Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Siemens turns to Russia for nuclear projects

By Daniel Schäfer in Frankfurt, Catherine Belton in Moscow and Daniel Dombey in Washington
Published: February 3 2009 11:24

Siemens on Tuesday turned to Russia for a possible co-operation on nuclear energy, in a politically delicate move to tap the fast growing market for nuclear power plants.
Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister, invited Siemens for talks with Rosatom, the country’s nuclear state agency.

“We are ready to move from realizing piecemeal projects to the creation of a full-scale partnership between Siemens and Rosatom,” Mr Putin was quoted by Interfax after a meeting with Peter Löscher, Siemens’ chief executive, in Moscow.
The move came after Siemens’ supervisory board decided last week to sell its 34 per cent stake, worth more than €2bn ($3bn), in its nuclear joint venture with France’s Areva, in a sign of growing frustration about a partnership that gave it insufficient say in the company’s strategic development.
Mr Putin said Rosatom and Siemens could work together in their home countries and also in other international markets.
Mr Löscher said Siemens wanted to intensify its “outstanding and successful partnerships” in Russia, adding that it aimed to “come to a concrete decision before the end of April”.
Talks are expected to commence soon, but it remained open if it would end up in a joint venture or another form of co-operation. Siemens’ interest in the Russian market is politically delicate but rumours about opposition from the German government seem to be unfounded. People close to the situation have said that Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, is supportive of a possible deal.
Siemens, which aims to become a full-range supplier for nuclear power plants, is already a supplier to Rosatom. It has several contracts with the Russian agency to supply systems to reactors in Bulgaria and Slovakia.
The market for nuclear power plants is projected to be growing fast. Estimates show that 400 nuclear power plants with a total volume €1,000bn could be built by 2020 worldwide.
In Russia alone, Mr Putin has backed plans to build 26 new nuclear power plants in the next 12 years.
Siemens idea to join forces with Atomenergoprom underlined how Russia’s importance for German companies remained unabated, even amid the drastic economic downturn in the country.
Around 4,600 German companies have branches in Russia, according to the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, a German business initiative.
Closer Russian-German nuclear co-operation is likely to bolster the view that US companies are losing out on lucrative business in the sector.
Last year, the Bush administration and Moscow made a civil nuclear agreement that could have paved the way to business deals worth billions of dollars. But in the wake of the Russian-Georgian war, the Bush administration withdrew the agreement from Congress in September and put it on hold.
A state department official told the FT the Obama administration was looking to forge a new relationship with Moscow, which is keen for the nuclear agreement to be pushed through. But he added that no decision had yet been reached on whether to re-submit the agreement to Congress for approval.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

Can socialism and salt drive us into future?

