Richard S. Lindzen, Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Cato Institute and MIT Emeritus Sloan Professor of Meteorology, will give a lecture titled, “Is Science Progressing,” on November 13, 2013, 4 PM, at the Cato Institute’s Hayek Auditorium. To RSVP, click here.
In the News
Europe’s Renewable Energy Push Has Completely Backfired
Rob Wile, Business Insider, 6 November 2013
EPA’s War on Coal Could Destroy Arizona’s Energy Future
U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar, Trent Franks, Matt Salmon, & David Schweikert, Arizona Republic, 5 November 2013
News You Can Use
Former Australian PM on Climate Change Alarmism: “One Religion Is Enough”
On November 5th, John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia, gave the second annual Global Warming Policy Foundation lecture in London, titled “One Religion Is Enough.” Mr. Howard chose the title “largely in reaction to the sanctimonious tone employed by so many of those who advocate quite substantial, and costly, responses to what they see as irrefutable evidence that the world’s climate faces catastrophe, against people who do not share their view. To them the cause has become a substitute religion.” Read the whole speech here.
Inside the Beltway
EPA Wraps Up Listening Sessions
The Environmental Protection Agency finished its eleven listening sessions around the country on 8th November to solicit public input on the best approaches to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. President Obama in his second term climate plan announced in June directed the EPA to publish a draft rule on regulating emissions from existing coal and gas-fired power plants by June 2014. The listening sessions were held in the cities where the EPA has its regional office and its main office. None of these offices is particularly close to the States that mine the most coal or rely most heavily on coal for generating electricity. Environmental pressure groups and the coal industry were out in force at many of the sessions.
Marlo Lewis, my CEI colleague, testified at the session held in Washington, DC, on 7th November. You may read his comments here at www.GlobalWarming.org. Marlo mentioned that most of those testifying simply urged the EPA to “do something” to reduce “carbon pollution” and “save the planet.” For example, Richard Cizik, the former long-time executive director of the National Association of Evangelicals and now president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, urged the EPA to take strong action because his child suffered from asthma. In my view, Cizik’s pathetically ill-informed comment is a fair example of the current level of our public discourse.
Around the World
COP-19 Starts in Warsaw on November 11
The nineteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change begins in Warsaw, Poland, on Monday, 11th November. After the failure to agree on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol at COP-15 in Copenhagen in 2009, the 195 parties to the UNFCCC at COP-18 in Doha, Qatar last year extended Kyoto while a new treaty is negotiated. COP-19 is supposed to be the beginning of those negotiations. A complete draft is due to be released at COP-20 in Lima, Peru in 2014, and the final version is due to be signed at COP-21 in Paris in December 2015. The UNFCCC aims to have the “Paris Protocol” ratified and in effect by 2020.
That’s the schedule that has been agreed upon, but so far there is little sign that much progress will be made in Warsaw over the next two weeks. One obstacle to making substantive progress is an ongoing dispute over procedural issues. The UNFCCC makes decisions by consensus of the 195 member countries, but Russia objected last year at COP-18 in Doha that the chairman had ruled that a consensus had been reached to extend the Kyoto Protocol even though Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus strongly objected. At the annual meetings of the subsidiary bodies in Bonn last summer, Russia successfully blocked proceeding with the agenda until the issue of decision making was considered.
Now, Russia has sent a letter to the UNFCCC Secretariat asking that defining consensus be placed on the agenda for Warsaw. On the other side, Mexico and Papua New Guinea in 2011 proposed that when a consensus cannot be achieved, decisions can be agreed by a majority of at least three-quarters. India and China strongly objected to that proposal.
Assuming that these procedural squabbles don’t take up the whole two weeks, three of the main issues that could be considered are flexibility, inclusivity, and payoffs. The Kyoto Protocol is a set of mandatory emissions reductions targets and timetables that were initially applied to 37 developed countries. The United States never ratified Kyoto, and Canada withdrew last year. United States senior climate negotiator Todd Stern in a speech in London last month said that the successor to Kyoto must be much more flexible. This flexibility could go so far as to allow each country to devise its own plan to lower emissions. The European Union, on the other hand, supports continuing with legally binding targets.
