “final push” for a global deal on cutting carbon emissions.

Downing Street signalled Mr Brown is prepared to spend more money on environmental causes to avert what he said would be an economic catastrophe caused by unrestrained global warming.

Arriving in Copenhagen, Mr Brown said: “Over the next three days the leaders of almost every nation on earth will gather in Copenhagen. Their role; their opportunity; their responsibility: to shape the future of humanity. It is a defining moment.”

The Prime Minister flew into the Danish capital two days ahead of schedule as aides said he is worried that the talks are not heading for a sufficiently ambitious target on limiting the rise in global temperatures.

To win around developing nations who are resisting limits on their carbon emissions, Mr Brown could back a deal for rich countries to give more money.

The Prime Minister last week faced criticism when he increased Britain’s payments to a European Union fund to help poor countries limit their carbon emissions by £300 million, making the UK the largest contributor to the fund, with a total payment of £1.5 billion.

He is now preparing to make Britain pay into another international fund to help poor countries limit the amount of their forests they cut down for logging and agriculture. That could mean the UK pays more than £1 billion.

Increasing Britian’s “green” spending is controversial because of the size of the Government’s deficit. The Government will borrow £178 billion this year, and the national debt on on course to hit £1.5 trillion.

As he arrived in Copenhagen, Mr Brown, painted an apocalyptic picture of the consequences of failure at the summit, saying that the world economy would suffer an unprecedented “catastrophe” if temperatures rise too far.

He said: “If we do not act to tackle climate change, the costs to our standard of living will be huge – a reduction in our national income of up to 20 per cent, an economic catastrophe equivalent in this century to the impact of two world wars and the great depression in the last.”

A British official said Mr Brown is concerned that the outcome of the talks might be an agreement that is too weak to make a significant impact on global warming.

The official said: “The PM is concerned that the ambition level in the numbers is not sufficiently high. We want to raise the ambition level.”

Other world leaders are due in Copenhagen on Thursday and Friday for the “endgame” that could set the framework for climate change policy over the next decade.

The talks have largely stalled on disputes between rich and poor countries.

The developing countries want more money for “mitigation” and British officials accepted that the deadlock is only likely to be broken if richer nations agree to pay more to help.

China exports seen helping green growth, climate

China can become a powerful force to help developing nations fight both climate change and poverty with low-cost exports of wind or solar technologies, the head of the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) said.

“Climate change is not only the paramount environmental challenge of our time, it’s also a huge development issue,” Helen Clark told Reuters on the sidelines of a December 7-18 U.N. conference trying to work out a new U.N. climate pact.

“We have to aim for green and inclusive growth,” she said. China could be a big part of the solution with new green technology exports, such as wind turbines, solar panels and other low-carbon technologies.

“When (China) applies its mind to getting these goods out there at a competitive price I think it will be extremely powerful. They have already emerged as a major exporter of wind energy,” she said.

China had an ability to “do it cheaper and more widespread than before,” Clark, a former New Zealand prime minister, said of production of green technology exports.

Developing nations say they are most at risk from global warming that the U.N. panel of climate experts predicts will disrupt food and water supplies and cause more powerful storms, heatwaves, species extinctions and rising ocean levels.


China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases ahead of the United States, could also work out models for greener cities in the developing world.

“By 2030 it’s estimated that China will have 350 million more people living in cities than it has today,” Clark said. “The opportunity for planned urbanization around sustainable city models is there.”

Developing countries say that they will do more to fight global warming under a new U.N. pact meant to be agreed at a summit of more than 110 leaders in Copenhagen on Friday. But they say that ending poverty remains their overriding concern.

State Energy Plan Promotes Clean, Efficient Alternatives

A New York State board has recommended a plan intended to make energy more affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly while helping to create jobs over the next 10 years, officials said.

The plan, released Tuesday by the State Energy Planning Board, is not binding, but Gov. David A. Paterson, who convened the board last year, said the recommendations will guide legislation he plans to pursue in the year ahead.