Published Date: 04 February 2009
By Simon Romero
in Uyuni, Bolivia

IN THE rush to build the next generation of hybrid or electric cars, a sobering fact confronts both vehicle makers and governments seeking to lower their reliance on oil: almost half of the world's lithium, the mineral needed to power the vehicles, is found in Bolivia – a country that may not be willing to surrender it easily.
Japanese and European companies are busily trying to strike deals to tap the resource, but a nationalist sentiment about the lithium is building quickly in the government of President Evo Morales, a socialist who has already nationalised Bolivia's oil and natural gas industries.For now, his government talks of closely controlling the lithium and keeping foreigners at bay. Adding to the pressure, indigenous groups in the remote salt desert where the mineral lies are pushing for a share in the eventual bounty."We know Bolivia can become the Saudi Arabia of lithium," said Francisco Quisbert, the leader of Frutcas, a group of salt gatherers and farmers on the edge of Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flat. "We are poor, but we are not stupid peasants. The lithium may be Bolivia's, but it is also our property."One of the provisions of a new constitution Mr Morales managed to pass last month could give Indians control over the natural resources in their territory, strengthening their ability to win concessions from the authorities and private companies, or even block mining projects.None of this is dampening the efforts of foreigners, including the Japanese conglomerates Mitsubishi and Sumitomo and a group led by the French industrialist Vincent Bollore. In recent months, all three have sent representatives to La Paz, Bolivia's capital, to talk to the government about gaining access to the lithium, a critical component for the batteries that power cars and other electronics."There are salt lakes in Chile and Argentina, and a promising lithium deposit in Tibet, but the prize is clearly in Bolivia," Oji Baba, a Mitsubishi executive, said in La Paz. "If we want to be a force in the next wave of automobiles and the batteries that power them, then we must be here."Lithium has long been used in small amounts in mood-stabilising drugs and thermonuclear weapons, but demand has grown with its use in batteries for BlackBerrys and other electronic devices. However, the motor industry holds the biggest untapped potential, analysts say. Since lithium weighs less than nickel, which is also used in batteries, it would allow electric cars to store more energy and be driven longer distances.With governments seeking to increase fuel efficiency and reduce their dependence on imported oil, private companies are focusing their attention on this desolate corner of the Andes, where Quechua-speaking Indians subsist on the remains of an ancient inland sea by bartering the salt they carry out on llama caravans.The US Geological Survey says 5.4 million tons of lithium could potentially be extracted in Bolivia, with three million tons in Chile, 1.1 million in China and just 410,000 in the United States. Independent geologists estimate that Bolivia might have even more lithium at Uyuni and its other salt deserts, though high altitudes and the quality of the reserves could make access to the mineral difficult.While estimates vary widely, some geologists say electric-car makers could draw on Bolivia's lithium deposits for decades to come.But amid such potential, foreigners seeking to tap Bolivia's lithium deposits must navigate the policies of Mr Morales, 49, who has clashed repeatedly with United States, European and even South American investors.The president shocked neighbouring Brazil, with whom he is on friendly terms, by nationalising that country's natural gas projects in 2006 and seeking a sharp rise in prices. He carried out his latest nationalisation before the vote on the constitution, sending soldiers to occupy the operations of British oil giant BP.At the La Paz headquarters of Comibol, the state agency that oversees mining projects, Mr Morales' vision of combining socialism with advocacy for Bolivia's Indians is prominently on display. Copies of Cambio, a new state-controlled daily newspaper, are available in the lobby, while posters of Che Guevara, the socialist icon killed in Bolivia in 1967, appear at the entrance to Comibol's offices.Saul Villegas, head of a Comibol unit that oversees lithium extraction, said: "The previous imperialist model of exploitation of our natural resources will never be repeated. Maybe there could be the possibility of foreigners as minority partners, or better yet, as our clients."To that end, Comibol is investing about £4 million in a small plant near the village of Rio Grande on the edge of Salar de Uyuni, where it hopes to begin Bolivia's first industrial-scale effort to mine lithium from the white landscape and process it into carbonate for batteries.Technicians first need to get a brine – water saturated with salt that is found deep beneath the salt desert – to the surface, where it is evaporated in pools to expose the lithium. Mr Morales wants the plant finished by the end of this year.Marcelo Castro, 48, who is in charge of the project, explained the plant had another objective. "Of course, lithium is the mineral that will lead us to the post-petroleum era," he said. "But in order to go down that road, we must raise the revolutionary consciousness of our people, starting on the floor of this very factory."Lithium analysts say Bolivia, one of Latin America's least developed nations, needs to invest much more to start producing carbonate. But with economic growth slowing and a decline in oil prices limiting the reach of its top patron, Venezuela, it remains unclear how Bolivia can achieve this on its own.However, optimistic industry analysts point out that Mr Morales has allowed some foreign companies to remain in the country as minority partners.On the flat salt desert of Uyuni, such debate seems remote to those scraping salt off the ground into the cone-shaped piles that line the horizon like some geometric mirage. "I've heard of the lithium, but I only hope it creates work for us," said Pedro Camata, 19, his face shielded from the unforgiving sun by a ski mask and cheap sunglasses covering his eyes. "Without work out here, one is dead."WHAT NEXTLITHIUM is an alkali metal with a silver-white colour – known to generations of British schoolchildren from chemistry experiments which demonstrated its highly reactive properties.Vehicle manufacturers across the world are intending to use lithium-ion batteries to provide the power source for the next generation of commercially produced electric cars.Lighter than other battery designs, lithium-ion batteries, also lose less of their energy over time – called "self discharge".Early this year, General Motors announced it was building the first lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing base operated by a major car maker in the US.It is intended the factory will produce batteries for GM's Volt model, due for launch in 2011, and have a ten-year lifespan in the vehicles.Hyundai, Toyota and Tata Motors are also developing the technology for use in their own models.

