CAFE standards

Could a Clean Tax Cut Succeed Where Carbon Taxes Have Failed?

 

(3BL Media/Justmeans) — To say that the Trump’s administration’s disconnect from reality when it comes to climate change has created tensions both at home and abroad would be a vast understatement. Even fellow Republicans are uncomfortable with the extreme position taken by the president, one that totally defies well-established science. A number have openly broken from Trump in response to his decision to withdraw from the historic Paris agreement, including the governors of Massachusetts and Vermont,  who have joined the US Climate Alliance. Twelve states plus Puerto Rico, representing over 100 million Americans and one-third of the US GDP, have now formally joined the alliance, with ten other states expressing support. Altogether, those states represent 40% of the total US greenhouse gas emissions and one-third of US GDP.

Supporters of the withdrawal, are not questioning the science—in fact, they are not even talking about it. They are focused entirely on what they say the costs of compliance will be, with no mention of the cost of non-compliance. So how do we move forward on the policy front, with a bottom line-first, nothing-else-matters approach that only looks at one side of the balance sheet? Most attention has been focused on efforts to circumvent the president’s position which, as noted above, is substantial. But can anything be done at the Federal policy level?

It’s well known that after Trump is finished attempting to dismantle the health care system, his next target will be tax reform. Could there be an opening there?

A new proposal, born of conservative roots, called “clean tax cuts,” (CTC) just might have a chance. The proposal is the brain child of the Grace Richardson Fund, which seeks, “to spearhead new free market policy solutions to critical issues stuck in partisan gridlock.”

The key points to the proposal, which are spelled out here, are essentially a return of Reagan-style, supply-side tax cuts, only applied selectively to “all clean solutions.” The rationale behind it being, “if you want something more, tax it less.” The plan, which is described as “all carrot, no stick,” could be seen as a carbon tax turned on its head. Instead of punishing carbon usage, it rewards movement away from carbon. They claim it unites the interests of left and right: “ecology + tax cuts = clean capitalism.”

New Rooftop Air Conditioning Standards Save Tons of Energy

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - With summer coming to an end, it’s time for many of us to put away our air conditioners, or shut them down for the season. That takes care of one significant contributor to our monthly energy bill. According to the DOE, air conditioning is responsible for roughly 5% of all the electricity produced in the US. It also accounts for roughly 9% of the energy used in a “typical” home, though, of course, that will vary widely by location. In commercial buildings, where equipment as well as people can have cooling needs, that number can be as high as 14%.

It’s true that here in the Northern Hemisphere, heating exceeds cooling as a portion of our energy footprint. But as we look to the future, much of the world that has yet to be developed is in the South. This portends a major rise in AC demand. According to the PBL Netherland Environmental Assessment Agency, global demand for cooling will exceed that for heating well before the end of this century.

Therefore, this is an excellent time for the US Department of Energy to propose new standards for air conditioner efficiency, since so much new technology is developed and/or marketed here in the US. That means that new designs meeting these higher standards will be available when the anticipated great surge in air conditioning takes place. This complements other energy saving standards we wrote about earlier this month.

The new standard would slash air conditioning energy usage by 30%. While that might not seem like a lot, given the tremendous amount of energy devoted to this sector, it turns out to be the largest energy savings ever achieved by any DOE energy standard*. The new standard is expected to save some 1.3 trillion kWh over its life. Because this new standard is specifically directed at commercial rooftop air conditioning, that amounts to some $16 to 30 billion in savings to businesses.

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