In the News
Is Big Green’s Carbon Tax a Snake in the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Grass?
Ron Arnold, Washington Examiner, 29 November 2012
Nissan Cancels Grand Opening of Taxpayer-Backed EV Plant
Paul Chesser, National Legal and Policy Center, 29 November 2012
Texas Windpower: Will Negative Pricing Blow Out the Lights?
Josiah Neeley, Master Resource, 27 November 2012
EPA Administrators Invent Excuses To Avoid Transparency
Chris Horner, Washington Examiner, 25 November 2012
News You Can Use
Peer-Reviewed Journal: No Trend in 370 Years of Tropical Cyclone Data
A new study published in the journal Climatic Change analyzes the history of tropical cyclone activity in the Lesser Antilles from 1638 to 2009, and finds “no trend” over the 370 year period. This is important because the Lesser Antilles, a string of islands lying along the eastern Caribbean Sea, intersect the “main development region” for Atlantic hurricane formation, making storm data there “our best source for historical variability of tropical cyclones in the tropical Atlantic in the past three centuries,” the researchers explain.
Inside the Beltway
Rep. Pompeo and Sen. Vitter Announce Anti-Carbon Tax Resolution
Representative Mike Pompeo (R-Ks.) and Senator David Vitter (R-La.) announced this week that they would introduce a concurrent resolution in both the House and Senate “expressing the sense of Congress that a carbon tax is not in the economic interest of the United States.” They are inviting other Members to sign on as original co-sponsors and plan to introduce the resolution formally some time next week.
The resolution will not bind Members who sponsor it and is unlikely to come to a vote, but it will be a public show of opposition to efforts being made in secret negotiations to include a carbon tax as part of a big tax and budget deal to avert the “fiscal cliff.” The attraction of a carbon tax is not that it would slow global greenhouse gas emissions, but rather that it would raise a huge amount of new revenue.
Rep. Pompeo said in a press release that, “A carbon tax would be disastrous to our nation’s economy by driving up energy prices and increasing the cost of everything built in America, as well consumer goods purchased by every American.” Sen. Vitter added, “A carbon tax – which would force more financial hardship upon family budgets, energy consumers and job seekers – needs to be completely taken off the table. Our resolution would enshrine that.”
A number of Members of Congress have said that they oppose a carbon tax and many have signed a No Climate Tax pledge organized during the debate over cap-and-trade legislation in 2009-10 by Americans for Prosperity. The signers include all members of the House Republican leadership. The Pompeo-Vitter resolution will update and make more specific AFP’s pledge.
Say It Isn’t So! Exxon Supports a Carbon Tax
On the other side of the carbon tax debate, Big Oil is coming out of the closet. Exxon Mobil confirmed earlier this month in a Bloomberg Businessweek article that they support a carbon tax. Shell and BP have signed a Climate Price Communiqué that was distributed on 29th November at the eighteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is meeting in Doha, Qatar, this week and next.
The most obvious reason why big oil and gas companies would support a huge new tax on their own products is that it would kill coal first. Burning coal emits roughly twice as much carbon dioxide as producing the same amount of energy by burning natural gas. A $20 a ton of CO2 tax would roughly double the current price of coal used for producing electricity. That would provide a huge incentive for utilities to switch to natural gas. Exxon Mobil owns the world’s largest privately-owned reserves of natural gas. Shell and BP also own huge gas reserves.
The Climate Price Communiqué states that, “Putting a clear, transparent and unambiguous price on carbon emissions must be a core policy objective.” They mean a global price, but a U. S. domestic carbon tax could fit comfortably into their plans.
The communiqué was organized by the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change and is managed by the University of Cambridge’s Programme for Sustainability Leadership. One-hundred forty companies have signed on, but Shell and BP are among just a handful of major corporations.
