Friday, October 19, 2007

Lieberman-Warner: The Fall Lineup

I haven’t had time to study the new edition of Lieberman-Warner, which bills itself as this fall’s comprehensive political consensus on national climate change policy. The broad outlines provided here make two things clear however:

1. The bill falls far short of what is needed. It covers only a portion of the economy, sets targets that are too low and auctions too few of the permits. It allows too many loopholes, such as offsets and provisions to raise the caps against promises of future tightening. It rebates exactly none of the (insufficient) auction revenues. This last point is important for both political and economic (demand-sustaining) reasons. It micromanages funding for energy alternatives, with several earmarks that are dubious at best. It would take a much longer post to spell out all of the particulars, but I hope we will soon have a thorough analysis. (If you are producing one, or if one crosses your screen, please give us a link.)

2. The bill represents a compromise based on today’s political alignment. If it were to be passed, and if someone could get Bush to sign it as he lay in a hospital post-surgical room fogged out on painkillers, it would be a terrible mistake, locking us into a bad framework for years to come. 2008 should be the year of climate debate, not climate decision. Progressives should put forward a simple, comprehensive, forward-looking bill to focus the discussion, even though it would have no chance in the current congress. After November 2008 we should be in a position to get something on climate that goes far beyond what is possible today.


Myrtle Blackwood said...

I haven't read the entire bill. However in response to the following paragraph:
""The bill will direct the Administrator, each year, in coordination with the US Departments of Agriculture and the Interior, to allocate 7.5% of the total National Emission Allowance Account to farmers, foresters, and other landowners for activities that keep carbon stored in soils, crops and forests."

This is likely to result in a further corporate takeover of rural lands by large corporations. Because it promises to provide even further unearned windfalls.

At present there are absolutely extraordinary levels of illegal logging around the globe. If nations can't monitor and prevent this how are they going to ensure validity to any carbon-offest scheme? Please keep in mind that much of the LEGAL logging entails clearfelling (and mostly burning) of native forests and replacement with monocultures. Are the very corporations responsible for this now going to be rewarded for this abuse? In Tasmania members of the public cannot access the figures that describe the extent of native forest loss and conversion. What figures are released have been doctored. And the Tasmanian Government claims a carbon-credit for setting forests and plantations to the torch on a cyclical harvest basis.

The evidence points to the large energy corporations behind a massive grab of land resource over the last decade. In Australia taxpayer funds have been directed to a handful of privileged corporations to allow them to purchase millions of acres of this country's best agricultural land and temperate rainforests. As referred to above, the rich growing soil and rare native forests have then been converted to monoculture tree plantations. The same pattern repeats across enormous swathes of the Southern Hemisphere.

"At the current pace of cutting, natural forests in Indonesia and Burma -- which send more than half
their exported logs to China -- will be exhausted WITHIN A DECADE, according to research by Forest
Trends, a consortium of industry and conservation groups. Forests in Papua New Guinea will be consumed in as little as 13 years, and those in the Russian Far East within two decades.These forests are a bulwark against global warming, capturing carbon dioxide that would otherwise
contribute to heating the planet. They hold some of the richest flora and fauna anywhere, and they have supplied generations of people with livelihoods that are now threatened. In the world's poorest countries, illegal logging on public lands annually costs governments $10 billion in lost assets and revenues, a figure more than six times the aid these nations receive to help protect forests, a World Bank study found last year...China is primarily adding tree plantations with little biological diversity [in its own country whilst much of Chinese-sponsored logging] in Burma, the Russian Far East, Indonesia and Papua New
Guinea is assailing natural forests that hold creatures and plants found nowhere else."You're losing tropical rainforest, and you're gaining areas of plantation, and that of course is a concern," Wilkie said. "A lot of the biodiversity is found in the moist forests."..

Corruption Stains Timber Trade
Forests Destroyed in China's Race to Feed Global Wood-Processing Industry

"..the European Union's Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), when under corporate pressure, governments massively over-allocated emissions permits to the heaviest polluting industries in the initial round. This caused the price of carbon to drop by more than 60%, creating even more disincentive for industries to lower their emissions at source.
There are all manner of loopholes and incentives for industry to exaggerate their emissions in order to receive more permits and thereby take even less action. Market analyst Franck Schuttellar estimated that in the scheme's first year, the UK's most polluting industries earned collectively £940m ($1,792m) in windfall profits from generous ETS allocations. . .

Anonymous said...


I wish you could teach this to the Congress and the people. with a hammer.

In the meanwhile some hare brained scheme to salt the ocean with iron dust to feed plankton is going to make someone a lot of money for carbon sequestering... while destroying the ecosystems of the ocean and probably releasing another greenhouse gas.

humans are too dumb to live. it's a shame we are taking the polar bears down with us.

a gas tax today of ten cents a gallon would hardly be noticed. and raised five cents a gallon every six months would not cause political outrage but would move people toward conservation.

i have no idea if the gas tax has "problems", but it seems to me it is the fastest reasonable response to the problem, and should be the immediate
decision" while dormans "year of debate" takes place.