The first night of Hanukah (seems early this year) was overshadowed last night by the Kennedy Center Honors award that feature some real music and Hollywood star power in DC. With the latest rendition of Star Wars less than two weeks from theaters, George Lucas was praised for his contributions to all our childhood memories. And December 7th also reminds us of our loss at Pearl Harbor Hawaii in 1941 that launched our participation in WW II. Next year, it will be 75 years and starting today the National WWII Museum is raising awareness for events leading up to next year’s commemoration which features a weeklong tour and four-part symposium focusing on the event incidents leading up to that fateful day. The events will include visits to historic sites such as the USS Arizona Memorial, a private dinner on the deck of the USS Missouri and a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attacks.
It will remain busy this week in Washington and Paris. In DC, Congress is negotiating a budget package while across the pond in France, the Administration’s top energy and environment officials are in Paris to highlight its carbon reduction pledges and press for a deal to address climate change.
We have a full report on Paris below after negotiators released the latest draft agreement for Ministers as they begin the final push. The draft discusses provisions on climate finance, liability, carbon reductions, but still hasn’t been able to overcome concerns about temperature limits, the divide between developed nations and developing countries and whether it should be legally binding.
Here is DC, look for the budget deal making to hit high gear this week. One of the key talking points is focused a possible swap to allow the crude oil export ban to be lifted. Still a lot to do on this though and late last week, Kirk Lippold, the former Commander of the USS Cole (which was attacked by terrorists in Yemen in 2000) sent a letter to Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell warning about security risks associated with repealing the crude export ban and tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a budget pay-for.
As for Committees, House Science goes into Biotech issues tomorrow, while Presidential candidate and Commerce panel Chair Senator Ted Cruz will chair a hearing on Climate change tomorrow afternoon. Senate Energy looks in to terrorism and oil on Thursday.
Busy week… I’m monitoring Paris closely (and have good resources on the ground) so let me know if you have questions or need sources. Taking a break for the Detroit Red Wings and the Capitals tomorrow night. STILL HAVE A TICKET OR TWO IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN JOINING ME. Let me know.
Call with questions…Best,
PARIS CONTINUES ON
New Draft Text Out – Over the weekend, negotiators managed to submit a new draft text, which will now move onto the ministerial level for approving the final package. The new draft text includes a 21-page legally-binding “agreement,” a 22-page non-binding “decision” and a five-page “annex.” While to many the text is seen as a sign of progress, it does not meaningfully remedy the core issues facing negotiators. For example, the issues of climate financing, global temperature goals in centigrade, and long-term goals have yet been fully dealt with. Currently, the document contains more than 900 square brackets, used to note areas of considerable disagreement. “That’s how you can track progress in the negotiations — is where the brackets are,” said Jennifer Morgan, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute. “All the difficult political issues remain unsolved, and will be solved by the ministers,” said Miguel Arias Canete, the European Union’s Climate Commissioner. “Next week is the week of compromise; it’s a difficult week,” he told a news conference. “Nothing has been decided and nothing will be left behind,” said French climate ambassador Laurence Tubiana. “This text marks the will of all to reach an agreement. We are not at the end of the route. Major political issues are yet to be resolved,” she warned. Others, including Nozipho Joyce Mxakato-Diseko, the chair of the influential G77 and China bloc of developing countries praised the text. She said on Twitter that she “welcomes that we now have a Party-driven negotiating text.” Negotiators are due to reach a final accord on Friday, but the talks are widely expected to run into overtime, as previous summits have. A full copy of the draft text can be found on the UNFCCC website, available here.
Some Specific issues –
- Finance – This will remain a controversial issues until the end, but it seems it will be divided into two or three options. On the first point, the options are either to say that financial flows have to follow towards a low-emission, climate-resilient future depending on countries’ “sustainable development priorities and efforts to eradicate poverty,” or will be provided from wealthy countries on the U.N.’s Annex 2 list of OECD countries that were not deemed “economies in transition” in 1992.
- Responsibilities – The phrase first proposed by the U.S. and China in November 2014, “in the light of different national circumstances,” is still there at the beginning of the agreement, and the square brackets are now gone. The language is aimed at breaking down the rigid divide between the wealthy, who have traditionally shouldered the brunt of responsibility for climate change, and poorer countries that are still industrializing.
- Loss, Damages – Developing countries would like to see the developed world – which emitted most of the CO2, historically – help them deal with damage from rising sea levels, hurricanes and other effects of climate change. But while the U.S. and European Union are willing to pony up, they don’t want to expose themselves to massive legal liability. Delegates are arguing over two matters: 1) A plan to address losses and damages for both ‘extreme events’ and ‘slow onset events’ caused by climate change. Or 2) simply offer no reference to loss and damage, a position likely unacceptable to the G77.