Amusingly, an article posted on the Center for American Progress’s ThinkProgress web site claimed that the signers were “leading global companies.” Here’s the list of North American companies: Actio, Aimia, Bullfrog Power, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Climate Wedge, Delphi Group, Eco-kraft, EOS Climate, Horizon Capitol Holdings, Events Outside the Box, Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Offsetters, Pacific GPS, Westport, and Wildlife Works.
Across the States
ALEC Launches Effort to Repeal Green Energy Production Quotas
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is leading an effort to repeal Soviet-style renewable energy production quotas in 29 states. ALEC, a non-profit organization of state legislators and private sector representatives, drafts and promotes model bills in state legislatures. In October, ALEC approved the Electricity Freedom Act, legislation that would reverse the renewable portfolio standards, as the green energy production quotas are known. According to ALEC Task Force Director Todd Wynn, the Electricity Freedom Act will be a priority in 2013. This should be welcome news to ratepayers across the country. Because renewable energy is expensive and intermittent, these renewable portfolio standards are making electricity more expensive. The Electricity Freedom Act rightly opposes these green energy mandates as “essentially a tax on consumers of electricity.”
Around the World
EU Delays Airline Carbon Fee for 1 Year
After months of negotiations, the European Union earlier this month agreed to delay the implementation of its Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) for foreign airlines operating in EU airspace. The EU law would have required that foreign airlines purchase credits for carbon emissions produced while operating in the EU.
The law was opposed by a plurality of non EU countries, including the United States, China, India, Russia, and more. When the initial payments were demanded earlier this year, China responded by prohibiting its airlines from participating in the scheme and began to hold up valuable purchase orders to buy airplanes from Airbus, an airline manufacturer located in the EU Not coincidentally, a Chinese order for 60 new airplanes from Airbus went through just weeks after the EU decision. Similar actions were taken or threatened by other countries.
For months, the EU refused to back down despite the ongoing threat of a trade war. The recent decision delays implementation for one year with hopes that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) can agree upon a global ETS for aviation emissions. Given the failure of international organizations to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, and the unwillingness of China and other developing countries to agree to emissions cuts, it is hard to imagine that the ICAO will be able to find agreement on a global aviation ETS within one year. EU Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard has promised strict enforcement in late 2013 if the ICAO is unable to reach an acceptable agreement.
Meanwhile, back in the United States a recently re-elected President Obama quietly signed a bill which could have prohibited American airline companies from participating in the ETS. While slightly redundant in the short run, the law will continue to prevent U.S. airlines from participating in the EU scheme if the EU again attempts to force compliance a year from now, in the event that the ICAO has failed.
COP-18: It’s That Time of Year Again
Representatives from nations around the world gather this week and next in Doha, Qatar in their annual effort to secure a global agreement to slow the rise in greenhouse gas emissions. Very little in the way of “progress” is expected at COP-18 (the eighteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), despite the lack of any successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012.
Last year at COP-17 in Durban, South Africa, negotiators agreed to start a “process to develop a protocol, another legal instrument, or an outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties” by the end of 2015, with required global emissions reductions beginning in 2020. This was meant to include both developing and developed countries, though China and India have yet to signal their willingness to comply with this 2020 deadline.
Unsurprisingly, China and India are demanding that the U.S. and the EU continue to engage in emissions cuts, while also demanding that progress be made on the Green Climate Fund. The Green Climate Fund was a pledge established in Copenhagen at COP-15, to transfer $100 billion in annual “climate aid” from developed countries to developing countries by 2020. No significant progress has been made by developing countries on ways to secure funding for the Green Climate Fund.Perhaps, as they have in the past, the diplomats at COP-18 will find some way to proclaim that they’ve made progress by the last day of negotiations. However, the big picture remains unchanged: developed countries are increasingly hesitant to agree to emissions cuts absent participation from developing countries, and developing countries are still refusing to quantifiable emissions cuts.
The Cooler Heads Digest is the weekly e-mail publication of the Cooler Heads Coalition. For the latest news and commentary, check out the Coalition’s website, www.GlobalWarming.org.