Category Archive 'Emission Credits'

22 Jul 2008

Al Gore: Carbon-Free For Thee, But Not For Me

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Lorne Gunter, at the National Post, observes that it’s a case of “Do as Al says, not as Al does.”

On Thursday, former U. S. vice-president Al Gore delivered a major address calling on his country to abandon all fossil fuels within 10 years. By 2018, U. S. electricity and fuel should come entirely from “renewable energy and truly clean, carbon-free sources,” he said. Tickets to the event encouraged attendees to “please use public transit, bicycling or other climate-friendly means” to reach the lecture hall.

So how did Mr. Gore and his retinue arrive? In two Lincoln Town Cars and a full-sized SUV that sat idling with the air conditioners blasting while the Gore party was inside.

It was 34 C (93.2 º F) in Washington. Al Gore can’t be expected to get into an overheated vehicle after he’s worked up a sweat telling others how to save the planet.

Remember, too, the Nobel prizewinning environmentalist lives in a Tennessee mansion that produces a carbon footprint 20 times that of the average American home. A sizeable chunk of his personal fortune comes from royalties on a zinc mine which had to be temporarily closed five years ago in part because the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency ruled it one of the worst-polluting mine sites in America. Illegal toxins were frequently discharged into nearby rivers.

Mr. Gore’s Live Earth benefit concert last summer flew scores of rock bands to stages around the world in carbon-spewing private jets. To cover the emissions from his own frequent use of private jets, Mr. Gore set up a company that buys carbon offsets, so that in effect he is paying himself for his carbon indulgences, writing off the expense on one hand, while pocketing the proceeds on the other.

Apparently if the world is ever to reach the carbon-free future Mr. Gore dreams of, it will have to get there without Al’s help.

03 Mar 2007

Want to Make a Lot of Money?

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Go into business selling licenses for energy use in excess of legally defined limited amounts. The WSJ explains how it’s done:

The idea of a cap-and-trade system for limiting carbon-dioxide emissions in the U.S. has become all the rage. Earlier this year, 10 big American companies formed the Climate Action Partnership to lobby for government action on climate change. And this week the private-equity consortium that is bidding to take over Texas utility TXU announced that, as part of the buyout, it would join the forces lobbying for a cap on carbon emissions.

But this is not, as Lenin once said, a case of capitalists selling the rope to hang themselves with. In most cases, it is good old-fashioned rent-seeking with a climate-change patina.

Start with the name. Most of those pushing this idea want you to think about it as cap-and-trade, with emphasis on the trading part. Senator Barbara Boxer touts all the jobs that would be created for people trying to game the system — er, save the planet. And her colleague Jeff Bingaman calls cap-and-trade “market based,” because, you know, people would trade stuff.

But for that to happen, the government would first have to put a cap on CO2 emissions, either for certain industries or even the economy as a whole. At the same time, it would allocate quotas for CO2 emissions, either based on current emissions, or on energy output, or some other standard. If a company then “over-complied,” which means it produced less carbon dioxide than it was allowed to under the rules, it could sell the excess allowance to someone else. That someone else would buy the right to produce CO2 if doing so cost less than actually reducing emissions.

In this way, emissions would be reduced in an relatively efficient way: Those for whom reductions were cheap or easy would reduce, and if they reduced enough, they could sell their excess allowance to someone for whom the reductions were harder or more expensive. This kind of trading works, and we’ve argued in these columns that cap-and-trade beats the pants off just plain capping by lowering the overall economic burden of a cap.

The difficulties don’t lie with the trading, but with the cap, which is where the companies lobbying for restrictions come in. James Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, put it plainly earlier this year: “If you’re not at the table when these negotiations are going on, you’re going to be on the menu.” Translation: If a cap is coming, better to design it in a way that you profit from it, instead of being killed by it.

Make no mistake, this “vital environmental policy measure” is on the way. Al Gore is already in the business, and will probably make billions.

Saving the earth has got a lot in common with the sarcastic old song about the profit potential in the old days in the other kind of salvation:

My father’s a missionary preacher.
He saves fallen women from sin.
He’ll save you a blonde for a guinea.
My God, how the money rolls in!

28 Feb 2007

Unconstrained Energy Consumption for Me, But Not for Thee

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Al Gore’s light bill is $1200 a month.

Wow! And I thought I left too many lights on all the time. Memories of my father finding a superfluous light on in my childhood, and demanding indignantly: “What do you think? Have you got shares in the PP&L?” often bring a smile, and I’ve sometimes thought of buying a few shares of PPL, just so I could rhetorically justify my irresponsible habits in my own mind.

A day after a film about his efforts to combat global warming won an Oscar, former Vice President Al Gore was called a hypocrite by a Tennessee group that said his Belle Meade home is consuming too much energy.

The home’s average monthly electric bill last year was just under $1,200, according to bills that The Tennessean acquired from Nashville Electric Service.

“As the spokesman of choice for the global warming movement, Al Gore has to be willing to walk (the) walk, not just talk the talk, when it comes to home energy use,” said Drew Johnson, president of the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, identified as a free-market think tank.

Al Gore’s house.

But Al Gore is rich enough, you see, to justify himself in even better and more creative ways.

Gore purchased 108 blocks of “green power” for each of the past three months, according to a summary of the bills.

That’s a total of $432 a month Gore paid extra for solar or other renewable energy sources.

The green power Gore purchased in those three months is equivalent to recycling 2.48 million aluminum cans or 286,092 pounds of newspaper, according to comparison figures on NES’ Web site.

But this greenie site points out that Gore is buying those credits from his own firm.

So, where does Gore buy his ‘carbon offsets’? According to The Tennessean newspaper’s report, Gore buys his carbon offsets through Generation Investment Management. a company he co-founded and serves as chairman:

Gore helped found Generation Investment Management, through which he and others pay for offsets. The firm invests the money in solar, wind and other projects that reduce energy consumption around the globe…

As co-founder and chairman of the firm Gore presumably draws an income or will make money as its investments prosper. In other words, he “buys” his “carbon offsets” from himself, through a transaction designed to boost his own investments and return a profit to himself. To be blunt, Gore doesn’t buy “carbon offsets” through Generation Investment Management – he buys stocks

Cool! Albert Gore takes some money out his right pocket, buys some carbon offsets from himself, and then puts the money in his left pocket, and voila! he has saved enough of the planet by that clever transaction to immunize himself from Don Surber‘s description of him as some kind of an alleged:

born-to-the-manor, overfed, limousine liberal who consume(s) 22,000 kilowatts of electricity each year* in just one of his three homes.

* More than 20 times the National average.

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