- 1.5 or 2 C degree – Still undecided (see more below on the island nations), there remains a large challenge over whether the temperature rise goal will be less than 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. Those words are mentioned throughout the text. There is also text requiring the IPCC to provide a special report in 2018 or 2019 on the effects of a 1.5 degree temperature rise and the emissions cuts needed to reach that limit. Saudi Arabia blocked the inclusion of 1.5 degrees in yesterday’s discussion, saying it was in the interest of developing countries. US lead Negotiator Todd Stern says today the limit will stay at 2C.
- Intellectual Property – Still nothing on IP issues yet. This remains a major problem in the tech transfer debate but still remains in flux.
How It Works – The French have really taken over the administration of the negotiations and lead official Laurent Fabius is running the show under a stern, precise schedule. Our friends from POLITICO say negotiators have formed a committee (almost like the Committee of the Whole House when the House of Reps legislates) where much of the draft text will be negotiated. While the Committee is meeting for the first time now, closed door meetings remain a constant. Fabius has been clear that officials must be finalized by the weekend, trying to avoid the typical overtime sessions that these events often run into. Finally, Fabius has also developed a team of 14 “facilitators” pairing negotiators from a developed and developing country, with each responsible for the central policy areas still in play.
Sen Dems In Paris – Speaking of Senators, Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin (Md.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Al Franken (MN), Jeff Merkley (OR), Tom Udall (NM) and Cory Booker (NJ) traveled to Paris over the weekend, returning today in time for Senate Budget action. Led by Cardin, the delegation met with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, former Vice President Al Gore, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, the U.S. negotiating team and delegates from other countries during their trip.
EPA, Energy Kerry In the House – EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Energy Secretary Ernie Moniz and Sect of State Kerry are all in Paris for the second week push. McCarthy arrived on Saturday and will be in Paris through December 10, While in Paris, McCarthy will highlight the Obama administration’s new greenhouse gas rules for power plants. She’ll appear with Miguel Arias Cañete, the European Union’s Energy and Climate Action commissioner for an event on the rule today. Tomorrow at 5:15 a.m. EDT, Moniz will participate in the Clean Energy Ministerial on implementation and ambition beyond Paris, while at 6:45 a.m., McCarthy will hold a side event on EPA’s role in meeting the US climate action plan. Finally, McCarthy will lead a White House CEQ side event on implementing the President’s Climate Action Plan on Thursday at 7:15 a.m.
You can see news and each day’s agenda Here: http://newsroom.unfccc.int/
You can watch live here: http://unfccc6.meta-fusion.com/cop21/
Monday – Climate gadfly Marc Morano and Craig Rucker of CFACT will be holding science Conference tonight at the Hotel California (where they will be livin’ it up) and the following day, the will premier Morano’s documentary, Climate Hustle.
Tuesday – The Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) will host a presser at 1:00 pm Paris time, Room 3 to issue a call to action to governments to create strong signals for clean energy investment in the Paris climate change agreement. Press conference participants will also discuss the actions taken by these companies and sectors to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among the speakers BCSE’s Lisa Jacobson, AGA’s Kathryn Clay, Johnson Controls’ Clay Nester and Bloom Energy’s KR Sridhar. You can see live steam here.
Tuesday – Former VP and climate gadfly Al Gore delivers a slide presentation on the impacts of and solutions to the climate crisis, La Loire, Blue Zone
Wednesday – Moniz, California Gov. Jerry Brown, UN official Christiana Figueres and OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria will hold a side-event discussion on the future of energy.
Wednesday – OSTP Director John Holdren, NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan discuss the climate and the Energy-Water-Food Nexus solving interdisciplinary problems with interdisciplinary solutions.
Wednesday – EEI and the International Emissions Trading Association co-sponsor an event to highlight how utilities might use carbon trading markets to meet CPP targets. Officials from PG&E, Calpine Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway will participate, and EPA air chief Janet McCabe will speak.
Thursday – Business leaders will hold a side event in Room 5 at 3:00 pm Paris time which will offer business perspectives on INDCs. Business groups in Europe, the U.S. and developing nations will discuss implications for domestic and global outcomes from policy, as well as market changes in trade & investment. They will also present experiences with business engagement in developing INDCs and recommend ways to involve business in assessment and /improvement.
