Global Temperatures Rising Faster Than Expected – Part of the Reason is a Surprise

Worldwide temperatures have risen much faster than expected in the last few years.  Part of the reason is because of the recent El Nino ocean conditions, but the other reason appears to be a surprise.  Scientists have known that sulfate aerosol emissions from ships and coal fired power plants temporarily reflect sunlight and cause cooling, however, they thought the effect was small.  According to renowned climate scientist James Hansen and others, it now appears that this effect was larger than expected.  In 2020 most oceangoing ships stopped using high sulfur fuel.  Since then, the ocean surface temperatures in areas that have the most ship traffic have distinctly increased far more than expected.   What this means is that the warming effect due to CO2 emissions is probably much greater than they had been figuring because it was being masked by stronger short term cooling effects of aerosols. This is bad news for the long term.  

We need to speed up actions to reduce carbon emissions and sequester carbon.  This means we need permitting reform for faster construction and reconductoring of electric transmission lines and faster permitting for zero carbon energy such as solar, wind, and nuclear.  The Atomic Energy Advancement Act that recently passed with support from both Congressman Mike Thompson and Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a good start.

We also need internationally effective carbon pricing to incentivize change and to protect our carbon-efficient industries from unfair competition from heavier polluting countries.  We urgently need to research methods for efficiently removing CO2 from the atmosphere.  The future will not be kind to our grandchildren if we don’t step up the transition to carbon neutrality.

Rob Beggs

Also published in the Opinion Section of the Woodland Daily Democrat 7/3/24

The latest from james hansen - the older generation may be denying valuable future options for young people (may 2024)

"Global fossil fuel emissions will not begin to decline rapidly until there is a rising fee on carbon emissions enforced on a near-global basis via border duties on products made from fossil fuels. Here, however, I want to focus on two related matters – one old and one new: (1) nuclear power, and (2) the increasingly likely possibility that young people will need to take purposeful actions to cool off the planet faster than is possible with even the most aggressive phasedown of emissions and removal of greenhouse gases. 

I had no strong opinion about nuclear power when I began to be interested in energy policies about 25 years ago. But as I began to travel with and give talks with environmentalists, some things they said about nuclear power clearly did not have a scientific basis. The strategy to kill nuclear power by making it so expensive that nobody wants it (based on material costs of a nuclear power plant and fuel costs of the fuel, nuclear power should be our cheapest energy) and count on 100% renewables is unfair to young people. Do we have the right to make the decision for them that they must use 100% renewables? What if they do not want German electricity prices? De facto, we made a decision for young people and future generations via the hidden, unlimited, subsidy of “renewable portfolio standards” (as opposed to “clean energy portfolio standards”) and many other actions that denied equal opportunity to drive down costs of nuclear power. On the contrary, disinformation about the danger of low-level radiation served to drive up the cost of nuclear power – there is a long, sordid, story to tell about that, but this is not the time for it. 

Instead, I want to point out the analogy with a new story: geoengineering. Old people are geoengineering the dickins out of the planet. Never in the history of planet Earth has there been a drive for global warming at even one-tenth of the rate of the present human-made geoengineering of the planet. Yet there are some people (of the generation responsible for the geoengineering) who believe they have the right to prevent investigation of the options to phase down the massive geoengineering that the old geezers imposed on young people and future generations. Potential consequences are related to and analogous to the consequences of the past lack of the support needed to drive down the cost of modern nuclear power. Just as young people today have been denied the option of ready, low-cost, modern nuclear power to complement intermittent renewable energies, so young people tomorrow may be denied the option of a life-jacket in the event that accelerating climate change drives the climate system toward the point-of-no-return. "

"Pure, Unadulterated, Hogwash"

September 2023 Update from Bipartisan Climate Action, whose mission is to provide campaign support for candidates of both parties who work together across the aisle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

"Pure unadulterated hogwash"  To quote my favorite climate blogger James Hansen passing a rare unscientific opinion on leaders at the United Nations COP meetings who leave the impression that progress is being made that we can still limit global warming to as little as 1.5°C. 

