If Senator Bennet Isn't a Climate Denier, Then Why Is He Acting Like One?
When U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat in swing-state Colorado, voted for the Keystone XL pipeline in November, prominent Associated Press reporter Nick Riccardi, who closely followed the 2014 Colorado elections, tweeted:
Of course, the Democratic Party base and environmental community in Colorado was outraged at Bennet’s vote. Activists flooded his office phone, his office in Denver and his office in Washington, DC, before, during and after the vote. A few got arrested in his office in Washington, DC. They held banners that said, “If you’re not a climate denier, don’t vote like one.”
As a response to all of that, here’s the statement that Bennet’s spokesperson released to the public and media:
He would prefer that instead of focusing our political debate on a narrow issue that we develop a broad and comprehensive energy strategy to reduce carbon pollution and support renewable energy. He believes we should take aggressive action to curb climate change and support the President’s Climate Action Plan.
A few days later, Senator Bennet was interviewed by the Denver Post about his positions on energy and fracking for oil and gas in Colorado. The Denver Post reported that Bennet said he supported an "'all of the above' approach to energy" that included "guarding Colorado’s booming liquid natural gas industry" to "make it easier for energy companies to export liquefied natural gas" and would be "pushing legislation to reduce taxes on liquefied natural gas."
So …, here we have a prominent U.S. Senator—who, in fact, was the Chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee for the 2014 election—who says we should take “aggressive action to curb climate change,” but yet he supports mining all of the Alberta tar sands via his Keystone XL vote, and supports mining and fracking for all of the oil and gas in Colorado and beyond.
Here are two statements from actual scientists that refute Senator Bennet:
- James Hansen, former NASA climate change scientist who helped start the climate movement in the U.S., has said that Keystone XL would accelerate tar sands mining in Alberta and would be “game over for the climate” due to the massive CO2 emissions associated with mining and burning the tar sands.
- Keywan Riahi, who is one of the authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, was quoted in April 2014 as saying: “The [report] clearly shows that unabated fossil fuels need to be phased out [in] the long-term, and this is also the case for natural gas, including shale gas.”
In 2016, Senator Bennet is up for re-election in Colorado. Climate change activists like me are extremely concerned with Senator Bennet’s position on climate change policy. As we try to wrap our heads around Bennet’s votes and statements, we have these questions:
- Does Senator Bennet actually believe in climate change?
- Or, as suggested by the Associated Press reporter, is Senator Bennet so close to his former boss, the Denver energy industry, and their support of his 2016 re-election that he can’t vote against them?
- Or, defying 97 percent of all current science and scientists, does he actually think there is a scientific opportunity to mine all of the tar sands and frack all of the oil and gas and still have “aggressive action” to fight climate change?
We Colorado Democrats and climate change activists eagerly look forward to Senator Bennet’s future statements and positions on these issues. Of course, we will continue to respectfully work with Senator Bennet on these and other environmental issues in Colorado over the next two years. But in the meantime, we will "sleep with one eye open."
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By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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