OTHER CLIMATE/PARIS NEWS
Cutting Short-Lived Climate Pollutants – on Friday, Governments and industry leaders in the Climate and Clean Air Coalition committed to further essential advances in reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) that have a global warming potential many times that of the main greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. At the Focus Event on SCLPs Action Agenda at COP21, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), whose Secretariat is hosted by the United Nations Environment Program, committed to double their membership in two key initiatives to reduce these pollutants – in freight and landfills – as well as detailing advances in the critical area of refrigeration. They pushed forward a proposal for hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to phase down under Montreal Protocol, jointly with many ministers. The Protocol signed in 1987 aimed at suppressing gas harming the ozone layer (CFCs) which have been mainly replaced by hydrofluorocarbon gas (HFCs). Reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants – HFCs, methane, black carbon, and tropospheric ozone – is essential to keep the global temperature rise below 2°C and to improve air quality. Action in this area contributes to meet the main international climate change objective, improves public health, saves massive costs on medical care and avoids severe pollution damage to the environment, all at the same time.
AHRI Knows the Value of HFCs, Montreal Protocol – The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, the trade association representing refrigerant producers and air conditioning and refrigeration equipment manufacturers, commented on the topic recently when nations reached agreement on HFCs at 27th Meeting of the Parties of the Montreal Protocol in Dubai earlier in November.
“AHRI is very pleased that the signatories to the Montreal Protocol have agreed to work toward adoption of an amendment in 2016 to include hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants under the purview of the treaty and to work toward setting a schedule to phase down the worldwide use of these refrigerants,” Yurek said “AHRI has supported including HFCs in the Montreal Protocol for many years. Even as other MP signatories have debated the original North American Proposal to do so, AHRI’s member companies — including refrigerant producers and original equipment manufacturers — have proactively been researching potential alternative refrigerants to ensure that the world’s air conditioning and refrigeration equipment manufacturers will have access to appropriate refrigerants. AHRI, U.S. government agencies, and energy efficiency advocacy groups have all worked diligently for many years to ensure a phase-down of these chemicals. This collaboration is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when all parties work together in good faith to achieve a common goal,” Yurek added.
The AHRI research program, known as the Low-Global Warming Potential Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program (Low-GWP AREP) has been underway since 2011 and is now in its second phase.
NRECA Joins Event to Highlight Co-op Role – Yesterday, NRECA’s Martin Lowery joined cooperative representatives from Germany and France in Paris to discuss the cooperatives’ contribution to developing renewables and increasing energy efficiency at an event sponsored by the International Cooperative Alliance. At the event, leaders discussed the intrinsic qualities of co-operatives that allows them to be natural allies in fighting climate change, especially considering their long-term commitment, their resilience, and their capacity to simultaneously act on several levels. Firstly, co-operatives have long-term commitment. As they are not listed on the stock exchange, they are under no obligation to act according to their share price, nor are they dependent upon the opinions of analysts. Naturally, to be commercially viable, they must be cost-efficient, but they are able to invest according to a broader horizon. They can consider the consequences of their actions for future generations, a determining skill when fighting climate change. As businesses serving individuals and communities, co-operatives have proven their great resilience and their capacity to endure crises. In doing so, they contribute to stable economies. Their model can be adapted and used anywhere in the world.
Harbert Takes on Climate Issues – Karen Harbert, the president and CEO of the Energy Institute, was on Maria Bartiromo’s Fox News show on Monday explaining why American consumers and businesses should be seriously concerned about the COP21 negotiations. She outlined the consequences America will face if the Obama administration continues its push for an unrealistic and lopsided climate agreement, including:
- How the Obama Administration is making promises it won’t be able to keep.
- How a lopsided agreement would favor U.S. competitors and put America’s energy advantage at risk.
- How some of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, like China and India, get a free pass to emit as much as they want.
- How the pledges countries have made will have no real impact on emissions.
- How the Obama Administration will most likely commit the U.S. to greenhouse gas reductions without advice or approval from Congress.
Chamber Launches Site to Monitor Talks – One way you can stay informed about how this conference is to visit the new Chamber COP21 webpage to learn more about the conference, learn the Obama administrations’ plans, and get updates throughout the two-week meeting. USCoC’s Steve Eule is headed to Paris and will be reporting.
Barrasso releases Senate Report – Senator John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Multilateral International Development, Multilateral Institutions, and International Economic, Energy, and Environmental Policy, released a new report entitled: Senate Outlook on United States International Strategy on Climate Change in Paris 2015. The report outlines how President Obama plans to bypass Congress and transfer American taxpayer funds overseas. It also highlights how the president is undermining American sovereignty and binding the American people to targets and timetables for greenhouse gas reduction targets in Paris.
Key Findings Highlighted in the Report:
- The president is forcing American taxpayers to pay for past economic success through his contributions to the Green Climate Fund.
- The president and foreign nations in Paris plan to bypass Congress to reach a climate change deal, thus eliminating the voice of the American people who are opposed to his climate change policies.
