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Energy And Global Warming News For October 9: Granhom Brings 160,000 Clean Energy Jobs To Hard-Hit Michigan
Joe Romm, 9 Oct 09

"We have great bones as a state," says Gov. Jennifer Granholm. "We know how to build stuff. We will build on that strength and diversify this economy. We will lead the nation in creating jobs in renewable energy."The WashPost of course didn’t use my headline, since for them, every silver lining has a cloud. Obviously Michigan has had massive job losses in the auto industry, but how exactly does that translate into a “yellow light” for green jobs, except as a too-cute play on words at the expense of the real story: Granholm has done her best to embrace the fastest growing source of new jobs in the nation and the world — clean energy jobs. It’s hard to hold her responsible for the incompetence and shortsightedness of the US auto industry, whose collapse has been decades in the making, but she clearly deserves a lot of the credit for making Michigan hospitable to clean energy industries.

In Michigan, A Yellow Light For Green Jobs

If the future of American manufacturing lies in green industries, the Michigan governor’s pursuit of jobs offers a cautionary tale.

Four years ago, Jennifer M. Granholm set out to remake her state, which took an exceptional walloping with the decline of the auto industry, as a pioneer in creating environmentally friendly jobs. Today, however, jobs are still disappearing much faster than she can create them, raising questions about how long it will take Michigan and other hard-hit states to find new industries to employ their workers.

Since taking office in 2003, Granholm has created 163,300 positions, her office says. She expects that a recent infusion of more than $1 billion from the Obama administration aimed at nurturing car battery and electric-vehicle projects will generate 40,000 more positions by 2020….

In her effort to attract employers, the governor has taken up the latest arms in the economic arsenal — tax credits, loans, Super Bowl tickets and a willingness to travel as far as Japan for a weekend to try to persuade an auto parts company to bring more jobs to Michigan. She has won solar and wind energy, electric car batteries, and movie production jobs. About 10,800 of the new positions came from overseas companies, according to her office, the fruits of visits to seven countries.

Religious Groups Lobby for Climate Bill

Religious groups are stepping up their lobbying efforts in support of climate change legislation, focusing on a goal all of their flock can agree on: helping the poor and vulnerable impacted by global warming.

A number of Jewish and Christian groups are choosing to bypass climate issues that are contentious within the faith community, such as whether global warming is man-made, and are instead zeroing in on proposals in Congress to provide international aid for people impacted by the negative effects of climate change.

The push for “international adaptation aid” is also part of a broader awareness effort launching today called “Day Six,” which aims to make the public and members of Congress more conscious of the moral imperative to pass legislation regulating carbon emissions.

“On the sixth day God created us, and he made us stewards of his creation,” Katie Paris, the communications director for the group Faith in Public Life, said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. She also explained why religious groups are focused on international adaptation aid: “Those who are hurt most and worst should not be helped the least and last,” she said.

Groups involved in the “Day Six” campaign are directly reaching out to hundreds of thousands of people in the faith community today with tools to build grassroots support for climate change legislation.

The campaign features a Web site with a 60-second video pressing the issue, social networking tools and an online petition to Senators, urging support for climate legislation with adequate funding for international adaptation programs.

Web Site Tracks Europe’s Clean Energy Growth

The European Commission this week introduced an open-access online tool to monitor the development of about a dozen low-carbon technologies in the trade bloc.

The commission said its Strategic Energy Technology Plan Information System, offered ways for citizens, researchers, investors and policy makers to map funding for projects in areas including hydropower, wind, photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, wave, geothermal, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, smart grids, nuclear fission and fusion, hydrogen and fuel cells.

A so-called bubble graph maps the current status and the potential of energy technologies between 2010 and 2050, if funding is forthcoming.

Another tool, an energy cost calculator, allows users to choose different energy and cost situations to compare the performance of various technologies.

The initiative was begun as part of efforts by the commission to raise 50 billion euros of additional investment in crucial low-carbon technologies over the next 10 years.

