In a report issued on June 9 the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that global emissions of carbon dioxide (C02) from energy use increased by 1.4% to 31.2 gigatons in 2012. The report predicts that if emissions of greenhouse gases continue to increase at such a rate, global temperatures could increase by as much as 5.3 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, which “would be a disaster for all countries.” The one bright spot was the U.S. where increased production of natural gas from shale formations accounted for half of the 3.8% drop in U.S. CO2 emissions from energy use. China, however, more than offset the U.S. decrease because its emissions increased by 3.8% in 2012, even though China’s CO2 emissions per unit of electricity generated dropped by 17%. Japan’s CO2 emissions from energy use rose by 5.8% due to the shutdown of nuclear power generation in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. The IEA report, Redrawing the Energy-Climate Map, is available online at: http://www.worldenergyoutlook.org/media/weowebsite/2013/energyclimatemap/RedrawingEnergyClimateMap.pdf. It argues that global greenhouse gas emissions can be controlled to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change if four existing policies are expanded: improving energy efficiency, limiting construction and use of coal-fired power plants, minimizing methane emissions from oil and gas production, and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.
At a summit meeting held in California, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on June 8 to phase down production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas. The two leaders agreed that China and the U.S. have “strong joint interests in addressing the climate issue,” according to outgoing U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon. HFCs are among the greenhouse gases that also threaten the earth’s protective ozone layer. Thus, efforts to phase them out are being undertaken pursuant to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.
Last week the U.S. Department of Interior announced that on July 31 it will sell leases for wind energy projects on more than 164,000 acres of federal waters off the coast of Rhode Island. It is estimated that the lease area is sufficiently large to accommodate 3,400 megawatts of new wind energy projects. John M. Broder, U.S. to Lease Federal Waters for Commercial Offshore Wind Energy, N.Y. Times, June 5, 2013, at B5. Note also NPR on Omaha Beach.
On June 4 a letter from Todd Foley of the American Council for Renewable Energy was published in the Wall Street Journal. The letter responded to the Journal’s May 24 editorial attacking Tesla Motors, which produces all-electric automobiles, primarily the Tesla S, which I drive. The letter, “Electric Cars and U.S. Innovation,” Wall St. J., June 4, 2013, notes that “Tesla not only repaid its commitment to the U.S. government nine years early, but it also paid an additional $26 million in interest for the taxpayer.” Thus, it concluded that the answer to the Journal’s question concerning when the "rest of America" will get its return on Tesla's profits by declaring that it did “on May 22, 2013.” The letter notes that Tesla was founded “entirely via private financing”and “from 2003 to 2009, the company developed cutting-edge electric vehicles without seeing even a dime of taxpayer money.” It observes that “the bipartisan DOE loan guarantee program has a 97% success rate.” Thus, it concludes that “when a company—in this case, Tesla—demonstrates fiscal responsibility, American innovation and a sense of duty to the taxpayer,” it should “be a cause for celebration, not condemnation.”
Last Wednesday my wife Barbara sang the national anthem prior to the Washington Nationals/New York Mets game at Nationals Park as a member of the Congressional Chorus singing group (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nAJIes0FQs). They were not good luck for the Nats who lost to the Mets by 10-1. On Friday I flew to Minneapolis for my Macalester College Reunion. Macalester has a terrific environmental studies program and one of its students, Gabrielle Queenan is working with me this summer on a Global Environmental Justice Fellowship. On Sunday June 9 I flew back to D.C. from Minneapolis in time to see the Nats defeat the Minnesota Twins in the second game of a doubleheader necessitated by a rainout on June 7.