- The president is demonstrating failed leadership as he is making false promises to foreign countries about his capability to meet his greenhouse gas reduction targets.
- By undermining American sovereignty and binding the American people to targets and timetables for greenhouse gas reduction targets in Paris, the president is threatening jobs, industries and communities at home.
11 Countries Still Haven’t Made Pledges – Only 11 countries, for varying reasons, have yet to submit their individual pledges for carbon emissions reductions at the international climate summit in Paris.
Nicaragua, which has a booming renewable energy sector, refused to submit a goal because the developed world needs to take “historic responsibility” and make deeper cuts than it has proposed so far. Venezuela’s minister of eco-socialism, Guillermo Barreto, said his country is waiting to see what other countries promise before submitting a target. Other countries that have not submitted goals include North Korea, which isn’t participating in the climate talks; Syria, which is gripped by civil war; Libya, which remains politically unstable; and Nepal, which usually plays a key role in climate negotiations but is recovering from this year’s devastating earthquake. The other holdouts are Uzbekistan, Panama, St. Kitts and Nevis, Tonga, and East Timor, the only country of the 40 aided by the United Nations Development Program.
Bhutan is Biggest Pledge – The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has made the world’s most far-reaching climate promise to the Paris climate summit, according to the ‘carbon comparator’ tool developed by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU). Almost three quarters of the mountainous nation is covered in forests, often watered by snowmelt rivers, and Bhutan has pledged to reforest its land even further. Last summer, it set a world record for the most trees planted in one hour – nearly 50,000. The country is now an unparalleled carbon sink, absorbing three times more CO2 emissions than its 700,000 population produces, mostly through hydropower. A substantial portion of the country lacks access to the electricity grid, however.
Kerry Rolling Stone Interview – Some much for actually discussing music, Rolling Stone after featuring Al Gore, James Hansen and President Obama, have Now turned their praise to John Kerry. Kerry, in his infinite brilliance, says climate change is the fight of our times. Here is the Jeff Goodell Interview.
UN Report Favors Renewables –A head-to-head U.N. Environment Program analysis comparing the environmental impacts of six power generation sources found that while no electricity fuel is benign, renewable resources such as wind and solar present a tiny fraction of the environmental downsides of coal and natural gas. The report found that renewable energy produces only 5 to 6% of the greenhouse gas emissions of comparably sized coal-fired power generation under a life-cycle scenario. Wind and solar fared similarly well against natural gas, producing only 8 to 10% of the greenhouse gases of comparable gas-fired power plants. Other environmental damages — including impacts of water and mineral resources — were three to eight times lower for renewable energy resources than for fossil fuels based on a life-cycle evaluation, the analysis found. In addition to coal, natural gas, wind and solar, the analysis evaluated the impacts of hydropower and geothermal energy. It did not evaluate nuclear power.
Bill Gates Weighs in On Nuclear – One person was talking nuclear. Following the big Breakthrough Coalition roll out, Bill Gates said nuclear power must be a part any clean energy future. Gates joined with Nuclear for Climate, an initiative launched by members of the French Nuclear Energy Society (SFEN), the American Nuclear Society (ANS) and the European Nuclear Society (ENS). It now brings together nuclear professionals and scientists from all parts of the globe, through the representation of 140 regional and national nuclear associations and technical societies. They outline a number of key principles on nuclear power and is role as part of the solution. You can see those here.
Re-Write May include Public/Private Funding– With the Still divisions between developing and developed countries as wide as ever, the G77 and China have expressed specific concern that developed countries are trying to re-write the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change by aiming to include private as well as public money to pay for climate change costs (developing countries prefer government cash) and make better-off developing countries shoulder more of the burden.
Island Nations Demanding 1.5 C Limit – Negotiators from small island nations and countries that are the most vulnerable to climate change are pushing to include language in the agreement that lowers the current target for limiting the rise in global temperatures from 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Media reports say tensions over the issue continue to boil over in closed-door meetings in the backroom negotiations. here last night and
UN Climate Head Temp Demand Won’t Crash Deal – Given the realization already expressed by US and other leaders, delegates have been raising significant concerns whether it could threaten the outcome of the talks. The buzz has caught the attention of UN Climate chief Christiana Figueres, who told reporters, “No, we do not think that that is going to block [a final deal]. Everyone here agrees that we do need to head for the deepest decarbonization pathways.” She said there is room to negotiate a compromise on the issue, adding, “It is not a discussion about the temperatures. That is just a proxy. It is a discussion about the decarbonization of the economy.” Of course, the type of disagreement won’t collapse the talks because most countries are likely to agree to anything that will create a deal without any real intention of following through anyway, so it won’t matter if it is 2 or 1.5 C, it will be whatever it takes.