“New York will lead the nation in the clean energy economy, and this state energy plan will help us get there,” Governor Paterson said in a statement.

The plan includes improvements in energy efficiency, more reliance on state energy supplies like natural gas and increased investment in clean-energy projects as a source of jobs.

One initiative in the plan, which updates energy goals set in a similar report in 2002, calls for a new state building code that would require stricter energy efficiency standards. Another calls for disclosing energy use for buildings at the time of sale to encourage energy upgrades. The plan also calls for expanding solar and wind energy projects while doubling the state’s production of natural gas, a less polluting fossil fuel than coal.

Thomas Congdon, the deputy secretary of energy for Governor Paterson and the board’s chairman, said the plan was critical to the broad goal of meeting 45 percent of the state’s electricity needs by 2015 by increasing its reliance on renewable energy and keeping a lid on overall demand. He said it emphasized energy efficiency more than previous blueprints and laid out a timetable for action by government agencies and lawmakers.

“It’s one of the most aggressive clean-energy targets in the country, with a very detailed implementation plan to get us there,” he said.

But while generally praising the plan’s comprehensiveness, environmentalists and other supporters of the state’s goals said that it fell short on setting specific targets, and some were skeptical about how much of it would end up being implemented. James Van Nostrand, executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center, said that 10 months after the governor announced his “45 percent by 2015 goal,” the State Public Service Commission has yet to take specific action to help finance some of the programs that would help meet that goal.

“In our experience New York has never had a problem identifying policy objectives,” Mr. Van Nostrand said. “It’s just the implementation that is slow.”

But some business groups said they were optimistic that some of their priorities would be addressed. They particularly welcomed the plan’s embracing of legislation to establish a uniform statewide permit process to speed up the approval of applications for power plants.

Mr. Congdon said applications now have to meet the individual requirements of local governments, a process that has deterred or slowed dozens of proposals for new wind farms. But Paul Steidler, a spokesman for the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, said many of the proposals were for natural gas plants, particularly after state officials finish drafting regulations for natural gas drilling on the Marcellus Shale.

If the permit process were simpler, he said, “you’d get quite a few proposals out of the gate.”

Moderate global warming to wipe out many species

Up to a fifth of all species of animals and plants risk extinction even if the world manages to limit global warming to levels widely viewed as safe, the head of the Convention on Biological Diversity said.

Ahmed Djoghlaf also told Reuters on the sidelines of December 7-18 talks on climate change in Copenhagen that every nation in the world was set to fail to meet a target of slowing the loss of species by 2010.

The Copenhagen talks are considering adopting a goal of limiting global warming to a 2 degree Celsius rise over pre-industrial times, a target agreed in July by industrialized nations and other leading economies including China and India.

“For each degree centigrade of warmer temperature, it is predicted that 10 percent of all known species will disappear,” Djoghlaf told Reuters.

“Therefore this idea of stabilizing the temperature at no more than 2 Celsius…will lead to the disappearance of 20 percent of known species,” he said. “Climate change is contributing to the loss of biodiversity.”

He said scientists have recorded more than 2 million species, from apples to zebras, but there may be more than 15-30 million. World temperatures have already risen by about 0.7 degrees Celsius since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

“We continue to lose biodiversity at unprecedented rates and this has been seriously compounded by climate change but also by land use, urbanization,” and other factors, Djoghlaf said.

A report this week said climate change will disrupt habitats for many creatures other than polar bears whose Arctic home is thawing.

It named another 10 other species vulnerable to climate change — beluga whale, clownfish, leatherback turtle, emperor penguin, quiver tree, ringed seal, salmon, staghorn coral, Arctic fox and koala.

Djoghlaf said reports from more than 100 of 193 countries that are part of the Convention showed that none had managed to reach a goal set in 2002 of significantly slowing the loss of biodiversity by 2010.

