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Published by ABC’s The Drum.

This week, the Minister for Climate Change Greg Combet argued that if carbon pricing is rejected “climate change policy will become the poisoned chalice of Australian politics for the next decade”.

While it is in the political interest of the Minister and Government to frame carbon pricing in this way, the claim is false. Whatever happens to the carbon price, the imperative for effective climate change policies will remain strong for the simple reason that the problem will not go away.

Combet warns that failure to pass the carbon price “would lock in the status quo and not provide any reward for the innovation, efficiency and technological development that is the only real way of meeting this challenge”. When we look to the United States, it is apparent that the death of cap-and-trade legislation was not the end of climate policies. Measures to decarbonise the US economy are progressing despite the fact that carbon pricing is not currently politically viable.

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Published by the US-based clean energy advocate, Americans for Energy Leadership.

On the heels of filing a complaint with the WTO against China’s subsidies for its domestic wind turbine manufacturers, President Obama signed an appropriations law that requires the Department of Defense to purchase American-made solar panels. The move appears to be the first instance of America leveraging its WTO complaint to boost its clean technology industry, and shows that the US is beginning to take the clean energy race seriously.

Some will argue that the ‘buy American’ provision smacks of hypocrisy—that the administration is as guilty of the same behaviour it has criticised China for. Others will argue that the measure counters the Chinese subsidies and is a legitimate way to bolster the US clean energy sector in an uneven playing field. Either way, the move shines a spotlight on the role of military procurement.

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Cross posted at Beyond Zero Emissions.

The Australian Greens have put high-speed rail (HSR) back on the national agenda. Greens leader Senator Bob Brown has called on the Rudd government to fund a study identifying the best route for connecting Australia’s two largest cities, Melbourne and Sydney, with HSR.

The ambitious project represents the type of nation building that should be at the heart of national climate policy. The project has the potential to reduce Australia’s ballooning carbon emissions, and kick-start the development of a larger HSR network that can one day connect all of Australia’s mainland capital cities.

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Cross posted at WattHead and The Energy Collective.

The US climate blog It’s Getting Hot in Here featured an excellent post on the framing of climate change at the weekend. Taj Schottland, a senior at the College of the Atlantic, has developed three frames for communicating climate change and associated policies to political conservatives. To appeal to conservative audiences, Schottland recommends:

  1. Replacing the term ‘climate change’ with ‘climate security’ to better explain the ways in which the changing climate adversely affects America’s economic health, national security and prosperity.
  2. Highlighting clean ‘energy advancement’ as a way to avoid the negative connotations associated with reducing emissions and by implication economic growth.
  3. Emphasising the objective of cap-and-trade policies to ‘harness the power of the market.’

Regardless of whether you agree with Schottland’s suggestions, it is encouraging to see that climate advocates are examining the ways in which climate change is framed. And perhaps more importantly, that they are developing new frames to communicate the impacts of the phenomenon to a wider audience. Given that the construction of one capture-all frame is virtually impossible, we need multiple frames to appeal to people across the political spectrum, and build the broad public support needed for government action.

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Published by American clean energy blogs WattHead and The Energy Collective.

US FlagIn yesterday’s Washington Post, prominent U.S. business leaders John Doerr (from Kleiner Perkins) and Jeff Immelt (CEO of GE) became part of the growing chorus calling on the nation’s leaders to prepare America for the clean-energy race. They warn that the U.S. is quickly falling behind in “the next great global industry”—green technology—with the risk of damaging America’s economic competitiveness.

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Co-authored with Johanna Peace and Devon Swezey and published by the Breakthrough Institute and WattHead.

People's Hall China Historically, the United States has been the nation with the capacity and determination for large-scale investments in promising new technologies–but not this time. Now it’s China’s turn. In the coming weeks, China will unveil an unprecedented multi-billion dollar investment in renewable energy.

The details are sketchy, but China is reportedly developing a massive renewable energy investment plan. While little is known about the precise level of expenditure the Chinese will commit to research, development and deployment (RD&D), if it’s anywhere between the US $440-660 billion over ten years reported by AFP and the Center for American Progress then it’ll be an unprecedented investment in the new energy economy.

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Published by the Breakthrough Generation.

US China

Of all the reports that emerged from the UNFCC climate change negotiations that concluded in Bonn last week, one particular report has stuck in my mind. In the last days of the negotiations the Associated Press reported that ‘China wants the United States to deliver top of the line technology as part of a new global warming agreement.’ It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that technology transfer between the two nations is a complex issue.

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Published by the Breakthrough Generation.

Did you know that FDR and Eisenhower used market-based approaches to implement policies that advanced America? Well, at least this is case in a series of thought experiments Michael Lind presents in ‘Obama’s Timid Liberalism’. In the piece, Lind discusses how the Obama Administration’s approach to key policy areas like climate change/energy and health care constitutes a ‘timid liberalism’. ‘Rather than fight back,’ Lind argues, ‘most Democrats in the last generation adapted to this hostile conservative political climate by jettisoning “big government” liberalism for “market-friendly” neo-liberalism.’

I’m interested in exploring this point. What will it take for progressives to transcend the ‘timid liberalism’ that we have seen over the last thirty years—a politics that constrains progressive governance? What will it take to ‘fight back’?

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Published by the Breakthrough Generation.

In his book, China Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World, Tim Fishman explores the rise of China and highlights areas where the Chinese have out-competed, are gaining ground, or seek to out-compete US industries. When we consider the recent developments, including China’s investment in clean energy from ‘green’ stimulus measures exceeding that of the US, and enacting fuel efficiency standards beyond those recently approved by Congress, it seems this could represent an emerging trend.

While Fishman acknowledges that ‘[t]he ability of American industry to stay ahead of its competition rests on the national gifts and resources that the United States devotes to innovation’, he warns that the innovation gap is ‘beginning to narrow’.

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Leigh Ewbank


Climate and energy writer based in Melbourne, Australia.

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Creative Commons License All blogs presented on this site, therealewbank.wordpress.com, by Leigh Ewbank are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License
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