Inclusivity is a key issue because of the rapid increase in greenhouse gas emissions in China and India. China is now the world’s largest emitter by a wide margin over the United States, and India’s emissions have also increased fairly rapidly. Thus, most developed countries naturally think that China (and India and Brazil) should undertake economically-damaging emissions reductions just as they have. India, in particular, strongly disagrees. India argues that the West caused the problem and so must solve the problem. India recognizes that their continuing economic progress depends on inexpensive fossil-fuel energy.
As for payoffs, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama rescued COP-15 in Copenhagen in December 2009 from collapse by coming up with an agreement to create an annual fund of $100 billion beginning in 2020 to help poor countries deal with climate change and pay for climate policies. So far, the U. S. has increased climate aid by re-designating regular foreign aid already in the budget as climate aid. But the entire U. S. foreign aid budget is not enough to make up its share of the annual $100 billion. The poor countries that would divvy up this booty are starting to get nervous that the money is never going to appear. And so they are likely to pressure the U. S., the European Union, and Japan for some assurances in Warsaw. Note that President Obama leaves office three years before the bill becomes due.
Australia’s new environment minister, Greg Hunt, announced this week that Australia would be represented at COP-19 by a career diplomat because he would be too busy to attend. He will be too busy because he is in charge of introducing and moving the bill to repeal Australia’s carbon tax when Parliament convenes next week.
CFACT and CEI Will Be at COP-19 in Warsaw
Members of the Cooler Heads Coalition will have NGO delegates at COP-19. CFACT (the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow) will have several people, including Craig Rucker, David Rothbard and Marc Morano, in Warsaw for the whole two weeks, 11th-22nd November. CEI will have three delegates for the second week, which is the “High Level Segment” when the political officials attend. They are: Harlan Watson, former U. S. senior climate negotiator for the eight years of the George W. Bush administration; Larry Hart, director of government relations for the American Conservative Union (a member of the Cooler Heads Coalition); and me. Check www.GlobalWarming.org for occasional updates that I will post during the week of 17th November.
Climate Change: Be Not Afraid
This week I gave a presentation to CEI’s fall interns on the climate science debate. My slide presentation covers a wide range of issues – the 17-year warming pause, the divergence between models and observations, recent studies finding that climate sensitivity (the key variable) is lower than “consensus” science had assumed, studies debunking Al Gore’s doomsday scenarios, and, in general, why the state of the climate is better than they told us, not ‘worse than we thought.’ My blog post, “Updated Antidote to Climate Hysteria,” provides an overview and a link to my slide presentation.
Tenth Circuit Ruling Bodes Poorly for Legal Challenges to Impending GHG Rule
In March 2012, EPA disapproved Oklahoma’s Regional Haze plan to improve visibility and, in its stead, imposed a federal plan that cost $1.8 billion more, but which failed to achieve a perceptible improvement over the state’s plan. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt sued over EPA’s all-pain, no-gain Regional Haze plan in the Denver-based 10th Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. In July, the Court sided with EPA in a two-to-one majority decision. Subsequently, AG Pruitt petitioned to have the entire 10th Circuit Court hear the state’s appeal. On October 31st, however, the court denied AG Pruitt’s petition without explanation. The state’s final recourse is to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 10th Circuit’s ruling, if it stands, establishes a troubling precedent that could adversely affect future legal challenges to EPA’s impending greenhouse gas regulations for existing power plants. Under the Regional Haze program, EPA is required to issue “guidelines” pursuant to which States must submit visibility improvement plans. Oklahoma argued that it followed the guidelines, so EPA was required to approve the state’s plan. EPA argued that the State did not follow the guidelines. Under administrative law, courts grant EPA a tremendous degree of deference; the question before the 10th Circuit was: How much deference should EPA afford States? The answer, according to the court, is none. If EPA reasoned that the State didn’t follow the guidelines, then the agency’s word carries the day. (Click here to read why the court’s reasoning was flawed).
The legal structure of the section of the Clean Air Act for Regional Haze is nearly identical to the provision of the act that allegedly authorizes EPA to regulate greenhouse gases from existing power plants. As such, the 10th Circuit Court’s ruling suggests that States will have minimal leeway in complying with EPA guidelines for regulating greenhouse gases from existing coal-fired power plants. Environmentalist organizations are lobbying EPA to use the guidelines to impose a cap-and-trade scheme on the States.
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.