Friday, August 3, 2007

James E. Hansen, PhD--Declaration of Stewardship

Grandmother refused to call anyone "Doctor" unless they could
set a child's broken arm.
(she may have been "influenced" by her sisters, the OB-GYN's,
her own degree was in English).

Here's James E. Hansen:

Declaration of Stewardship
Whereas the climate system is nearing tipping points with likely devastating
consequences for much of creation; whereas the responsibility of the United States for excess
CO2 in the air exceeds that of any other nation by more than a factor of three; whereas the rest of the world cannot be expected to take needed actions until the United States exercises
responsibility and leadership; whereas, some lawmakers and executives in the United States
appear to be unduly swayed by special interests; it therefore becomes important for citizens to be keenly aware of the position regarding global warming of all candidates for election.

Almost all candidates will express general agreement with the goal of minimizing dangerous human-made climate change, but it is necessary to assess intentions and loyalties. At Earthworks last week-end and at ReEnergizeIowa activity this weekend, I argue that every candidate in 2008 should be asked whether they will sign onto each of the three items in the
“Declaration of Stewardship” below. The first two items relate directly to the two essential
actions described in “Old King Coal II”

and “How Can We Avoid Dangerous Human-Made Interference with Climate”
i.e., (1) phase-out of coal use except at power plants where CO2 is captured and sequestered, and (2) a modest but slowly growing price on carbon emissions.

I will not repeat the rationale here. Some people argue that a large carbon tax is needed.
However, removal of fossil fuel subsidies and supply constraints may go a long way. Certainty
of a rising price is probably most important for driving innovation. Amory Lovins argues that no
carbon tax or cap is needed. I do not agree with that, but I do agree that the barriers to efficiency (e.g., utilities making more money if they sell more energy) must be removed. The third item in the declaration includes that matter.

As always, criticisms and suggestions are welcome. I think that there should be no more
than three items in the list and that the present ones are essentially the right ones. The actions
needed to stabilize climate and preserve creation are reasonably clear. There are also the two
‘tweaks’ discussed in Old King Coal II, but these ‘tweaks’ should not be controversial; thus it seems unnecessary to ask candidates their positions thereon.

Declaration of Stewardship for the Earth and all Creation
1. Moratorium on Dirty Coal

I will support a moratorium on coal-fired power plants that do not capture and
sequester CO2.

2. Price on Carbon Emissions
I will support a fair, gradually rising, price on carbon emissions, reflecting costs to the environment. Mechanisms to adjust price should be apolitical and economically sound.

3. Energy Efficiency & Conservation Incentives
I will support measures to improve energy efficiency, e.g., rewarding utilities and
others based on energy and carbon efficiencies, rather than on the amount of energy sold.