“Of the 100 countries that have reported not a single country has claimed to have done it,” he said.

U.N. chief weighs in on climate talk expectations

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he expects a final treaty to be signed by mid-2010. He also defends the U.N.’s role as the overseer of funding from developed to developing nations

Reporting from The United Nations – As negotiations for a global climate change convention entered their final stages in Copenhagen, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sat down with Times Foreign Editor Bruce Wallace to discuss the prospects for a deal, and whether rich nations are looking to curb the United Nations’ role in overseeing the billions of dollars that may be transferred from the developed to the developing world.

Ban said he expected to see a final, legally binding agreement signed by the middle of next year.

Is a political deal in Copenhagen still possible?

We need to have a very strong, robust, binding political deal that will have an immediate operational effect. This is not going to be a political declaration, just for the sake of declaration. It is going to be a binding political deal, which will lead to a legally binding treaty next year.

I’m a perfectionist — sort of. Everybody wants to have a perfect deal.

But if we insist on agreeing to everything upfront, all the nitty-gritty in Copenhagen, then it may lead us nowhere, to no agreement at all.

Climate Talks Near Deal to Save Forests

Negotiators have all but completed a sweeping deal that would compensate countries for preserving forests, and in some cases, other natural landscapes like peat soils, swamps and fields that play a crucial role in curbing climate change.

Environmental groups have long advocated such a compensation program because forests are efficient absorbers of carbon dioxide, the primary heat-trapping gas linked to global warming. Rain forest destruction, which releases the carbon dioxide stored in trees, is estimated to account for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally.

The agreement for the program, if signed as expected, may turn out to be the most significant achievement to come out of the Copenhagen climate talks, providing a system through which countries can be paid for conserving disappearing natural assets based on their contribution to reducing emissions.

A final draft of the agreement for the compensation program, called Reducing Emissions From Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD, is to be given on Wednesday to ministers of the nearly 200 countries represented here to hammer out a framework for a global climate treaty. Negotiators and other participants said that though some details remained to be worked out, all major points of disagreement “” how to address the rights of indigenous people living on forest land and what is defined as forest, for example “” had been resolved through compromise.

A final agreement on the program may not be announced until the end of the week, when President Obama and other world leaders arrive “” in part because there has been so little progress on other issues at the climate summit meeting, sponsored by the United Nations.

“It is likely to be the most concrete thing that comes out of Copenhagen “” and it is a very big thing,” said Fred Krupp, head of the Environmental Defense Fund.

For poorer countries, the payments will provide a much-needed new income stream. For richer nations, the lure of the program is not cash but carbon credits that can be used to cancel out, in part, their industrial emissions under a carbon trading system, like the cap-and-trade plan currently under consideration by Congress.

Forests “have become a pot of money or a get out of jail free card,” said Peg Putt, a consultant to the Wilderness Society. “Either way, there’s the prospect of financial benefit now, as opposed to just being told, ‘Do the right thing,’ like it was two years ago.”

The new plan represents an important shift from earlier United Nations climate programs, like the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, in which countries committed to curbing their industrial emissions but got no credit for reducing emissions through changes in land use.

The agreement is also being closely watched in Congress, where climate legislation passed the House in June and is currently stalled in the Senate.

Under the cap-and-trade system preferred by Democratic leaders and the Obama administration, companies that cannot meet their greenhouse gas pollution limit could buy extra permits by investing in carbon-reduction programs abroad. Plans to preserve forests under REDD would presumably qualify.

The forest program “offers the opportunities for U.S. companies to reduce emissions at lower cost, which is very important politically,” Mr. Krupp said.

Under the final draft of agreement, other habitats that absorb carbon dioxide “” like peat bogs, which store large amounts of carbon dioxide in their soil “” could be eligible for payments. This prospect has environmentalists scrambling to calculate the carbon storage capacity of other resources like swamps and fields, not for the sake of preserving beauty or biodiversity, but for their potential financial benefit.

