Pricing carbon: regressive or not?

Economists don’t always agree: but they all seem to like the idea of setting a price on carbon. Either through a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme, a levy on carbon appears certain to eventually reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. But at a price. The poorest sector of the population carries a disproportionately greater burden. It’s a regressive tax. Is there a way to reduce emissions without penalizing low-income families?

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Antarctic melt accelerates sea level rise

Recent satellite data from NASA and the ESA show that the Antarctic ice sheet is melting much faster than previously thought–leading to more rapid global sea level rise. The rate of increase of atmosheric carbon dioxide is also increasing. These data show evidence of geophysical positive feedbacks that will be difficult if not impossible to control without forceful measures to reduce emissions of carbon.

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Solar, wind, and batteries: a winning trifecta

Solar energy and wind power are inexaustible sources of cheap renewable energy–but there’s a fatal flaw. They are inherently intermittent, and this makes them poor candidates for providing dispatchable power. But coupled with megawatt scale batteries, solar and wind become star performers..

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Two steps forward? Not for Canada.

2017 was an exceptional year for renewable energy. That was the good news. But the bad news is that energy intensity declined worldwide, CO2 emissions are once again on the rise, and king coal refuses to cede its place to cleaner fuels. Surprisingly, the US gets good grades–and Canada gets the raspberry.

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Is the TMEX pipeline a future stranded asset?

The US and Canada, rely heavily on fossil fuel production and exports. But the surging market penetration of renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency improvements, and climate emission policies will substantially reduce the global demand for fossil fuels.

As the demand for fossil fuels declines and the price of oil falls, the impact on the oil industry in the US and Canada is severe–curtailing production and stranding their assets. The oil sands are exceptionally vulnerable, and the purchase of the Trans Mountain pipeline by the Canadian government looks like a colossal mistake.

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Maria’s death toll in Puerto Rico more than 5700

A recent review of the additional mortality in Puerto Rico associated with the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria in September 2017 has sharply revised the numbers upwards–by almost two orders of magnitude. Most deaths occurred after the hurricane had passed–and are due to the failure of health care systems because of power outages, water shortages, and communication black-outs.

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Renewables outshine natural gas

A new study from the Rocky Mountain Institute shows that new natural gas-fired power plants cannot compete with clean energy systems that combine renewable energy with energy storage, efficiency improvements, and demand management. Smart energy storage systems are the key to fully unlocking the potential of intermittent renewable energy.

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More bang for the buck? Oil trains and pipelines

The oil train disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec, happened five years ago. As pipeline capacity tightens, oil companies are choosing trains to move their petroleum products. Flammable and volatile, these cargoes are an enormous risk for communities situated along the tracks. But building more pipelines is not the solution. The modern world is going electric–powered by renewable energy. Fossil fuels are the also-rans.

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