Report: Island Residents Will Relocate – Speaking of Island countries, a new first-of-its-kind survey by the U.N. University and the European Union says many residents of low-lying Pacific islands would consider moving if the impacts of climate change — like storms and rising seas — worsen, yet few have enough money to do so. Respondents from more than 70% of households surveyed in Kiribati and Tuvalu and 35% of those in Nauru said they would be willing to move if climate change worsened. With average monthly earnings at $12 per capita, only 26% of the 6,852 people surveyed in the three nations believed they had enough savings to migrate.
Can’t Please Them All – Tuvalu’s prime minister and a top climate negotiator Enele Sosene Sopoaga was annoyed He wasn’t Invite to President Obama’s Island Meeting last week and he accused the President of trying to divide island nations at the climate change negotiations. He also said that vulnerable countries should to stand firm in their push for recognition of the losses and damage faced by poor countries.
Cuts by Cities, Regions, Companies Alone Surpass Total Global Iron/Steel Sector – Global action in support of a new, universal climate change agreement that unlocks faster progress towards a low-carbon, resilient future for all was revealed today in a report by Yale University which underscores the speed, breadth and depth of growing alignment between government, cities, business and civil society.
The report by Yale’s Data Driven Environmental Solutions finds that the combined greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments recorded in two UN-backed platforms by cities, regions and companies alone surpasses the global emissions of the iron and steel sector. Released on the eve of the UN climate conference’s Action Day-COP21, the report also finds that 15 of the world’s 20 largest banks totaling close to $2 trillion in market value have made commitments to act and green bonds worth close to $50 billion are financing climate projects.
Polls Show Low Concern Over Climate – Opinion polls taken in the run-up to the United Nations’ climate conference in Paris show battling climate change is not high on the agenda for many people around the world. GlobeScan surveyed approximately 1,000 people in each of 20 countries and found majorities in only four – Canada, France, Spain, and the UK – would have their governments set ambitious targets at the Paris climate conference. GlobeScan found less than half of those surveyed viewed climate change as a “very serious” problem in 2015, compared with 63 percent who did so in a similar GlobeScan survey taken just before an international climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009. In 2009, majorities in eight countries wanted strong climate action. The number of survey participants rating climate change as a very serious issue meriting strong action has increased in only four of the 20 countries polled, declining in the other 16 countries. Closer to home, a November Fox News poll of more than 1,000 registered voters in the United States found only 3 percent listed “climate change” as the most important issue facing the country today, down from 5 percent in August. Six percent of registered Democrats surveyed listed global warming as their top concern, as did 1 percent of registered Republicans.
Special thanks to my long-time friend and former NYT science reporter Andy Revkin for his resource suggestions. He is covering for NYT and Pace University at http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/?_r=0
Here are some excellent standing sources of information:
What’s Going On: For basic developments at the negotiations, there’s no better source than the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, with a name dating from when it was a hastily printed flyer in the early days of environmental treaty-making. It’s now an excellent online portal and has a very active Twitter feed, @IISDRS. Climate Home is similar and similarly helpful.
Website On Paris: One of the most significant signs that this round of talks was different than in previous years came when Climate Nexus, a climate communication initiative set up in 2011 by the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisers, launched a website on the talks called TheRoadThroughParis.org. It could as easily have been The Road to Paris, but in that subtle shift, made the important point that what is being created is a long-term process more than some grand outcome. The related Twitter feed is @ClimateNexus. Even if you reject the policy prescriptions or science interpretations of the Global Warming Policy Forum, the director, Benny Peiser, is an energetic aggregator of climate coverage that you might otherwise miss. I tell my communication students at Pace University that it’s important to recognize the “filter bubble” we tend to create around ourselves and poke one’s head out on occasion.
NYT Portal on Paris: The Times news desk has also set up a portal for running coverage called “Chasing a Climate Deal in Paris.”
IN THE NEWS
USS Cole Commander to Ryan, McConnell: Crude Exports are Risk – Given the Congressional budget discussions surrounding a possible crude exports deal, the former commander of the USS Cole, Kirk Lippold sent a letter to Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell warning about security risks associated with repealing the crude export ban and tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as a budget pay-for. Lippold, who was commander of the USS Cole when it was bombed by al-Qaida terrorists in Yemen in 2000, killing 17 U.S. sailors.