Japan Airlines trial biofuels on 747 flights

The successful trial of camelina brings optimism that the airline could be flying full passenger flights using only biofuels within 3-5 years, writes Bryan Nelson. From Ecoworldly, part of the Guardian Environment Network, Tuesday 3 February 2009 17.09 GMT

Japan Airlines became the first airline to demonstrate camelina as a successful biofuel this week, as the fuel surpassed traditional 100% Jet-A fuel in efficiency according to pilots. The biofuel blend used, which was 84% camelina, 16% jatropha and less than 1% algae, brings optimism that the airline could be flying full passenger flights using only biofuels within 3-5 years.
The remarkable crop, camelina, has been eyed for years as an affordable biofuel that can be grown easily in rotation with traditional food crops like wheat. Used as biodiesel, camelina could also potentially power cars and trucks cheaper than its petroleum counterpart. But for all of its use as a biofuel, it might be most exceptional as a cooking oil. Loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, vegetable oils made from camelina are good for the heart and the brain, and could also be used as a cheap feed for fish and livestock.
According to Sustainable Oils, Inc., a US-based provider of camelina fuels, plans are underway to haul out between 100 and 200 million gallons of the jet fuel as demand increases over the next half decade. The crop is best grown in moderate climates such as in the northern plains of North America, Northern Europe and Central Asia, which means it can be easily produced close to home for the world's most fuel-hungry nations.
Given the Boeing prediction last year that flight-related greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced as much as 80% by switching to biofuels, this news bodes well for a notoriously dirty industry. Green-minded travelers might soon be able to quiet the devil on their shoulder during those long and sleepless trans-Pacific flights.
• This article was shared by our content partner Ecoworldly, part of the Guardian Environment Network

Wind power becomes Europe's fastest growing energy source

Europe installs 20 wind turbines a day and 10 EU states reach wind power capacity of more than 1GW
David Gow in Brussels, Tuesday 3 February 2009 12.33 GMT

More wind power was installed in the EU than any other electricity-generating technology in 2008, according to data released yesterday.
The European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) produced figures showing wind power provided 43% of new capacity – or almost two gigawatts (GW) – compared with 35% for gas, 13% for oil, 4% for coal and 2% for hydro power.
The EWEA's claim that wind power is the fastest growing technology in Europe for the first time came as it emerged that the US overtook Germany last year – before Barack Obama entered the White House with his "green" agenda - to become the world's number one wind power installer.
The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) said China, whose capacity doubled for the fourth year in a row, was set to reach second place by 2010 – meeting its 2020 target of 30GW 10 years ahead of schedule.
EWEA's figures come at a period of heightened EU debate over the role of nuclear power, with France awarding the contract for its second EPR (the controversial European Pressurised Reactor) to state-owned EDF last week.
There is also concern over the viability of plans to generate 20% of primary energy from renewables by 2020, the future of carbon emissions trading and the security of gas supplies after the latest Russia-Ukraine dispute.
Christian Kjaer, the EWEA chief executive, said: "The figures show that wind energy is the undisputed number one choice in Europe's efforts to move towards clean, indigenous renewable power." On each average working day in Europe last year, 20 wind turbines were installed.
The new wind power capacity, costing €11bn (£9.9bn), should, in a normal year, produce 142 TWH (terawatt hours) of electricity or about 4.2% of EU demand and abate 100m tonnes of CO2 a year – equal to taking more than 50m cars off Europe's roads.
Germany and Spain both installed more than 1.6GW while the UK added 836MW (megawatts) to reach 3.24GW. Ten of the EU's 27 states have now got wind power capacity of more than 1GW.
Global capacity grew by 27GW to reach almost 121GW by the end of 2008, prompting Steve Sawyer, the head of GWEC, to assert that wind energy was the only technology capable of delivering the necessary CO2 cuts in the critical period up to 2020. Investments last year totalled €36.5bn.
US capacity now totals 25GW, after leaping by a half in 2008, with Germany close behind at 24GW. But the GWEC admitted that financing for new projects and orders "slowed to a trickle" in the US as the economic crisis deepened.
China, which added 6.3GW, now has 12.2GW of capacity and the country has identified wind energy as a key growth component in its economic stimulus package. Li Junfeng, the head of the Chinese Renewable Energy Industry Association, said new capacity would almost double again this year.

