Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Do cash incentives alter driving habits?

From the Seattle Times:

Do cash incentives alter driving habits?

The 400 volunteers in the Puget Sound Regional Council's "Traffic Choices" study have been paying virtual tolls since July. Devices mounted on their dashboards track where they travel and transmit the information to a central computer. Charges are deducted from prepaid "endowment accounts."

Those accounts are just play money. But if there's anything left in them when the experiment ends in February, participants get to keep it — in real dollars.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Aerosols and warming

news @ - Aerosols cool more than expected
The team concludes that the cooling effect of aerosols is probably at the high end of IPCC estimates. So cleaning the air will lead to substantial warming. Without aerosols for example, since 1900 the planet might have warmed at least an additional 0.3 C above the 0.7 C rise that actually happened.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

COP 11 side event on CCS

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) hosted a side event at COP 11 on CCS, they have posted a summary online.

Carbon Capture and Storage Side Event
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) can reduce the overall climate change mitigation costs by 30 percent or more. However carbon capture is still an expensive technology, and carbon emissions tariffs would need to exceed 25-30 USD before further investments to scale up this technology be considered viable, says Leo Meyer from IPCC. So what’s in it for the future? A joint WBCSD/IETA side event at COP 11 looked at the current status CCS and the possible impacts that its use could have on the emissions reduction market.


How did I miss this?

Is 'Googlezon' in our future? |
An eight-minute video by Matt Thompson and Robin Sloan called 'EPIC 2014' - a faux documentary that purports to look back from 2014 to tell how the mainstream media died - made waves at newspaper seminars and in journalism classrooms when it was released in early 2004. But when the pair released the video on the Internet - with no explanation as to who had created it or why - it made a worldwide impression.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Perception and Valuation of the Risks of Climate Change

A paper by Viscusi and Zechauser that includes willingness-to-pay and attitudes toward climate change. (The Perception and Valuation of the Risks of Climate Change: A Rational and Behavioral Blend)

Monday, December 12, 2005

State clean coal plans

A friend asked me about a article summarizing some state clean coal plans (Pa. leads push for new coal plants) and I thought I might as well post my thoughts. He specifically asked about the environmental impact of the Rendell plan.

Note that I haven't read all the specifics of the Rendell plan or the other plans - these are general reactions.

Figuring out the environmental impact is a little difficult because the article mixes together a few different technologies and initiatives. There are two different technologies discussed: coal gasification and coal liquifaction. Coal gasification is part of a coal-combustion technology called IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle). IGCC is currently used at two electric generating
plants in the U.S. IGCC is recognized as being a cleaner way to burn coal but it is more expensive that pulverized coal combustion. IGCC allows the user to separate many of the pollutants before combustion, resulting in fewer emissions. It is also easier to separate out the CO2 from IGCC - meaning that the CO2 is easier to capture and store in geologic formations (in a future where that is routine).

Coal gasification is the subject of the Nov 28 Rendell plan. Generally speaking, retiring old power plants and building IGCC plants is a good thing - assuming we are going to be burning coal for decades to come. However, Rendell is asking for a delay in meeting the pollution reduction requirements of CAIR - that is where it gets fuzzy. An extension for plants in PA could muddle the entire plan.

Coal liquifaction is the process of turning coal into oil or diesel fuel. That process is also expensive but has similar benefits. If you can get the pollutants out before combustion it is easier to control them. Also, if (or when) capture and geologic storage becomes viable, some CO2 from the process could be captured. However, you are still burning the fuel in cars - so CO2 is still going to be coming out of the tailpipe - uncaptured.

I would have to see the data but I have heard NGO folks contradict what the NRDC person said about the quality of the fuel from this process. The diesel from this process may actually be cleaner burning than the diesel products sold at gas stations.

Final note, the other NRDC comment is about the environmental impacts of mining coal. That is a different ball of wax and certainly needs to be addressed. Note that the liquifaction process in PA is converting coal waste - already mined stuff that is (quite literally) just sitting around.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cool Boston maps

Bostonist has coverage.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Lacking the stomach

On Climate Change, a Change of Thinking - New York Times
Today, in the middle of new global warming talks in Montreal, there is a sense that the whole idea of global agreements to cut greenhouse gases won't work.

This article, about the current state of climate negotiations is worth a read - and worth a reread by me. It is negative about Kyoto and anything beyond Kyoto. In support of the idea that the economic impacts are a source of the stalling, the article quotes PM Blair.

As Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, a proponent of emissions targets, said in a statement on Nov. 1: 'The blunt truth about the politics of climate change is that no country will want to sacrifice its economy in order to meet this challenge.'

Is this a classic first mover problem? Isn't the purpose of an international agreement to try to overcome the economic obstacles? I think Blair's quote is out of context.

Also interesting, the discussion of how the climate change negotiations are different than the Montreal Protocol.

Friday, December 02, 2005

RGGI moving ahead without MA

States to move on cutting emissions - The Boston Globe
Seven Northeast states decided yesterday to move forward without Massachusetts on a landmark agreement to limit power plant emissions, because of the Romney administration's reluctance to act on the pact, according to two government officials involved in the negotiations.

After leading the charge with NY on RGGI, it appears MA is pulling out. Not good for the initiative.