Solar Report Shows Corporate Growth – Growth in the use of solar energy has surged 183% among America’s top companies in the four years since the first Solar Means Business report was published. The study by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) also shows a 59% growth in solar installations since just last year. For the fourth year in a row, Walmart ranked #1 in the Solar Means Business report, which identifies major commercial solar projects and ranks top corporate solar users. The big box retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., boasts a robust 142 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity at 348 locations. Other top companies recognized for both their amount of solar capacity and number of solar installations include Kohl’s, Apple, Macy’s, Walgreens, Target, IKEA, Prologis, FedEx, Intel, General Motors, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, Bed Bath & Beyond, Safeway, Hartz Mountain, Staples, L’Oreal, Kaiser Permanente and Toyota.
UMich Study Questions CCS Economics – A new study from University of Michigan researchers says there are serious flaws in a decade’s worth of studies about the best way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize the climate. The U-M researchers have found that most economic analysis of carbon capture and storage, or CCS, technology for coal-fired power plants severely underestimates the technique’s costs and overestimates its energy efficiency. The new analysis puts the cost of reducing carbon emissions with CCS-equipped coal plants higher than any previous study—and most importantly, higher than wind and comparable to solar power. It’s the first study to confront the so-called “energy loop” inherent in the CCS process. Beyond a one-time “energy penalty” these plants pay because they have to burn more coal to power devices that capture carbon, the researchers say the disadvantage compounds until fuel costs leap to four times today’s accepted estimates. The paper on the findings, titled Reassessing the Efficiency Penalty from Carbon Capture in Coal-Fired Power Plants was published in Environmental Science and Technology and was funded by the National Science Foundation.
Pompeo Calls for Reg Moratorium – Following last week’s roll out of the Administration’s overburdensome regulatory agenda, Rep. Mike Pompeo wrote Speaker Ryan urging him to consider an 18-month “pause” on Energy Department efficiency rulemaking into the omnibus spending bill. In his letter, the Kansas Republican said that while the EPA’s Clean Power Plan had garnered a lot of attention on Capitol Hill, DOE’s efficiency rules were being rushed out with little recognition of the costs. Pompeo praised amendments to the original fiscal 2016 energy and water spending bill from his GOP colleagues that would defund DOE regulatory work on ceiling fans, incandescent lamps and residential furnaces. But he’s opted to go for everything on the whole menu.
Oil Jobs Taking a Hit – While the economy’s job number improved in November, the number of people employed in the U.S. oil and gas extraction sector fell by 2,400 in November to 184,800 on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the monthly data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The November figure was 16,200 down from the 201,000 people who were employed in the sector a year earlier, when the industry began sharply ramping back spending on oil drilling as oil prices tumbled. Employment levels in the coal extraction sector also continued to decline, slipping 1,300 in November to 64,900. Those workers had numbered 72,700 a year ago. For years, while the economy struggled, the oil and gas sector carried the job number on its back, but with low global prices still struggling to rebound, the sector continues to lose jobs.
PSEG Exec to Head AGA Board – While assuming the 2016 Board Chairmanship of the American Gas Association (AGA), PSE&G President and COO Ralph LaRossa said the US has an opportunity to create jobs and revitalize our economy through increased use of natural gas. At an event at AGA headquarters in Washington, DC this morning, LaRossa shared his vision for investing in the next generation of the energy workforce. “A diverse and motivated workforce is the key to continued success in the energy sector,” LaRossa said. “People who are dedicated and focused on delivering good quality service are going to serve the customers in the best way possible.” LaRossa also discussed several priorities for making his vision a reality, including the continued improvement and efficiency of the nation’s pipeline infrastructure, the recently introduced SAFE PIPES ACT, the significant role natural gas plays in spurring economic growth, and helping to ensure the infrastructure is in place to expand delivery of natural gas to more homes and businesses.
ON THE SCHEDULE THIS WEEK
Forum to Look at GHG Rules – POWER magazine is hosting a one-day conference in Las Vegas today that will provide power generators and industry partners with access to the latest developments and insights concerning the legal aspects of compliance with environmental regulations. The conference looks at existing power plants’ financial, legal, or operational decisions about compliance with environmental regulations. EPA General Counsel Avi Garbow and former Air Office head Bob Meyers are among the speakers.
NJ Event to Look at Grid – National Journal LIVE will hold a forum tomorrow on powering the 21st Century and making the grid work for all consumers. The event will explore Washington’s role in encouraging energy innovation, the future of the grid and how best to ensure the benefits of new power generation methods are sustainable and extended to all communities. The nation’s policy makers, innovators, stakeholders and thought leaders will conduct a robust conversation about grid modernization and the future of American energy. Speakers will include North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader, ACORE’s Todd Foley, Opower’s Jim Kapsis, RFF’s Phil Sharp, DOE’s Karen Wayland and several more.