Dark days for green energy

By Kate Galbraith
Published: February 4, 2009

Wind and solar power have been growing at a blistering pace in recent years, and that growth seemed likely to accelerate under the green-minded Obama administration. But because of the credit crisis and the broader economic downturn, the opposite is happening: installation of wind and solar power is plummeting.
Factories building parts for these industries have announced a wave of layoffs in recent weeks, and trade groups are projecting 30 to 50 percent declines this year in installation of new equipment, barring more help from the government.
Prices for turbines and solar panels, which soared when the boom began a few years ago, are falling. Communities that were patting themselves on the back just last year for attracting a wind or solar plant are now coping with cutbacks.
"I thought if there was any industry that was bulletproof, it was that industry," said Rich Mattern, the mayor of West Fargo, North Dakota, where DMI Industries of Fargo operates a plant that makes towers for wind turbines. Though the flat Dakotas are among the best places in the world for wind farms, DMI recently announced a cut of about 20 percent of its work force because of falling sales.
Much of the problem stems from the credit crisis that has left Wall Street banks reeling. Once, as many as 18 big banks and financial institutions were willing to help finance installation of wind turbines and solar arrays, taking advantage of generous U.S. government tax incentives. But with the banks in so much trouble, that number has dropped to four, according to Keith Martin, a tax and project finance specialist with the law firm Chadbourne & Parke.

Wind and solar developers have been left starved for capital. "It's absolutely frozen," said Craig Mataczynski, president of Renewable Energy Systems Americas, a wind developer. He projected his company would build just under half as much this year as it did last year.
The two industries are hopeful that President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package will help. But it will take time, and in the interim they are making plans for a dry spell.
Solar energy companies like OptiSolar, Ausra, Heliovolt and SunPower, once darlings of investors, have all had to lay off workers. So have a handful of companies that make wind turbine blades or towers in the Midwest, including Clipper Windpower, LM Glasfiber and DMI.
Some big wind developers, like NextEra Energy Resources and even the Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, a promoter of wind power, have cut back or delayed their wind farm plans.
Renewable energy sources like biomass, which involves making electricity from wood chips, and geothermal, which harnesses underground heat for power, have also been slowed by the financial crisis, but the effects have been more pronounced on once fast-growing wind and solar.
Because of their need for space to accommodate giant wind turbines, wind farms are especially reliant on bank financing for as much as 50 percent of a project's costs. For example, JPMorgan Chase, which analysts say is the most active bank remaining in the renewable energy sector, has invested in 54 wind farms and one solar plant since 2003, according to John Eber, the firm's managing director for energy investments.
In the solar industry, the ripple effects of the crisis extend all the way to the panels that homeowners put on their roofs. The price of solar panels has fallen by 25 percent in six months, according to Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association, who said he expected a further drop of 10 percent by midsummer.
(For homeowners, however, the savings will not be as substantial, partly because panels account for only about 60 percent of total installation costs.)
After years when installers had to badger manufacturers to ensure they would receive enough panels, the situation has reversed. Bill Stewart, president of SolarCraft, a California installer, said that manufacturers were now calling to say, "Hey, do you need any product this month? Can I sell you a bit more?"
The turnaround reflects reduced demand for solar panels, and also an increase in supply of panels and of polysilicon, a crucial material in many panels.
On the wind side, turbines that once had to be ordered far in advance are suddenly becoming available.
"At least one vendor has said that they have equipment for delivery in 2009, where nine months ago they wouldn't have been able to take new orders until 2011," Mataczynski of Renewable Energy wrote in an e-mail message. As he has scaled back his company's plans, he has been forced to cancel some orders for wind turbines, forfeiting the deposit.
Banks have invested in renewable energy, lured by the tax credits. But with banks tightly controlling their money and profits, the main task for the companies is to find new sources of investment capital.
Wind and solar companies have urged Congress to adopt measures that could help revive the market. But even if a favorable stimulus bill passes, nobody is predicting a swift recovery.
"Nothing Congress does in the stimulus bill can put the market back where it was in 2007 and 2008, before it was broken," said Martin, the tax lawyer with Chadbourne & Parke. "But it can help at the margins."
The solar and wind tax credits are structured slightly differently, but the House version of the stimulus bill would help both industries by providing more immediate tax incentives, alleviating some of their dependency on banks.
Both House and Senate would also extend an important tax credit for wind energy, called the production tax credit, for three years; previously the industry had complained of boom-and-bust cycles with the credit having to be renewed nearly every year.
Over the long term, with Obama focused on a concerted push toward greener energy, the industry remains optimistic.
"You drive across the countryside and there's more and more wind farms going up," said Mattern of West Fargo. "I still have big hopes."