“Why is everyone thinking about forest and peat land while overlooking oceans, the biggest carbon store on the planet?” said Dan Lafolley, marine vice chairman for the World Commission on Protected Areas of the Swiss-based International Union for the Conservation of Nature. “It would be a travesty if Copenhagen addressed forests but not other carbon stocks.”

The potential for payments has even pitted advocates for some types of forest against advocates for other types.

“Were not sure in Copenhagen there will be a definitive mechanism for monetizing forests, but if there is we think all forests should be included,” Steve Kallick, director of the Boreal Conservation Pew Environment Group, who studies northern forest stocks and noted that by some measures, boreal forests store twice as much carbon dioxide per unit as tropical forests.

NM, other states compete for energy development

New Mexico has invited dozens of scientists, industry experts and others from across the nation to help develop a strategy for growing the state’s biofuels industry.

But New Mexico is not alone.

North Carolina has a plan for biomass development, Arizona is working on a roadmap for tapping the sun’s potential, Texas already has a solar plan, Washington has a strategy for developing geothermal resources and Oklahoma has an initiative dedicated to promoting wind energy.

Elected leaders are establishing policies and incentives for putting their states at the front of the line as the nation searches for alternative ways to meet energy demands. At stake are jobs, tax revenues and the ripple effects of economic development.

“A lot of states are feeling competitive about renewables, but I think that’s a really good thing,” said Sarah Cottrell, energy policy adviser for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

New Mexico for several years has had task forces and working groups dedicated to promoting development of the state’s solar and wind resources, but the effort to grow the biofuels industry is new.

Just last week, state officials and others had their first meeting on developing the biofuels strategy. They expect to have the plan ready for public review by April.

Maria Zannes, director of outreach for the Southwestern Biofuels Association, a trade group, said the idea is to determine how best to develop biofuels in an arid climate with limited water supplies.

“Our intent here is to develop a plan that can be replicated in other states, particularly in the Southwest,” she said.

Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo., say clean energy development is spreading nationwide. Growth stems from public policies such as net-metering programs and renewable energy portfolio standards.

All but 14 states have adopted renewable standards, which require utilities to provide a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources. New Mexico’s renewable portfolio currently calls for 6 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources. That will increase to 20 percent by 2020.

All but seven states have net-metering programs that allow customers who generate their own electricity to send surplus power back to the grid and have it subtracted from their bills.

A recent laboratory report shows states that implemented net-metering legislation in 2005 had significantly more renewable energy generation by 2007 than states without such a policy.

“There’s a whole slew of policies that are out there right now. … They are removing barriers to development,” said NREL senior energy analyst Joyce McLaren.

Before legislators propose new laws, they should understand what resources can be tapped and environmental concerns that would sideline development, said Abbas Ghassemi, executive director of the Institute for Energy and Environment at New Mexico State University.

“It’s like the early days of discovering oil. Texas and Oklahoma harvested that resource,” he said. “If we are able to carefully put plans together that make sense and we’re all working together and pushing it in that given direction, we are in a better position to harvest from this enormous opportunity.”

Cottrell said the leading states will be those that make renewable energy a priority and develop tax credits and other incentives to attract scientists and developers.

“It’s definitely our priority and the governor’s priority to focus on how we can further grow these clusters of renewable energy and energy companies because success builds on success,” she said.

Three in four UK voters believe climate change is important problem – poll

Three in four British voters believe Gordon Brown and world leaders are on an important mission at the climate change conference in Copenhagen, according to a new Guardian/ICM poll.

Voters overwhelmingly reject the view of climate change sceptics that world leaders “are panicking about an exaggerated threat”. But close to half of the electorate believes that the leaders – including Brown, who arrives at the summit today – need to worry about economic growth, too.

When ICM asked voters to say which of three statements most closely represented their view, 45% agreed that “world leaders are trying to tackle an important problem but they must not lose sight of the need to maintain human prosperity”.