Amongst many the advantages and challenges faced by the energy transition is the possibility of low carbon energy security and an eye watering export opportunity ranging from renewables to nuclear energy.  Those that recognize the imperative and inevitability of this transition will reap a significant economic reward, a story repeatedly played in our country's history and a fact worth keeping in mind as we watch the forthcoming fight over the IRA. Regardless of what is said and reported there are very few Members of Congress who will not use the investment offered by the IRA. 

To date, the political contribution to reducing GHG emissions can be characterized by a prolonged period of inaction followed by a giant single package of incentives that ducks the hard work of actually steering our country through this transition with an incremental and thoughtful strategy. Ultimately we have ended up borrowing vast sums of money from future tax revenues to stimulate a shift in our industrial policy.  The potential repeal of all or some of the IRA was baked into its creation as it lacked bipartisan support but the terrible irony is that many of those that can best leverage the investment could not vote for it nor can they be seen to use the funds to help their constituents. 

Renewable energy projects are attracted to states with cheap land and un-unionized workforces which is why nearly ¾ of the investment to date has been in the rural GOP heartland. As lawmakers return, we are faced with the spectacle of both fighting the last war over the IRA while preparing for the next challenge on permitting and transmission reform at the same time. As if climate change were not complex enough, we seem determined to make it as difficult as possible by pulling our politicians in two directions at once.

As the show begins next week and punditry abounds you can expect a lot of noise and deliberate confusion as many of our politicians dance on the head of pin attempting to use the IRA money, claiming credit for whatever investment it brings to their district, and at the same time distancing themselves from the source of that investment. This was totally avoidable and we could and should now be arguing about the next challenge like permit reform and having a serious discussion about transmission but that's the nature of representative government, its expense and slow and occasionally prone to bouts of utter hogwash.

On the Slate 

It's summer recess so no activity inside the beltway. What I can tell you is that of those I keep track of on our slate most have been working on fact finding trips, constituent work, committee work, intelligence briefings, science visits and some well earned sleep. The members we support work hard, contrary to the prevailing narrative about politicians. 

Positive Notes

Working on climate change requires self generated optimism but it also helps to look for small things that will have a major impact. That the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation received over a thousand applications to test green agriculture production methods demonstrates that individual farmers both understand what is happening and how to play a role in addressing it. The seismic change here is not more money from the Federal coffers going to farmers but the trust and recognition that they may actually know best what works and want to test it out and prove it. This change in approach has been long in the making, decades, and if it works has the potential to fundamentally change the relationship between those who produce our food and our politicians, for the better. 

As always, I encourage you to forward this email to anyone who may be interested in supporting our work or our members, and of course feel free to reach out to me anytime.

All the best,

Ian Harrison I President

Bipartisan Climate Action


New study: CFD much better for economy, households than regulations

By Jerry Hinkle

A number of climate policy proposals were offered by Democrats in 2020 that would achieve CCL’s primary objectives1 through a predominantly regulatory approach to reducing emissions. However, CCL has chosen to continue focusing our advocacy on a national carbon price. Though these policies can play an important complementary role in a comprehensive climate package, we continue to advocate for a carbon tax as the backbone of an ambitious US climate policy. As explained in this National Conference presentation (start at minute 37), the primary reasons for this are that carbon fee and dividend (CFD) is better for the economy, better for the poor, and will reduce emissions more quickly. It is also more likely to achieve bipartisan support, a feature which is essential for policy durability.

Regarding it being better for the economy, a study has just been published that explicitly quantifies the difference in economic impacts of a CFD approach versus a purely regulatory approach to reducing emissions. The analysis, produced for the Climate Leadership Council (CLC), compares the impact on GDP and household consumption from a CFD policy starting at $43/ton2 and increasing at 5% per year3 , and a regulatory policy consisting largely of clean energy, energy efficiency and fuel efficiency standards that generate the same level of emission reductions. The CFD policy presented in this paper is referred to specifically as the “Carbon Dividends Plan,” or CDP.

