Energy and Global Warming News for July 29, 2009: U.S. can cut half its transportation emissions by 2050; A plan to cut carbon emissions from deforestation

U.S. can cut half its transportation emissions by 2050 — report

The United States can cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation in half by 2050 with strategies ranging from cutting speed limits to imposing road pricing, according to a report released today by federal agencies and environmental and industry groups.

Examining about 50 transportation strategies, the report found transportation emissions could be reduced 24 percent by 2050 by acting to change travel behavior and land-use patterns. The emissions reduction hit 47 percent by adding road pricing techniques, ranging from pay-as-you-go insurance to charging Americans for every mile driven….

John Porcari, deputy secretary at the Department of Transportation, said the report shows that lawmakers looking to recast the nation’s transportation system to curb emissions and fuel consumption will need to look for combinations of policy changes. “There is no magic bullet,” he said. “There is no single strategy that can be pursued to help us turn our corner. We need to look at a number of options.”


Transportation accounts for roughly 28 percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions, and the sector has been one of the fastest-growing in the past two decades — representing nearly half of the nation’s total increase in greenhouse emissions since 1990

A Plan to Cut Carbon Emissions From Deforestation

As policymakers prepare for the Copenhagen conference on climate change in December, the proposed program for reducing emissions from deforestation is considered among the more promising ways to reduce atmospheric carbon. The program would allow heavily polluting nations to offset their emissions by paying developing tropical countries to store carbon in forests, providing economic incentive to stop deforestation and regenerate damaged landscapes.

The arrangement would provide an economic incentive for developing nations to promote practices beneficial to the climate over those that release carbon into the atmosphere.

The program is well-defined in principle, but the actual numbers remain uncertain. “To the extent that you can manage something, you have to be able to measure it,” said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environmental Program, in a recent interview in Nairobi, Kenya. “Our challenge right now is to determine how a different land use would have either a net benefit or a net cost in terms of carbon storage capacity.”

Call to Curb Speculators in Energy

The country’s top regulator of commodity markets said Tuesday that the government should “seriously consider” strict limits on the trades of purely financial investors in the futures markets for oil, natural gas and other energy products.

Opening the first of three hearings on proposals to curb speculative trading and reduce volatile price swings in oil and gas, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission made it clear that he favored tighter volume limits on noncommercial traders “” banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions “” that account for a big share of trading in energy contracts.

U.S. denies loan guarantee for Ohio fuel-production plant

The Energy Department has asked USEC Inc. to withdraw its loan-guarantee application for construction of a plant to produce uranium fuel for nuclear reactors.

The Bethesda, Md.-based company was told last night to withdraw its $2 billion loan-guarantee request, as it is “not technically or financially ready to complete,” Matt Rogers, a DOE senior adviser, said in a teleconference today. Congress provided $2 billion of the more than $40 billion in loan guarantee authority created in the 2005 energy bill for front-end nuclear facilities such as the one proposed by USEC.

USEC applied last year for loan guarantee authority to help it complete construction of the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio. The plant would be the only fuel-fabrication plant that uses U.S. gas centrifuge technology.

Upgrades could make Capitol Power Plant a national ‘showcase’ — advisers

Federal science advisers are urging officials to make the aging Capitol Power Plant a showcase for energy-efficient technologies as needed upgrades get under way.

The nearly 100-year-old plant, located just south of the House office buildings on Capitol Hill, provides heat and steam for the U.S. Capitol complex, which includes the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, the House and Senate office buildings, and several other facilities. The plant stopped producing electricity in the 1950s.

The Architect of the Capitol (AOC), the office that oversees the Capitol complex, is developing new strategies to upgrade portions of the plant and the 3 miles of tunnels and trenches located beneath the streets of Washington, D.C., as they reach the end of their useful lives.

India to unveil 20GW solar target under climate plan

India will unveil its first solar power target as soon as September, pledging to boost ouptut from near zero to 20 gigawatts (GW) by 2020 as it firms up its national plan to fight global warming, draft documents show.

The target, which would help India close the gap on solar front-runners like China, is part of an ambitious $19 billion, 30-year scheme that could could increase India’s leverage in international talks for a new U.N. climate pact in December, one of several measures meant to help cut emissions.

If fully implemented, solar power would be equivalent to one-eighth of India’s current installed power base, helping the world’s fourth-largest emitter of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions limit its heavy reliance on dirty coal and assuaging the nagging power deficit that has crimped its growth.

U.S. and China sign memorandum on climate change

The United States and China, the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, signed an agreement on Tuesday that promises more cooperation on climate change, energy and the environment without setting firm goals.

Chinese and U.S. officials signed the memorandum of understanding at the State Department following two days of high-level economic and strategic talks.

US, China push issue of climate change

The chief US climate negotiator, Todd Stern, has given his most bullish prediction yet of a successful outcome at the forthcoming Copenhagen meeting, saying China is equally keen to achieve a new climate treaty.

Speaking after the first day of a US-China economic and strategic dialogue between the world’s two powerhouse economies, Mr Stern said that ‘’on the US side, the issue has risen to the top of the US national security set of priorities’’.

‘’With respect to prospects, you know, we’re slogging ahead “¦ I think we will end up with an agreement.’’

France considers launching carbon tax

France’s government was set to consider taxing carbon emissions as part of a drive to fight global warming, after experts handed in a report on the issue on Tuesday.

The government-named panel headed by former Socialist prime minister Michel Rocard recommended that the tax be paid “by everybody without exception and exemption.”

Trade unions and consumers’ associations have already said they oppose any new taxes for French households.

Latest protest leaves climate strategy twisting in the wind

Europe’s largest onshore windfarm project has been thrown in severe doubt after the RSPB and official government agencies lodged formal objections to the 150-turbine plan, it emerged today.

The setback adds to the problems facing the government’s ambition to install 10,000 new turbines across the UK by 2020 as part of its plan to cut the carbon emissions causing climate change.

The proposed 550MW windfarm, sprawling across the centre of Shetland’s main island, would add almost 20% to existing onshore wind capacity. But the objectors say the plans could seriously damage breeding sites for endangered birds, including a rare wader, the whimbrel, which was unexpectedly discovered by the windfarm developer’s own environmental survey teams. Other species at risk include the red throated diver, golden plover and merlin.

Nissan Offers Sneak Peek at Electric Car

Nissan is finally ready to unveil its still-unnamed battery electric car. The sheet will be drawn back at the opening of its new global headquarters in Yokohama on Aug. 2.

In the meantime, Nissan is giving the world a teaser peek at the production car at the Nissan Zero Emission micro site. Could that be a charging port in the nose? From the little we can see, it has some family resemblance to the tiny Micra, and there may be a little bit of Versa in there, too.