The initiative also is part of efforts by Janez Potocnik, the union’s commissioner for science and research, to overcome the tendency of European governments to finance domestic projects rather than pool their resources and to ensure the bloc remains competitive with Japan, China and the United States in the development of low-carbon technologies.

Kingsnorth: A Blow Against Coal, or A Move For Clean Coal?

German utility E.On’s decision to temporarily shelve plans for a big coal-fired power plant in the U.K. is clearly big news. The fun part is trying to figure out just why it matters so much.

For starters, the proposed Kingsnorth project is more than just another power plant. The 1,600 megawatt station would have been the U.K.’s first new coal plant since Margaret Thatcher was in office, and became a huge lightning rod for environmental opposition. Greenpeace centered anti-coal protests on Kingsnorth. Climate researcher James Hansen targeted Kingsnorth when he equated coal power with “death trains.” That’s why environmental groups are cheering E.On’s retreat—many see the decision as a green victory over coal, akin to the Sierra Club’s relentless campaign against coal in the U.S.

Officially, E.On says the decision to delay Kingsnorth for at least 2-3 years is due to the recession, which has kneecapped the demand for electricity. “This is based on the global recession, which has pushed back the need for new plant in the UK to around 2016 because of the reduction in demand for electricity,” the power company said.

While the slowdown has led to an “unprecedented” decline in U.K. electricity demand, it seems somewhat of a stretch to expect another seven years of famine just as the global economy is turning the corner. Especially when the U.K. government itself expects energy demand to grow relentlessly, and whose biggest worry is how to keep the lights on over the next decade.

More likely, E.On’s decision to park the yet-to-built power plant is about a yet-to-be-developed technology: clean coal. The U.K. desperately wants to make clean coal technically and economically viable; its other energy alternatives are basically imported natural gas or nuclear plants that have yet to be built either. E.On wants clean coal to work, too—it’s one of a handful of European utilities jockeying for British government funds for clean-coal development.

UN talks to end without deal on crucial issues

U.N. climate talks in Bangkok will end Friday without progress on the pressing issues of emission targets for rich countries and financing for poor nations, who insist they will not sign a global warming deal unless those matters are resolved.

For months, negotiations have been deadlocked and delegates have begun raising doubts whether a new climate pact to rein in greenhouse gases can be reached by the time world leaders gather in Copenhagen in December. The pact would replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2012.

Rather than addressing the tough issues, U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer said late Thursday that the failure by rich countries to agree on ambitious emission cuts and billions of dollars in financing to help poor countries adapt to climate change has increased the distrust between the two sides.

“People in this negotiating process mainly developing countries say we have been engaging constructively over the past two weeks to put meat on the bones of an agreed outcome in Copenhagen,” de Boer said.

“But we are not seeing an advance on the key political issues,” he said. “The stark reality out there is that unless we see an advance on the key political issues, it is very difficult for negotiators in this process to continue their work in good faith.”

Even before the talks ended Friday afternoon, environmentalists including the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace were already criticizing governments for leaving the fundamental issues to future meetings in Barcelona next month.

States not meeting renewable energy goals

Across the USA, states are falling short of their goals to increase the use of renewable energy as Congress weighs a national renewable-energy standard.

Thirty-five states have set goals to use more electricity from solar panels, windmills and other renewable forms of energy, according to a database funded by the Energy Department. There is no central clearinghouse of states’ compliance records, but USA TODAY research and interviews with state and power company officials found nine states that have failed or expect to fail to meet their energy goals.

The states offer a lesson for the federal government, says Charles Benjamin of Western Resource Advocates, an environmental group. The House of Representatives passed a bill in June that called for 15% of the nation’s electricity to come from alternative sources in 2020 — up from 9% last year. A Senate bill with a similar goal is likely to be combined with a climate-change bill introduced last month. “Just because you want renewable energy doesn’t mean it will happen.”

In their quest to draw more renewable power, states have come up against obstacles such as the recession, red tape and an outdated transmission system that makes it difficult to move solar or wind power from where it’s made to where it’s needed.

Article originally appeared on Climate Progress.
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