Study Results

The fundamental result of the study, completely consistent with the economic literature (pgs. 12-18), is that a scheduled carbon price reduces emissions at far less economic cost than a standard regulatory approach. Specifically, the GDP advantage in the CDP scenario over the regulatory plan steadily increases to reach $420 billion dollars in the final year of the study, 2036. This represents 1.5% of GDP in that year, and this economic advantage is expected to grow over time.  

This economic cost advantage is also estimated in terms of household consumption per year (see graphic, below). Again, CFD results in greater consumption, and the difference increases over time to reach an average of $1,260 per household by 2036. This advantage would also continue to increase over time.

The study points to an additional advantage of a carbon price that was illuminated in a recent CCL Blog. A border carbon adjustment (BCA) can be coupled with an explicit carbon tax under WTO rules to protect the competitiveness of US producers and the jobs they create. In contrast, though a regulatory approach would raise costs on producers by, for example, raising energy costs, a BCA would almost certainly not be allowed under WTO rules in that case. Without a BCA, the US competitiveness of exporters would suffer and corresponding jobs would decline. This would further diminish the political appeal of a regulatory approach to emission reductions.

Why Regulations Cost More

A carbon price provides a consistent financial incentive across the economy to reduce emissions. Businesses and consumers have complete flexibility make reductions in a least-cost manner. In contrast, regulations tend to stipulate how to reduce emissions and when, and this may not be consistent with a “least-cost” approach. For example, a CAFÉ standard requires producers to sell more fuel-efficient cars. In contrast, a gas tax directly incents all to reduce emissions in a least-cost manner, so driving less and taking public transportation are also options. As a result, the same level of reductions are achieved at a fraction of the cost (see page 13). Similarly, a clean energy standard in the power sector does not provide the same consistent financial incentive to reduce energy use as a carbon tax does, so achieving the same level of reductions costs more (see page 15). 

Summary Implications 

At CCL, we trumpet peer-reviewed research that indicates revenue neutral carbon tax policies (like the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act) have “roughly zero impacts on the overall growth of the US economy,” so that the enormous climate and health benefits from the policy come at little to no economic cost. Though certain regulations can have a complementary role to play in reducing US emissions consistent with science-based targets, if we relied on regulations for the bulk of the reductions, the economic cost of the policy would be significantly higher. This study makes that clear. The incoming Congress may yield a wide range of climate proposals, and some may meet CCL’s primary objectives. During this period, imposing a predictable carbon price will remain the focus of our advocacy as the policy that, overall, is best for the economy and households.


1. CCL’s primary objectives for climate policy is that it greatly reduces emissions while not harming the bottom two income quintiles.

2. The fee starts at $40/ton in 2017 dollars, or $43/ton in current dollars.

3. There are two key differences between the CFD policy simulated and HR 763 for purposes of the modeling exercise. First, this carbon price starts higher ($43) but grows more slowly (5%), so that it reaches $94 by 2036 whereas HR 763 reaches $165 in 2036 if it begins in 2021. Second, this proposal gives a full dividend share to all those under the age of 19, whereas HR 763 gives them a half share. The two policies are sufficiently similar, and the analysis results sufficiently strong, that the conclusions drawn from this study can be assumed to apply to HR 763 advocacy.

Jerry Hinkle is a research coordinator for CCL.

The post New Study: CFD much better for economy, households than regulations appeared first on Citizens' Climate Lobby.

Carbon Pricing + Border Adjustment = Solution

Some of the argument against the carbon fee and dividend approach is that the money can't be spent by the government on favored programs.  This argument whiffs two ways. First, returning money directly to households (actually front-loading the dividend) makes the program politically feasible.  But the most important aspect is that a carbon price is simple to use for setting up border adjustments to effectively force all major trading partner countries  to adopt the same level of pricing.  Whatever we do in California or even the entire U.S. will not solve the problem if other countries continue to increase their CO2 emissions.  Getting an internationally enforceable program is critical to actually solving the global warming problem.  

Rob Beggs

Yolo Citizens Climate Lobby