House Science Panel to Look at Biotech – The House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Research and Technology will hold a hearing tomorrow on the future of biotechnology. The hearing will look at solutions for energy, agriculture and manufacturing. Witnesses will include Mary Maxon of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Steve Evans of Dow AgroSciences, Martin Dickman of Texas A&M’s Institute for Plant Genomics and Biotech and several others.
Senate Commerce to Take on Climate – The Senate Commerce Committee Panel on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, will hold a hearing tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. on the debate over the magnitude of human impact on Earth’s climate. The hearing will focus on the ongoing debate over climate science, the impact of federal funding on the objectivity of climate research, and the ways in which political pressure can suppress opposing viewpoints in the field of climate science. Witnesses will include John Christy of the University of Alabama-Huntsville, Georgia Tech’s Judy Curry, Princeton’s Will Happer, author Mark Steyn and Penn State’s David Titley, who serves are the director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk.
Utility Execs Looking at Storage – The 2015 U.S. Energy Storage Summit will be held tomorrow and Wednesday in San Francisco. Utility speakers will offer presentations, case studies, and panel sessions on the status and technology of energy storage. Our friend Stephen Lacey will be among those leading the discussion.
Heritage to Look at New Silk Road Energy Issues – The Heritage Foundation is holding a forum on Wednesday looking at transportation and energy issues in the 21st Century in the traditional “Silk Road” region. The area from the Baltic and the Mediterranean to the Pacific is more active than ever. In the area includes the Southern Gas Corridor, will significantly affect the political climate in Eurasia. The Gas Corridor is especially important in light of the complicated relationships between Russia and the European Union and Turkey. The Heritage forum will focus on the future of The New Silk Road and new transportation projects such as the Port of Baku and the Kars-Tbilisi-Erzurum railroad. Our speakers will address the technical, political, economic, and security concerns related to each of the projects and routes as well as the infrastructure needs, potential pitfalls, and opportunity costs. Keynote speakers will include State Department Energy official Amos Hochstein and Georgian Defense Minister Tinatin Khidashell.
Group to Look at Role of Nuclear – The Global Nexus Initiative will hold a briefing at the National Press Club’s Zenger Room on Wednesday at noon on the role of nuclear power in addressing climate change, expectations for the UNFCCC COP-21, and release of policy memo and recommendations. Featured speakers will include Partnership for Global Security President Ken Luongo, NEI’s Mary Pietrzyk and former Natsource exec Richard Rosenzweig.
Bloomberg Reception Honors Hess Book – Bloomberg will host a reception on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. congratulating our friends Tina Davis and Jessica Resnick-Ault on the publication of their new book, Hess: The Last Oil Baron, published by Bloomberg Press and John Wiley & Sons. It will Be at the Bloomberg offices in NYC on Lexington Avenue.
NAPE Hits Denver – The National Assn of Petroleum Engineers (NAPE) will hold their annual conference and expo in Denver on Wednesday and Thursday. The Business Conference will hear from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and will feature other leading executives, experts and speakers to examine E&P trends, legislative and regulatory challenges, technical advances and other topics.
FERC’S Clark to Address ICF Breakfast – ICF will host FERC Commissioner Tony Clark at its Thursday Energy Breakfast at the National Press Club. Clark will discuss FERC’s cutting-edge energy agenda. Among other items, FERC’s Clark will discuss current priorities and critical issues like the electric system reliability, particularly in light of the EPA’s final Clean Power Plan, capacity performance issues, with new programs in the PJM and New England, the role of demand response and the case now filed at the Supreme Court and other key issues.
Senate Energy to Look at Terrorism, Oil – On Thursday, the Senate Energy Committee will hold a hearing to examine terrorism and the global oil markets.
Forum to Look at US-Japan Energy – The Howard Baker Forum, the United States-Japan Roundtable and the Reischauer Center for East Asia Studies will host a forum on Thursday addressing the US-Japanese challenges of energy security and climate change. The event will focus on how the two strategic partners address challenges like what role must nuclear power play and mitigating climate concerns.
Event Looks at Demand-Side Innovations – The George Washington University and the Center for International Science and Technology Policy will host a forum on Thursday looking at demand-side innovations. For many years, innovation policy has focused on the support of the supply side, looking at market and system failures that prevent those generating innovation from doing so effectively and efficiently enough. In recent years, however, demand side policies have had a revival in the innovation policy debate. However, their application is still contested, and the roll out of those measures does not keep pace with the rhetoric about them. University of Manchester Alliance Business School’s Jakob Edler will speak. He is the director of the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research. Edler will introduce the concept of demand side innovation policy, explain why and when they are justified and present and discuss a typology of instruments. It will then discuss the major challenges of demand side policy instruments which all too often are not known to or underestimated by policy makers. The lecture will highlight some of those challenges using the example of public procurement of innovation, and will close with an appeal to a radically new way of understanding and applying innovation policy.
