A free-market energy blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — Emissions trading

EU Climate Policy Update: Italy Rethinks Kyoto

Another breach in the badly aging Kyoto wall has been opened.

After the failure of the Copenhagen meeting, the Italian Senate passed a motion calling for a re-assessment of European Union climate policies as well as a review of the IPCC process. The motion, presented by Sen. Antonio D’Alì (chairman of the Environment Committee) and Sen. Guido Possa (chairman of the Education Committee) as well as many other Senators, is a powerful sign of wide and growing dissent in many EU member states.

The EU is the largest economy to have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, under which it is committed to cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 8% below 1990 levels in 2008-12. The EU has subsequently adopted a package of directives, the so-called “20-20-20,” that mandates a 20% reduction of GHG emissions below 1990 levels by 2020 and that 20% of total energy consumption will be provided by renewable sources, with a non-mandatory target of a 20% increase in energy efficiency.

In order to achieve such ambitious goals, Europe has created a large cap and trade program, called the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), under which over 12,000 industrial installations are required to surrender an amount of emission allowances high enough to cover their own annual emissions. Extra allowances can be bought and sold on the market. Theoretically, such a mechanism is supposed to create incentives for businesses to invest in clean technologies, reducing emissions through an economically efficient process.

Despite the political success of cap and trade – easily sold to voters as a means to force “big business” to pay for the pollution that they supposedly cause – cap and trade is often criticized, even by mainstream economists, as inefficient and ineffective.  The costs, it is argued, outweigh the benefits. [Read more →]

May 1, 2010   1 Comment

The Enron Revitalization Act of 2009 (from the Kyoto Protocol to Waxman-Markey)

“This agreement will be good for Enron stock!!”

- John Palmisano, “Implications of the Climate Change Agreement in Kyoto & What Transpired” (1997)

The 219–212 passage of HR 2454 inspires another look at Enron’s infamous “Kyoto memo,” written almost 13 years ago by company lobbyist John Palmisano. Indeed, an Enron memo upon House passage of the Waxman-Markey climate bill would have been similar! Change the dates and some other specifics and the bottom line would be the same–potential gains for Enron’s profit centers in wind, solar, CO2-emissions trading, energy outsourcing, and natural gas.

One can imagine a quotation like this from Enron’s fabled public relations department, hyperbolizing a half-victory into something bigger in the attempt to create a bandwagon effect:

“This historic vote was heard ’round the world,” stated Kenneth L. Lay, chairman of Enron Corp. “Although much work remains before we have new law, HR 2454 signals a new commitment toward clean, green energy, of which Enron is the acknowledged world leader. All of us look forward to working with lawmakers and citizens in this new era of global climate protection.”

Perhaps Al Gore himself would have placed a call to Ken Lay to congratulate the company that did to much so spark the CO2 reduction debate within the industry in the 1980s and 1990s. Indeed, the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (US CAP), a bootleggers-and-Baptists coalition that had much to do with the opening draft of Waxman-Markey, probably had more to do with Ken Lay protégé James Rogers  (now chairman of Duke Energy) than any other single person.

Reprinted below, verbatim, is the infamous Enron Kyoto Memo, the original copy of which is posted here. [Read more →]

July 1, 2009   12 Comments

When the Cap Isn't a Cap, the Trades are a Charade

Many analysts (including myself) have written about the innumerable problems with cap-and-trade, mostly focusing on the bogus nature of the trade. And most of the problems we’ve predicted have found their way into the current cap-and-trade law working its way through Congress, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey climate bill).

As was widely predicted, Waxman-Markey has degenerated into little more than a special-interest pork-fest, where the political system is getting ready to give away at least 85% of the valuable emission permits to favored energy constituencies such as electrical utilities, university researchers, low-income households, renewable manufacturers, anti-deforestation programs, and so on. The Obama administration’s pledge to auction off 100% of the emission permits was a joke on the face of it: virtually all emission trading programs feature extensive “grandfathering” of polluters and favored constituencies.

Principled environmentalists have turned their guns on what has emerged. Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute, in particular, has explained that it’s not only the trade elements of Waxman-Markey that are bogus, it’s the cap as well. It turns out that under Waxman-Markey’s byzantine provisions, “carbon emissions in regulated sectors of the U.S. economy [are] to rise at business as usual (BAU) rates through 2030.” [Read more →]

June 4, 2009   2 Comments

Cap-and-Trade: The Temple of Enron (James Hansen makes an important political point)

“Since 1976, Enron [and predecessor company] employees have been at the forefront of developing air credit trading policies for governments and businesses…. Enron today is the largest and most sophisticated air emissions credit and allowance trading organization in the United States. Since 1990, Enron has participated in over 80 SOx allowance transactions and has also been active in establishing policies for trading NOx in the United States and carbon [dioxide] world-wide.”

- “Enron Corp.’s Participation in Air Trading,” Enron Capital & Trade Resources, November 4, 1996 (copy in files).

“If implemented, [the Kyoto Protocol] will do more to promote Enron’s business than will almost any other regulatory initiative…. The endorsement of [CO2] emissions trading was another victory for us…. This agreement will be good for Enron stock!”

- John Palmisano (December 12, 1997) from Kyoto, Japan. Quoted in Bradley, Capitalism at Work, p. 307

“If anyone has environmental credit needs, that’s what we do. We want to be to be the clearing house to monetize available credits or to manage risk.”

- Kevin McGowan, director of coal and emissions trading, Enron Corp., (Enron Biz, November 29, 2000, copy in files)

“We are a green company, but the green stands for money.”

- Jeff Skilling, CEO, Enron Corp., quoted in Capitalism at Work, p. 310.

Enron is Exhibit A against Waxman/Markey’s cap-and-trade proposal. Enron was poised to make money coming and going by being the nation’s and the world’s largest market-maker in CO2 permits, and the “smartest guys in the room” were ready to game and game for incremental dollars (remember California?). Enron’s business model, in retrospect, had to do with regulatory complexity, [Read more →]

May 14, 2009   14 Comments