Government falls short of carbon dioxide target

• Labour failing to meet key manifesto pledge • Overall reduction set to beat Kyoto requirement
Juliette Jowit
The Guardian, Wednesday 4 February 2009

Labour looks almost certain to fail on its key environmental pledge to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the most significant of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
The latest government figures show greenhouse gas emissions overall fell in 2007 and that the UK is on course to reduce the national total by double the target set by the international Kyoto agreement.
However, although emissions of carbon dioxide also fell, its total decline since the baseline year of 1990 was 8.5%, substantially short of Labour's manifesto pledge of 20% by 2010. The decline by 2007 increases to 12.8% if it includes carbon credits bought from emission reduction programmes overseas.
"They could say 'we're beating our Kyoto target and few countries are'; that's true, but they have fought three general elections on 20% by 2010, so we're entitled to regard it as a reasonable yardstick of Labour's success or failure," said Stephen Hale, director of the Green Alliance, a coalition of environmental campaign groups.
Last night the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) all but conceded it had abandoned the target, saying in a statement: "We are making definite progress towards the challenging 2010 domestic CO2 goal. However, we cannot be complacent and must continue to do more. As part of the Climate Change Act, we will be setting carbon budgets and putting into place a clear strategy to bring about real change, plotting a course to an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050."
While the government's calculations are in accordance with international rules, critics point out that they ignore emissions linked to goods imported for UK consumers, and emissions from international aviation and shipping.
Based on the goods and energy used in the UK, instead of only produced here, and including all travel, a report by Dieter Helm at Oxford University and two other experts calculated that UK emissions rose by 19% between 1990 and 2003.
"What's important is the UK's impact on global warming [and] that includes other issues like aviation and consumption," said Hale.
The DECC said total emissions for the six key greenhouse gases in 2007 were 636.6m tonnes, down 1.7% from 647.9m in 2006. This included a reduction in carbon dioxide - which makes up 85% of the UK's greenhouse emissions - to 542.6m tonnes, down 1.5%. Emissions from transport and industrial processes rose, and those from energy supply, homes and business fell.
The new figures show overall greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 18.4% since 1990, or 21.7% if the impact of carbon credit trading is taken into account. This compares to the Kyoto target of a 12.5% cut between 1990 and 2008-2012.

Campaigners question sums behind falling UK emissions

Official figures show a 1.7% decline in greenhouse gas emissions in the UK in 2007 but campaigners accuse government of 'creative accounting'
Juliette Jowit, Tuesday 3 February 2009 15.44 GMT