CNAS Forum to Look at Climate Security, Mitgration – On Friday at 10:00 a.m., the Center for New American Security will host an event on climate security and migration. The event will explore questions of how the United States, in collaboration with foreign partners, multilateral institutions, and civil society, should tackle future climate migration. Climate-related issues are become increasingly severe and manifest in issues such as migration that policy leaders will need to address in the near and mid-term. Potential mass migration events in the future will have global and local implications from governance, policy, technical, legal and financial perspectives, and may feature a climate or weather nexus in managing the causes and consequences of migration. The events over the summer and fall in Europe, albeit not due to climate change, were illustrative of the scale of the challenges involved for policymakers and security leaders. Climatic change will add another layer to the challenges the global community will face in addressing migration, including explicitly climate change-driven migration, in the years ahead. Against this backdrop, CNAS’s event looks to bring together perspectives from both sides of the Atlantic on the ways in which members of the international community can partner together to address the impacts of climate change and migration. Speakers will include Richard Fontaine, Lars Bo Møller, Sharon E. Burke, Daniel Chiu, Sherri Goodman, and more.
Carnegie Event to Look at Oil, Climate – On Friday at 11:00 a.m., the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Bloomberg Intelligence are co-hosting an event to discuss the future of oil and climate change in the twenty-first century. This event will be held in conjunction with the COP21 climate conference. The event takes place in Salle 10 of the “Climate Generations” area at the COP21 facilities in Le Bourget. Speakers include Carnegie’s Deborah Gordon and Bloomberg Intelligence’s Rob Barrett, as well as several others.
Forum to Look at DoD Climate Readiness – The American Security Project will hold a forum on Friday at Noon featuring Maureen Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Environment, Safety & Occupational Health. Sullivan is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Department’s climate change adaptation efforts. She will give an update on DoD efforts around Climate Change. Two members of ASP’s Board of Directors, Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, USN (Ret.) and BGen Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.) will also report on what they have learned as a part of ASP’s national climate security tour, and how important the DoD’s efforts on climate change are for national climate preparedness.
Forum to Look at Health Impacts, Octane – The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) will hold a briefing next Monday at 1:00 p.m. examining the health impacts of current octane sources and the need for cleaner, cost-effective octane providers. Octane is necessary for vehicle performance and increasing octane volumes would enable highly efficient engines. At the same time, octane-boosters in use today have historically been highly toxic compounds. But cleaner alternatives are available–namely biofuels. Speakers for this forum are DOE’s Reuben Sarkar, Carol Kwiatkowski of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange and former GM engineer Dean Drake.
CSIS to Look at EV Charging Infrastructure – The CSIS Energy and National Security Program will host a panel discussion on Tuesday, December 15th looking at electric vehicle charging infrastructure, including the role that utilities could play in financing, owning, and operating this infrastructure. Sarah Ladislaw, Director and Senior Fellow with the CSIS Energy and National Security Program, will provide introductory remarks.
Forum Focused on Fusion – The American Security Project will host a panel discussion next Tuesday at Noon on Fusion Energy. The event will focus on leaders in fusion energy from the private sector and research labs to discuss the significant progress made in advancing fusion and what this clean, safe, and abundant energy source means for America’s national security and energy future. Leading experts in fusion from the public and private sector will discuss the new developments that have been featured over the last several months in major media outlets like Time Magazine, the New York Times, Science and Nature. ASP is the leading think tank detailing a plan for the future of fusion.
Forum to Look at COP21 Results – The Wilson Center, George Mason University, and World Resources Institute will host a forum on Wednesday December 16th at 3:00 p.m. to look at the results of the Paris Climate Conference. A panel of experts will discuss how COP21 unfolded and what was accomplished. Speakers will also discuss how the outcomes of negotiations will affect efforts to tackle climate change in the United States and abroad, what was left on table for future discussions, and how any agreement plays out in the continuing evolution of climate change policy. The event is part of the ongoing “Managing Our Planet” series, jointly developed by George Mason University and the Wilson Center’s Brazil Institute and its Environmental Change and Security Program. Speakers include WRI’s Andrew Steer, GMU’s Andrew Light, White NSC advisor Paul Bodnar and Wilson’s Roger-Mark De Souza.
Caruso to Address Energy Economists – Next Friday, the US Assn of Energy Economics will host Guy Caruso, former EIA Administrator (2002-2008) and current senior adviser in the Energy and National Security Program at CSIS, for a reflective one-on-one conversation about what he’s seen during his career in energy and what the world of tomorrow will look like.