And 30% agreed that “world leaders are trying to tackle the most serious threat facing mankind”.

Just 17% of respondents believed “the world’s leaders are panicking about an exaggerated threat”.

Leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, suggesting that British experts may have colluded to soup up evidence designed to support the case that global warming is man-made, threatened to undermine public faith in climate science on the eve of the talks.

Today’s poll suggests that scientists continue to be held in retain relatively high esteem: 83% of the electorate trust scientists “to tell the truth about climate change”, as against just 14% who do not trust them at all. But the email row may have reduced the extent of the trust. Just 36% trust the scientists “a lot” as against 47% who trust them only a little.

The poll confirms that outright denial of climate change is now the preserve of a minority in Britain; a mere 5% insist that the planet is not getting warmer at all. But opinion on the causes of climate change is not united.

Green Jobs: Obama, Big Business Stress Upside to Energy and Climate Legislation

How to make the case for climate legislation (and a new international climate accord) in the middle of the recession? Hammer home the “green jobs” theme.

That’s precisely what the Obama administration is doing this week, just two days before he sets off for the big climate conference in Copenhagen.

This morning, President Obama literally hammered the point home, speaking at a Home Depot in Alexandria, Virginia and touting the merits of the “cash for caulkers” plan he unveiled last week to use federal funds to pay for home energy efficiency.

Also Tuesday, vice president Joe Biden offered his latest progress report on the stimulus package passed earlier this year. In a memo for the president, Mr. Biden said the clean-energy part of the stimulus plan””some $80 billion out of the $787 billion total””could help create more than 700,000 jobs and was “laying the foundation for a clean energy economy that will create a new generation of jobs, reduce dependence on oil and enhance national security.”

That includes 253,000 jobs created by direct government spending, and the potential for 469,000 more jobs as the clean-energy sector grows in response. A word of caution about those jobs estimates, though, from the vice-president’s memo:

All of the job estimates used in this document correspond to jobs that last for one year. Of course, some jobs could last longer – in this case the number of distinct jobs would be reduced proportionately. For example, a project that employs one person for two years would count as creating two jobs.

That puts the cost of green job creation in starker perspective: The 253,000 direct jobs works out to a cost of about $90,000 a head””just for one year. Clean-energy manufacturing jobs are even more expensive to create, costing about $135,000 per job.

Still, the idea that new energy and climate legislation will help””not hurt””the economy is gaining plenty of traction even outside the White House. Sen. Barbara Boxer talked up the climate bill’s “green jobs” potential in her Copenhagen speech, and pointed to California as the example to follow.

Today, more than two dozen big companies sent a letter to President Obama, “urging your leadership in helping to secure a robust international agreement now to address global climate change.” The companies include Dow Chemical, Duke Energy, Microsoft, Nike and others who have been increasingly outspoken in recent months about the need for U.S. action on climate change.

Of course, the way the Copenhagen conference is going, it will probably take a lot more than moral support from some U.S. companies to “secure” any sort of global deal on climate change. The divisions between the U.S., Europe and China over how to tackle emissions keep getting wider the longer the conference goes on.

Senators rally across party lines to fight climate change

As President Obama heads to Copenhagen this week to convince world leaders of the United States’ commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, he’s getting help from an unexpected quarter.

In the Senate, where partisan feuding engulfs Obama’s health care bill, an unusual group of lawmakers is working across party lines on a compromise bill that would boost domestic energy production while reducing pollution that causes global warming.

Described by participants as “tripartisan,” the effort unites Sens. John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat; Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent; and Lindsey Graham, an outspoken South Carolina Republican.

The three are touting their alliance as proof that Congress is prepared to approve significant reductions in carbon emissions. Suspicions about U.S. intentions surfaced Tuesday at the United Nations global climate conference in Copenhagen, as China’s representatives accused their U.S. counterparts and other developed nations of not going far enough to help poor nations.