The annual controversy over whether the UK's greenhouse gas emissions are rising or falling began againtoday with the publication of the latest official figures showing a 1.7% decline in 2007.
The government said the fall in the last full year, for which figures were available, meant the country was on track to reduce emissions by double the target set by the international Kyoto protocol.
However, critics accused the government of "creative accounting" because the calculations ignore the emissions associated with the vast quantity of goods imported to UK consumers and the impact of international aviation and shipping. The calculations also allow the UK to deduct emissions for which it buys credits from other countries.
Based on consumption instead of production, and including all travel, a report by Dieter Helm at Oxford University and two other experts calculated that UK emissions rose by 19% between 1990 and 2003.
"What's important is the UK's impact on global warming and that includes other issues like aviation and consumption," said Stephen Hale, the director of the Green Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said total emissions for six greenhouse gases in 2007 were 636.6m tonnes, down from 647.9m in 2006. This included a reduction in carbon dioxide, the biggest source of greenhouse gas, which measured 542.6m tonnes, down from 551.1m.
Based on these figures, total emissions have fallen by 18.4% and carbon dioxide emissions are down by 8.5% since 1990. There were even greater declines of 21.7% and 12.8% if the impact of carbon trading was taken into account because some emissions were offset by buying allowances generated by reductions in other countries.
These compare with the Kyoto target to cut all greenhouse gases by 12.5% between 1990 and 2008-2012, and Labour's more ambitious pledge at the last three general elections to cut carbon emissions from the 1990 figure by 20% by 2010.
The data for the latest two years has been adjusted for changes in the way the calculations are made, which reduced the totals for 2006 by just above 0.6% from earlier published totals.
The focus on the production of energy and goods, the exclusion of most aviation and shipping, and the inclusion of emissions trading credits, are all in accordance with international rules. But critics say using the official figures disguises how the UK is actually adding to global emissions.
Environmental campaigners are also angry with the government over its recent approval of a major expansion of the UK's biggest airport, Heathrow, and over plans to build new coal-fired power stations with no guarantee that equipment to capture and store the carbon emissions will be fitted.
"There is no way the UK will meet its targets for tackling climate change as long as we are building new coal power stations and more runways," said Benedict Southworth, the director of the World Development Movement, a campaigning charity. "The UK has to vastly increase its efforts to prevent climate change taking away the lives and livelihoods of millions of people."
Ed Miliband, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, said: "It's important that we are making progress towards reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and we are on course to be one of the first countries to do better than our Kyoto commitment. But we need to reduce emissions even more quickly and I believe the policies we are putting in place now will set us on that path to meet the challenging targets we set ourselves in the Climate Change Act."

Democrats set December deadline for cap on US emissions

Barbara Boxer pledges to produce draft greenhouse gas emissions bill before the Copenhagen round of climate change negotiations in December
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington, Tuesday 3 February 2009 17.33 GMT

Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Senate environment and public works committee. Photograph: Joe Marquette/EPA
Democrat leaders in Congress committed to swift action on a green agenda today, promising draft cap and trade legislation for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions before the Copenhagen round of climate change negotiations in December.
Environmental campaigners had been apprehensive about the chances of the Senate ratifying a new international treaty – a successor to the Kyoto protocol – to combat global warming unless a consensus had already been reached on Capitol Hill.
Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Senate environment and public works committee, said she was determined to produce a draft cap and trade bill that would have a strong chance of passage. Congress voted down a bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions last year.
"I want to get a bill out of committee that every member has a stake in," she said. "It could be weeks, not months, but it will be before the end of the year."
The pledge from Boxer comes as Democrats try to capitalise on their majority in Congress and the installation of a strongly green president in Barack Obama to press ahead on an environmental agenda.
"When you had a president in the past who wasn't interested in this issue, why were people going to go the extra mile to move on this?" said Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator from Minnesota and a member of the committee. "Now we have a president who wants to move on it."
Democrats are lobbying hard for Obama's economic rescue package, now making its way through Congress, arguing that its green focus will help create - not reduce - jobs. There were also calls today to set aside substantially more funds for public transport in the stimulus package.
Boxer, a Californian who will be crucial in steering through any forthcoming legislation, said she had reached a consensus for future action among fellow Democrats on the committee.
Flanked by Democratic senators and representatives from environmental and business organisations, she sketched out six broad guiding principles:
• a commitment to reducing emissions to levels guided by science to avoid global warming;
• setting enforceable short- and long-term emissions targets;
• establishing a carbon market;
• investing in clean technology;
• supporting efforts by local and state governments to deal with climate change;
• supporting developing nations.
But the challenge for Boxer was underlined by the vagueness of the principles and the absence of any show of support from Republicans on the committee. Boxer's Republican counterpart is Jim Inhofe, notorious for his description of global warming as a hoax.
Despite Obama's election, and a public relations campaign by Democrats pushing the job-creating potential of a green economy, the Republican remains adamantly opposed to action on climate change.
Conservative-leaning Democrats have also expressed scepticism about legislation on emissions, fearing it will cost jobs, so Boxer and her Democrat supporters will need some careful navigation to avoid repeating last year's failed attempt to pass legislation.
She was reluctant to discuss the specifics of future legislation. "We are not here to talk about the exact numbers, but we will say that science will guide us," Boxer said.