The Week That Was
August 10, 2002








2. Senators Query Administration Officials About Bush Climate Plan (July 18)


Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts asked Bush Administration witnesses to explain how the President's plan to decrease "Greenhouse Gas Intensity" will reduce the danger of global warming at a hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on 11 July 2002. Greenhouse Gas Intensity is the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions to gross domestic product (GDP). The Bush plan--released on 14 February 2002 calls for decreasing that ratio from 183 metric tons of emissions per million dollars GDP to 151 metric tons per million dollars GDP over 10 years. Administration witnesses admitted that overall greenhouse gas emissions for the U.S. would go up even if Greenhouse Gas Intensity decreased, assuming a growing economy.

The Bush Administration plan (entitled U.S. Climate Change Strategy: ( ) incorporates a variety of tax incentives and calls for voluntary reductions to greenhouse gas emissions by American businesses. The plan includes carbon sequestration, primarily through the Department of Agriculture, and touts fuel cell research as the path towards higher fuel efficiency. The plan also continues funding for climate change research currently administered through the U.S. Global Change Research Project (USGCRP), proposing to spend $1.7 billion overall in fiscal year 2003.

Kerry, who chaired the hearing, contrasted the Bush Administration plan with the recently released U.S. Climate Action Report 2002 ( ). Kerry cited the Climate Action Report, which states: "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing global mean surface air temperature and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise." Kerry charged that the Bush plan will not reduce emissions leading to global warming and that it overemphasizes uncertainty in the science of climate change. He added that "there will always be some uncertainty in science, but it is not an excuse for no action in the face of risk". AGU's position statement on climate change, which states that the present level of scientific uncertainty does not justify inaction in mitigating or adapting to climate change, predated Senator Kerry's remarks by nearly 4 years.

***Witnesses Defend Bush Plan***

James Connaughton, Chair of the Council of Environmental Quality, stated that the long-term goal of the plan is to stabilize "concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous interference with the climate system, recognizing that we currently do not know what that level is."

Glenn Hubbard, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors to President Bush, defended the Bush plan as a strategy to 1) slow the growth rate of greenhouse gas emissions, 2) create a platform based on science, technology and institutions for good decision-making, and 3) embrace international efforts to reduce emissions particularly with developing nations. Hubbard stated that short-term sharp changes to emissions are not warranted and would have higher economic costs than a slower and measured response advocated by the Bush plan. He cited uncertainty in scientific projections of the impact of increasing greenhouse gases on the climate and uncertainty in economic forecasts as two reasons for an approach tied to economic performance, the Greenhouse Gas Intensity metric.

John Marburger, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, responded directly to Senator Kerry's quote of the link between greenhouse gases and global warming by citing a sentence that follows what Kerry quoted earlier: "The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability." Marburger reminded the senators that this particular sentence is often half-quoted, and that it stems from a National Research Council report released a year ago ( ).

James Mahoney, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmospheres, stated that President Bush has directed the federal agencies to reestablish priorities for climate change research. Through the President's Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI), Bush would like to see a focus on identifying the scientific information that can be developed within 2 to 5 years to assist the nation's evaluation of optimal strategies to address global change risk. Mahoney noted that the last ten years have been a "period of discovery and characterization" in climate change research, and that it is time to move into a "period of differentiation and strategy investigation."

Testimony and statements submitted for the record are available on the web at .


3. EU Pays for Activist Group Criticism:

Friends of the Earth, which aggressively attacks European Union trade and environment proposals as "threats to people, the environment and democracy," gets $281,036 in EU funding. The World Wildlife Fund got $450,000 to help fund a European agenda that included suing the EU to halt a planned visitors center in an Irish moor. According to The Wall Street Journal, the European Commission will spend at least $8 million this year to fund more than two dozen environmental and consumer groups that lobby and demonstrate against EU policies. That is about twice as much as the EU doled out in each of the past four years, reflecting increased help for NGOs in the 10 Eastern European countries that want to join the EU. EU officials say the funding is meant to insure consumers have a voice in EU decision making. Yet with fewer than half of EU citizens saying they trust the EU, the article speculates the commission may also be looking for a credibility boost.


4. Britain falls behind green energy targets

Eva Sohlman REUTERS NEWS SERVICE UK: July 24, 2002

LONDON - Britain is falling behind its targets to replace polluting fossil fuel with clean renewable energy, threatening goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions to curb global warming, a parliamentary report said.

"On the present rate of progress, we are likely to fall well below even the modest targets which the government has set," John Horam, member of parliament and chairman of the Environmental Audit Committee which wrote the report, said in a statement.

The committee urged the government to put sustainable energy at the heart of its new energy policy, which is due out later this year. The call comes before a global summit on sustainable energy in Johannesburg between August 26 and September 4.

The parliamentarians blamed the slow growth in green energy on difficulties in getting planning approval and record-low power prices.

"Only 25 percent of planned projects have materialised largely due to local opposition against renewable energy and especially wind power," adviser to the committee Eric Lewis, told Reuters.

Britain currently generates 2.8 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind, biomass and solar power and aims to boost the use to 10 percent by 2010.

"We will certainly not meet the interim target of five percent of electricity from renewables by 2003," the report said. "On the basis of present trends, we are unlikely to achieve much more than half the 10 percent target for 2010," it added.

The renewables target is part of a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions and mainly carbon dioxide (CO2) - widely seen as the main culprit behind global warming.

Under the United Nations Kyoto climate change protocol, Britain agreed to cut CO2 emissions by 12.5 percent by 2010 on 1990 levels. It also aims to slash CO2 emissions by 23 percent in the same period under a non-binding national plan.

A report from Cambridge Econometrics, also published this week, said Britain will struggle to meet its targets to cut CO2 emissions as generators burn more coal to fill the gap left by the closure of nuclear power plants.

The committee report urged the government to make it easier for renewable schemes, such as wind farms, to get planning permission. It said energy regulator Ofgem's review of a new electricity market, due on July 24, should focus on the impact of the new trading arrangements on renewable energy generators, the environment and CO2 emissions.

In the new market, many small generators face penalties because they cannot guarantee their output.

"The Department of Trade and Industry should review options for incentivising the development of renewables under NETA so that the playing field - so far from being tilted against renewables as at present - should favour them," the committee said.


5. UK's new electricity market drives up CO2 emissions

By Margaret Orgill (REUTERS NEWS SERVICE July 15, 2002)

LONDON - Britain's power stations are puffing out more pollution after last year's launch of new electricity trading rules, casting another shadow over the government's efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Analysts say the market's design encourages generators to use their power stations less efficiently, causing a jump in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), equivalent to all the pollution savings from Britain's wind farms.

"The increase wipes out all the savings due to wind energy we currently have in the UK," said David Milborrow, an independent renewable energy consultant.

The increase is bad news for the British government, which faces a battle to meet its target of cutting emissions of CO2, the gas widely blamed for causing global warming.

Emissions have risen over the last couple of years as generators switched to coal generation after a steep rise in natural gas prices, reversing a downwards trend in the 1990s when utilities switched to less polluting gas.

A government report seen by Reuters on Wednesday showed investment in energy- efficient combined-heat-and-power plants has collapsed, partly as a result of the new market, which penalises small generators - like many CHP plants - which cannot guarantee their output.


Milborrow estimated the UK's power stations puffed out between 0.5 million and 0.8 million tonnes of extra carbon in the year since the launch of the new electricity trading arrangements (NETA) last March. His figures were confirmed by a separate study by another independent analyst Peter Bedson of IPA Energy.

Britain produced 154 million tonnes of carbon in 2001, up 1.5 percent on 2000, with nearly 30 percent from the power sector.

NETA, introduced to bring down electricity prices, penalises generators that need to buy power at the last minute. As a result, utilities are keeping more gas and coal-fired plants running at under full capacity so they can ramp up output suddenly and avoid hefty charges if they are out of balance.

"This is inefficient. A fall in efficiency is equal to a rise in emissions," said Milborrow.

Generators admit they are keeping extra plant running to avoid buying power in NETA's central balancing market where prices can be as high as a 100 pounds ($155) a megawatt hour, over five times the open market price.

"With the way NETA works, people are keeping more plant humming," said a spokesman for one firm with several coal-fired plants.

According to Milborrow, about 400 megawatts of plant used to run part-loaded in the days of the Electricity Pool, the wholesale market before NETA, but this jumped to around 4,000 megawatts last winter.


6. And finally, from the Sunday Post [Scotland] July 21, 2002, p.4

"Manure from 500 cows will soon be providing electricity for homes in Devon. The methane gas the slurry emits will provide energy at a new £7.7 million power station. It gives another meaning to "wind power". --------



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