“Developed countries have the obligation to provide financial support,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

Kerry has a pointed message of his own for the Chinese in a speech he plans to deliver in Copenhagen today after an all-night flight from Washington.

“Some of my colleagues in Washington remain “” like some leaders elsewhere “” reluctant to grapple with a climate crisis mostly measured in future dangers and parts per million, when they’re confronted every day with the present pain of hard-working people in a tough economic time,” Kerry says, in remarks prepared for delivery.

“To pass a bill, we must be able to assure a senator from Ohio that steelworkers in his state won’t lose their jobs to India and China because those countries are not participating in a way that is measureable, reportable and verifiable,” he adds.

Obama has offered a 17% reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The House approved the same target in June, with just eight GOP votes and 44 Democrats opposed.

On Tuesday in Copenhagen, former vice president Al Gore”” a Democrat who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change “” called on Congress to approve a climate change bill by April 22, the 40th anniversary of the first Earth Day.

Kerry and his allies are convinced a deal is possible.

“We have a moment of opportunity,” Lieberman says.

Graham has come under fire from conservatives who, he says, suspect “that somehow I’ve bought into Al Gore science,” but says there are members of his party ready to back a compromise. “Most Republicans don’t feel comfortable with the idea that our party stands for unlimited carbon pollution perpetually,” Graham says.

The trio’s strategy: Combining legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions “” a favorite cause of Democrats “” with measures that would beef up domestic energy production and attract GOP votes.

That would include expanding offshore oil and gas drilling, which is opposed as a threat to beaches by groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council. It would also jump-start the U.S. nuclear industry, which has not been permitted to build a new plant since the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island plant in central Pennsylvania.

“American consumers and taxpayers need to understand we’re not going to unilaterally disarm,” Graham says.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., traveled to Copenhagen to put negotiators on notice that they will oppose the carbon caps now under discussion. Kerry, Lieberman and Graham hope their work sends a different signal.

“We will get a climate bill because people here understand that the problem of climate change is growing more severe every day,” Lieberman says. “The only real question is when.”

2 Responses to Energy and Global Warming News for December 16: Why is Obama at Home Depot? To get cash for caulkers going.

  1. Dan B says:


    Reading the post was like reading an entire magazine – good stuff but too long for a blog post, especially for comments.

    Your lead story, on Cash for Caulkers, is great. My African-American, Vietnamese, and Somali neighbors don’t have any interest in talking about global warming or the environment. They are interested in green energy and cash for caulkers.

    They’re not scientists and they feel uncomfortable leaving the city – too many scary whites. They don’t care for environmentalist do-gooders who ignore their (my) run down neighborhood while crying about polar bears. What does get them interested and in alignment with my climate scientist friends is the feeling that we’re heading towards a new energy future and leaving fossil fuels behind. Gas prices haven’t dropped much so it’s a daily reminder where it has emotional impact. Emotions are the way we get motivated. Even the root of the words is similar.

    I get emotional when I read the science because I understand the science easily. My neighbors get emotional when they hear about future careers and ways to save money. It’s much like the developing world, right here in the USA.

    We’ve gotten to this point where the majority of white educated people don’t have a clue about what the majority of people in the world, and in the USA, are feeling or what they believe. It’s not that they don’t understand the science. They feel discouraged. It’s a subject they flunked in school – partly because of the way we “educate”, partly because it can be challenging if you didn’t get the basic principles of science when you were very young: the joy of inquiry and the value of facts.

    One of my neighbors is going to an energy efficiency open house at a local community college, because he’s interested, and because I had him meet some energy efficiency consultants. They knew about the training program. Otherwise he, a skilled contractor, would not have heard about it.

    Meeting people outside our familiar circle will save this planet.

  2. David Scott says:

    I could be paddling a rowboat down Market Street in San Francisco after the poles have melted, and there will still be conservative fanatics who deny that humans are responsible for Global Warming or that it is even real. I invite you to my web-pages devoted to raising awareness on this urgent issue: