Archive for April, 2007


Monday, April 30th, 2007

One of the most paralyzing obstacles to adopting climate policies is the genuine need for (and difficulty getting) international cooperation on efforts to reduce emissions. As I discussed in my previous post, perceptions can differ over how strongly and when different countries need to act. Nevertheless, eventually all nations will have to constrain and reduce their emissions if we’re going to stop the build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Nations that refuse to do their fair share will make climate policies less effective and harder to implement for everyone else.

Today I’ll briefly mention two strategies for encouraging international cooperation on emissions reductions: 1) national approaches that automatically respond to international efforts, and 2) trade penalties for countries that subsidize their industries’ greenhouse gas emissions. (more…)


Friday, April 20th, 2007

In recent years, China has emitted more carbon dioxide than any other country, except the United States (see Figure 1). Furthermore, Chinese emissions will soon overtake even the US, on a per country basis. Policy debates over emission reductions, particularly in the US, often focus on the need to include China in any effort. Why would the US (or any other country) begin to reduce emissions unless the Chinese take similar actions? (more…)

EPA, Massachusetts and Carbon Dioxide

Monday, April 9th, 2007


On Monday, April 2, 2007 the Supreme Court made a decision that impacts what we will do about carbon dioxide. This is from a case called Massachusetts vs EPA, which was brought under the Clean Air Act. Here’s the PDF of the decision. There are a number of important findings from the case. First, the ruling establishes that CO2 is a pollutant – a potentially damaging pollutant. While it does not require that EPA control CO2, it does establish that the EPA has the authority to control CO2 in order to limit damage.

The second important finding from the case is that Massachusetts has established that it will be harmed by climate change, and especially by sea level rise. Once there is the establishment that harm will be done, and that there is a traceable cause of that harm, then there is potentially standing for many plaintiffs to bring suit. (more…)


Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Thousands of research papers have been published on different aspects of the science of climate change. Developing an accurate picture of the state of scientific knowledge requires sorting through and assessing the potential insights offered by these papers.

That’s what comprehensive assessments, like the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC’s most recent summarized and full reports and the National Academy of Sciences reports attempt to do. The credibility of these efforts is built on the inclusion of a broad range of independent experts, representation of the full range of credible scientific research, and an openness of the process and the participants to reassessment of their views in the face of new or contradictory evidence. The result is our most accurate depiction of what is known and not known about the state of climate science. (more…)